About our Daughter

I am mother to four wonderful daughters, ages 17, 19, 21, and 23, and wife to the greatest husband on earth. God has given us a special child to raise one who was diagnosed with early-onset bipolar disorder at the age of seven, though she showed signs of it from the age of fifteen months. She also has ADHD, Sensory Integration Disorder (sensory seeking), Dyslexia, and Non-Verbal Learning Disorder-NOS, all typical comorbidities for a bipolar child. In spite of the trials, she enjoys lacrosse, running (finished her first marathon in October of 2014!), and reading and writing her own books. I will share with you the many joys and sorrows we have faced and will face in the future with the hope that you may find better understanding about this mental illness caused by both chemical and structural abnormalities in the brain. I desire that you will be encouraged by this blog if you are also dealing with a bipolar child. Thank you for reading and sharing in our journey.

How Did You Know She Was Bipolar So Young?

I wrote a long explanation of how we came to this bipolar diagnosis in a child so young under my post of March 19th of 2009. If your child or a child you know bears similarities, please seek out a good psychiatrist and don't wait for "things to get better." Often they will simply get worse, and the longer a child is unmedicated, the more damage their brain can accrue. Early diagnoses and treatment are key to providing these children with a chance at a successful life later as a teen and an adult.
Never change, start or stop a medication without the approval of your child's physician!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bad Weekend for Me--Long

Well, I wish I could say that this extended weekend, including Valentine's Day, went great, everyone had a nice break, etc. But this time it is me who is out of whack. I am so very depressed. I take anti-depressants, two of them, and lots of Vitamin D, but I have just slid into a very bad funk since Saturday. I did not want to get out of bed this morning, in fact I laid there for a long time, not wanting to see the kids or come down the messy kitchen from breakfast. When I did get up, I couldn't stop crying. Bill was home fortunately, and sweetly comforted me as I broke down. I cried for an hour and then retreated back to my bed until mid-afternoon.

Overwhelmed is how I feel. And it isn't even really because of Caroline, who is doing great. It is everything: from the state of my house, to the loneliness I feel and the dysfunctional relationships with some of my closest friends, to our tight finances, to being bored with this stage of my life, to the struggle I have constantly with feeling like a failure as a mom and a wife. I am probably a better mom than a lot of moms in the world, but it is very hard dealing with the repercussions of having a bipolar sibling played out in the personalities and behaviors of my other three non-bipolar children, which is sadly no small effect.

And there is the deleterious effect that raising a bipolar child has had on me. I am positive that I have PTSD from all of the years living in fear over what Caroline would do next, the school dismissals, the hospitalizations, especially the really bad ones, the feeling that I have so little control over my life in general as a result of being the mother of a special needs child. God didn't promise us a life where we would be able to have everything go according to our plans, but I do wish that I had some measure of control over the day to day stuff. I am interrupted constantly in my quest for organization and routine by the myriad of doctor appointments, psychology appointments, specialist appointments, dentist appointments, orthodontist appointments, pediatric appointments, taxi service for ballet, basketball, lacrosse, social events, as well as making time for people who want to get together with me, homeschooling and trying to do a decent job at that, crises that seem to pop up regularly with Caroline, and the list goes on.

I am weary, very weary right now of the craziness of my life. I feel like I barely have time to breathe. I think if I went out and got a full-time job and didn't get home until 5:00 each day I would escape so much of the household drudgery that I hate, but who would drive the kids to all of their practices and appointments? Who would be home during the summer when teens can get into a boat-load of trouble left to their own devices? Who would be home after school, during those prime hours when kids get into the most trouble without supervision? My kids would suffer. It is just a fantasy. If I could just get away for a me-time vacation, I would love that. I need that.

I think I am burned out. I am struggling a lot with feeling like I don't have the kind of authoritative role I need to have with my kids. I feel numb often enough that I frequently zone out when a child is misbehaving instead of dealing immediately with the situation. I don't resent Caroline for sucking us dry, it is not her fault. But I do wonder what God was thinking when he allowed her illness to present itself in such an unmerciful way that it has scarred my other kids and me and my husband as well. I have such awful memories of events I won't be able to forget.

I believe God is good, and that all things work together for the good of those who love him, but I don't always agree with his plans in the present. Not because I think He is wrong, but rather because I wanted a different life from the one He has given me, like the lives of my friends who have just two kids, no mental illnesses, no problems with paying for private schools, privileged to take family vacations several times a year, not worrying about how well one kid is going to do while traveling, whether you will have to cancel your plans because they are unbalanced.

I am not liking my life right now. But I don't want to play the victim card either. I have been thinking of the saying that if you don't like your life, then change it. I want to change it, but I feel somewhat paralyzed by the circumstances we are in. I want to say no a whole lot more often. I burn myself out fast when I volunteer for this and that or say yes to please someone else when I should say no. I am a people pleaser by nature, and that translates into resentment when my life feels like it is controlled by others, or my need to please them, or make sure they are "happy" and have what they think they need to be "happy." I don't deal well when I feel people are displease with me, or disappointed. I feed into other's addictions to their idols, when that is the last thing I really want to do.

