We had one of those great weekends that cause us to stop and count our blessings.
We had a family halloween party on Saturday with most of the kids and grandkids in the area (the family with the new baby was excused). It was so much fun to watch 6 of our grandchildren, ages 2 to 8, play together and do some arts and crafts projects, while we visited with our children. Two of them spent Saturday night and most of Sunday with us. We had a good time playing together, and reading a pop-up book of the "Wizard of Oz." They went to church with us, and 7-year-old Gabby sang in the Primary music program. She said, "And I wasn't even scared because I was in a school program." We were proud.
Then, on Sunday, our Soldier Brian came into town for a short visit before heading to Ft. Lewis, and his family. We haven't been able to see him in a year, and he looks wonderful. He just finished five months of officer training on the east coast. Every time I see him I'm impressed by how much he's grown in confidence. I am so very proud of my brand-new Army officer. Sailor Jeff's wife is in town for some schooling, and they talked about military life and argued over which branch of service is better. (Jeff is doing fine on his deployment, but we miss him badly.)
I couldn't help but look back and think of where we were 15 years ago. It wasn't pretty. At the time, we had 5 teenage children, ages 13 to 17, struggling with broken- and blended-family issues, 2 young children at home, and 2 daughters living with their mother. David was undiagnosed, and reacting badly to family stress. Of course, it didn't help when the kids pushed his buttons, as most will do when frustrated. They were a close-knit group, and frequently egged each other on. (Oh, the stories I could tell!)
I knew David had some emotional problems, but I couldn't convince him of that. One time when he had an emotional break I was able to get him into a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, the dr. was more interested in overmedicating David and pushing us out the door. It took another 10 years to get him back to a doctor. I went to a family counselor for several years who helped me through some of the worst times, but he never talked to me about the possibility of David having a mental illness. His counsel helped, but it would have been much more helpful if he had given me some coping skills for David's obvious mental health issues.
Time passed (quickly, it now seems, although at the time I wondered if it would ever end) and our house emptied out within just a few years. Jon left for the Marines and married; Brian served a mission to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico and later joined the Army; Ben worked and then served a mission to Perth Australia; Lara, Brittany, and Shannon each married and became young mothers. The younger children, Jeff, Katie, and Krista, also eventually grew up, married, and left home.
We wonder sometimes how we made it through those tough years. Mainly with prayer and patience, coupled with good friends and family who helped out. Weekends like this seem even sweeter after all the storms we went through to get to this point.
Update: David went to the p-doc today. The dr. increased his lithium to 300 mg. and put him on risperdone to help control the voices and paranoia. Here's hoping it will help! He also counseled with him to not doing his "walks" anymore. That means I will feel more comfortable about calling next time I see those symptoms start to develop. I just haven't been sure about what to do when David gets in that frame of mind. It makes me feel better to know that more help is available.