Since we have no firm mental health diagnosis for Carter (and wouldn’t want one; the chances of it being accurate while Carter is so young are slim), we also don’t have much by way of prognosis. It’s a challenge for us to stay loose, open to what the future may bring. Perhaps we are “just” dealing with severe anxiety, sensory processing dysfunction, and a combination of mild developmental delays. Maybe he will learn to cope with all of those things better as he grows older and will become a competent, comfortable man. Maybe, though, it’s something darker. The ugliest possibilities include the chronic, devastating mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or the terrifying combination of the two, schizoaffective disorder. Not that anything terrible is a foregone conclusion with any of those, either. Sometimes, with the appropriate medications and supports, people with those neurological differences live good lives.
Bottom line, my greatest fears are around Carter’s sense of well-being, his feeling of belonging-ness in the world. I look back on these first 7 years of his life and it takes my breath away, the amount of pain and fear he has suffered. He told me recently that he’s been afraid every minute of his whole life. That same day, he was angry and out-of-sorts and he told me, coldly (not in the tantrumy, please-react-to-me way that he sometimes does) that he would kill himself someday.
Dear God, save us all. If we can’t find ways to get him more comfortable, if he still feels this chaotic and scared and angry by the time he’s old enough to tie a noose or unlock the medicine cabinet or drive a car off a cliff… well, I don’t want to finish that thought. I try not to think about it, because what can I do other than make this day the most healing day possible? But always, at the back of my mind, there is this stark and hateful awareness that Carter may not be with us for long.