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Murder by Proxy?

April 10, 2012 by

Another teen has taken his life due to bullying. You can read the article

I want to explore a couple of paragraphs from the article that I feel are disturbing as they deflect the blame from the bullies:

While there are no hard and fast statistics linking bullying to suicide, Dr. Melissa Reeves, a school psychologist and expert on bullying, says harassment by peers can be a “big factor” in youth suicide but that it’s usually one among many causes.

“When they really get to a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, you know, where they see no other way out of this particular situation, then, unfortunately that is when we do see completed suicides,” said Reeves, chair of a National Association of School Psychologists’ Prepare Working Group on Crisis Prevention and Intervention.

In Amy’s case, she developed severe depression because of the bullying.  The constant insults and taunting made her think that she was worthless.  Because it was inescapable, she thought there was no way out.  It’s surprising that a school psychologist would play with words here rather than making the causal link.  Everything I’ve read says that depression is defined as a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.

I’m so thankful we saved Amy from that fate.  To brag a bit, she is graduating in June with an honors diploma and 18 college credits.  She was a member of the speech team for four years (no easy feat for a person with depression!).  She has been accepted by her first choice college and starts in the fall.  To think that this poor young man will never be here to achieve his potential is hurtful to our society.  To think that just some small minded people drove him away is even worse.

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A new voice has been added to the bullying issue and it’s an unusual one, Bette Midler.   I’ve always enjoyed her work but her latest post on facebook echoes my thoughts lately.

It is a sad, sad day for America when young people would rather die than endure one more day of hatred and relentless persecution. As a mother, I am ashamed of all the parents who have failed to teach even the most basic human lessons to their children, “Live and let Live” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The normal, everyday kindness that we took for granted just a few years ago is a thing of the past, and I for one, mourn it deeply. Technology, the Internet, with its anonymity, have allowed people to behave like beasts, pouncing on the weak and howling with laughter when they inflict a wound, that only the strongest could survive. What are we doing to ourselves? How are we to survive as a nation, when hate seems to be the only thing that motivates us??

Four children are dead by their own hand because they just couldn’t take any more. How many more are we going to sacrifice to the hyenas? Isn’t it time to stop?

If you want to comment or forward this post on your facebook account (which I highly recommend) you can connect  here.

I’ve been wondering how much of the callousness of our youth is being nurtured by the anonymity of the internet.  Add to that the blatant, unabashed vitriol we see every day from our politicians and reality TV.  I fear that what we have become is a society that is turning it’s back on community and the concept of behaving for the good of the community.

Reality TV rewards individuals who win and highlights the worst of behavior.  The individual is king, there is no community. Tell me how any of them are contributing in a positive way towards their community?  And yet, they’re making a lot of money and becoming celebrities.   This combination of money (which is the only source of power in our society) and media coverage perpetuates the problem.  Meanwhile, those of us who try to live our lives in a mindful manner, play by the rules, and give of ourselves to others, are struggling.

Now, before you start thinking that I’m becoming a media/internet hater, I am not advocating getting rid of TV or the internet.  I do not believe that these are the evil Frankenstein monsters of our society.  We have been able to do so many wonderful things through the collaboration of the internet with so much access to information that we can use to solve our problems.  We can research anything from a do-it-yourself project to medical conditions.

Somewhere we’ve made a wrong turn in acceptable behavior.  The problem is that we are not taking a stand against the bullies online because we are too polite to call them out.  We allow ridiculous things to be said and go unchallenged by others – politicians, facebook postings, celebrities, etc.  Or, even worse, we believe the outrageous comments or sound bites which just furthers the credibility of these idiots.

Is it too late for us to turn this around?  Does it make any sense for us to continue or  have we become a vanishing species about to be swallowed by the vicious predators around us?

I think what it takes is for us to stop remaining silent.  We must respectfully challenge these comments.  My challenge to you is to take a stand.  The next time someone posts a ridiculous comment – challenge their thinking.   The next time you see someone make an outrageous claim, research it and find out if it is really true.   And, when you find it is not, challenge it!  Ignorance and intolerance cannot be allowed to continue.

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Dad Confronts Bullies

September 17, 2010 by

Here’s a man after my own heart.  He went on a school bus and confronted the kids bullying his daughter.  These were kids putting condoms on his daughter’s head!  Although he used profane and threatening language, I must admit that I admire him.

I worked so hard to control my anger towards Amy’s bullies.  I had to keep reminding myself that they were only 12 but I mostly wanted to just take a 2×4 to their heads.  We had just left Amy at the hospital after her suicide attempt.  I cried and cried and cried until I could cry no more.  The next morning I was so worried I couldn’t concentrate on anything but making them pay for what they did to her and the rest of my family.

