He’s Not Perfect, but He Is
I am here to help you understand the subject of mental illness. I am not here as an expert except that I have experiences dealing with a bipolar son. One of my son’s diagnosis’s is bipolar with psychosis, at one time this was referred to as: manic depressive disorder. For those who wonder, Wesley started having problems at around four years old. It is documented first in his Head Start records, and goes on from there.
MY son, Wesley William Snyder (AKA WESLEY WILLIAM MILLER), has a lot of diagnosis’s, including learning disabilities. The cards are so well stacked against him, that
he does indeed, have troubles maintaining in this society the way you and I expect him to. This alone is enough to frustrate him, as he looks for a way to feel worthy in an acceptable way in our society.
His biological father would deny it, that bipolar absolutely runs in his family, but it was recently confirmed by an aunt. If we look at the actions of generations before Wesley we can see that just from that point alone, that this was bound to come. Wesley’s great grandmother shot at her own daughter. The bullet grazed the childs head, and she lives with a massive scar on top of her head. To this day, she parts her hair to the side so that no one sees it. Wesley’s great grandmother spent time in a mental health ward after that. That great grandmother had a son, who was bipolar. I dare say with psychosis. I was at the home once when he was ranting, and didn’t know who a single person in his family was. He called each person by another name. When I asked my then husband why, he only told me to ignore it. My guess is at that time, my ex didn’t have a clue what was going on. This was one of Wesley’s great uncles. His grandmother has tics, and so did Wesley when he was very little.
His biological father does not believe in mental illness. Therefore there are no diagnosis’s. But, I can tell you that he has at the very least problems with depression, and untreated, depression can get pretty ugly. I too suffer from major depression, I’ve always sought out treatment because I like to feel good. Wesley just got it with both barrels. So, while you think this through, just remember that Wesley was born this way. He didn’t ask for it, he doesn’t want it, it’s his gift, and it’s made his life HELL! He will tell you himself that he feels he lives a life of torment.
Let me tell you little about the day of Feb. 20th. As you might recall Feb. 20th is the day that the South Umpqua Schools were locked down, and the police rushed out to nab my son before he could cause troubles. Yay, the police saved the day. I’ve read so many comments from folks about how fast law enforcement was, and what a great job they did. Let me tell ya, someone really dropped the ball on this one!
I’d like you to know that at around 3:25 pm an aunt of mine who lives in Canby called to alert me about Wesley’s ranting. I quickly double checked what she was telling me about while she and I were on the phone. I told her I needed to get off the phone and call the police. By 3:35 pm I was on the phone with the Douglas County Sheriff dispatch. At that time I spent 3 minutes and 12 seconds on the phone with the lady on the other end. I told her to have someone look at his facebook page, that he was threatening to kill people. You’d think that was enough to warrant some action. But, keep in mind that Oregonians are living in the most liberal freedom of speech state in the Nation. It is NOT against the law to threaten a person’s life in this state. Here it is considered freedom of speech. (I have learned this also from life experience, as a neighbor from hell has threatened our lives for over two years.)
EVENTUALLY, someone showed up. Gave my son a ride to Mercy. Mercy released him. My son announced to me via private message that he was home, later in the evening. I
could NOT believe he was home. I was flabbergasted! At 9:30 that evening, I called the sheriff’s office again, and again told them who I was, and asked them WHY in the
world was my son home? I told the dispatcher AGAIN to have someone read his facebook page. By, this time I had read his page, and I’d talked to him some privately, so
I told the lady that he was admitting to a murder! I also told the lady that he needed
to be committed!!!!!!!
I lost a lot of sleep that night waiting for the police to show up. By morning I had thought it was all over, and I went to work. When I came home from work, I had emails from family and friends with words of sympathy. I had NO clue what was going on. I’ll tell you, I could have cried when I read what happened to my son– and to you.
Because the way this was handled, you all were made victims too!! And I’m sorry to say that. I don’t want to offend law enforcement–for the most part I consider them friends, and I respect the guys and gals out there doing their jobs and laying their lives on the line nearly every day for the behalf of the public.
But having said that, they had already been warned. And my son is no stranger to law enforcement. They had my son in custody before 9 pm., on Feb. 19th. They had him in custody and it was done peacefully, quietly, and no one else had to be scared. How about that? Your kids and you were scared to death for no reason?!!
