Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We Need Your Vote to Win!

It’s been a rocky ride in the Pepsi Refresh Project, over Christmas we dropped to 3rd place then moved back to 1st place. So this is the final stretch and we need EVERY vote to win $250,000 for our kids who are suffering with mood disorders.

With New Years around the corner, it can be anyone’s win if we don’t keep voting. Please vote and spread the word to family and friends, it’s our time to win this grant and make a difference in our children’s lives. What an incredible way to welcome in the new year!

If for one reason only, please vote for my son, he knows about this grant and is so excited to know that people are voting to help him.

* * *

If this is your first time to vote, check out the details below:

CABF is competing for a $250,000 grant from The Pepsi Refresh Project during the month of November. The winners will be decided by popular vote. CABF needs your three votes EVERY DAY this month!

Voting all three ways; follow the two links below and text from your cell phone.

Vote Online
: Go to http://www.refresheverything.com/CABFhelpsmorekids . This will take you to the CABF Pepsi online voting page. Click "Vote for this Idea". Register once and then you are all set.

Vote on Facebook
http://tiny.cc/cabfhelpsmorekids. The first time you vote via Facebook, you'll be asked for permission to access your information. Click "Allow". This will take you to the Pepsi Refresh Vote & Share application. You will see CABF's project below the search bar. Click "Vote for this Idea". (After you vote, be sure to click "share this idea" to encourage your friends to vote for us on Facebook. Do this every time you vote!) Note: If you don't see our project, search for "CABF".

Text your Vote
: Text 104174 to PEPSI (73774) (Normal text rates apply).

Winning a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant would truly transform CABF's ability to provide support, information and hope to thousands more families. Thank you for your support.

* * *

Overview of how the grant would be used:

Goals:
Expand awareness of depression & bipolar disorder in youth
Educate parents about symptoms and treatments
Enlighten the public about teen suicide
Eliminate the stigma associated with childhood mental illness
Extend hope to families raising children with a mental illness

Youth depression and bipolar is seldom discussed. It affects 7% of all children in the U.S., yet only a small fraction receive treatment. We plan to launch an outreach campaign to inform parents about the symptoms of mood disorders and how to find help. The outreach will be accomplished via:

-Detailed Communication Plan

-Online ads

-Bi-weekly webinars

-Weekly podcasts

-Daily social networking

-150,000 brochures & 3 mailings to psychiatrists

Experienced CABF staff members will coordinate the webinars, podcasts and volunteer training. Our trained volunteer corps of 100+ around the US are ready to assist new families and youth who reach out to us in crisis. CABF has the capacity to refresh the lives of so many more youth!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our Happy Ending

Tonight my son and I watch the movie The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock. About a half and hour into it my son said, “this is such a sad movie.” I looked at him and explained that he needed to finish the movie because lots of good stuff happens in the end.

I explained to him that sometimes life’s hardships bring the sweetest rewards, that a lot of good stuff can happen that wasn’t possible without the bad stuff.

It got me thinking about my son’s life. As much as I worry about all the bad stuff that could someday happen, I know that I have an amazing kid and we’re doing everything possible to help him through his challenges. It dawned on me that we may be walking through our own inspiring story. That my son’s life has a happy ending that’s made more precious because of the challenges he’s overcome.

So tonight I find myself saying that our story isn’t over yet, just like the movie we watched, it only gets better, we just have to be patient to see our happy ending.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

An Amazing Christmas Gift


Last night Ron Artest donated his 2010 NBA Championship ring in an auction, giving all proceeds to support mental health awareness. More than $650,000 were raised in the public auction that ran since October. The money will be distributed to various mental health charities to help children suffering from mental illness. 

Now that is an amazing Christmas gift!

Check it out!


http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/13929/ron-artest-a-man-in-transition

http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/news/story?id=5955651

http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/12/26/ron-artest-auctions-off-championship-ring/

Merry Christmas

It was a wonderful Christmas this year, we had a week filled with parties and family gatherings, then on Christmas day we decided to stay home in our PJs all day. I have to say it was one of our best Christmas days ever. The kids had a great day playing with their new toys and my husband and I got to relax together. It was such a sweet and perfect day.

My son appears to be doing better, I think the Trileptal is starting to reach it’s full affect. He also got an iPod for Christmas and seems to really enjoy escaping into music. We even loaded up relaxing music like ocean waves so he can tune us all out when he’s feeling stressed.

I hope this good feeling sticks around during the coming week when he’s out of school and coming down from all the holiday excitement. But for now, I’m only enjoying the moment and it feels so good.

Merry Christmas my friends!

* * *

Please vote for CABF, we’re currently in 3rd place and need to get into 2nd place to win $250,000 for our kids!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Silent Night... Sleepless Night

’Twas the night before Christmas... eve.
when all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.


I wish our night went a little like that, but last night was a rough night for my son. He had a lot of trouble sleeping, he kept saying, “I have too much energy!”

We tried having him relax with a hot bath, then he tried reading, which didn’t work since he had a hard time focusing. On his own, he even tried doing push ups, but nothing got rid of this energy.