I prayed to God for forgiveness but it wouldn’t come.  After a few hours, I finally went to the back yard and started weeding.  I’ve never done that with such fervor.  Each weed was expending more energy until I finally had nothing left.  No tears, no strength, and miraculously, no more anger.  God had finally granted me peace and forgiveness.

Although I don’t condone this father’s behavior, I can certainly understand it and, truthfully, I secretly admire him.

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Update on Amy

September 12, 2010 by

I’ve been writing this blog for nearly a year now and Amy is in such a good place that I feel the need to share.  For those parents who are currently in the throes of this struggle, it is my wish to give you some hope.  As a recap, Amy was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety five years ago, at age 12. This happened due to bullying during her entire 5th grade.  What followed was three years of sporadic hospital stays, two therapists, two years of trying to find the right medication combination and a lot of fear.  Fear on her part because she wasn’t calm and couldn’t trust her perception of the world.  Fear on our part because she was suicidal.

Amy has been stable for the past two years and growing as a person.  She has worked hard at school and is achieving her potential in her grades.  She is taking honors and AP courses this year.

To make it even better, she is very active socially.   To me, this is her greatest triumph.  My depressed and anxious daughter who once thought faceless ninjas were out to kill her, is now a member of the speech team!   In fact, she was selected as outstanding sophomore on the team this spring.  She has found several clubs that she joined at our library and she usually has some activity there every week.

One of the things that helped her during her recovery was her online activity with the Harry Potter Alliance.  She adores the messages of these books and found like-minded friends on line in this group.  They are devoted to fighting injustice in the world and a group of very conscientious world citizens.  If you’re interested in their activities, stop by their website at

Amy credits them with saving her during her darkest alone times.  It gave her hope that she would persevere.  Their motto: “The weapon we have is love” gave her confidence that she could overcome the devastation that her bullies inflected upon her.  There are caring people in this world and she found them there.

I’m really happy for her.  She’s become a “normal” high school junior and is handling the ups and downs of life.  It’s taken five years but she’s back where she should be!!

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And now it’s time to get the T-Shirt!  You’ve worked hard, endured things other parents never imagined and you’ve persevered through it all.  No one else close to us can imagine the strength we’ve needed to find as we help our kids back to health.  We have gone places that the angels fear to tread all for the love our our kids.  If we don’t deserve this T shirt, no parent does!

Proclaim your greatness with an official Out of the Rabbit Hole T-shirt.  Available for all of us very dedicated  Mighty Moms and Fearless Fathers at the following link* Moms and Dads wear it loud and wear it proud!!

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Well, we’ve added a new pill to Amy’s evening regimen, fish oil.  There have been some very small clinical trials showing success with it for people with mental illness.  The scientific reasoning is that it somehow allows the neurons in the brain to reorganize to a healthy state.  For a synopsis of the trials and results, check out this link:

We’ve added this to Amy’s daily pills because we (her psychiatrist and Hank and I) are trying to wean her off her anti-psychotic, Risperdol.  Her therapist has suggested for over a year that she doesn’t believe that Amy is psychotic.  She believes that the psychosis was a manifestation of Amy’s depression and temporary.  That, on top of the side effects, has given Hank and I an incentive to ask to wean her off.   While on this med, she has high cholesterol and triglycerides.  These conditions in a teenager are just ridiculous.  I know that she needed the med at one time but if it can be gone, then so much the better for Amy’s health.

Her psychiatrist is not as convinced as her therapist but since Amy has been stable for over two years, he’s willing to give it a shot.  So far, he has been reducing the dosage by a quarter every three months.

I started with the fish oil in January when I first learned about the Amminger study mentioned in this link.   This study somehow identified patients at “ultra high risk” of developing psychosis.  How this is possible is a mystery to me but let’s suspend judgment for a while here.  Anyway, the patients on the fish oil regimen significantly reduced the likelihood of developing the psychotic episode.  That was enough for me to add it.  Her psychiatrist had already agreed to try to start the weaning process in May and I figured that the fish oil could only help as it certainly wouldn’t hurt.  Maybe it would even help her cholesterol.

I’m happy to say the weaning process is working well.  Her dosage is now half of what it was and she is showing no problems or psychotic episodes.  Keeping the fingers crossed!

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I’ve posted before about choosing a therapist and our missteps in our choice of Amy’s first therapist.  The link below is a great introduction in what to expect from therapy.  Really, for Amy, we realized that she needed a coach-type therapist.  Her first therapist just lectured.  Her second, and still current, therapist is more the coach.  She helps guide Amy in understanding her thinking and pointing out unhealthy thoughts.

