The Drug Maze

When I was little, I remember my mom teaching me how to do those fun little mazes you see in puzzle books.

On paper, the starting point of the maze is always clearly identified. The end goal, the finish line, is also always clearly identified.

To solve the puzzle, the main idea is to devise a plan and move forward in the direction you think will get you to the finish line the fastest. If you hit a wall, you are forced to abruptly abort your existing plan and go a different direction. Eventually, if you keep going with this process, you should cross the finish line. Accomplish your goal. Be happy!

Well, right now I feel like I am running around in a life-size maze. Hitting wall after wall after wall struggling to find the finish line. To accomplish my goal. To be happy.

For me, this real-life maze is a drug maze.

A drug maze I continually try and work my way through to find the right medication at the finish line. The medication that will help chemically balance my 11-year old Bipolar son, Adam.

The walls are black and tower over me. I sometimes feel lost and afraid. I often feel the walls are closing in on me.

The difference between the mazes I used to solve in puzzle books and the life-size maze I find myself lost in now is, when I worked my way through a maze in a puzzle book, I could see the whole maze. I could look ahead and strategize which direction would get me to the finish line.

The drug maze I find myself in now is too big, too overwhelming, to be able to see ahead and predict the future.

My son has been hypomanic for the last 8 months. We have tried multiple drugs to control his mania and hallucinations, each to no avail. Every time a new drug recommendation is given to us, I feel hope. Hope this will be the right medication, the right decision, the right direction in the drug maze to get us to the finish line. To get us to a point where my son is chemically balanced and can live a happy life.

But then WHAM, we hit another wall!

The side effects are too harsh, his body can’t handle the strength of the medicine, or the medicine actually make his symptoms worse. Just like that our plan, our path towards chemical balance, is aborted. Defeated, we must pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and forge a new path, a new direction, to get to the finish line.

His poor body goes through the ringer weaning off one drug and ramping up on another. As parents, we have to own each mistake, each wrong turn, every wrong decision.

The problem is, this drug maze may never end. We may never cross the finish line and stabilize my son. This is the reality of his Mental Health Disorder. Every time we hit a wall, we feel like failures as parents. We have exposed our child to big-time, mac-daddy drugs for no reason. For no benefit whatsoever. Hopefully, as he gets older, there will be longer periods of time where he is stable on his meds. Parts of the maze where we can run longer periods of time without hitting a wall, but the finish line may forever remain beyond our reach.

And then there is my 10-year old Autistic/ADHD son Alex.

Basically, I am his drug dealer. Yeah, I said it. I am his drug dealer. Or at least I feel like I am. His dad and I have made the decision to put him on a strong medication for his severe ADHD. While we believe the relief it gives him outweighs the risks, let’s not kid ourselves. We are his drug dealers.

His medication is classified as a Narcotic. We are forcing our 10-year old to take narcotics three times a day. He has no voice. It was not his decision. The weight of not knowing what the long-term consequences of our decision will be keeps us up at night. I guess you could say we are drug dealers with a conscience.

The reality of the situation is this…if you are a parent of a child with Mental Health Disorders, like me, you will probably spend much of your life trying to work your way through the drug maze and that is OKAY.

You know why it is okay? Because, we are parents and we love our kids more than life itself. They own our hearts. They are the air we breathe. Whatever it takes to help them have the highest quality life they can, we are in 100%. It’s what we Momma Bears do. Period. End of story.

This is most definitely my normal. Feeling crushed and defeated when I unexpectedly hit a wall in the drug maze is my normal. Feeling like I am drug dealer to my children is my normal. I can sit and wallow in it or I can embrace it. I choose to embrace it.

Now that doesn’t mean it is easy to embrace. That doesn’t mean there aren’t days where I think I can’t change direction again; when I just want to lay down right where I am and give up. Throw the towel in. But I don’t and I won’t. My boys deserve better than that. They deserve a fighting chance to conquer the obstacles they face in their life.

This is the path God has chosen for me. A path that involves walking through this life-size drug maze with my children so I can teach them the necessary skills to walk through it alone when I am no longer on this earth. God has entrusted this tremendous responsibility to me, little ole me, and I couldn’t be happier to take on the challenge.

I will make it to the finish line…

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