Sunday, February 26, 2006


Any parent of a child with personality challenges such as bipolar disorder has heard it a million times: "Be tough with him", or "show him who's boss", or "if he doesn't follow the rules, throw him out". It's so frustrating because we're not dealing with an average child. Our son Kyle is not trying to make our life difficult, he's trying to merely get by in his life.

Karen and I went to a support group for loved ones of those with mental disorders and met a father of a schizophrenic boy. He was telling about how he threw out his son, and until the son hit rock bottom he wouldn't learn. Now I'm not saying this wasn't the right thing to do, but you can't look at these kids like you do the average child. The same rules are just not applicable.

The thing that scares me about this more than anything is the risk of suicide. I've read studies that say 15%, to 25%, to as high as 50% (depending on the study) of those with bipolar disorder will attempt suicide at least once. So, they hit rock bottom, and there's a 50-50 chance they'll attempt suicide?

The public does not understand, they really can't. The majority of parents of kids with mood disorders don't understand this. I don't understand this entirely, either. The greatest understanding comes from my wife, she has an insight to Kyle I just can't achieve. It's a fine line between allowing him to run roughshod over our family, and throwing him into depression or mania. It's one of those things they don't tell you about in "parent school".

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Kyle Is Working

Kyle has a job again, and the change in him is remarkable. This happens whenever he gets a job, his confidence returns, he gets more productive in his day to day life, and he is just a different person.

This shows me that disability is most likely a huge mistake for him. In fact, I can see how disability could be a huge mistake for most people in his situation.

Please don’t misunderstand this. Disability is ABSOLUTELY necessary in many scenarios, and I am in no way supporting any curtailing of any program designed to help those with bipolar or mental challenges. I am saying that collecting disability can cause a spiral of dependency. The lack of self worth causes more issues, potentially leading to the substance abuse that is so prevalent among those of us with this condition. It’s an insidious trap – the job gives the self confidence necessary for a normal life, yet they can’t hold a job due to their condition. Go on disability, and they can’t take a job as their assistance will terminate or cut back to nothing. So their confidence and self-worth will never be what it could, and they will never become contributing members of society. This leads to…

It’s the song that never ends.

But back to the positive. Kyle is happy, cheerful, and doing things around the house. He did his own laundry yesterday. He’s a joy to be around.

Now if we can talk him into getting on a program of meds he stands a fighting chance of keeping the job. But he feels so confident and good about himself right now he’ll never consent to start meds.

It’s the song that never ends.