And my kid?? My kid takes one heavy duty anti-psychotic that knocks him out and puts him into a deep sleep at night. So when law enforcement knocked on his door, he
was more than likely in a stupor, and when they decided to cuff him, of course he put up a fight. How about you when you are awakened from a deep sleep, might you
fight? How would you feel if you were treated like that? He got four disorderly conduct charges, basically for being psychotic and doing what a human does when they are not! Doesn’t seem right to me!
Why did this take so long that the schools were put on lockdown?? Feb. 20th, your kids and yourselves were put through an experience that was 100% avoidable. 100%!!!! ***MY*** son was put through an experience that was 100% avoidable.
How was it avoidable?
Well, I just gave you one answer. Now it’s time to talk about mental illness, and a couple of other problems that we as a society have that makes the problem even worse. I’ve seen many comments about my son the past couple months. Some of them have been very cruel. Some of them have been very kind. But, the one that sticks out in my mind the most is the remark from a local person who stated she didn’t want him in her backyard. “He admitted to murder, he doesn’t have a conscious. NOT IN MY BACKYARD.” Well, sorry lady, but he’s been in your backyard for years now, and guess what, he’s not the only person in your backyard with mental illness. Not only that, he’s not nearly the most dangerous one out there. That lady needs to educate herself about mental illness, child abuse, domestic violence, drug addiction, and arrogance/ignorance.
About, two years ago, Representative Richardson (Medford, Oregon) sent out an email to his constituents that sounded rather frustrated. The public was asked on a ballot to approve group homes for the mentally ill. The public refused, and the en mass opinion was “NOT IN MY BACKYARD”. I wrote Representative Richardson, and I told him next time someone says that to him, to remind these people that folks with mental illness are ALREADY in their backyards! They are everywhere! You can’t see what is going on in their head, just like you can’t see cancer of the pancreas…at least not at first, not until it’s gone too far and it’s too damn late!
And yet, my guess, is that if a cancer center wanted to build here in Myrtle Creek, you’d all welcome them with open arms. For those of you who do not know, the brain is also part of our body, and without, we can not function. If there is something wrong with our brain, if it does not function properly, if we were born with something not right about it–it is no more our fault than is getting cancer. The mentally ill can not help it if they are sick. (Side note: Calling them psycho, or crazy is intolerably mean spirited, and only shows your own ignorance on the subject matter.)
The answer to how was this avoidable has many answers, and for each person afflicted with these serious conditions, the answer might be slightly different. But, I can tell you, many of them need a support system, and the family can NOT do it all. In our case, in our family, there is not enough funds, or resources available to us to help Wesley through every crisis. We just can’t do it. We are aging have health issues of our own now, my husband has a serious heart condition. We can love Wesley all we want, but we can’t deal with him ALL the time.
What would a group home for these folks cost compared to the manpower that has been put into this kid the last four years, as he has gone from one situation to the next. I say, that someone in the shape my son is in, would be much better off, and it would be so much more compassionate of us as a society, to build group homes and have someone there who can kindly, and compassionately, yet firmly when need be, make sure these folks get their medications, go the to the dr., help them to stay
busy in a constructive way. In reality, it will take a team of people, but these folks with mental illness, they are our fathers, our mothers, our aunts and uncles, our cousins, and our CHILDREN! How much is too much? I was raised that when it came to family, there is never too much.
And speaking of constructive…. my son wants so badly to be a mechanic. But, he can not drive. Would you hire him? No. Thought so. Would you let him hand you tools when he can make it to the shop, in order to give him something to do, and help him to feel useful?? There are lot’s of normal healthy kids out there who have a lot of opportunities presented to them. Kids with mental illness are lucky to have the support of mental health departments–and sometimes they do not.
The laws in Oregon that support the mentally ill, and their caretaker families are just horrible. I have gone to Social Security, his social worker, and one of his doctors and told them MONTHS in advance that he was having problems and needed to be committed. I told them if I had a legal way that I would sign him in to a hospital in a heartbeat. This is what a loving parent does, IF need be. I never got one recommendation, I never got even one suggestion.
Was it avoidable this way? Probably! If the laws in Oregon were geared to be more supportive of the mentally ill, and their families (most often their caretakers)
then I might have been able to and WOULD have signed my son into a hospital. (Don’t think I haven’t done it many times!) But, if you look before that, and see what could be done before that, then having a place to go and be supervised. A place that could have helped him maneuver through the chaos of his mind, and maybe help him find something that he liked to do…. then maybe this would not have happened. Probably.
