To My Son Whose Path Changed Because of Mental Illness

To my dear Ross,

It hasn’t been an easy road we’ve travelled. You were my precious first son, my golden boy. You seemed to have the world at your feet, and such talented feet they were! Your dad and I have so many proud memories of your childhood: singing solos in school, winning the award for “good citizen,” football awards, tennis, hockey, clarinet solos, excellent exam grades. And through it all you remained the nicest boy. You were funny, kind and polite.

We could see the wonderful life you had stretching ahead: university, a great job, a wife, beautiful children. Your future was all mapped out.

When we found out you had Tourette’s syndrome we were devastated at first — we knew so little about the condition and were sent away from the doctor with only basic information. We went through denial, grief, anger and the seemingly hopeless search for a cure. But then we thought it wouldn’t matter because your tics weren’t too outlandish. You were still the same boy.

During your teens you knew you had other problems. OCD, anxiety, depression. We thought you were just going through normal teenage issues and didn’t realize how serious it was.

I suppose I didn’t want to accept it. I wanted my golden boy with the world at his feet. I was not prepared to give up on my dream.

But the problems didn’t go away, did they? They got worse until you dropped out of school and became a recluse. My world fell apart. I was angry. This wasn’t what I wanted for my child. This wasn’t supposed to happen!

I wanted you to try harder and not give into your fears. I wanted to shake you and to tell you to wise up!

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It was all about what was best for me, not what was best for you.

We’ve come such a long way since then. The road has had some pretty serious bumps. Maybe it was the problems with my own mental health that finally made me understand the much bigger battles you were fighting on a daily basis. 

I look at you now and I see a young man who refuses to give up. I see the energy and determination you once used to excel at sports, music and school is now needed to help you survive each day. I see the intelligence you always had gives you insight into your condition, even though that doesn’t make it any easier.

Life has not taken the road I thought it would. It’s taken me a long time to accept that. But I still have to appreciate the good things in our lives. I still have my son. I can hug you, talk to you and laugh with you. Not everyone has that. I no longer want you to fulfill my dreams for me but instead will always support you in trying to fulfill your dreams, no matter how big or small they may be.

I gave you life. Now my role as a mother is to allow you to live that life the way you want, and be there beside you through the good times and the tough. Wherever the road takes you I know you will keep traveling it and make the best of it. Know you will never have to travel alone. I’m prouder of you now than ever I was. You’re still my golden boy and I’m proud to call myself your mother.

With all my love and admiration,

Mum xo

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