I’m watching the Oprah Show dated February 18th, with Laurie and her son Zach. Laurie says, right off the bat, she knew something was wrong, right off the bat. Zach raged out of control. He was a threat to his family and classmates. He brandished a knife at his mom. He was so violent with a babysitter she locked herself and Zach’s little sister in a bedroom while he destroyed the house. He talked about hurting or killing his mother.
Laurie and her husband Joe took a lot of video. A lot of pictures. I sometimes wonder if we should have. I know at the times things like this happened – the rages, the destruction – I just wanted to get rid of it, not preserve it. I needed it out of my mind.
Watching Zach talk was like watching Tim when he was 11. Even the “I can’t remember,” comment to Oprah when she pressed him on what the voices say. Tim sometimes, I believe, really can’t remember, and sometimes, just doesn’t want to say because he knows how horrible it will sound. It must have been painful for Zach when Oprah pulled up the picture of what he drew, a picture of himself shooting his mom, calling her a “bich”.
I think Oprah did an amazing job relating to Zach during her interview with him. She didn’t give him the stress of interviewing him in front of an audience, which was a very good call.
Oprah said that Zach has been diagnosed with four different mental conditions, but didn’t say which ones. I bet I could guess which ones. Laurie said she dragged her heels on medicating her son. That now Zach has holes in his memory, she feels, from the meds. Zach is in residential treatment, on the heels of being hospitalized. That Zach’s little sister has PTSD. I bawled when Brit, the boy who had been on 11 years ago, diagnosed at a young age with Bipolar Disorder, sent a message to Zach. That there’s hope. That Zach and, as an extension of that Tim, can grow up to have a good life. Tim will never be a national merit scholar like Brit, but he could be – he will be – a content adult, living a life he can be proud of and that he enjoys. I cling to that thought.