I am struggling today. I don't cry very often about anything. Usually I feel that I can handle anything that comes my way. But not today. Today the warrior is a child. The way I feel right now reminds me of two other times in my life when I felt about as low as one could.
Once was when shortly after Mae was born, I got sick with pneumonia and developed bad post-partum depression for the first time. For the next year or so I was sick with one bronchial infection after another. We didn't know at the time that the air conditioning in our old house was infiltrated with black mold, which I am highly allergic to. I was put on several asthma medications and was using a nebulizer a lot. I felt so sick and so alone because I felt there wasn't anyone who knew how sick I was or how depressed I was. My mom was 3000 miles away, and Caroline was beginning to really manifest bipolar symptoms. I have a distinct memory of sitting on the floor in my den, sucking in the albuterol because I couldn't breathe, little kids running around going crazy, and hot tears streaming down my cheeks, feeling sick, helpless and so very needy. I got through all of that somehow, but it was a truly awful time in my life, trying to care for a six year old, a four year old, a two year old and a baby while so sick. I had also developed this weird bruising all over so I was going to one specialist after another to rule out a blood disorder.
The other time was when Caroline was about eight or nine I think, and not doing well at all. She had been hospitalized several times that fall, and still she was not doing great. Our family was in turmoil, and then Bill's dad, who is also bipolar, had a bad manic episode, so right after Caroline got out of the hospital, Bill had to go up to DC to put his dad in the psych hospital for two weeks. So he left me with Caroline, who had PTSD from this latest hospitalization, and the other three kids who were traumatized from her behaviors. I can feel myself sitting in that living room chair, feeling so resentful towards his dad, knowing he couldn't help it, angry silent tears flowing, with that tremendous heart-pain when you can't fix something that is broken. Again, I felt alone and unable to call anyone to say, "I am hurting. I need a hug. I need help with my kids." I become paralyzed when I am really down and I don't tell people how bad things are; it is too much effort to even pick up the phone.
I have friends who are hurting right now in the midst of their own various trials, and I wish I could reach out to them but I can't. I am stuck right now.
This is how I am feeling today. Enough is enough. I am tired. I want this part of our lives to be over with so we can go back to "normal."
Thanks for just listening.
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.