Sunday, February 26, 2006

Parenting

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".

Comments:
Jon-

I just posted about what we are going through right now. I would love to be able to find a support group in the area for either myself or my son. I think either would help
 
The stats I've read have said 20% of bipolars committ suicide. If it were merely the attempt, I wouldn't be so worried as Levi has tried 4 times. (all in the year 2000)
Suicide is my biggest fear with Levi right now. I know how hard he can be on himself if he feels he's let us down.
One thing we can count our blessings for Jon, is that our kids don't have schizophrenia. That seems like the cruelest mental illness there is.
There is a fine line of what's the right thing to do for our kids, but it has to be something we can live with & will help them live. How do we achieve that balance?
 
..again, there are so many similarities between myself and your son that i almost feel like i can give some type of insight..

do i aglree with parents kicking kids "like me" out? nope. why? i've been there, i've done that. and i've seen how it has affected so many others such as myself. i don't think society realizes that we do need to be treated differently, but not babied. with bipolar kids specifically, having the typical firm attitude isn't going to cut it. having a solid support system that is firm in itself is key.. i wasn't fortunate enough to have that - but i'll be damned that if i have a bipolar child, they'll get all of the support they need.

you're parenting..well, it's an inspiration.
 
I'm not sure what the "right" thing to do is, but I can tell you Iwouldn't throw any child of mine out.
 
You are a compassionate loving father who is attempting to understand a biological disease that even the experts can't figure out.

Your son, if not now, will deeply appreciate this.

I am Bipolar, I think your stats are little off, but I understand your fear. Support groups for family members are AWESOME. Check out NAMI and DBSA...a great book for parents- 72 Hour Hold, By Beebe Moore Campbell. If you have not read this yet, it is right up your alley.

Best wishes. There is hope. There are times when my husband feels we have it a wall...it will not get better. With diligence on my part, and those who support me...I climb back up every time there is a crash. With each episode I learn how to prevent the next. Awareness and education- key to sucess.
 
There is NO WAY I would throw him out, but I would continue to impress (strongly) the idea upon him that he has to b e an active participant in getting well, meaning: going to appointments, taking medications, etc. This rule simply cannot be ignored.

Bipolar disorder waxes and wanes, as all of us with it fully realize. To do nothing can be a potential death sentence...not only literally for him but spiritually for all innocent bystanders (including your family and his girlfriend) as well!

Take care and God bless,
ariK
 
Thank you for your blog. I have an 11 year old bi-polar, PTSD, anxiety-afflicted son. I adopted him at 8 and its been a rollercoaster ever since. Your blog has helped me so much. Thank you again!

Lisa at
http://www.bloglines.com/blog/HopewellMomSchool
 
I just found your blog by chance. I empathize with you. I do not have a bipolar child, though I have bipolar disorder myself (and I'm in my 40's). I maintain a website for a local organization in NJ called POKIBID (Parents of Kids with Bipolar Disorder) and they have great resources mentioned at their site pokibid.org ; they also have arranged several talks by Demitri Papalos, M.D.

From my experience, a support group for parents is really helpful, even though it's hard for the parent(s) to find someone to care for the child during those hours. Support groups for teens and pre-teens are few and far-between, since they require a professional to be there.

I do want to close with a message of hope. I have been very successful career-wise in my life, despite my bipolar condition. There's help out there, I just hope your son finds it.
 
I never tried to commit suicide, and my parent (lived with mom) probably thought of kicking me out almost daily.

Now, in 10 days I graduate law school, I'm engaged, and a well adjusted (sortof) member of society.
 
It's been a while since I've checked in on this blog. Thanks to all for your comments.

I will be updating this soon.
 
If you would like to visit the "Procovery and Friends" site, your son may find it helpful and supportive.

http://shcrt.blogspot.com/

I'm bipolar myself
 
Thanks to all for your comments. I wish I had more to update.

Timothy - I have linked to your blog from the Living With a Purple Dog blog.
 
I am bipolar and have a daughter who is bipolar and won't admit to it--or even try to get help. She is 26 now and has two children, one of which I take care of on a daily basis. She is responsible--but I take up the slack --for me to go into all this in a comment area would be unfair to the others0but suffice to say, I get the picture and its a tough road--but bearable!
 
I just did a google search for Pokibid and under the Pokibid site, which I facilitate in Madison, NJ ...I saw this site. It was very ineresting and I will pass this along to our members. I am totally surrounded by Bipolar people in my life..is it contagious? Just kidding....because I feel like I am completely losing my mind trying to care for and help them.I lost a brother and 2 cousins very early who were undiagnosed. I say that because my daughter, at a very early age was very difficult...at that time no child could be diagnsed as Bipolar....I didn't even know there was such a thing, other than a friend who ended up in a hospital who developed psychotic behaviors..they called it manic depression. My child was diadnosed at 12 years old, when her difficult behaviors became more difficult and scary and I had to bribe her to see a psychologist which led us to a psychiatrist and then medication. I started to read and learn more about this condition and realized why my marriage ended...he too displayed the profile, as did his father, his grandmother and grandfather, my grandfather, my brothers, my 2 cousins etc etc
I'm totally exhausted and worry about their future specificallly my daughter, her father and my brother. They just don't seem to want to address their condition, there's denial, there's "I'm tired of doctor's..I don't want to take any medicine and there is the complication of other substances such as alcohol...or whatever.
At some point I feel I may have to let go as I can't make a difference
especially because I am not dealing with a child anymore. I feel guilty about getting angry with them, I forget they can't help it, I mumble awful things to myself in complete frustration...I know I am not alone
and it's good to talk with other parents at Pokibid,we can even get a few laughs together, and we share experiences and information...okay...I've evnted...thank you.
 
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