So feeling desperate, he ran into his brothers’ room where they were both sleeping and hit them to wake them up. Now we had two boys crying, frightened by their abrupt attack in the night and still my son had too much energy. So Dad decided to take him for a walk outside to help him relax. He also used this moment to acknowledge that he saw his attack on his brothers as a cry for help and explained that he doesn’t need to do that, that he could come to us anytime he is struggling and we’ll try our best to help him.

After the walk he was feeling calmer, but still had this energy. He even began to cry wishing he had gone to the gym with me that night so he wouldn’t feel so wound up. As I tucked him back into bed, I could feel his toes dancing under the blankets and I could see the dread on his face as he looked like he was suffering from this energy. It was then that I realized how uncomfortable he was, that this energy probably felt like someone who was over caffeinated.

I know that we’ll see his doctor’s next month, but from your own experience, how do you help your kids get to sleep when they have too much energy? How do you manage these sleepless nights?

* * *

Please keep voting for CABF in the Pepsi Challenge, a new competitor has swept in this morning and took 1st place, pushing us to third. Only 1st and 2nd get the $250,000, so please pass the vote on to everyone you know.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our New Therapist


This week we got to meet our new therapist after meeting our new psychiatrist last week. I have to share that I really like him. It’s all based on first impressions, but I think we’re off to a good start.

He was very kind, yet was able to be a little goofy to connect to my son who was hesitant when walking in. As the appointment went on, I could tell that my son was warming up to him and started to be a little silly himself.

I appreciated the fact that he kept my son in the room for the entire appointment and took time to address him specifically. He also agreed that he would start working with my son on learning new skills rather than spending the entire appointment with me, like our last therapist.

I loved how he took the time to explain to my son what he may be going through regarding his mood disorder. He explained it like this:

The brain makes mistakes sometimes. An example of this is a person who can still feel their big toe itch after having their leg amputated. In this case, the brain is making a mistake.

For some people like my son, his brain is making mistakes regarding his moods, making him feel sad when he isn’t, feeling anxiety when he shouldn’t and recently, seeing monsters that aren’t there. The brain is just making lots of mistakes and it isn’t my son’s fault.

My son seemed to really get this. The therapist went on to say that he wants to teach my son skills on how to recognize when his brain is messing up and how to distract himself until the brain is working right again. He also encourage him by pointing out to my son that he’s able to keep it together at school, so already he’s showing that he’s figured out some skills in handling his illness. As the therapist pointed out, we’re halfway there!

He then pointed out that there may be times when he won’t be able to distract himself.

He said that we need to be prepared for more medication in the future, being that most kids with his condition typically take 5 different medications. He also said that we need to be ready for the process of experimentation since kids are highly individual when it comes to side effects and what works.

At the end of the appointment I asked him if he had ever worked with our new psychiatrist and he responded with a smile, oh yeah, everyone knows him. He was the first psychiatrist in the area and started 2 of the programs that exist in the area. He’s known as the “wise man of psychiatry”.

I have to say, I’m feel pretty good. It’s going to be a very, merry, Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SOS!!!


The Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF) has dropped to the number 3 spot, which means that they’re no longer in a position to win $250,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Project. Only the top 2 places win the money, so all we need to do is get our votes in to get us back in the lead by the end of the month to win. Please vote everyday, this organization makes such a huge difference for so many families that are suffering. Also, with the bad economy, many programs once available no longer exist, so this organization is vital to my family and thousands more. Please vote today!


Here are the details:

CABF is competing for a $250,000 grant from The Pepsi Refresh Project during the month of November. The winners will be decided by popular vote. CABF needs your three votes EVERY DAY this month!

Voting all three ways; follow the two links below and text from your cell phone.

Vote Online
: Go to http://www.refresheverything.com/CABFhelpsmorekids . This will take you to the CABF Pepsi online voting page. Click "Vote for this Idea". Register once and then you are all set.

Vote on Facebook
http://tiny.cc/cabfhelpsmorekids. The first time you vote via Facebook, you'll be asked for permission to access your information. Click "Allow". This will take you to the Pepsi Refresh Vote & Share application. You will see CABF's project below the search bar. Click "Vote for this Idea". (After you vote, be sure to click "share this idea" to encourage your friends to vote for us on Facebook. Do this every time you vote!) Note: If you don't see our project, search for "CABF".

Text your Vote
: Text 104174 to PEPSI (73774) (Normal text rates apply).

Winning a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant would truly transform CABF's ability to provide support, information and hope to thousands more families. Thank you for your support.

