My Name is Brandon

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My Name is Brandon
This is me ….

by Bernadette Moyer and Brandon Sahm

The words below are from our son Brandon not a single word was edited. As a point of reference, just before the holidays this year, I told his father, my husband that I wish I could write about this but out of respect for Brandon it wasn’t my story to share. Oddly, two days later, he called me from yet another hospital crisis admission stay and asked me if I would help him write his story. There is so much more I could say here but I am choosing to keep it in my heart, at least for now.

He was always different but I chose to see the best of him and often chalked it up to him being an artist and an actor. Looking back with hindsight and 20/20 vision he was extremely well supported and loved or he most probably would not have had the successes that he did achieve. His birth mother died when he was born, I got him when he was 87 days old along with his twin sister. His natural father and I raised them together.

After what we lived through these past two years I no longer have that luxury of seeing him how I viewed him before this all began two years ago. I have loved him dearly and deeply. Today I know that I must let go… as difficult as that is for me. I am no longer the answer …it is so much more than what I am built to manage. I just want him happy and to be his best, however he decides to define it.

(You might want to grab a tissue…)

His words, his story, from his own handwritten journal and by his request …

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My Name is Brandon Sahm. I’m an Eagle Scout, a high school graduate, and a young adult who has recently been diagnosed with Autism and mental illness. But before you say anything I want you to know it wasn’t always like this. It’s just the last two years was like going through hell which it was. At 24 I lost my job at Yo Lavie, a frozen yogurt store one that I worked at for 3 ½ years. It was hard because it was a job I worked hard at and one I got on my own. Three-hundred job applications later I started working again at Texas Roadhouse. It was also around that time that I got my driver’s license. However, the job would be very short lived, after seeing the struggle of keeping up in a fast-paced environment my boss decided to let me go. I was devastated, and instead of going straight home to tell my parents I decided (and this was out of anger) to get drunk.

By the summer of 2016 my jump from hospital to hospital began. It started at Franklin Square in Essex. I wasn’t really fond with the care looking back because the groups didn’t talk much about their problems and did nothing but arts and crafts. Also it felt more like a place for people on drugs.

In August of 2016 after fighting with my parents out of impulse and anger, I attempted to end my life and commit suicide. It was raining when it happened. What stopped me was contemplation, I was halfway over the bridge on 695 when I stopped and got down. Soon after that the police came and took me to Saint Joseph Medical Center. There the groups were more active and the staff did care about the patients. After my lengthy stay and release I was an outpatient for 30 days. It was my mother who took me to all those daily appointments. I had many hospitals stays all kinds of diagnosis and according to my mom “more pills than any human body should ever consume” time and time again I called a crisis team and was picked up and readmitted. It wouldn’t take long before I would return for the holidays. On January 13, 2017 I was discharged again with a diagnosis of mental illness and Autism.

I was surprised to hear the word Autism but at the same time I had a sense of clarity and everything I did socially made sense. Because growing up I didn’t have many friends yet I excelled academically. As I said I became an Eagle Scout, made National Honor Society, graduated from high school all before the diagnosis. But of all the people that would tease me, my sister was the biggest bully yet. I remember every year she would make me lie about our report cards, and make me buy food for her at the mall. So at 18 when she left and changed schools I felt free for the first time. It was also our fights that made me think about suicide for the first time. And at that time when I told my mom, she said, “I had no idea.”

Sometimes when I think of suicide I think of how easy it must be to end the pain because to me I’ve always felt like a burden to my family. But now I see I have much to live for and now every time I pass by that bridge I think to myself, “wow I could have end it all but I didn’t.”

Back to the hospitals the next stay would be in Sheppard Pratt. I was there because I had a fight with my dad physically and realized I needed more help especially with my anger. I was there for almost two months and then sent to Harbor House.

I would be coming back to the house a few times including the holiday season. When I left back in December of 2017 I ran away because of the Christmas season, missing my parents, struggling mentally to accept what I can’t change. I hated myself even more for letting it happen, so much my desire for death was intensified. So I ended up spending Christmas in the hospital again and a Christmas day visit from my parents.

