Going through Willie’s things tonight because I miss him so much that I need to connect with him. Very much a double edged sword though as the “things” that I am going through are his journals. They are a brutally honest insight into his mind over the final 9 months of his life. A look at his darkest feelings and his strongest emotions. He wrote with complete disclosure in his journals.
When he was first admitted to the hospital and allowed to wear his own clothes he was very clear that I was to get his shirts from the third drawer – “way at the bottom of the drawer” he had said. I remember telling him that I knew where his clothes were, don’t be silly. When I went home though and went to the third drawer and moved the shirts though I found a stack of notebooks. I believe that was Willie’s way of saying, without saying out loud, that he wanted them to be found. That he wanted to be helped and made better. He had reached out just a cople weeks earlier when he had written me a note stating that he was certain he had a mental illness and that he was scared – that he needed help. This was no different to me than that note – a message saying “help me”.
I sat on his bed in his room and read through every page of every journal. It took me a long time and yes, I had some pangs of guilt about his privacy, that I shouldn’t be doing this…but the fact is that I was just as scared as Willie was; maybe more. I was searching for something to show me how to help him. I scanned all of the pages – not sure if he would destroy them when he got home form the hospital. I felt they were too important to have gone if he did. Then I did what I knew was necessary – I betrayed him and took the journals to the hospital. I asked to see the psychiatrist before we met together as a family. I explained what I had found and started to tell him of some of the things Willie had written. Willie’s journals were terrifying…they were so filled with emotions. Very personal and radiating pain and hurt; clearly detailing far more than simple clinical depression and anxiety in his writings and expressions. Imagine my shock when the psychiatrist said that since Wille was 16 they would ask his permission to view them and if he refused, then they would not look at them or allow me to reference anything I had read as it would violate his privacy. I argued that Willie was committed to the psychiatric ward – involuntary – and I was his guardian….that the information in these journals contradicted what he was saying… that he was lying about his thoughts and the severity of his emotions and how could we begin to help him if we didn’t use all the tools we had. But, the psychiatrist didn’t budge. Willie was brought in, told that I had found his journals and brought them in and he – of course – refused permission to discuss thmem or view them. I was given the journals to take home, unopened by the hospital care workers.
So Willie’s care continued and his journals were never mentioned. I did continuously try to reference the things I had read in them and everytime it was made clear that the information was not “relevant”. Willie lied and said what he knew they wanted to hear. The social workers, nurses and his psychiatrist raved about how polite he was, how much better h was getting a taking part in things, how his mood was consistently getting better. His home visits with me showed a completely different side however, He raged at me, broke things, wrote on his wall, threatened to kill himself, screamed at how he was just saying what he had to until theywould let him out and he could do what he wanted and end it all. Everytime I went back and told the case workers what he had said and what had happened… it was spun that it was my relationship with him that was a trigger…that maybe it would be best if he moved to his Dad’s after discharge to allow for a less stressful environment while he “got better”. There was, briefly, a point when the psychiatrist did mention that sometimes people will orchestrate things to fall into place so they can do what they want. But it was made in passing and that was it.
Reading through Willie’s journals again after his death – he kept more after his discharge up until he died – allow a more disturbing look at his mind and his thoughts. A mind that was becoming more and more tormented and conflicted and very very ill. A mind that was not of a singular thought but rather disjointed. Multiple journals kept over the same period with divergent themes and thought patterns from each other. Writings that literally begged for help while at the same time swearing to do what he needed to to ensure that he wasn’t stopped in taking his own life.
The pain in reading those entries matched by the pain that must have made him write them.
It’s all water under the bridge now…no matter how many times we go over it and remember the events or talk them through it’s not going to alter what happened. So I sit everynow and then and read through them and hold them and hear his hurt and his pain and his confusion and I tell him how sorry I am that I couldn’t make it better – that I didn’t make it better…and that he’s not here for me to tell him.