This is what I am feeling right now. And I know it is what my daughter Caroline is feeling at church. Today is Sunday and we are regular church attenders. more than regular, our whole married lives. We are highly involved in many aspects in our church. Our other three daughters go to Sunday School pretty often (well, the oldest is harder to get there because she had a bad experience with the Sunday School leaders) and our other middle schooler, Jane, is very involved in the youth group. Caroline has stopped going to church, well at least stopped sitting with us during church. She will go to church but refuses to sit in the sanctuary. She stopped going to youth group and Sunday School. She feels like the other teens there snub her because of her past mistakes. So youth group and Sunday School are not a safe place for her. I know they do avoid her because they think she is weird. The youth leaders, not seeing her on a regular basis, don't reach out to her at all. I am really disappointed by this, because out of all of the teens in our church, she is the one who needs the MOST encouragement and support. I am thinking about contacting them to ask them (nicely) to step up to the plate and reach out to her. Her view of God has been diminished by the lack of concern and friendship from youth leaders and other kids. As we all know, we feel God's love most deeply for us through the care of other humans. When a person walks into church, they may have come out of curiosity, but they will stay because someone is reaching out to them and offering them friendship. The same goes for my daughter. Why should she go to church if she feels like an outcast? I don't blame her.
Thus I feel disconnected because she feels disconnected. I don't feel anger or bitterness towards anyone, just disappointment. I want her to experience true friendships and acceptance of who she is right now, not rejection for her past indiscretions. And if she can't see God's love for her at our church, we may need to just find another church so her view of God isn't ruined forever. We love her more than that. She needs God with skin on so to speak. We all do.
About our Daughter
I am mother to four wonderful daughters, ages 13, 15, 17 and 19, 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. She is in the very challenging teen years, and she is attempting a big public high school for the first time. In spite of the trials, she enjoys lacrosse, running, 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.