By the time Zach was two, I knew something was very wrong. The first evaluation brought a diagnosis of Sensory Integration Disorder. It was as though Zach simply couldn’t live in his body. His level of hyperactivity, impulsiveness and aggression were off the charts. More evaluations and consultations by top professionals revealed severe ADHD and an unspecified Mood Disorder. He was also eventually diagnosed with Tourette’s.
By the time he was four, he had undergone a brain MRI and numerous visits to specialists trying to determine what was causing his severe outbursts. I read every book I could find on ADHD and other diagnoses. We tried different behavioral plans, special diets, therapies, and other mainstream approaches. Nothing worked.
As Zach’s behaviors worsened, the strain took a toll on my marriage and on my younger daughter. It was exhausting caring for him. Our family life was reduced to simply getting through each day. By the time Zach was in Kindergarten, things had escalated to the point where we could barely manage him. One day while washing dishes at the sink, I caught him behind me raising his arm holding a knife. He started to make strange comments and told me that bad things would come into his head, really bad things. Once he told me wanted to kill a bird by stomping on it. He seemed to have an increasing pre-occupation with aggressive, violent thoughts. We didn’t allow toy guns or violent movies in our home and weren’t violent ourselves. I could not understand where this was coming from…
Living in fear became the norm in my house. I removed all the kitchen knives from within his reach. At night my daughter and I slept in my bedroom, the door locked to protect us from the stranger sleeping in my son's room. Desparate and as a last resort, my husband and I agreed to start Zach on medications when he was six. He was prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, taking us on a roller-coaster ride of trials and errors. Things continued to get worse... By age eight, Zach had been hospitalized three times for suidical/homicidal thoughts and actions.
I remember our psychiatrist telling me that families living with members with mental illness often lose perspective about what is normal because they are so used to living with the chaos. We started to realize that we were losing our entire family in a desparate attempt to save one.
Despite all of this, I had always seen the part of Zach that was the most beautiful, sensitive, loving child in the world. He had an amazing way of touching people’s souls. There was something special about Zach. I couldn’t and wouldn’t give up on him. I knew somewhere deep inside was the real Zach and I was determined to find a way to help him.
After Zach’s last hospitalization during the summer of 2008, he was subsequently enrolled in a residential therapeutic school in New Hampshire called “The Hunter School” that specializes in alternative approaches to helping these children. . Zach’s family began at this time learning about the human energy field, about thoughts and consciousness, and about learning to be mindful of one’s own thoughts. Over the next couple of years while at the Hunter School and with the help of an Energy Practitioner, Zach learned to manage his rages, thoughts and energies and was able to get off of the multitude of pharmaceutical drugs that he had been put on in an effort to control his behavior.
Plagued for years by violent and negative thoughts, Zach has now learned to shift his consciousness to a loving, peaceful state of mind by managing his energies, thoughts, actions and behaviors. As a result of Zach’s journey, his mother Laurie and a team of Educational Collaborators from the Hunter School created and developed Energetic Mindfulness™ , a way of being in the world that promotes positive character development.
The distinctive methodology of Energetic Mindfulness™ showcases and models the tremendous benefits of paying attention in the present moment, being mindful of and self-regulating the impact that our thoughts, behaviors and attitudes have on us, others and the world around us. Energetic Mindfulness™ utilizes a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy with a twist of mindfulness and an understanding of thoughts, energies, behaviors and actions.
Today, Zach has been off of all medications for the past five years, is currently in public school, living at home and doing really well. Our family has traveled on an incredible journey on a quest we called Saving Zach. We continue to live in the moment and know that things can change. We are incredibly proud of our son and are confident that he will continue to contribute to our world in the future in a positive loving way.