2. I will tell you that Douglas County Mental Health did try to get through to him. But, I also know they gave up on him, and eventually without telling him or myself, basically kicked him to the curb. As his mother I can tell you I really resented it. Of all the people
in the world, they know that one of his many problems is connecting with other people, reading their facial expressions, plain old communications can sometimes confuse
a mentally ill person. So, they made their effort, and then turned him away. What if there had been a program in place for folks like Wesley? What if he had not been kicked to the curb? I want you to know, that I was told by a local mental health professional recently that this situation would have NEVER happened in King County, Washington! Because there, the support system for folks who are mentally ill is so good, that they are checked on every few days to see that they are taking their meds, eating, etc. If things start looking bad, social workers intervene! What a concept, huh?! I have to tell ya, It sure made me want to move to King County, Washington for Wesley’s sake. Can we as a society compassionately help people who were born with problems by giving just a bit more of ourselves? We sure can, especially if it means that a shooting, or a lockdown won’t happen in our backyards.
3. But, wait– there is more. And I beg you to sit with me here just a little bit longer. I have two more points I’d like to make. Wesley is a victim. I know that you all feel victimized right now, and I am really sorry for how afraid you were made to feel. But, try to put yourself into his shoes if you can…. Wesley has been betrayed by those he should have been able to trust the most!
At three years old Wesley was kicked in the head by his biological father. His father was wearing steel toed boots. Did it do long term damage?? You tell me!?!
So mom, left the father. Divorce. This was followed by a 10 year custody battle royal. Wesley came home saying things like “daddy is going to kill you and throw you
out in the desert where no one can find you.” Mind you he said it with tears, he was an awful little guy (4-5 yrs. old) to go through that. My kids, heard and lived through stuff
that is pretty much unimaginable. My son has been programmed from the beginning to be angry, and his father surely has not helped who Wesley has become today. Anyway, Mom got a new “boyfriend” and I use that word lightly. Father took the oldest and ran and hid with her… In order to have power over the oldest child, he abandoned Wesley. Does this do long term damage to a person? Abandonment? Kinda makes you feel like a big pile of poo later in life when you call to talk to your dad and he doesn’t have time for you.
Back to the new boyfriend. He treated Wesley great until his own child was born. What did he do to Wesley? Well one day I fell down some stairs. My knee gave out. The boyfriend grabbed Wesley by the collar threw the boy to the ground, put his knee into the boys chest, and hit his face so hard he left a hand print on the boys face. He blamed my falling on the boy. The fact is, Wesley had nothing to do with it. This was one of many times that this “man” (another term used lightly) used his anger and aggression to bully the the body of a little boy who reminded him of himself, that it seemed all he wanted was to beat the boy. (yes, boyfriend has mental issues as well) Another time, Wesley put soap into a bowl that was housing some tadpoles. Wesley was my little scientist for sure. He put soap into everything, he mixed soaps… he just loved doing everything with soap for a time. Of course, the tadpoles died, and of course, that was wrong. And yes, I’m sorry for the tadpoles. But, boyfriend (a person that you probably have seen on his bicycle whilst playing his guitar in Roseburg, and formerly in Cloverdale in Sonoma County and in Solano County, CA ) decided that a related punishment was to clean out Wesley’s mouth with soap, so that he could taste the soap that the tadpoles tasted. Only Wesley was made to hold that soap for so long that this lips swelled up at least three times bigger than normal, and the inside of his mouth blistered! That is not punishment, that is CHILD ABUSE. And that is the tip of the iceberg for my little Wesley, who isn’t so little anymore.
How does this fit the “could this have been avoided” question?
Easy–if there is child abuse going on in your home, get your kids out! If you see it happening in your neighborhood report it. PRESS CHARGES, don’t let child abusers
get away with their behaviors. If police fail to do their job (as happened in Wesley’s case, the perpetrator was within his ‘parental’ rights, though he was NOT married to the mother, nor had she ever given him permission to use corporal punishment!) then keep going, go to DHS (CPS), scream help!!! Get someone’s attention, but get the kids out of the situation!!!!! Let that kid know it’s not his fault. Protect the child because if you do not, what you are left with sometimes is an emotionally stunted person with nothing but anger left on the inside, and from my point of view, mental illness just magnifies the results even more. Wesley has psychosis, he looses touch with reality, and he’ll tell you even more horrible stories, but we don’t know if they are truth or part of his psychosis….psychosis seems to be in some cases where anger and hurt come out in spades, and he holds the trump card, and all he had to do was say, “I’m going to bring shootings to Douglas County” to get the attention he wanted. Part of how you avoid this is to do away with CHILD ABUSE, so that the child does not become an adult who holds nothing in his heart but rage.