* * *

Overview of how the grant would be used:

Goals:
Expand awareness of depression & bipolar disorder in youth
Educate parents about symptoms and treatments
Enlighten the public about teen suicide
Eliminate the stigma associated with childhood mental illness
Extend hope to families raising children with a mental illness

Youth depression and bipolar is seldom discussed. It affects 7% of all children in the U.S., yet only a small fraction receive treatment. We plan to launch an outreach campaign to inform parents about the symptoms of mood disorders and how to find help. The outreach will be accomplished via:

-Detailed Communication Plan

-Online ads

-Bi-weekly webinars

-Weekly podcasts

-Daily social networking

-150,000 brochures & 3 mailings to psychiatrists

Experienced CABF staff members will coordinate the webinars, podcasts and volunteer training. Our trained volunteer corps of 100+ around the US are ready to assist new families and youth who reach out to us in crisis. CABF has the capacity to refresh the lives of so many more youth!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Anxiety


Yesterday, we had a fun day with family, we even got to decorate cookies in the dark by candlelight because the power went out in our area. In all the fun, I forgot to give my son his afternoon medication. Other than some hyperness, which I blamed on the fact that we had company over, he seemed fine. That is until bedtime.

Once it was time for bed, my son’s anxiety began to increase, he was afraid the power would go out again and someone would come into his room and kill him. This anxiety kept him up pretty late last night.

This makes me wonder if his anxieties have played a part with his extreme reaction to timeouts. There have been many timeouts where he seems terrified to go into his room, other times he’s mentioned that he feels like someone wants to come in and kill him after his rage. I can see how a few experiences like this can make you extremely opposed to timeouts.

It also makes me wonder if his visions of monsters are coming from intense anxieties, he feels so frightened because his body goes into a state of alarm, making his brain see stuff.

Whatever is going on, I hope we can take some positive steps forward today when we meet our new therapist for the first time today. Our last therapist told us that our son was too young for cognitive therapy, but I really think they can do something. My son is very articulate in expressing himself, he just needs to build up some trust before he can open up.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our New Psychiatrist

Last night, we had our first appointment with our new psychiatrist. I have to say we are pretty happy with him, yet it’s so hard to get a feeling after just one appointment. It seems that there’s never enough time in our appointments to really share all that we want to. I will say that he was kind enough to allow our 1 hour appointment to go 30 minutes longer, so I appreciated that.

I thought he came across very professional, he started out the appointment by talking to our son alone before we gave him input, which I loved since I think it gave him a sense of our son prior to our disclosure. During this time he played catch with him in the office and asked questions and played word games.

Once we met with the doctor, we were able to share videos and go over lists of behaviors and symptoms. he then asked a lot of questions about his development from birth on.

At the end of the appointment, he shared that it was important to stop these episodes of seeing monsters, but he wasn’t sure what was causing it, he did mention that maybe he was having anxiety attacks, but it’s really hard to know.

When I asked him what diagnosis fit my son, he mentioned that this could be bipolar disorder and acknowledged that there was a lot of controversy in the medical field about it occurring in children and that it was also possible he could have a mood disregulation disorder (the new diagnosis that will be released in 2013). Either way, the treatment with medications is the same. He said that it’s really hard to tell in children what’s causing all of this, but what we do know is that there is something wrong and it’s affecting his development as well as our whole family and that we need to treat this with medication and therapy. But in the end, when it came to knowing what my son may have, he said “we just don’t know.”

So I think I need to come to terms with the fact that what we are dealing with is not fully understood by doctors yet. There’s still so much more research needed and a lot of patience on my side, because only time will tell, we just have to wait and see what lays ahead when it comes to looking at his future. In the meantime, he said we need to focus on today and getting him through December. We just treat the symptoms he has and use therapy to help him cope with his illness and feel good about the boy he is.

As for the medication, right now he wants to give the previous dose increase of Trileptal some more time to take full affect and didn’t want to add a new medication right away. Then we’ll meet again in January and see where things are. In the future, he said we could look at adding Risperdal or going a new direction by trying to tackle the anxiety more with an antidepressant. Either way, there’s risks to both, but he mentioned it’s really trial and error, there’s no direct path and it’s different for every kid.

Before the session was over, he made the point to encourage us that in our son’s lifetime, there will be better treatments available.

At the end of the appointment, my son said that he like him and didn’t want to go back to our old doctor. I’m glad that he didn’t rush into any new medications, but wanted to take a little time with us before making that decision. I think we all have a feeling of trust with him and that’s a good place to start.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Traditions


My son continues to have cycling moods. A lot of sadness and irritability. What seems to work is separation from stress. That means that during homework time, all the kids are downstairs and he’s hidden in my office upstairs, away from all the noise. Yesterday after school, we had to enforce a code of silence from everyone in the car (4 other kids) before he was able to get into the car himself. Even then, the slightest hum or wiggle brought tears to his eyes as he tried to hold it together.

Then last night we broke Christmas tradition by having separate “Mommy Christmas” dates. In the past, I would take all my boys on a special Christmas date that included a movie, lunch and a trip to the mall to pick out a favorite Christmas ornament to place on our tree. This ornament is very special to them, each year they hunt for them as they decorate the tree sharing memories of their special Christmas dates.

