The Bipolar Child, is this it??

     (Excerpts from The Bipolar Child) As it began….As a baby he could go for days without sleeping, and the “terrible two” tantrums persisted through toddler hood and seemed to grow proportionately with each birthday. He was extremely oppositional and his mother and father couldn’t find a way to discipline him, although they tried every parenting technique and spent a great deal of time in parenting classes and family therapies.  Friends began pulling away, and any semblance of a family life-was being destroyed by his explosive behavior and erratic moods.(Papolos and Papolos. The Bipolar Child 1998) This was only the beginning. The pages were full of behaviors by other children that paralleled Zack’s behavior and our struggles.

(TheBiPolar Child) Because of the high degree of arousability and sensitivity to physical and environmental stimuli, these children may need to make more dramatic and often more extreme adaptations to social contexts. They tend to be more rigid and inflexible in response to parental rules and requests-their reactions may be driven primarily by natural attempts to safeguard themselves from over stimulation and to protect against a pervasive fear of losing control. Yet, paradoxically, they may also be bold, adventurous and uninhibited-driven toward pursuit of stimulation that brings physical pleasure/and or intellectual or creative satisfaction. (Papolos and Papolos 1998)

This was it, it had to be.  Along with this realization came relief and despair. Relief that I now knew that this was real; his behavior was not because I was a bad mother. I could put a name to it and begin fixing him. Despair because from my experience working in a psychiatric hospital I know, first hand, how devastating this illness is. It shatters lives, it causes heartbreak for the person suffering from it and their loved ones, as I could recall a high percentage of admissions were people diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Is this what was in store for my son? Is this his illness? To live a life in and out of mental hospitals, to be called and labeled crazy by the outside world? What total devastation we were facing, perhaps it would have been better if I were the problem, that could be fixed, perhaps, but a chemical imbalance in the brain, a mental illness, that is life long, there is no cure.

     I am also quite aware of the high incidence of suicide in people with Bipolar Disorder. At about the age of six, during crying episodes he would begin to plead “mommy just kill me.” Can you imagine your 6 year old saying such a thing to you?

I fear as he gets older he may take matters into his own hands .This possibility is so frightening to me, even now. I dwell on the fact that some day he may become so depressed he may want to take his own life. He recently went through the longets depression yet, tearful, crying episodes every day over such minor things. It was heart wrenching to watch. I felt so helpless. There was nothing I could do for my child except hold him a lot, kiss him more, pray harder and follow his doctor’s orders by increasing his medication until this spell or “cycle” was over. This depression and sadness happening to a 6 year old child.  It all seems so unfair, the torment his mind must be going through. Even now, he seems so aware of his behavior and moods; he often says through his tears “why did GOD make me this way?” “Mom, I don’t like being this way.” Try explaining that to a child. Why he was made differently than most kids.(cont)


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