I still count myself lucky and grateful to have parents like them. I’m not much for writing but it is helping me express how I feel and it’s therapeutic, just like my art or any form of art for that matter. There are so many things that can influence us and make us into who we are, we just have to embrace it. My mom is like my best friend, we’re thick as thieves and she’s also my cheerleader. She’s known for her writing many of which I enjoy reading. What makes my mom special is that she has always been there for me, even when my sister and I were babies. The same goes for my dad, he could have easily left me and my sister up for adoption but he didn’t. My dad is a hard worker, a quality I picked up from him. He also introduced me to classic rock which I still enjoy today. My dad and I may argue sometimes but he is still my dad and I love him for raising us.

One of my fondest memories is being in boy scouts. One of those memories includes summer camps and getting to spend time with my dad.

(PLEASE keep Brandon and our entire family in your prayers as we continue to stumble through all of this)

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Caregiving

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Caregiving
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Caregiving begins with self-care; we have to care for ourselves before we can care for others. Just like when we are on an airplane and instructed that if necessary administer the oxygen mask to you first even before administering to an infant child.

For many of us mothers our natural inclination is to look out for the infant first. But in this case, in an emergency situation we are no good in caregiving to others if we haven’t first taken care of ourselves.

We have to know our limits in handling the care of others. It can be exhausting it can run us down; it might not be what we are good at or intended to do. Not every person is a nurse, or a doctor or social worker. When we don’t have the care to give, when our own cup is empty and we have nothing else to offer others we ourselves run into trouble.

There is no shame in knowing what you are capable of and what you indeed can and cannot handle. If you don’t have the money, you would acknowledge you can’t afford it. The same is true for caregiving. If you don’t have it to give, you don’t have it to give, period.

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Anger and frustrations are often born out of trying to do something that is beyond our ability to do for someone else. Protect your boundaries; protect your sanity say “no” with compassion. Know your limits!

Some people will drain the life out of you, but only if you let them, if you do, you are a participant too. If a loved ones needs something and you don’t have it to give to them, help by pointing them in the right direction. Perhaps they just need encouragement to do it for themselves or maybe they needed a larger support system.

Many years ago a very dear friend was anxious and running around after his father became ill and was hospitalized. He was so worked up that he had a heart attack and died. His father who was already in the hospital was receiving the care that he needed. Sometimes others who are trying to help and be supportive are operating with less than necessary.

My mother was a masters educated registered nurse, I witnessed while growing up what that profession took out of her. She worked in the acute units of a hospital in ACU, ICU and CCU. By the time her work day ended she was flat out exhausted. She excelled at her job and most often gave it her all.

There are others in the “helping” professions who don’t have much to give or haven’t taken the time to fill their own cup. Beware of them as they too are out there with the good ones.

Today I want to hold up prayers for all the caregivers that seem to do it so well and effortlessly and knowing that they also need care and that care starts with self-care and appropriate boundary setting.

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Along The Way and Another Way on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Bye

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Bye
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It was the middle of summer 2016 and our adult son was acting out, it was one episode after another and one lengthy hospital stay after another. No matter what we did or what we said our son was determined to end up at our local hospital. He always had “issues” we all have “issues” but this summer he was full blown acting out in ways that not only weren’t helping him but they were in fact hurting him.

I raised him from the time he was just an infant although he was not my biological child, he was his father’s son. We were at wits end and really uncertain as what we should do next, nothing was working. We literally were on standby mode, our son was in charge, it was his life and as an adult he was making all his own decisions.

We felt completely helpless as we witnessed him doing things that were not going to help him and definitely were hurting us too. During the midst of the crisis my husband woke up one morning and said, “I had a bad dream last night. I dreamt there was a note left on the kitchen table. It was from you and it said “bye” just one word “bye!” We both laughed really hard.

They say behind every joke there is a hint of truth. I knew right away what he was saying. No one needed to be put through some of the stuff our adult kids put us through. Some marriages don’t survive it. After everything we had been through together with our kids he knew that someone else might have said that is it, I’ve had it, “Bye!”

Until you are a parent yourself and until or unless you have raised children to maturity you have no way of truly knowing just how much work and effort and love and determination go into raising kids. There is just no way to know until you do the job yourself.

