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The Seven-Year Old Who Tried To Kill His Mother | The Oprah Winfrey Show | Oprah Winfrey Network

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MUSIC Speaker 1: Today, the television exclusive- Oprah Winfrey: At seven-years-old he tried to kill his own mother. Zach Ferris: No. OW: Do you remember the time you tried to stab her with a kitchen knife? Now, in his own words, hear what it's like to live with mental illness. Can you tell when the negative energies are coming? And- you are sleeping with the doors locked to your bedroom because you were afraid of your son. The mother who will stop at nothing to save her son. S1: Next. OW: Imagine the fear of knowing that someone wants you dead. Now imagine the heartbreak knowing that someone is your own seven-year-old son. Laurie Ferris is here today because she wants the world to know what it's like to walk in her shoes and understand what it's like to live with a violent and mentally ill child. You're watching right now home video of her son, Zach, after losing a simple board game. ZF: No. No. No. Go. Go. OW: That kind of rage, she says, could go on for hours and, again, that was just over losing a board game. Laurie and her husband, Joe, say Zach became so out of control they literally feared for their lives. Here's how it all started. Laurie Ferris: When he was eighteen months old, Zachary started exhibiting some behaviors that I sensed deep inside were not normal. Okay. Enough. When he was happy he was the happiest little guy you'd ever want to meet. When he was angry it was over the top. It wasn't like a normal tantrum. From the moment he woke up, Zach was going a thousand miles an hour. Everything with him was magnified ten times. You're told boys are active, boys get in to things, but I knew in my heart something was very wrong. Joe Ferris: When Laurie was saying to me, "I think," she said, "there's something not right," it's, like, "Zach's fine. He's just- he's a kid. He's got a lot of energy." You know, I was still kind of in denial. LF: There were a lot of violent acts at home. He would scream. He would pick toys up, swing them at us, punch holes in the wall, smear feces on the wall. Hi. ZF: Oh, lions. JF: We were always walking on eggshells and if you don't do what he wanted, he'd flip out. My kid is- is- is- is running my life. He's calling the shots and that's what was really getting me scared. OW: Zach's fits of rage continued to escalate and Joe and Laurie soon realized it wasn't safe to send him to school. LF: Prior to that time most of Zach's outbursts were happening at home behind closed doors. I was horrified when I got a phone call from the school district letting me know that Zach had tried to stab a fellow student with scissors. I remember thinking, "What do we do now?" OW: It became more and more clear as Zach got older that his violent mood swings were a threat to everybody around him. Take a look. LF: As time went on and Zach got older the intensity of the rages became more and more violent. ZF: Be quiet. LF: I started to be afraid of Zachary. He would actually say to me, "Mommy, I love you. I don't want to kill you, but I do." One afternoon I was washing dishes at the sink. All of the sudden I just felt Zach behind me and I turned around and he had a kitchen knife in his hand- And had his arm poised back and he had a crazy look in his eyes as though he was going to stab me for no reason, nothing. And I just grabbed the knife out of his hand. I started to sleep in the bedroom with the door locked because I thought, "I have no idea what he's capable of doing." JF: The big concerns I had was, "Am I going to get home, am I going to find my wife alive? Am I going to find my daughter alive?" I was scared for my family. LF: The beginning of the real horror for me was the night that Joe and I went to a town meeting up the road. Our babysitter, Amanda, was going to stay with the kids at the house. Amanda: I had started saying, "Zachary, it's time to put your pajamas on," and it's like a switch was flipped and he was spitting, screaming, "I hate you. You're stupid." It was not the little boy that I know. It was, like, straight out of a horror movie, so I took his sister in their parent's room because it's the only room with a lock. He was still screaming, throwing things at the door, and I started to cry at that point. Made the phone call to Joe and Laurie. LF: We jumped in the car. My heart was racing. I knew something really bad happened at the house. We opened the door and it looked as though the house had been completely ransacked. There was broken glass. There was furniture toppled over. There was feces on the wall. Joe immediately went in to our bedroom, which is where Amanda and Julia were. JF: I said, "Amanda, are you in there?" And she said, "Is that you?" She unlocked the door and threw her arms around me and she was crying. My daughter peaks her head out from under the covers. She's hiding in the bed and she just- my daughter's just looking at me. She didn't know. She didn't understand. It was unbelievable and I- I didn't know what we were going to do. You know, to be scared of your own kid or what he might do. You know, I- it's indescribable. It's something I wouldn't wish- it's something I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. OW: So, Zach's mother, Laurie, is here. Her husband, Joe, who you just saw did not want to come.