Last year was the first year that I could tell this was too much for my son. When we stopped at our local clubhouse to see santa, he refused to go into the building since there was over 30 people inside, then once he did, he took off and starting running through the parking lot with a strange energy about him, hiding under bushes until he decided to come back inside to have cookies and cocoa with us. Then at lunch, he sat there with a pained look in his eyes feeling sick to his stomach from all the anxiety he felt from the crowds. He never made it to the movies, instead he begged to go to grandma’s house where it was peaceful.

So this year, being a little wiser and understanding his limits, we planned separate dates. For the brothers we’ll continue on with our tradition, but for my oldest, we’re starting a new tradition, watching a movie together at home while cuddling and enjoying a few yummy treats. It turns out this is a win-win for everyone. Last night the brothers had a great time doing the things they like to do and my oldest is excited about our friday night date with the movie Eclipse.

Last year, I felt so sad for my son because he wasn’t able to enjoy what should’ve been a wonderful day, but I’m learning that he can still have an amazing day, it just looks a lot different than what I imagined.

As for the special Christmas ornament, it all worked out when the brothers picked out a few extra ones for their older brother to pick from. I wasn’t sure how my son was going to take it, but when I heard him say, “Thanks Mom! I’m glad you got me one, it always stressed me out trying to pick one in the store”, I knew we were on the right track.

And thus, a new tradition is born.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree...

Tonight we decorated the Christmas tree with the boys. It was a very good night. My son was in good spirits, even inspired to write a story that he later read to us as we drank hot chocolate around our pretty tree. It was a sweet moment to feel so normal as a family. I could tell that everyone was feeling the good spirits, both of the younger brothers kept commenting on what a wonderful night it was.

This past week, we saw a lot of impulsive behavior and irritability, but tonight, it was just our boy, filled with a calm, happy spirit.

The joy continues as I look forward to next week when we meet with our new Psychiatrist, the one we were praying to get (yay!). We have an appointment with him on Wednesday night, followed by an appointment with a new therapist the following Monday, I’m feeling optimistic about it all.

As for tomorrow, my middle child (8 years old) will be helping to give communion to our church, along the side of our pastor. My son has showed an interested in wanting to be a pastor and start his own church someday. So after meeting with our pastor to learn about what he does day to day in his service to the church, they decided it would be a special experience for our son to help serve communion. I have a feeling that I’m going to need a tissue, because this Mama Bear is going to shed a few proud tears tomorrow morning.

Tis the season to be jolly!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Breaking a Sweat

Last night, I took my son to the gym for the first time. He’s only 10 years old (you have to be 12 years old), but because I teach fitness classes there, my boss allowed my son an early membership to the gym if we got a doctor’s note.

Exercise has always been a challenge for my son. Because my son has social anxieties, team sports have never been appealing. In the past, we tried different forms of exercise with his brothers like soccer at the park, bike rides or even running laps after school, all require good weather. In the summer, we swim a lot, but the pools close down for the winter. We also thought about martial arts, but both the therapist and I agreed that it wouldn’t be a good idea because he might use his trained moves against me during a rage. So that left our colder months with a challenge.

So I have to say, we were both pretty excited about this opportunity. We packed up our ipods and water bottles and headed to the cardio equipment. I taught him how to do the elliptical machine and he did a 30 minute workout. I was so proud of him. I know it isn’t easy for him to try new things, but he did so great. I wish I took a picture, mother and son, working out side-by-side, I’m sure it looked pretty cute.

Afterwards, we did a cool down and stretch while I taught him about endorphins and how they work in your brain. It was so cute to see his pink cheeks and sweaty hair. I could tell he really pushed himself.

Once home, he was starving and at bedtime he was out like a light. This morning he said he had the best sleep ever last night.

I don’t know if he’ll embrace this, but I hope that he can hold on to the glow of happiness he felt after the workout to encourage him to do it again. I know personally how exercise has improved my own life, how it helps me battle the stresses I face everyday. I hope that he too can find this same joy in exercise.

* * *

CABF has slipped to #2 in the Pepsi Refresh Project, please vote everyday in December, we really need every vote to win this.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jane Pauley and Bipolar Disorder




Watch the video clip of former Dateline NBC cohost Jane Pauley who shares her struggle with bipolar disorder in an interview with Today’s Matt Lauer .

In the link below you can read an excerpt from Jane Pauley’s book Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue where she describes her experience of living with bipolar disorder. Just scroll below the video clip to read her own words.

I thought it was much more interesting than the interview above, it gives a detailed view of an adult living with hypomania brought on by her steroid and antidepressant use, both that are known to bring out symptoms of bipolar disorder if taken without a mood stabilizer. And just to clarify, steroids and antidepressants don’t cause bipolar disorder, instead they just bring out the symptoms of the disease that is already present. That’s why it’s so important to get a second opinion when being prescribed an antidepressant. For those with bipolar disorder, this drug taken without a mood stabilizer can bring on intense mood swings, including the crash that follows that can potentially lead to suicidal behavior.

Check out her book excerpt!
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5887567/ns/dateline_nbc-books/from/toolbar

* * *

Video Source:
MSNBC
updated 9/4/2004 12:56:08 AM ET
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5887567/

Monday, December 6, 2010

We Can Win This!