“A simple bye can make us cry, a simple joke can make us laugh and a simple care can make us fall in love.” Author Unknown

What would “bye” have done for him or for me or for our family? Yes I wanted out of this situation with our son but I didn’t want to leave my husband or my marriage over it.

Some relationship need a healthy “bye” when it is over and time to move on. Today after everything we have shared in our marriage we can laugh and say “bye” but what we really mean is we don’t want that issue or that thing to be creating any harm or hurt or upsets between us.

And now that some time has passed and we all survived the drama and recent episodes our son created and survived it together, our marriage is stronger and better and healthier and we hope and pray that adult son takes the good and the lessons and leaves the rest behind with a big healthy “bye” of his own.

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Helping Professions Business

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Helping Professions Business
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Doctors, lawyers, social workers and teacher are all in the “helping profession” and yes it is a business. It is how they earn their living they get paid and often they are well paid and most often they get paid whether they are successful or not.

My mother was a masters-educated nurse and her brother was a doctor, they were in the “helping professions” and they definitely cared about people and they wanted them to get well. They were also very well paid for their services. The medical field is a business. To a patient with a doctor who has helped them that doctor becomes almost God-like. And to the client who has a lawyer that has kept him out of jail that attorney is also almost God-like. Yet both the doctor and the attorney are doing their jobs, jobs that pay them. And pay them well.

Most lawyers get a “retainer” and are paid up front and you pay whether you win or lose. When you enter the hospital or any doctor’s office, the very first question you will be asked is “do you have insurance?” and next “who is financially responsible for your care?” It is a money game. YES they provide a service and yes you are the consumer. They may be in the “helping profession” but it is about being in business.

Would they do what they do for you if they weren’t getting paid for it? And what happens if they really aren’t helping you at all? And what happens when they stop getting paid?

Recently a family member went into the hospital with some mental health issues and after months of hospitalization he is taking 9-different medications over 20 pills a day and in less than two months has gained over 50 pounds and now has high cholesterol. He is only 24 years old. The medications are supposed to stabilize him and help him with his moods and anxiety. With the over 9 medications and over 20 pills a day he is still moody, crying often, does not smile, and continues to threaten harming himself. He is unhealthier than ever before and now not just mentally but physically too. Yet the “helping professionals” claim that he is “doing really well” and yet he repeatedly has one shocking episode after another.

My questions are should any human body be taking 9-different medications and over 20 pills in a single day? How could gaining 50 plus pounds in less than 2 months and while in a hospital atmosphere be considered “healthy” and “doing really well?”

I am someone that questions “helping professionals” and I am someone that looks for visible results. If you are helping and there are results, I am all in but if you are getting paid and the patient or the client or the students are not doing well, I am going to question whether this is what is best for them or for you.

When we are in need and are vulnerable, just may be when we need the helping professional the most and yet we may not have the frame of mind to discern whether they are actually helping us or if we are the ones that are helping their bottom line.

One of the best things about being married is in having a partner so that when you are not at your best, they can come in and truly have your best interest at heart.

Today I pray for the people that are most vulnerable and at the mercy of the “helping professionals” and that they truly are receiving the help that they need and are more than just a vehicle for financial gain. Amen

And Dear God, please do not let me live past the time when I am wholly able to care for myself …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Just a Little TLC

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Just a Little TLC
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It’s amazing what a little love and tender loving care can and will do. For months we watched a home in our neighborhood going from abandoned to a bank foreclosure. There were sticky notices on the door and the fence was coming apart and partially missing. The windows were showing signs of age and there was chipping paint. You could see that this house was neglected and abandoned. It backed up to our community park and practically added the park to extend its own backyard.

The house looked sad and it looked unloved. And it was. Then we started to see cars there and later a new fence and new windows. Some freshly added paint too. The house was starting to come back to life!

It has such a perfect location in being at the end of the block and then backing up to our community park. Love and care brought that house back and renewed its place in the community. No longer is it an eyesore and run-down piece of property but it has new owners. New owners that invested their time and their resources to bring about positive results and I’m sure the neighbors are delighted with those results.

Seeing that home go from down and out to up and rising, reminded me that we can all be abandoned and we can all be neglected but when we are loved and when we receive tender loving care we look and we feel and we act our best. People notice how we take care of ourselves and how we look and how we carry ourselves.