Depressed people have such a skewed view of the world and that just feeds the disease and the negative spiral.  The right therapist will help your child verbalize those views, explore why they may believe that, debunk the idea and then help them learn to replace the negative view with reality.

This article gives you a listing of what to look for and expect from a therapist.  I wish we had read it earlier in Amy’s treatment.  Maybe we wouldn’t have wasted that  year with the first therapist.

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Today’s post is a re-post of a message from Diane Chosinski.  She left it on the yahoo group, BiPolarParentsT.  This group is a place for parents of bipolar teens to share their stories, ask for advice and just seek a little support. If you haven’t explored the online groups available, I encourage you to do so.  They can be so helpful in finding that you are not alone in this struggle.

The message really hit home for me.  We have all been there.  I want to thank Diane for so eloquently describing our darker moments.

Today Shelly turned 16, when she was a baby no one told me told me about the roller coaster life that we call bi polar.

No one told me that I would be up for days at a time worrying about Shelly if she was ok making sure that she wasn’t going to hurt someone or herself.

No one told me that instead of planning a sweet 16 birthday party I would be having a supervised visit with her in Denny’s.

No one told me that instead of cake and ice cream i would be serving her lamatical and Risperidone with a side of melatonin.

No one told me that instead of going out and getting her driver license that instead we have to go to a bench trail for her behaviors this past yr.(breaking my nose, breaking her sisters foot, breaking all the kitchen chairs, and on and on)

No one told me that instead of having all her family and friends over that we would have to make sure that no more than 2 people were with her at a time and they were court approved.

No one told me that the beautiful baby that they handed me was going to have to live in a daily hell. No one told me that I wouldn’t be able to fix whatever was bothering her.

She should be getting ready to go out on her first date tonight instead she will be in lock down at 9. I used to joke and laugh with her about if i was rich she would go off to a rich boarding school in Europe never meant a RTC some were here in IL.

Never thought I would be one of THOSE parents were DCFS knows you on a first name basis.

I am angry today.  I am angry at this illness for stealing my daughter’s life away from as I had hoped and dreamed for her. I am angry at the mental health system for not doing more research on the meds and finding out what we can do to help these kids. I am angry that the only most parents only get the help after their child has done something so bad that the police and courts have had to be called. I want to through a feet stomping hands waving temper tantrum if i thought that it would help my Shelly I would do it in a heartbeat.

Sorry to rant but its been a hard year Shelly hasn’t been at home since Jan 6th when she was arrested for breaking her sisters foot. Her DCFS worker thinks she has found a RTC for her,. Her pdoc has told me to be prepared that Shelly will be there for about a yr.

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There were parent support groups available to us for Amy but we were just too exhausted emotionally and physically to take advantage of them.  It’s sad because I imagine that they could have been very helpful.  Unfortunately, when we were going through the toughest times during the first two years, we just couldn’t manage to make them.

We had way too much on our plates – dealing with her unpredictable emotions, driving every night to visit her when she was hospitalized, doctor and therapy appointments and just trying to deal with the rest of our lives made it impossible for us to even remember to put the meetings on our calendars, let alone get ourselves to them!

However, if you can at all arrange it, I would recommend checking them out.  Here’s a link to some national groups and you can search for meetings in your city:

National Alliance on Mental Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

I’ve discovered groups on yahoo as well but unfortunately I didn’t think to look for this until after Amy was well on her way to recovery.  You’ll find supportive parents going through the same problems whom you can commiserate, vent or question about your situation. The two groups I have found are Parents of Depressed Teens and BiPolar Parents.

If anyone knows of any other groups, please send me a comment and I’ll include them on the list.

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In the following article, MSN reports of a man who has saved at least 160 people from committing suicide at a tragically popular jumping spot in Australia.  As a result, Don Ritchie and his wife Mora have earned the 2010 Citizens of the Year award.

It’s interesting that Don merely starts his conversations with the potential jumpers with a simple, seven letter sentence: “would you like a cup of tea”?  This non-threatening, simple question has been effective 160 times!  The man is genius.

It got me thinking about how much easier it is for those not personally invested to approach our suicidal family members.  As Amy’s mood would drop, my fear increased.  I know she could hear it in my voice.  Maybe this is why her therapist can talk her down from the edge (figuratively) when I cannot.  Who knows?

One other random thought on this tea offer thing.  When my daughters were small, I would have them drink a glass of water to calm down after some trauma.  Skinned knee and crying uncontrollably always called for a glass of water from Dr Mom.  My kids joke that a glass of water will cure anything, including an amputation!  But really, I found that the act of drinking always got them to calm down, breathe more slowly and relax a little.  Maybe tea has the same effect…

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