If you haven’t already heard, last month we came in 5th place in the Pepsi Refresh Project. That’s not too shabby being that we came all the way from the 294th place. Because we were so close, we get a second shot at winning $250,000 for the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF). Most previous winners took 2 months to gain the momentum to win the grant.

The great news I share with you today is that we’re starting out the month in the #1 slot! So we really need your help to vote everyday to stay in the lead, there are hundreds of organizations that are working together to bump us out of the winning spot, so every vote counts.

This is our chance to win. We can really do this! Vote everyday in the month of December.

* * *

Here are the details:

CABF is competing for a $250,000 grant from The Pepsi Refresh Project during the month of November. The winners will be decided by popular vote. CABF needs your three votes EVERY DAY this month!

Voting all three ways; follow the two links below and text from your cell phone.

Vote Online
: Go to http://www.refresheverything.com/CABFhelpsmorekids . This will take you to the CABF Pepsi online voting page. Click "Vote for this Idea". Register once and then you are all set.

Vote on Facebook
: http://tiny.cc/cabfhelpsmorekids. The first time you vote via Facebook, you'll be asked for permission to access your information. Click "Allow". This will take you to the Pepsi Refresh Vote & Share application. You will see CABF's project below the search bar. Click "Vote for this Idea". (After you vote, be sure to click "share this idea" to encourage your friends to vote for us on Facebook. Do this every time you vote!) Note: If you don't see our project, search for "CABF".

Text your Vote
: Text 104174 to PEPSI (73774) (Normal text rates apply).

Winning a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant would truly transform CABF's ability to provide support, information and hope to thousands more families. Thank you for your support.

* * *

Overview of how the grant would be used:

Goals:
Expand awareness of depression & bipolar disorder in youth
Educate parents about symptoms and treatments
Enlighten the public about teen suicide
Eliminate the stigma associated with childhood mental illness
Extend hope to families raising children with a mental illness

Youth depression and bipolar is seldom discussed. It affects 7% of all children in the U.S., yet only a small fraction receive treatment. We plan to launch an outreach campaign to inform parents about the symptoms of mood disorders and how to find help. The outreach will be accomplished via:

-Detailed Communication Plan

-Online ads

-Bi-weekly webinars

-Weekly podcasts

-Daily social networking

-150,000 brochures & 3 mailings to psychiatrists

Experienced CABF staff members will coordinate the webinars, podcasts and volunteer training. Our trained volunteer corps of 100+ around the US are ready to assist new families and youth who reach out to us in crisis. CABF has the capacity to refresh the lives of so many more youth!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Goodness on a Roll

Well I’m very excited to share that the Director of Psychiatry called me yesterday and asked specifically what he could do to make things better. I was also impressed that the first thing he said was that he was sorry for what we’ve gone through so far and thanked me for the opportunity to make things right. I have to say, I was very impressed, the last thing I expected from our HMO was customer service.

After a quick conversation, he said that he was pulling together a small team to determine what psychiatrist would be best for our son’s needs and I would get a call from another individual. Believe it or not, several hours later I got that call and was told that they had already found a doctor that they all agreed would be great. It’s a little farther away, but not much that it makes any difference to me. I was then told that they were going to see what they can work out and call me back soon with more info or even an appointment.

I took a peek at this new psychiatrist and was so impressed. He’s the Assistant Chief in the department of Psychiatry for this city. I noticed on his website that he does work with all ages and has a particular interest in mood disorders. (yay!) He has a ton of experience from being on full time faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at a respected university to consulting pediatrics who treat children with serious physical illnesses such as cancer and transplants. He’s run inpatient units for teens with depression and other disorders. He’s worked in private psychiatric hospitals and residential treatment hospitals. He also participates on clinical faculty at a second university as a clinical professor. Prior to working for my HMO, he had his own private practice for 15 years.

I really have a gut feeling that this guy may be what we need. Then I met with my friend who has a bipolar child in her 20’s and she said she has only heard good things about this doctor. So now, I really, really, hope we get to switch to this doctor.

I’m not sure if they need to see if he’s accepting new patients or not, but either way, they did say that they wanted to get us in contact with a new doctor, as soon as possible, so we can make sure that my son’s meds are all set to make him stable so he doesn’t experience another episode of psychosis.

Pray we get this doctor!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Great News, YAY!!!

I’m doing a happy dance! Last night, I went to my church small group and shared with them what my son was going through. Afterwards, a woman in my group offered to help, sharing that her mom works in our HMO and has access to a lot of important individuals. By the end of our gathering, she tells me that she has already gotten in touch with her mom. When I get home (it’s 9:30 pm), I find an email from this woman reporting that her mother has already contacted the Director of Psychiatry in my area and his response was that my son’s introduction of hallucinations absolutely warrants an immediate, in-person consultation with a licensed psychiatrist and that someone should have found a way to see him. He emphasized that it had to be a psychiatrist as psychologists can’t prescribe and adjust medications and that speaking with a nurse and having them as a go-between was unacceptable as our insurance would pay for the visit under those circumstances.