Why didn't Joe want to be here? LF: I think a large reason was it was so painful to relive this and our daughter has suffered so much. Why didn't Joe want to be here? LF: I think a large reason was it was so painful to relive this and our daughter has suffered so much. OW: How old is she now? LF: She's eight and we've really strived to maintain some normalcy and Joe felt it was just- in this it was more important to stay with Julia. LF: And it was also just incredibly painful to relive this. OW: Uh-huh. OW: So, I spent some time backstage with Zach a little while ago. You'll see that conversation in a few moments. So, let's go back to the beginning. I have so many questions. First of all, we all- our- our hearts go out to you. For anybody whose ever mothered or parented- don't- doesn't your heart go out to her because how do you even explain this? Number one. Number two, you could sense very early on that these rages and tantrums were not normal. So, let's talk about that. How did you know that they were not normal? LF: I knew at about eighteen months because Zach would have rages that were unbelievable over nothing and they weren't normal two-year-old tantrums. OW: Uh-huh. LF: And his rages would be over absolutely nothing. He would completely destroy his room at eighteen months. OW: Wow. LF: His strength was ten times that of a normal child. OW: What were the doctors telling you was wrong? LF: Well, at that point we were still in denial to some degree at two and I think that we kept thinking, "Well, maybe this is something that Zach will grow out of." LF: "And maybe he's just a really, really active, passionate little boy," so we really didn't get evaluations until about three. OW: Uh-huh. But I knew very, very early on intuitively that- that something was not right because of the extreme nature of his fits. OW: So, he was diagnosed with something called "sensory integration disorder." LF: Yes. OW: What is that? LF: That was the first diagnosis and that has to do with how Zach perceived the world. So, he was incredibly sensitive to everything. He would do things like throw himself on the ground, thrash his body, where a normal kid, it would hurt. And he would get pleasure. He would laugh. Sound bothered him, light, clothing, that sort of thing and it was- Everything was accentuated ten or fifteen times of what a normal person would experience. That's what sensory is. OW: You say he would hear voices telling him to do bad things. LF: He would say very strange things to me, "The phantom in the window was talking to him." And- and he would tell me and I kept a lot of journals. Things like, "The voices in my head are telling me to do really bad things. I hear a dark, creepy voice," that kind of stuff. OW: How often would he fly in to these rages? I mean, would this go on every day or would there be some times where you'd have periods of peace and think, "Okay, it's okay?" LF: There was very little periods of peace. OW: Uh-huh. LF: From the moment Zach got up in the morning it was a thousand miles an hour until he went to bed at night and he would get very frustrated very easily over nothing. He had a lot of anger episodes, but the major rages didn't really start until about four or five. OW: Okay, so you put him in school- OW: And then had to take him out of school when he tried to stab someone in the classroom. LF: Yes, preschool. LF: Yes, we managed to get through preschool with assistance, evaluations. And it was in kindergarten- The end of kindergarten that we had probably our first really serious indication of what he was capable of doing- LF: With his scissors. OW: Uh-huh. OW: And that is harming someone. LF: Yes. OW: So, tell me what it's like to be in a home where you are, as your husband described, afraid of your own son. You are sleeping in the bed at night with the doors locked to your bedroom because you were afraid of your seven, eight, nine-year-old son. What is- what is that like? LF: It was- it was a horrible feeling. It wasn't what Joe and I envisioned when we became parents. OW: Of course. LF: My house wasn't normal. We had to put everything away that you can imagine, knives, things that normally you could keep in your house. I would actually clear the table on occasion if there were vases and he was starting to get in to one of those phases because I had no idea what he would do. OW: Okay. When we come back, I- I was just curious because when I was reading about this story and I heard about the babysitter, I was surprised that you all would leave him with a babysitter. LF: Yeah. OW: We'll talk about that and also my conversation with Zach when we come back. We'll be right back. LF: Yeah. OW: Yeah. Coming up. Do you remember trying to stab her with a kitchen knife? Zach tells me about the day he tried to kill his mother. MUSIC MUSIC OW: Joe and Laurie Ferris always knew something was different with their son, Zach. LF: A perfect way to describe Zach was a bull in a china shop. If you took him anywhere you had to be a hundred percent vigilant.