And by the way, the reason I know those two examples happened— I was there when Wesley got hit that hard. And I walked in on the tadpole incident. And it took me way too long to get rid of ‘boyfriend’. I was proud, and I wanted the apartment for myself and my kids. Boyfriend couldn’t have afforded it if he wanted too, so why could not we? I wanted to keep my kids out of a shelter, but in fighting for a roof over our heads, I subjected my son to even more, because before it was over with that boyfriend was snorting his prescribed ritalin, and blaming his behaviors on us: we were stressing him out. So, we walked on eggshells as his behavior became more and more violent. The pain from child abuse lingers, and it feeds a rage, and kids like mine who deal with mental illness, see it as acceptable to want to do away with their perpetrator. Seeing this man
locally, and living with the fact that he faced NO consequences for his behavior leaves my son with a hurting heart, that at times seems unfixable. (Thought: If he was willing to do to Wesley the things I describe basically in front of my face, and these are only two of many incidents, then what did he do to the kid while I was gone to work??)
4. This segues to my next point. My son has been educated about illicit drugs and to not take them. But, I have to say that his educators and his parents were horribly
undermined by an employ at Douglas County Mental Health Department who actually suggested that he get a medical marijuana card when he was only 18. This woman did this
recommendation in front of me. Talk about a mom wanting to jack slap someone! That was all the permission that kid needed to enter the life… and with a diagnosis’s like he has, he didn’t need the excuse! But, it’s not only that, remember when I said that Wesley has trouble connecting with people, forming relationships, reading facial expressions, etc. Well, he has trouble but he wants to fit in SOOOO bad….that he’s been willing (FOR YEARS) to do just about anything anyone wanted. So, he’s been targeted by very ugly people (think gangs). And I’m not just saying this, I was told this by one of his apartment managers in Roseburg. She saw it happen again and again. Wesley was viewed as weak and gullible, he was used and abused by his ‘friends’ over and over again. These situations got a gun held to his head at 18 years of age. Its gotten his apartment totally trashed. It’s gotten him kicked out of at least two apartments, and what it has all lead to was an even MORE unhappy person who turned to drugs to make himself feel better. So, I am not too proud to announce that I have a 22 year old drug addicted son. So now, he needs a dual diagnosis treatment center on top of all else!
I have watched for the past four years, as drugs slowly took my son away from me. I’d blame the mental illness, but you know, troubled as our relationship sometimes
was, I still had my son. And three years ago, AFTER I realized I’d written a check to pay for pot, I asked him to sit in my car, and I flat out told him, that I was going to have my son back. That I would spy, talk to his friends, listen to his conversations, confront drug dealers, or do whatever it took to get my son back including turning him into the law for any behavior that was unlawful… and I would do it all in the name of love. My bottom line, my child had been stolen and I wanted him back. He’s since made a lot of threats, but I have followed through. We have yet to see if I’ll get my son back.
But, the lesson here, is that one drug dealer lives where the old drive in used to be in Tri City. One drug dealer lives right next to where the leather shop used to be in Tri City. And one drug dealer lives in Myrtle Creek proper. Wesley has rented brand new TV’s to pay for dope, and probably meth, and/or mushrooms. My guess is that he did not come up with that idea on his own. He’s really smart, but he has a lack of capacity for following through.
Remember, the kid can’t even drive! The TV’s have been “stolen”. I want you to know that I did confront one of the drug dealers—and I was threatened with law enforcement. He is probably laughing now while he watches his new tv. A married man with small children, who doesn’t care about other people’s children. Turns out that a distant cousin was there when this dealer gave my son some dope. When I confronted the cousin, I got a wildly mean response, and when I tried to explain why Wesley should not have the drug (i.e. mental illness)— well, mean is a nice word for the response I got. That cousin was down right despicable in his fight for the right that my son should have to do drugs because he was an adult by that time…. But look what it has lead to?? It has lead to a life of crime, deceit, and even more mental confusion. My son is trading his food stamps for drugs! Someone takes his card to the store and buys food for their household, and gives him drugs in return! Had my son been kept free of illicit drugs, there is no doubt in my mind that this would have ALL been avoided…. and yet, I have done ALL that I knew to do, including calling his social worker and trying to turn him in.