(are you feeling a happy dance coming on???)

Then the director told this woman that psychiatrists that treat and specialize in bipolar disorders in children are uncommon. He also felt that based on my son’s symptoms, he agreed it was at least something of that nature and certainly more than your average teenaged angst, behavioral problems or ADHD. With all that said, he said that he knows of a couple of psychiatrists, but they may have moved out of our area. So he’s going to check for a child bipolar psychiatrist and if they can’t find one within a 50 mile radius of our area, he will contact some of his colleagues in another HMO system for us to see and our HMO will pay for it.

(Woo hooo!! Are we dancing yet!!!)

Then, I just have to share how good God has been in answering our prayers. During this same small group last night, I got a personal call from the top psychiatrist for bipolar disorder in my city. Yeah, I was that desperate, I research doctors winning top awards in our city and found her number. I spoke with the secretary, but it didn’t sound promising that I would get a call back. Well, she called me and though she doesn’t treat kids under 14, she gave me a name of someone to contact who may know a doctor in our system.

Then, I got an email from my son’s kidney specialist and he said he would research doctors in his city (about 2 hours from us) and gave us a name to start with.

As icing on the cake, another woman in my small group who has a bipolar daughter who is in her 20s has arranged to meet with me tonight to help me navigate within my HMO. She too has the same doctor as our son and agrees that this phychiatrist is not a good listener. Through the years, she has had to push her way through this system to get the help her daughter needed. Today her daughter is stable and attending college.

I can’t tell you how happy I am right now. I feel like things are moving in the right direction. My husband and I both agree that if the end result was to start my son on Risperdal, it would be something we would accept because we would finally have a doctor that we felt was qualified and hopefully willing to listen and communicate with us. Communication is vital when it comes to having faith in your doctor’s decisions.

Last night, before I left our small group, my church family surrounded me and lifted my son and my family up in prayer. I felt that all of our needs were so beautifully addressed. At the end of the prayer, I remember our pastor praying that God would show his love for our family by bringing good to us.

Today, I’m really feeling that our prayers have been answered and I feel God’s love being abundantly poured out on us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Searching...

I’m currently looking for new doctors, but the search is hard since I find a lot of people saying they don’t give referrals or our HMO doesn’t allow access to outside professionals. I have calls into Stanford Bipolar Research, The Mind Institute in Davis, local private psychiatrists, NAMI and I’m even writing letters to specialists who helped with our son’s kidney reflux, begging them to refer me to someone within the system who is working with bipolar kids.

I was really upset with my last call to our doctor’s office. The nurse told me that the doctor has recommended Risperdal, that we should research it on our own and once we make a final decision to get back to them. I told her I was very disappointed because I thought such an important decision under his threatening condition would allow us to meet face to face with the doctor. In our last appointment with her, she told us that she would never put her own child on Risperdal. So it makes me mad that we can’t discuss this further before giving him this medication. I would love the opportunity to show her video of what happened (taken by my iphone during his episode) and to discuss all options available.

But the nurse said that she was sorry, that she couldn’t fit us in and that this was the best our HMO could do. She explained that due to insurance companies, we can’t get more access to our doctor. If we wanted to have more appointment followup with a psychiatrist, we would have to pay for it on the outside, but she reminded us that we would never be able to afford the cost of appointments let alone medication. Then she tells me that there are a lot of other families suffering just like us and that programs previously available to help support families and the costs for care are no longer existing due to cutbacks in the bad economy.

(insert sound of me crying over the phone)

I told her that I was feeling frustrated that these decisions were being left up to us, yet they won’t give us a diagnosis. Or even a hint as to what they think my son has. I know that I need to let go of getting a diagnosis and I have for the most part, but this conversation brought this frustration back up.

The nurse said that we didn’t need a diagnosis to treat our son since calling him “Bipolar” doesn’t change their treatment plan. I explained that I knew that was the case, but for ME, it mattered.

Let me explain why:
If a parent brought their child to the doctors for unusual symptoms and the specialists said that they think their child may have cancer and they want to do chemotherapy. The parents would want confirmation of the illness, they would want the doctors to test to see if there was cancer cells present before they would allow their child to go under such dangerous treatment.

Now, I know that bipolar illness can not be tested and proven, I accept that, but I don’t trust that our doctors are evaluating all of my son’s symptoms, yet they’re now prescribing treatment that they wouldn’t even put their own child through. It’s unsettling.

I guess if the psychiatrist looked at my son’s entire case and said that it looks like he might have bipolar disorder, instead of saying, “he’ll probably outgrow this someday, most kids do”, then I can justify the next level of treatment.

But without a close evaluation of his case, I’m left with the nagging thought... what if the medication is making him worse? Then my next thought is, what if his illness is getting worse and we are wasting time by not starting the Risperdal today.

The responsibility of this decision is weighing heavy on my heart.