OW: As Zach grew older his behavior became alarming. ZF: I don't want anybody to watch me! OW: The family soon found themselves OW: As Zach grew older his behavior became alarming. ZF: I don't want anybody to watch me! OW: The family soon found themselves living in fear of their own son. LF: I went in to his room and I saw this drawing on the wall and it was a very violent picture he had drawn- Of him killing me with a gun and it was just unbelievable to me that he could have such rage towards me. OW: And had written, "My mom is a bitch." LF: Yeah. OW: Yeah. Where does that come from? Let's see that picture again if we can. Laurie's son who was seven at the time not only fantasized about killing her, but actually tried. Laurie's here because she wants to shed light on an alarming statistic. Fifteen million children in this country are mentally ill and like her in the beginning many parents don't want to accept it. LF: This whole experience was so hard to understand because Zach came from a really loving home and that's something I really want to stress. OW: Uh-huh. LF: You know, we- we were older parents. We really wanted him and did everything humanly possible to help this little guy from the time we realized that there were some issues. And it was so hard and it was just painful, baffling, and so difficult to deal with because when he would have a rage- I would have to assimilate it in my mind and an hour later tuck him in and kiss him goodnight- LF: And still love him, which I always did. OW: Uh-huh. OW: Uh-huh. LF: I always did. But it was very, very painful. OW: You always did tuck him in and kiss him goodnight? LF: And I always loved him even through all of it, but it wasn't him when he was in that- in those moments. OW: Uh-huh. When you see that picture that we just showed- can you show that again, Joe? That picture of the drawing where he's calling- where he's written the words, B-I-C-H, and there's himself shooting his mom and think about the dreams that you have, because every mother has dreams for her child. How does that effect you? LF: It was devastating. OW: Uh-huh. LF: It was devastating and I think it was also the first time that I really realized that ninety percent of his rage was really directed at me. Most of his anger seemed to come out physically towards me over the years and seeing that drawing brought it right in front of my face. OW: Uh-huh. So, I was asking before the break, why would you leave him with a babysitter? LF: This- this gal wasn't just a babysitter. Amanda was my husband's cousin. She had been a mother's helper with us from the time she was probably nine-years-old. OW: Okay. Okay. LF: But the other thing I wanted to mention, because I think it happens with families when you're living with kids like this- You get so used to the chaos and the dysfunction that you actually don't even realize what a normal family is. OW: Uh-huh. I think that's a really important point and I think the biggest point is- and the reason why you're here is to bring this out of the closet. LF: Yes. OW: Everybody is embarrassed and ashamed and in many ways still considers it a taboo to recognize that there's mental illness within their family. If you were to ignore, everybody, just think- consider this for a moment. If this family was to ignore that there was a problem with this child and that child grows up. God knows what happens during the- their- the years of puberty- LF: Uh-huh. OW: Teenage years, and then that person is put out in to the world, in to society. LF: Yes. OW: Yeah. Without any help. LF: Exactly. OW: Yes. OW: And it happens all the time because people are in denial about it, so we thank you for- for being so open and to encourage other people to do the same. Before the show this morning I spent a little time with Zach and so let's see a bit of that. Have you been having a hard time? ZF: Yes. OW: Yeah, really? Tell me about it. ZF: Like, I've been, like, hurting everybody, like, when I- when I have, like, this bad rage, like, I get so mad over the tiniest thing. OW: Do you know what causes you to be that way? ZF: The negativity, like, negative energy. Sends you negative thoughts. Then once you have them and you think them the negative energy can come in to you- OW: Uh-huh. ZF: Then just make you more angrier and angrier. OW: Does or do the negative energies feel separate from you? The negative energy isn't you, it's separate from you- ZF: Yes. OW: And you- ZF: Like, when I'm calm and peaceful like I am now- ZF: This is the real me. OW: Uh-huh. OW: This is the real you. ZF: When I'm all out of control, well, that's not the real me. OW: And do you- can you tell when the negative energies are coming? ZF: Yes, well, when they're in I feel- I have ticks. OW: Uh-huh. ZF: Like, I'm so, like- like fidgety. OW: Uh-huh. ZF: And- yeah. OW: And the negative energies come and do they- do they talk to you? Do they speak to you? Do they- or do they make you feel a certain way? Tell me how- describe it. ZF: Like, sometimes, like- like, sometimes, out of the blue I just hear, like, a voice that says something. I'm really not sure- ZF: But it- it hasn't happened to me at- at- at the hotel or here, so- OW: Uh-huh. OW: That's good. ZF: It only happens at my house. OW: Well, because we've got good vibrations here. OW: I think. Can you feel that there are good vibrations here? ZF: Yeah. ZF: Yeah, I can feel calm. OW: You can feel calm here. So, there was a time though, do you remember when you went to your mom and said, you know, "Voices were telling you to do bad things"? OW: Do you remember that? Can you describe that time for me? ZF: Yeah. ZF: Like, I was hearing voices a little bit.