I guess because I am 42 and life is looking much shorter than it used to, I am realizing that if I want my life to be satisfying, full of the things that really matter, both to me, and to God, then I must shake free of my prison of "shoulds" and decide to take steps towards my own healing and recovery. I made an appointment to day with a psychologist, one that my kids do not see, or that we have family therapy with. I felt I needed someone just for me, to talk about my struggles, the emptiness I feel so often, the disappointments of our lives, and the desire I have to make positive changes. I have several books I have started to write and never finished. I want to finish one of those books. I will be sad forever if I leave them undone, because writing is my gift, it is where I can unload and feel peace in the midst of the storm.

God is my peace in the midst of the storm and He alone holds me together when I am falling apart.

10 comments:

marythemom said...

Oh honey, I am so right there with you. I do see my own therapist, but I deliberately chose one who has met my kids and knows what I'm dealing with. She's also a specialist in EMDR (which is great for PTSD).

Sending you hugs and prayers,

Mary in TX

Fighting for my Children said...

Im sorry you had a rough weekend. Hope things look up soon. Take care of yourself then you can take care of your family better. Find time for some me time even if it is only 5 min of reading (hiding)in the bathroom.

Meg said...

I'm so sorry you are feeling this way but I can definitely relate. I really think all moms of special needs kids can relate to these feelings. At our house we had a great weekend but the 's' hit the fan tonight and things fell apart and I feel much the same way you do. Oh no. Not again. Here we go again. I'm tired of this roller coaster. Hang in there and do something for yourself. Maybe take a night or two and get away with a friend. It really does wonders for me when I can manage it. Raising a bipolar child is hard. You are not alone in feeling this way and midlife isn't easy as well. I'm right there with you.

Hartley said...

Megan,

I too feel overwhelemd, guilty for what my other children are going through and fearful that we will all be diagnosed with PTSD long before anything in our life becomes calm.

The one thing I know is true is that we are all stronger than we think. When I feel I have lost control, and have had a good cry for myself and my lost dreams, I find solace in writing.

Finish your book. Empty our your thoughts and feelings onto the page and allow yourself to find healing in words.

Your life won't change without you. You are the one thing all of your children have -- you are the force that will change everything.

You are not alone.
Hartley

Vampi said...

I agree with you on the PTSD theory. It's nigh on impossible to go through what you and your family goes through and come out unscathed. For that, my prayers are with you.

You also maybe should consider that you're crashing from the expectation that Caroline would be in the hospital about now. You said yourself that this is a regular occurance in your lives and so far, it just hasn't happened. Having that fear that it's going to happen and then the so-called 'let down' of it not happening... sounds like that could be contributing to it, too.

I am so very glad that you're seeing a therapist. It helps to have an unbiased opinion and listening ear.

Through Thick and Thin said...

megan - thanks for mentioning PTSD - I had never thought about it but it really makes a lot of sense - a LOT.

Amy said...

Megan, I so know how you feel. I feel this way so much. You described it exactly. I want to do something great in life to make a difference in the lives of others for Christ. But every time I think of what I could do I think how can I with Kenzie? So I understand about being trapped or feeling paralyzed by circumstances. I then go back to this is where God wants me right now and my job is to raise these three girls the best way I know how and to honor my husband as his wife. I am praying for other opportunities and ideas in hopes that God will show me more of what I can do in this crazy life here on earth. The crazy thing is that my husband is really down and struggling too with all of these feelings as well. I think this is what midlife crisis feels like. I am just thankful he nor I want or are having an affair, buying expensive cars, etc. Hang in there, girl and rest in His promise-"Never will I leave you nor forsake you"-forgot where that comes from-I'd have to look it up in scripture but you probably know this one anyway. So just a reminder and hope some encouragement. Hope the new therapist helps too. Amy

Anna said...

I hope you are feeling better by now. I can tell from your posts that you are a loving and intelligent mother. You are doing excellent work but the task in front of you is extremely difficult.

Take it easy on yourself. I suggest a regularly scheduled break for yourself (once a week) and a regular date for you and your husband (once a week) for starters.


The personal psychologist sounds great but not a lot of fun. You need to have some fun. Laughter and fun in the midst of such struggles can save your life and sanity.

You are a beautiful writer, if that is fun and relaxing for you then devote 1 hour per day to your writing.

In order to be there for your family, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first just like they tell you in the airplanes.

Take care of yourself,

Cinda said...

Hello Megan, we are one the road but am catching up on my blog reading. I have been surrounded by women who can relate to you but can never feel your exact pain. It will get better. I truly believe this. You are probably familiar with the CABF? Great support groups and lots of information. I am with the director at the conference in Wisconsin. Give ma an offline email! Hugs to you all!

Bobby said...

I wanted to input on this too :) Though I'm only 27 and not a parent, my Mom had to deal with me growing up and she tells me there are times when she literally wanted to kill me. Funny now, but not then. I still to this day feel horrible about what I put my Mom through yet she still continues to tell me it wasn't my fault, and in a way it wasn't. Things will be tough for a while, but from what I've read and how you raise your children, one day everything will be ok and you'll look back and be so happy you stuck with it and helped your children. There are a lot of parents out there who either don't understand or are too lazy to really help their child. I promise you one day everything will be fine and she'll probably feel the same way I do and feel bad about how her behavior was when she was younger, but it's not her fault. Just keep doing what you have been and everything will be fine. I'm not a religious person by any means, but I believe there is something in control and if you feel like everything will be ok, then it will be. Hang in there :) BTW, I've never been a blogger but reading your stuff made me start my own. It's really helpful getting other peoples views and hearing their experience so thank you for that :)