* * *

Thank you everyone for all your feedback. Your positive experiences with Risperdal is encouraging. I also appreciate all of your opinions and personal stories shared on my last post, it has been very helpful to both my husband and I. Even my husband told me that after reading all of your feedback, he can see why this blog is helpful to me. Thanks!



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monsters Everywhere


“There are monsters everywhere!”

These are the words that came from my son’s mouth last night as he appeared frightened beyond my own understanding. He quickly fell to the floor and covered his eyes to block out the scary world he saw around him. This all started after he came to me feeling so sad he was sobbing because he thought I didn’t love him anymore.

Sometimes, he wanted to get away from me, other times he begged for me to hold him. At one point, he began trying to fight back. But this wasn’t like a rage. His movements were lazy, lacking the fire we usually see. He was weak and it was easy to hold him down.

Following an episode of scary screams he began to sudden down. When I asked him what had happened, his demeanor changed as he responded with a half smile “I don’t know”. Then he started to laugh. When I asked him if something was funny, he said “I’m surprised how quickly that went by”. He laughs again and says, “I don’t know, I don’t even remember what that was.” When I explained that he looked at me and screamed, he said “Yeah, I don’t know why, it just happens.” When I asked what it is that he sees, he responds, “Monsters.” Then his whimpering begins again as he looks frightened and tries to cover his eyes as he pulls himself into the fetal position.

Then his mood shifts to sad and he begins to cry.

“I don’t know who I am anymore, I feel like you and Daddy died and I’m all alone.”

After he said this he would begin to cry, that is, until he saw another monster. Then I would hear his piercing scream and watch him fretfully cover his head and curl up his body.

“I feel too dizzy...”

This is what he would say every time he would try to stand up. The dizziness kept him on the ground for at least 1 1/2 hours. The dizziness became so overwhelming that he actually threw up.

Then as he started to relax, while lying on the floor, he said that he was seeing monsters. When I asked where they were. He said that there was one under the bed that he could see now. When I asked what it looked like, he said, “A white bunny”. He said that it had a pink scarf around it’s neck. When I asked if it was a nice bunny or a scary bunny, he said “scary”. When I asked if it was a cartoon or a fluffy real bunny, he said, “fluffy”. He said that the bunny was growling at him while holding a knife in one hand and it’s cut off ears, covered in blood, in the other.

Being concerned that the meds were making him sick, we had our neighbor who is a nurse come check out his heart rate to make sure it was regular. It was and we just let him relax until he fully recovered. Once he could stand, we gave him a bath. After that, he appeared like a new kid, smiling and joking with us as he ate dinner.

When I asked if he remembered what had happened, he said, “No, I only remember throwing up.”

I wish my concerns ended there, but this morning he called me into his room after his shower. I found him curled up in a towel crying. When I asked what was wrong, he said that he was having scary thoughts. He explained that he was thinking of the time when I accidently dropped a knife and the time when he grabbed a knife when he wanted to die (bad reaction to Seroquel). I then asked if he thought of hurting himself and he said, “Yes, stabbing a knife into my stomach.”

Within a few moments I was able to cheer him up and he was ready to go to school looking happy and excited about being the library helper today.

* * *

Right now,  I’m anxiously waiting to hear back from our doctors, I’ve left a ton of messages.

I’m sharing this with you because I’m desperate to find out what may be going wrong with my son. I wonder if his medications are causing all this, or if it’s his illness. His nurse has assured me that it’s not possible for the medications to make this reaction, but she’s not sure what is going on.

So for those who may have walked in these shoes, what can you share with me? What do you think is going on?

After this post, I’m going to continue my search for highly recommended doctors within our HMO, I know this may be a long process, but we need help and we need it now!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Home Sweet Home


Well my friends, we’re back home from our family vacation. Everyone is now asleep after a whole day of driving. My son did extremely well, but his illness still showed up during the trip. Which to be honest, I knew it would, but I wasn’t sure to what extent.

My son did a fantastic job on the drive there, our planning really helped to make things go smooth. The trip to the ocean on day 2 was perfect, it was a great family day. On day 3 we took our boys to Legoland. Which if your child is into Legos like mine, you know what a big deal this is.

We took the day nice and easy. My sister, father and step mom were there to offer a ton of support and help with the kids. There was a lot of team work and the kids had a blast. We were very in tune with my son’s limits, once he said he was done with lines, we stopped getting in them. We only went on 3 rides, the rest of the day was spent looking at the amazing Lego creations, which to be honest, my son could have done for many more hours.

But as much as a child has fun in these entertaining environments, limits still exist. Upon calling it a day, my son happily headed to the exit, but once through the doors and into the parking lot, my son started to feel sadness as his moods began to shift and tears started to fall down his checks. I could tell he was caught off guard by it, since he had such a great day. Yet, I wasn’t surprised that his body needed to release all the internal stress from the sensory overload of the day.

Once in the car and on the ride back to my sister’s house, he cried several more times, each time regaining his composure with a hug and words of comfort.

Then he seemed to relax and rest quietly for a few minutes.