I could not do it all. I promise you, that I am no super mom. I am tired, and I need help. And I am not the only mom out there in this situation. Our family is NO where near UNIQUE. If you want proof, attend the next NAMI meeting, they meet at the Vine Street Baptist Church in Roseburg! You’ll find caregivers, and ‘consumers’ (i.e. mentally ill folks)
there from Myrtle Creek, Roseburg, Coos Bay, etc, etc. etc.
I’m asking you for a huge favor:
1. Next time it comes to a vote, please consider voting yes for group homes for the mentally ill and for the developmentally disabled. The biggest majority of these folks never hurt a fly. Statistically speaking it is the abused kids mentally ill or not, who grow up to terrorize our communities.
2. If you are asked to vote in a law that gives people more rights to step in and take charge of a mentally ill persons life, please consider a yes vote if the law is compassionate, and requires transparency and accountability. Wesley reached the point where he was totally self neglectful. He smelled so bad that when he got into our vehicle, my husband gagged. He was not showering, he was not brushing his teeth. One week after his food stamps were issued in Feb 2013, he called to say his food was all gone, so he wasn’t handling his
money. He had his cat living on Doritos. There must be a system put into place so that loved ones can step in and place these persons into care so that they don’t
A.) hurt themselves B.) hurt others. (not necessarily in that order)
3. If you see a child being abused, do something to stop it.
The worst action you can take is INACTION!
4. If you see a young person being given drugs, or getting into drugs —stop it. I don’t care what it takes. I don’t care if they are legally of age. To a person with psychosis like my son, drugs only make it worse–he honestly believes that the world is out to get him. Sitting in jail right this moment, he thinks the cooks are trying to put poison in his food, and that the jail in general is trying to poison him with ‘jail pills’…I can not tell him any different, he won’t believe me, so he won’t take his medications. End result: when he gets out he won’t be any better. Illicit drugs will make this WORSE. Sometimes, just so you know, drugs even creates mental illness. I have a second cousin right now, who had no mental problems until about a year or so ago. He took some hits off of a joint that was laced with something else. He is now a schizophrenic. He is paying a heavy price for teenage experimentation, and he will pay it for life. Don’t let the drug proponents fool you, the “not hard drugs” has lead to some really bad consequences for folks, and those who are mentally ill bear the brunt of them, and that is a statistical fact that has been brought out via research.
5. Sometimes, someone like my son might cross YOUR path. In real life, he is a pretty sweet kid when he is on his medications. He has hurt a couple people, in the
family, myself being one. He was psychotic when he did these things. When my son is psychotic, he sometimes hears voices who tell him to do some pretty nasty
things. When he is psychotic, he will tell you he has killed someone and left them to bleed to death. When he’s psychotic he’ll tell you who he’s going to kill. But he has NEVER once killed anyone, and he has NO control over his thoughts and words while in his psychotic state. When he comes back to reality, he remembers what all he has said and done. He always apologizes, and he’s always seemed sincere. Please, realize that these folks are people with feelings, they were dealt a deck that they can not be held responsible for and they need our help just to maintain at the most basic levels. If they feel loved and valued by the community then they are far less likely to lash out. Ask them for help around the house, it helps them to feel important and useful. Smile at them, offer them a hand, ask if you can help, listen to them for a bit, give them hug–remember that they are people too. Keep in mind that teenagers with mental illness are still teenagers! They buck their parents, but will often do for you what they will not do for mom and dad. Let them help with yard work even if they do not do a perfect job, remember its the thought that counts. Remember, it’s great for their self-esteem.
Speaking of teenager, you can call my son a man if you’d like. He is 22 years old on paper. But if you look at his booking photo you’ll see he still has peach fuzz, his body is not yet done growing–he is not yet a man, not physically and not emotionally.
Yes, this was avoidable, in many, many ways. I take responsibility for my part of it. Now, we as society must continue to take responsibility for caring for those we love if for no other reason because we believe in treating them in a humane manner, for even they have the potential to love, create, give, laugh, and so much more.
Thank you, if you have more questions you can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Message to Wesley:
I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be!
ps. Wes may also have aspergers. A dr. was putting pen to paper for the diagnosis when he heard that ‘boyfriend’ had it. Not knowing if it was inborn or enviromental influences, he decided to not write it down.