OW: And what were they saying? ZF: Once my- one of the voices sounded like my dad. OW: Uh-huh. ZF: Well, I think it was my grampy, like, OW: And what were they saying? ZF: Once my- one of the voices sounded like my dad. OW: Uh-huh. ZF: Well, I think it was my grampy, like, trying to communicate with me. I think sometimes that's not the actual person who's talking to you. It's not like someone who actually died will- OW: Did your grampy die? ZF: Yes. OW: Uh-huh. ZF: He- he died, but the negativity can transform into anything- OW: Uh-huh. ZF: And- OW: I get it. It takes its own form. ZF: Yes, any- ZF: In to anything. OW: Yeah, it takes its own form. OW: Yeah. Uh-huh. OW: And it can transform in to anybody's voice. ZF: And it can- ZF: Yes. OW: Yeah. ZF: One was in dad- in my dad's voice and other in some creepy voices. OW: Hmmm. Inside your head? ZF: No, coming from all- every direction. OW: Yeah. But they're outside of you? ZF: Yes. OW: Do you think that they're in your mind? ZF: No, they're all around me. OW: Uh-huh. You were saying that this is who you really are. ZF: Yes, calm and peaceful. OW: Calm and peaceful. ZF: Yes. OW: Do you feel like it's yourself when you get angry? ZF: No, it's not myself. ZF: Sometimes I say it- say this is the real me, but it's actually really not. OW: It's not yourself. OW: Uh-huh. You mean when you're angry? ZF: Yes. I say some stuff when I- when I'm angry that I do not even mean. OW: Uh-huh. So, at one time, did the voices tell you or suggest to you that you should hurt somebody in your family? ZF: No. ZF: They just say creepy things. OW: No. OW: Yeah. Like what? ZF: Scare me. OW: Like what? ZF: Well, I really can't remember, so- OW: Yeah. Well, you know, I'd heard that the reason why you wanted to be here. Tell me the reason why you want to be here. ZF: Because I want to help people and I want to get it- the world more peaceful and calm. OW: Uh-huh. ZF: So, people won't get mad and hurt other people. OW: So, I think that that is a really good reason to do this, to tell your story, because I'm sure that you're certainly not the only kid out there. ZF: I'm not. OW: We'll be back in a moment. We'll be back. Coming up, how Laurie eventually saved her son's and perhaps her own life and more of my conversation with Zach. Do you ever worry about causing harm to anybody? ZF: I don't want to! OW: Ten-year-old Zach was diagnosed with four different mental illnesses. His rage got so bad his parents feared for their lives. LF: And I turned around and he had a kitchen knife in his hand and he had his arm poised back and he had a crazy look in his eyes. OW: Earlier I talked to Zach one on one. I'm so glad you're here. So, do you remember the time you tried to hurt your mother? Do you remember trying to stab her with a kitchen knife? ZF: I- I didn't do that. OW: Who did it? ZF: I- I wasn't trying to stab her with a kitchen knife. OW: What were you trying to do? ZF: I was trying to hurt her. OW: Okay. ZF: Like, kick and punch her. OW: Uh-huh, but did you have a kitchen knife? ZF: I had a kitchen knife. OW: Uh-huh, but were you going to stab her with it? OW: You weren't? What did you? ZF: No. ZF: Well- OW: What do you- ZF: I felt like I wanted to, but I just- just didn't want to. OW: And there was a picture that you drew. Do you remember the picture that you drew? Do you remember this? Do you remember drawing this? ZF: Yeah. OW: Yeah. That looks like there's a person with a gun and then there's- is that you? ZF: Yeah. OW: Yeah. And it says, "Mom," and it looks like you're shooting your mom. Do you remember that at all? ZF: No. OW: You don't even remember it. OW: You don't remember thinking this thought or thinking you wanted to hurt your mom? ZF: No. ZF: No. OW: Or ever thinking you wanted to hurt your mom or your sister or anybody in your family? ZF: Well, when I was drawing that, yes. OW: Yeah. When you were drawing this? ZF: Yes. OW: Yeah. Yeah. So, you remember wanting