“We must always change renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.” Goethe

We can look and act like a wreck, worn out and abandoned or we can pick ourselves up, do the work and add some tender loving care and become renewed again. Who doesn’t want to feel renewed and revived and most of all loved?

Here is to the effects of tender loving care and feeling rejuvenated and renewed …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

No Trust – No Relationship

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No Trust – No Relationship
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Think about it? You might tolerate someone that you don’t trust but you won’t be close to them. A lack of trust equals a lack of closeness and the ability to form truly close interpersonal relationships.

I know people that worked through their trust issues in marriages and in family relationships but it took time, it took maturity, it took forgiveness, it took ownership and most of all it took the ability and the desire to fix and to attempt to repair what was broken.

Because of all my writings I hear from parents around the world, parents who had adult child estrange themselves for whatever reasons and the number one take away when that adult child makes an attempt to come back is “guard your heart” and “I could never trust them again.”

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When we hurt others and when we are truly sorry most people will forgive us and if the relationship is important and meaningful, they may try to repair it. But when you have someone in your life that not only hurt you but shows no true sense of remorse, it is virtually impossible to have a relationship with them. You may decide to tolerate them but there is no true closeness and no real relationship.

Every single one of us has done something in our life that we regret and are sorry for and about, and if we want to be forgiven and to be acknowledged and accepted we must start by 1) owning what we did and 2) try to right any of our wrongs.

Sometimes it is worth the time and the effort to work on repairing and in other relationships it may just be healthier and better to let sleeping dogs lay. Some people just don’t deserve another chance. Some people do.

In my lifetime, I have forgiven everyone, everything and I didn’t do it for them or because I wanted to have a relationship with them, I did it for myself, I did it so I wasn’t stuck and burdened with that kind of garbage. I have also owned my stuff, what did I do wrong? What could I have done better? Sometimes ownership is all it takes.

My husband and I have been together for over 24 years now soon to be 25years, in that length of time we have hurt each other, we have done things to one another that required true forgiveness.

“It takes seconds to destroy what it takes years to build.” Lou Holtz

Forgiveness that was always followed by our truest sense of sorrow, sorrow over our hurts toward one another and our willingness to put our ego aside and humble ourselves enough to not only be sorry but willing to accept the consequences of our actions and work toward rebuilding those hurts.

Anyone in a long term relationship or marriage knows that inevitably we will hurt our partners either knowingly or unknowingly but the desire to work through it is greater than the need to be right. The greater goal and the greater good are always to get through it together and remember than there is no “I” in “we.”

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette A Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Let Me Take Care of You

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Let Me Take Care of You
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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“Let me take care of you!” he said. It was a father to his son, a son who was struggling with mental health issues. It was probably the sweetest thing I ever heard him say. But he says it wasn’t the first time he said it. The first time was when his almost 19 year old daughter wanted to leave home to be with her boyfriend. He tried like only a father can to get her to come home and finish her education.

This time his son took his father up on his offer because at age 24 he is struggling, struggling in ways that we could never conceive of, but what does a loving father do but jump in and take care of the one that is most needy and most vulnerable. It’s called love, real genuine love when all you want is to help and to care for the one child that needs you.

Even as a strong woman who has been handling her life for most all her life the sounds of “let me take care of you” sounds so loving and so good and so genuine, when in fact it comes from such a God-loving place with no agenda and no ulterior motives.

That’s all we really have, how we treat one another and what we do in a crisis says a lot about our depth of love and of caring. The ability to be selfless and the desire to put another person’s needs above all else is the highest form of giving and of love.

Helping someone else just because we can is what sets us apart from being civilized to uncivilized people. We all need love, we all need care, and we may need it in different times during different periods of our lives but having family or friends that genuinely love and care for you is the greatest gift in life.

And the capacity and ability to be that person who comes from a position of strength and genuine caring reflects so beautifully on the one who has it to give. Selfless giving is truly our highest ideal.

In life there are times when we are the caretakers and caregivers and other times when we may need to hear, “let me take care of you.” It feels good to hear someone say, “take care” but it feels so much better to hear someone say, “I will take care of you.”

Prayers for all those in need and prayers for all those that are willing and able to provide genuine heartfelt love and care.

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble