The last photo taken of Ava and me when we were on our camping trip summer, 2011.

The last photo taken of Ava and me when we were on our camping trip summer, 2011.

How is it possible for time to crawl in microsecond intervals during that first year of loss of your child yet fly with the speed of light?

It was twelve months ago, almost to the day when I first started writing this blog. A year ago, I felt as if I was a part of the “Bodies” exhibit where all the skin has been stripped from my body. To say I was raw, vulnerable, humbled and in great pain is an understatement. Yes, Ava was my only daughter and only surviving child but she was my best friend in the whole world. We shared secrets to the very end. I had every expectation to believe she would be there the next morning when I called her to tell her I loved her even though she’d promised to not fail on her next attempted suicide.

For her whole life, she struggled to get the confidence she needed to live a happy life through numerous therapists, psychiatrists, physicians, therapists (both group and individual), food modifications, purification, yoga, cleansing, books, education, medications, relationships and family but there just was never enough love,  support or positive direction for her insatiable appetite which was conjoined with her innate fascination with death and fatalistic nature.

She was consistently misdiagnosed by some of the most prominent psychiatrists in Atlanta whose only directive was to keep giving her a cocktail of drugs hoping it would help her instead doing a better job of digging deeper into who she was to find the truth. A “mere” therapist was able to pinpoint  her BPD in 2005. His diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) hit the nail on the head…one which has no magic pill and only the intense Dialectical therapy to help cope with the symptoms.

No psychiatrist took the effort to get past her veneer to see the truth under the surface. If it had been their child, would they have treated her the same?

The problem was that there was no research for this brain malfunction (as I term it) readily available until more recent years. A little too little too late. From my understanding, it wasn’t a popular brain malfunction to receive funding for so the woman who did the most groundbreaking research on it had to slant her research toward the Bipolar side of this very complex disorder. BPD can include combinations of other brain malfunctions including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Bipolar Disorder [both I and II] (BD) and Narcissism, just to name a few. People with BPD typically have severe separation anxiety, very sensitive, intelligent, artistic and musically inclined.. To say they don’t detach easily from failed relationships is a gross understatement. Ava exhibited all of these characteristics from day one yet only ONE professional dug deep enough to recognize the complexities of her brain malfunctions and name it. Yep. I’d say the mental health care system chronically failed us.

AVA’S STORY:

Newborn Ava holding her head up at birth!

Newborn Ava holding her head up at birth!

Minutes old Ava began this world by doing a push-up and turning her head from side-to-side as if complaining about the process she’d just been subjected to, the bright lights or all of it. She was immediately expressive…her face, her highest-possible-pitch screams (Lord, yes, her C above high C), her grunts, arm gestures and more. She’d scream like I was killing her when I’d wash her hair and would go into full blown panic attacks when I stepped out of her sight and into the shower. Her sleep patterns were never normal and I now believe she may have also had autism and dyslexia.

The second they brought her to me in the hospital, I worked hard trying to find patterns which triggered her strange behavior. For example, I thought she was afraid of the sound of the shower until I took her into it with me out of desperation and she loved it! That’s when I realized it was being away from me which triggered her full-blown panic attack. She was six days old. I asked the pediatrician and he said I was spoiling her. I was outraged with his stupidity and he was a highly recognized doctor! I was spoiling a six-day-old baby by feeding and changing her. I knew I was on my own.

Ava always wanted to be sitting up…from birth…only relaxing when nursing.  Once she was strong enough, I’d prop her up with pillows, sheets and anything else in an upright position just to gain time to do two-handed chores as I soon figured out that I had to carry her on my hip. One afternoon, six-week-old Ava was so propped in her swing watching the Muppet Show on in the next room while I cooked dinner. Ava laughed out loud! I ran into see if there was something wrong. She was deeply engrossed in their antics kicking and laughing! All I could think was, “Thank goodness! I found something that makes her happy!”

Happy Baby is a sleeping baby. I always thought this should be a mattress commercial.

Happy Baby is a sleeping baby. I always thought this should be a mattress commercial.

She was born loving animals (especially cats) and her big brother, Carl.

Her dad brought home a kitten we named Tigger (that’s T-I-double GOO-ER, thank you). As Tigger sauntered through his domain, Ava, sitting in her walker, squealed in delight as she reached out for his tail. It wasn’t until her second fall season while learning to jump in leaf piles that she mastered the art of kitten capture and torture! This was another stray kitten her father brought home for us to find a home for. He ended up moving next door.

She had an innate love for cats...and cat torture!

She had an innate love for cats…and cat torture!

Ava ruled the world and we let her. She was good at it. She would never be ignored…EVER!

She had her way of not being ignored!

She certainly had her own way of not being ignored! I was taking classes at GSU and had just gotten home…exhausted…when she decided I’d been away too long!

She always had her own sense of style from the minute she could sit by herself and figure out where things were supposed to go. If I dressed her in something she didn’t want to wear…off it came…even at six months old!

This day, she decided her dad's shoes were just what she needed to complete her ensemble. She wasn't walking yet but that didn't matter!

This day, she decided her dad’s shoes were just what she needed to complete her ensemble. She wasn’t walking yet but that didn’t matter!

When Ava wouldn’t go to sleep, we would put her on the back of my bicycle and take turns riding around our neighborhood to get her to fall asleep. Worked  like a charm every time. It was Carl’s turn this night! She was thrilled to have him at the helm. She just laughed and played until I took the reins.

With her beloved big brother, Carl. They loved each other so much!

With her beloved big brother, Carl. They loved each other so much!

Carl loved torturing Ava as much as Ava loved torturing the cats. She understood his teasing before she could speak and giggled when he’d say those magic words…his magic words which always got her going. If he had food, she would push her walker with the tip of her toes (she was still very little) over to him and say, “I onna bi bi.” Translated, “I want a bite bite.” Carl turned it around and said back to her (every time), “You want a butt bite?” He’d pick her up and give her a big, loving brother nibble on her diaper clad bottom and she’d squeal with delight. As I said, they had their own language and love…one beyond time and earthly space.

When Ava was just six years old, her eighteen-year-old brother, Carl, disappeared without a trace.

This was the last picture ever taken of the three of us...March, 1984. Poignant, huh?

This was the last picture ever taken of the three of us…March, 1984. Poignant, huh?

The loss of him in her life totally devastated her. The last time she saw him was his eighteenth birthday. We had a little party. He was angry at life and took it out on his grandmother. He walked out the door in a rage. Ava went to tell him she loved him but hesitated. He drove off and she never got to tell him. She was sure he would have never left had he known how much she loved him. She was eight years old when she told me this. No amount of love or assurances could get her to change her mind about the powers she thought she had over life and death.

We didn’t know for fifteen years what had happened to him. Those fifteen years were full of an emptiness that neither one of us could do anything about no matter how hard we tried.

Carl came to us both in dreams within a couple of days of each other in early September, 1999…fifteen years after his disappearance. We were torn with joy of knowing what had happened but ripped to shreds after learning of his murder. She had always secretly thought I’d made him mad that last day she’d seen him and that he was staying away from us because of me. Even though her adult mind understood, her six-year-old self just couldn’t grasp her reality any other way.

Ava secretly planted this gardenia in Carl's memory at our house after finding him. She was 22. When we sold the house, we moved the plant to my mom's where it still thrives.

Ava secretly planted this gardenia in Carl’s memory at our house after finding him. She was 22. When we sold the house, we moved the plant to my mom’s where it still thrives.

It was right after this picture was taken that Ava attempted her first serious suicide. The others were just warm-ups to this one. It was 2000 and I  My instincts screamed to me that night to rush over to the house. I found her overdosed and watching “Titanic.” She lied about the number of pills she had taken. I couldn’t find a single hospital to take her because it was mental anguish she suffered from and not physical. She didn’t have insurance. She was too old to be included on my coverage at work even though she was still my dependent. My boyfriend helped me take her with us. We put a mattress on the floor in his living room and I stayed with my hand on her chest until she woke up thirty-six hours later. When she awoke, she said, “I guess it’s meant for me to be alive because I sure took enough to die.” She asked me to re-tell that event to her several times over the coming years including that day…that final day when she decided to leave.

Ava was beautiful, loved, talented, intelligent, diverse, embracing, courageous, loyal, loving, best friend you could ever have and yet, she never felt loved, lovable or wanted.

When she was in Graz 2011 studying, she went to the Presidential Palace. This peacock recognized her beauty and flirted with her immediately. Every animal felt like he did. They all recognized her embracing spirit.

When she was in Graz, Austria in 2011 studying, she went to the Presidential Palace. This peacock recognized her beauty and flirted with her immediately. Every animal felt like he did. They all recognized her embracing spirit.

You bottled up ALL your pain and kept them safe from us, yes even me,
And only let them out a little at a time for the world to see.
We thought, at those times, it was pure insanity.
But it wasn’t…it was pure humanity.

EVERY hurt stayed alive bottled up inside
And, when remembered, would all collide.
That’s what happened that fateful night…
They all came to life in your sight.
They collided and couldn’t be contained
So only your empty body was all that remained.

Now I search every day of my life
For all your hurt and all your strife.
I want to remember each and every one
Because they are a part of what made you done.
I love you dear daughter, o’ heart of mine,
I want you here so I don’t need to rewind.

I want to see you dancing in the rain,
Getting out all your pain
See you laughing in the sun
And playing on the beach having fun
Yep, I need all these things to be
And not these ashes next to me.

For more reliable information on Borderline Personality Disorder, visit these two sites:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=967Ckat7f98  and  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml.

There are no words for the tsunami of pain and loss which consumes you when you lose a child especially to murder and suicide. It’s our goal at Ava’s Corner, Inc. (a Georgia non-profit corporation/501(c)3 application submitted) to give alternative therapies (yoga, message, art, music, physical, homeopathic, etc.) as well as a safe  place for  people like Ava to create a support cyber-community where one can express pain without disdain or bullying. Ava had a loving community but no one same me knew she was suicidal. It takes a village.

http://avascorner.org

To do that, we must have funds to provide full-time monitoring to prevent inappropriate dialogue and posts as well as additional programs, web space and personnel. We have starting a fund raising campaign at Indiegogo.com.

Please visit our campaign and search your heart. We need your support for this very important effort to help our friends, family and loved ones to find alternatives to taking their own lives.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/371903?key=da3b5d9b602c202ff2dc3776e3f49817b6b6ae56

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