to hurt them? ZF: Yes. OW: Yeah, but your true self- ZF: Doesn't want to hurt anybody. OW: Doesn't want to hurt anybody. So, he doesn't remember a lot of things he says. LF: He doesn't, but he was also heavily medicated for a number of years. There's- were some very heavy psychotropic drugs that he was put on. We dragged our heels until kindergarten and then during the scissors incident we started very, very slowly. We worked with a wonderful psychiatrist, but ultimately the medical community- that was what they had to offer was drugs. OW: Was drugs. LF: Was drugs and I think it affected his memory. I think it affected his ability to assimilate information and learn properly and there are some delays from that. OW: Obviously. LF: Yeah. OW: All those drugs at such an early age- LF: Yeah, it's frightening. OW: But you had to do what you had to do in order to try to bring some calmness- LF: And I'm not convinced it brought calmness at all. OW: To him. LF: There was no other- OW: Really? LF: No. OW: Zach is now living at a school for children with mental illness and I'm sure that was a tough decision. Do you ever feel like you failed as a mother or was this the only alternative for him? LF: At the time when Zach went in to the residential school he came right out of three months of hospitalization and there was absolutely no way that he could come home with everything that Julia had been through and- and the family. And we desperately needed respite. That's another thing for parents. OW: Yeah. LF: You can't leave your child with just anyone. And as you mentioned, it is a secret, dark secret that's behind your closed doors. OW: Uh-huh. LF: And it was the one alternative that we had at that time, which was pretty tough. OW: Yeah, I can't imagine even, the shame. Can you speak of that because I know anybody who's watching this or has experienced it with somebody they know. The shame has to be really a heavy burden to carry. LF: Well, you feel like a horrible parent- OW: Yeah.

LF: Is part of it and you don't understand why this is happening in your home. You look at yourself. You look at your husband. And I know in my heart of hearts that we were good parents and loving. LF: Is part of it and you don't understand why this is happening in your home. You look at yourself. You look at your husband. And I know in my heart of hearts that we were good parents and loving. And this came from outside of us, but you don't want the world to know. You can't participate in everyday life. You can't go to a baseball game without wondering- LF: How he's going to be. Nothing's normal. And your other child suffers. OW: Yeah. OW: Right. And the truth of the matter is if we were to see you out at a baseball game- LF: Yeah. OW: And your son was to be going through one of these tantrums, we would all just judge you- LF: Absolutely. OW: And say, "Bad mom, why can't you control your child?" Wouldn't we? We'd be going- OW: "What the hell is wrong with her." LF: Absolutely. LF: That's true. OW: You know, that that child is- is behaving that way. LF: Yeah. OW: And there- and therefore that only compounds the shame. OW: Yeah. LF: Yes. LF: That's very true. OW: So, which says to all of us you never know the full story behind anything. LF: Yeah. OW: So, how has his- Zach's illness affected your- your marriage? I can't- I can't- can't imagine how you- LF: It's- it's been really, really stressful on our marriage. I think that ninety-nine percent of our conflict was over how to handle Zach and just giving each other respite. It was constantly tag team. You stay with him. Joe would work, get home, I would be wiped. I couldn't- and I have a lot of energy and I'm a positive person. At the end of the day there were times when I would just say, "I can't do it another minute. You need to take over. I need a- I need a break." LF: It was very, very taxing. OW: Uh-huh. OW: So, now with him being away at school- OW: Is he away with school, you know, just during the school months- LF: Uh-huh. OW: Or how does that work? LF: He's- LF: He's actually now- what's actually happened is he's attending the day portion of the residential school. They have a day program as well and it's more because of his focus issues than behavioral issues. He's still catching up because of the drugs and- LF: And learning to be in control of his body. OW: Is he at home at night then? LF: He's- he's with me. We're- we- it's affected our family dramatically. We've actually had to split our households temporarily because his school is- Is an hour and a half from where we live and Joe is with Julia, which is one of the reasons he's not here right now. I'm with Zach. And we're just doing it temporarily to get through this year when hopefully we can integrate the family back together. We've gone to extreme measures to help Zach, but he's been worth saving because he's a beautiful- OW: Uh-huh. LF: Human being inside and that's what I always saw. LF: We all saw. OW: Uh-huh. OW: We'll be back in a moment. Later. Brit: Get out of my room! OW: It's been eleven years since this explosive child was on the show. Find out what happened to him. MUSIC MUSIC ZF: I don't want anybody to watch me! Be quiet! [SCREAMING]. OW: Earlier today I asked Zach how he learned to control his rage and here's what he said. Does something happen to trigger the negative energies? ZF: Yes. I had a light around me, but then- then the negativity feeds off of your energy- your light and just takes it and turns it in to negativity. OW: Hmmm. ZF: That's why there's negativity in this world. OW: Because? ZF: Because the negativity interferes with more people and more people- OW: Uh-huh. ZF: Until the world- the whole world is just all covered in- OW: Negativity. ZF: Yes. OW: Yeah, I think that's pretty- OW: I think that's pretty profound, what you just said. ZF: And negative people. ZF: Uh-huh. OW: Yeah. That explains a lot. So, I think that what you're saying is actually pretty astounding because a lot of people are surrounded by negative energy and allow the negative energy to come in- But they don't know that it's negative energy coming in. OW: You are fortunate in that you get to see very clearly that it is negative energy- ZF: Yes. ZF: Yes. OW: Interfering with your positive, peaceful self- ZF: Yes. OW: And now the way you calm and prevent the negative energy from entering your- your physical space- OW: Your body space is that you do what? What do you do now to prevent that from happening? ZF: Yeah. ZF: I do my white light and I just say stuff like, "I am love. I am light. I am cool. I am awesome. I am perfect. I am wise when I choose love." And that, like, helps me calm down. OW: That could be a good lesson for the world, don't you think? OW: Not just for you. ZF: No, for the whole world. ZF: Uh-huh. Yeah. OW: I think the whole world could use some calm- OW: And white light ZF: They need it. ZF: They need it. OW: Yes, they do. They need it. And so, has that been able to help you? ZF: Yes. OW: And when you bring the white light- like, right now, do you feel yourself wrapped in the white light? ZF: Yes. I'm feeling calm. OW: You're feeling calm. I got to tell you that I use that technique also. Did you know that? ZF: No. OW: Yeah, I do use that technique. First of all, I do it- I try to do it every morning with myself is to cover myself in the white light as it- before I go out in to the world to prevent all the negative forces from coming in. And when I'm doing an interview with somebody who's particularly dark, do you know what I mean? OW: Like- ZF: Yeah. ZF: Full of negativity. OW: Full- thank you very much. When I'm doing an interview with somebody who's full of negativity or has experienced a lot of negativity- Like, if I'm going in to a prison and I'm going to interview somebody who's murdered somebody or who's molested kids or who's caused a lot of harm in the world- ZF: Yeah.

OW: I surround myself with that light to try to keep myself from having that energy enter my space, so I just- ZF: Don't try. Do. OW: Don't try. ZF: Do. OW: Do. OW: I surround myself with that light to try to keep myself from having that energy enter my space, so I just- ZF: Don't try. Do. OW: Don't try. ZF: Do. OW: Do. ZF: Yeah. OW: You're right about that. OW: Yeah. So, is that what you've done today? ZF: Yes. ZF: Yes. OW: Surrounded yourself with the light. OW: Okay. And when you surround yourself with the light can- can the negative get in? ZF: No. They just stay away. OW: Do you feel like you're headed in the right direction? ZF: I am. OW: Yeah. Do you still see yourself- how would you describe yourself? Would you describe yourself as- how? ZF: Like, I'm- more peaceful- OW: Uh-huh. ZF: Calm, like, tired and some- some stuff. OW: Okay, so do you ever worry about causing harm to anybody, your family? Do you worry about being invaded by the negative energies? Do you worry about what you might do in the future? OW: You- you're not worried about that? ZF: No. ZF: No. OW: Because you think you can control it? OW: Okay. Don't think. Do. ZF: I am controlling it. ZF: Do. Yes. OW: Thank you very much. ZF: You're welcome. OW: I know you had said to me earlier that you- that the white light has been a great technique. ZF: Uh-huh. OW: You know, I use the white light and some times it works and some times it doesn't, you know. So, I'm- I'm worried or concerned about what happens when he- Or the negative energies or the negative forces come in. As we all- didn't you all think that was brilliant the way he described it? We all- And everybody's been in a situation where you walk in to a room and you can just tell, "What the hell went on in here? Because there's a lot of negative stuff going on in here." Hopefully that's not your job. You don't have to work there all day, but a lot of people are surrounded by the negative energy and I'm understanding that he is just a, you know- He's a sensitive energy field that can feel it more strongly- LF: Very. OW: Than- than- than we can, but what happens when those negative energies or forces come upon him and he isn't able to bring on the light quick enough or surround himself in light? LF: It's interesting you say that because one of the things he said in his interview and I was so proud of him was he kept saying, "I am." OW: Uh-huh. LF: "I am doing," not, "I will do." OW: Yeah, or as I said, "I'm going to try," and he says, "Do it." LF: He said- OW: Thank you, Zach. LF: And that's really important. And that's what this has been about. Another important piece that I wanted to mention from a parental point of view when you're dealing with this- LF: Yes. Yes. He did. OW: Yeah. Is the emotions as a parent. I used to worry a lot and you have a lot of conflicted emotions, fear, worry, and anger, that this is happening to you. And one of the biggest things that helped me was also learning about my own energies and thoughts. OW: Uh-huh. LF: And learning not to worry. LF: Which is huge as a mom because- OW: Uh-huh. OW: Yeah. LF: You're taught to worry- OW: Yeah. LF: And it made an enormous difference because every time I worried about Zach I was actually sending him negative- OW: Because he could feel the energy. LF: He could feel it. He could feel it when I would get angry at our situation. He could it feel it and fear and I learned not to be afraid of his rages in the end, which was quite a departure. OW: Uh-huh. We'll be right back. Coming up. Brit: [SCREAMING]. Kelly: Back up. The camera's getting in the way. OW: This explosive child is now all grown up. Find out what happened to him eleven years later. MUSIC MUSIC ZF: I don't want anybody to watch me! OW: For the last two years Zach has been working intensively with doctors to control his violent outbursts. He has learned to calm and center himself by tapping in to what he calls "the white light." ZF: The white light is just positive energies and you just have to think loving thoughts. OW: He visualizes happy memories like playing with his dog or spending time with his family and pushes out the negative thoughts. ZF: And once you connect to the light, you get- you'll get stronger and stronger and more peaceful. Just think happy thoughts and then just so calm. OW: So tell me, do you think the white light works for him? LF: It's been incredible for Zachary. It's a tool that he understands and has been able to assimilate and utilize. It's not complicated. It's simply shifting his thoughts from negative thoughts to positive, loving, peaceful thoughts. OW: But, can he always do that? LF: Absolutely. He can do it in his brain. There's a few times where it's difficult if he's around a lot of negative people. He's very, very sensitive. He's- he's energetically sensitive- LF: To what goes on around him. OW: Uh-huh. OW: I get that. OW: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. LF: He picks it up. LF: Yeah. And I think a lot of these kids are. OW: Yeah. LF: I work with children like this now. OW: Well, it's very interesting. I remember years ago someone on this show, you know I've been doing it for twenty-five, so I- I can't ask- Remember what year it