This might possibly be the most confusing issue with these kids.  I’m sure that not every child who suffers from anxiety/depression/bi-polar, etc. would be considered a bad influence but in my situation, I want you to remember that this has been going on for many years.  It seems that “we” as a family and a school district caught on to the reality of my son’s diagnosis a few years after some of the first symptoms started.  By the time “help” stepped in, we had already been in court for his chronic truancy.  He had been involved in numerous situations that created much animosity within our home and with other siblings. He had made plenty of bad choices regarding who he would be, who he would choose to spend his time with and how he would survive which also put him directly in front of another judge.  I have 6 children and I can say that being in the Juvenile Court system is not the norm.

I am still learning to differentiate between his illness and his choices.  I have learned to have patience when he makes his reckless choices and I continue to encourage him to research his belief system. I know it is easy for those on the outside looking in to see “the bad influence” but what they don’t see is his heart and his soul.  His condition is not a myth.  He does not fake his symptoms although I’m sure that years of dealing has allowed him the ability to manipulate when required but there is scientific proof that when he does make his all too often hazardous choices, his brain is not working properly.  I call these times “his episodes.” … and of course, he can make improper choices when he is not having “an episode” – this is when you have to recognize the difference.  Scientists believe that specific brain circuits and brain functions do not “work properly” causing issues with sleep, wakefulness, eating, sexual activity, impulsivity, learning and memory.  I have seen it firsthand.  I have seen the look in his eyes when he is in agony without a real reason why.  The confusion he portrays is heart wrenching.  Living with him day in and day out, I can see why he chooses to utilize a drug that is instant but I also feel so heartbroken for him knowing that he has bought into the current culture of bologna that tells him the ridiculous lies that there is nothing wrong with it – it can’t kill you like cigarettes – it’s not addictive – on and on and on.  The truth for his genetics is that he could be hindering his future in an unforgiving way.

What motivates my methods on drug use communication?….There has been a lot of research into the type of disorder that my son has been clinically diagnosed with and a few of the leading symptoms include “reckless behavior and rash decisions” along with “excessive irritability and poor judgement”.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Drug abuse and mental disorders are commonly found together in teens – usually higher than 50%.  Drug use comes with its own set of issues that cannot be overlooked even when as a parent, I do understand that THC has been proven to relieve the symptoms that continually send him to the edge of a breakdown, but the downside of the domino effect that occurs from a teenager (with no job) who needs to pay for his habit can wreak havoc on any family.  My stance is that I am working with the medical field to help provide him with a viable, long term pharmaceutical plan that has been proven to work.  I don’t utilize drugs in my life and I cannot give my permission to any of my children, but I am learning how to support in ways that I myself would have found appalling in earlier years. – What’s that old saying….”Those in glass houses should not throw stones?”

While I have no intention of giving my opinion regarding cannabis use in general, studies have found that mixing cannabis with mental disorders can have tragic results.  The high does absolutely temporarily take away very negative feelings and emotions, but since it is also known that the brain of those with mental irregularities connect differently, it has been found that the continued use of cannabis increased the rate and longevity of the manic and/or depressive episodes.  The goal is TO CONTROL THESE EPISODES TO ENABLE THE INDIVIDUAL TO HAVE A NORMAL LIFE…. This is what approved pharmaceutical methods can do.  I will continue to preach these findings and I hope he will one day believe.

But, to the question as to why are they “The Bad Influence”?  Because they have put themselves there unintentionally.  The domino’s, in our case started to fall long ago and it can be difficult to change your direction when you continue to get hit by a domino effect of a choice made long before they decide to change.  This CANNOT be an excuse for these kids because it is an inevitable consequence so in turn, as parents and teachers, we must continue to be the support system or their lifeline.  We are standing in the shadows encouraging them to hold their head high.  Helping them believe that “this too shall pass”.  Giving them strength to continue their fight when sometimes, even the strongest adult would throw their hands in the air.  All of this takes place while the rest of the world is only seeing a small piece of the pie.  The piece that doesn’t look like much.  Outsiders see “the moment” when their consequence catches up with them a few months later or even a year later.  Outsiders have no idea how many battles they have won in between and they can’t see how hard they might be trying. They are the kids who don’t go to school, who are continuously in the Principals office, who are the ones at least 50% of the time who are the marijuana users. They ARE usually seen as the BAD INFLUENCE.

As a parent dealing with these issues, I can attest to the fact that it can be exhausting to distinguish between the acting out that needs re-direction or the blunt disrespectful acts of juvenile delinquency that needs harsh punishment.  It is unfortunate that my son knows the darker side of life but I cannot deny he knows and therefore, most of his consequences are severe because he lives in a severe environment by choice because that is where he “feels” he fits in.  He jumps from friends to friends on a continuous basis, but they always seem to come from the same mold. It’s not very often you find a successful world renowned hunting guide enjoying a night on the town with a tree hugger environmentalist.  That’s just our nature.  I can honestly say that I am never confident in “the battles I choose” on a daily basis.  That’s why I believe it is important to keep educating myself on statistics and real life stories of what has helped transform these kids and what has been devastating and I try like hell to end up somewhere in the middle.  Screaming, hollering and threatening do not work.  Communication and trying to meet in the middle seems to help create small baby steps – but at least they are in a constant direction.  I run the risk of failure on a daily basis because it is hard but as I have said many times, I believe his struggle is more difficult and therefore – I continue!

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