was. But I remember years ago we were doing a show about families and someone said, "There's no such thing as a black sheep." LF: Uh-huh. OW: The black sheep is always the most sensitive person in the family- OW: Who takes on all the energy and dynamics of the rest of the family- LF: That's wonderful. LF: I believe that. OW: And it shows up in- in- in the person that they call the black sheep. OW: But usually the black sheep is the person who's the most sensitive. LF: Absolutely. LF: Yes. OW: Yeah and taking in all the- LF: I believe that. OW: One of the reasons he said he wanted to be here is because he wanted to bring hope to other kids. LF: Yes. OW: Do you feel hopeful now? LF: I feel very hopeful. I really do and I think that doing this for Zachary is so important because it also gives him a purpose to be a positive human being- To do something good in the world and- and that's what he needs as he moves forward in his life. So, I feel extremely hopeful about his future. I wouldn't- I would not have two years ago, but I really do now. OW: Well, thank you. Thank you for sharing. OW: We'll be right back. APPLAUSE There's no question, children are being diagnosed with mental illness in record numbers in our country. Many experts believe that it's because parents do not recognize the signals. Here are some early warning signs to watch out for- Excessive anger, fear, sadness or anxiety, abrupt changes in emotions, feeling pleasure from hurting themselves or others. And tantrums that are frequent, intense and long lasting. MUSIC MUSIC OW: Eleven years ago we met a little boy named Brit on the show. Like Zach, he was an explosive child full of rage. Here's a look back at Brit. Take a look. This is Kelly who says that her son is an angel at school, so doctors did not believe her when she told them about his violent meltdowns. To prove she wasn't exaggerating a little over a year ago she videotaped one of his outbursts. Take a look. Brit: I'm just going to punch you in the face, okay? Get your- get your hands away from me. Get out of my room! OW: When Kelly's son was born, she knew something was different about him. He screamed constantly and by the time he was four his screams turned in to full blown rages. Brit: [SCREAMING]. Get- get away from me! Just shut up and just get out of my room, okay? OW: This outburst began after Kelly asked him to clean his room. Brit: Just get your [CENSORED] away from me. [SCREAMING]. Kelly: Back up. The camera's getting in the way. Are we done taping now? Brit: [CENSORED] your body from me. Kelly: Oh, lord. OW: This went on for four hours. Kelly says her home felt like a padded cell where rages and mood swings were frequent and to see her son fight himself and those around him is often more than she can bear. Brit was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder and got on the right medication. I'm happy to tell you he graduated from high school as a member of the National Honor Society. And is currently on a full scholarship at Baylor University. We told Brit about Zach's story and he sent this message. Take a look. Laurie. Brit: Hey, Zach, Laurie, and everybody else out there with a mental disorder. Zach, I heard about your story and I just want to let you know you're not alone. I know what you're going through and I know what you're feeling and you can get through this. You can make it. You can shine. A mental disorder is one of those things that can be very destructive if you let it or it can be such an amazing gift. I was one of the lucky ones. Through family support and the right medication, I was able to be myself and not just be myself, excel and push myself and I believe you can do the exact same thing. You just have to be smart about what you do. Except it fully and you can go so far. I have bipolar disorder and I was able to use it in a positive way, in ways I never thought I could and I'm living out my dreams and I know you can do the exact same thing. I wish you the very best, Zach. Take care. OW: Hope- hope is on the way. Thank you, Brit, for showing us there really is hope. We'll be right back. LF: I visualize a very positive outcome for him now instead of visualizing that my child's going to end up institutionalized or in jail. It's not a cure, but I see a very happy little guy who has incredible potential to do a lot of good and to be a wonderful human being, which ultimately is what I want. He thinks now about where he's coming from. Is he coming from a happy, peaceful, loving place? If he does, he's going to have a wonderful life. If he chooses to be negative and he's going to rage, he's going to have a horrible life. I'm really proud of him. He's worked very, very hard and I think, again, he has the potential to be a wonderful, productive member of society. OW: Thank you, Laurie, and thank you, Zach, for having the courage to share your story. Not all cases are as severe as Zach's. For warning signs your child might need help, go to Oprah.com. We'll have whole bunch of information there for you. Thank you so much. LF: You're welcome. Thank you. OW: Goodbye, everybody. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]

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