Abruptly, he opened his eyes and looked right at me, but I could tell that he didn’t see me. In an instant he became overwhelmed with terror. He screamed out and tried to bury his head into the side of the car, in a panic, trying to get away from me. He was frightened to his core.

I immediately began reminding him that I was mommy and that I wasn’t going to hurt him. It seemed that the more he looked around, the more he was overwhelmed with fear.

I started to instruct him to cover up his eyes. When he did this, he seemed to settle down for a moment, but as soon as he uncovered his eyes, he was back into a scary place. At one point, he said I was trying to kill him, so feeling threatened, he tried to kick, punch and bite me. All while we were driving on the freeway.

Thankfully, my dad remained calm and stayed focus on getting us back to the house while I used my legs to pin him into place and my hands to hold his upper body into the car seat.

I have to admit that I became very scared. I didn’t know what would happen next. Could he get free from me and try to exit the car while on the freeway? Would he in a panic head to the driver’s seat?

I also felt so much sadness for him because I couldn’t imagine experiencing so much fear. It was primal.

Once back at the house, we had to wait for him to calm down to be safely escorted into the house. After several moments, he seemed to change, his muscles started to relax and he told me that he could now see that it was “me” sitting by his side.

At the end of the evening, after a relaxing bath, he was back to himself. Even admitting that he didn’t remember much about the car ride. It made me wonder if he’d entered into a weird sleep cycle where he was dreaming, but looked awake.

But tonight’s behavior has me questioning if it really was that.

This evening, after our drive home, he had a handful of moments where he felt sadness. Once, he explained feeling weird, like he wasn’t “real”. Then, when cuddling with him before bed, he immediately became very irritated by his brother who was walking by, then started acting strange, trying to bite at he. I have no idea what was going on. My husband took over trying to get him to bed, but even he realized that his moods were all over the place.

I know our doctors wanted us to go a week with his meds at max dose, but I’m going to call them tomorrow and see what they think of all this.

In the meantime, it feels good to be home sweet home.

* * *

P.S. Thank you sis for being so generous with my family and giving my boys a great vacation. Love you!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Feeling Thankful

Feeling thankful is an understatement. Today, we arrived at my sister's house after 10 hours of driving and I'm so happy to share that the trip was a success. To say it went well is an understatement.

We left at 4 am and the kids were quiet for the first 4 hours. We were able to keep all the kids content with fun activities, dollar tree gifts every few hours and our most helpful tool, a separate car. My son switched cars about 4 hours in and was able to ride in peace with his grandparents. It was so helpful to have the kids separated when the drive dragged into it's final hours.

Unfortunately for our youngest, vomit was part of the journey, but what's a family trip without a little vomit?

My son seems so happy to be here, he said that he didn't want to miss this trip since he missed the last family vacation, he's also looking forward to our visit to the ocean tomorrow. Thankfully, it's only 15 minutes from my sister's house and the ocean happens to be his favorite place to visit. It should be a very good day.

Even though it's been such a long day and rough week trying to pack, I'm finally starting to relax and let go of all my worries. (deep exhale)

I'm also thankful for so much tonight. I'm thankful for all of you that reached out during this rough week. Your guidance lead me to reach out to our doctors more than once. I'm also so thankful for all of you that said that you were praying for my family during this trip, I really felt the love! I'm so thankful for my 3 flower girls, you help me get through each week with our girl time. I'm thankful for having such a supportive family who are always there for us and my sister who welcomed my 3 bouncing boys into her new home and is cooking us a thanksgiving feast. But tonight, I'm most thankful for my son who got to go on a family vacation and have some fun like a 9 year old boy should.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Visions of Monsters


This week continues to be rough. Today, I’m busy packing for our trip, the boys are on their first day of vacation and bored already. Add to it, my son’s moods have been all over the place.

He’s been very impulsive, defiant and at times running to hide under tables. When he isn’t picking on his brothers he’s feeling sad and crying for no reason. It looks like rapid cycling. Sometimes his moods will be completely different minutes apart.

At one point, I had him go hang out in his room since he was having fun scaring his brothers with his impulsive energy. After a few minutes, I went to check on him and when I walked into his room he was startled, then started to cry. Then something happened. He started to panic, he ran to his bed and started screaming out in terror. His face looked distorted with fright and his pupils seems to enlarge. He grabbed onto his head board and crunched up into the farthest corner of his bed. Every time he looked up at me, his anxiety intensified. He started pointing up to my face and screamed out “MONSTER!!”

I calmly told my son that it was just his mom and that I wasn’t going to hurt him, just help him. He continued to pull into into the corner, whimpering, trying to get as far from me as possible. It was terrorizing him to even look my way. I slowly crunched down towards the floor to appear less frightening and waited for this vision to pass.

After several moments, he came back to his senses and I was able to slowly take him into my arms for a hug. Once he seemed relaxed I tucked him into bed and told him to rest for a bit. Five minutes later he came out to asked who had called on the phone acting like nothing had happened. Then 5 minutes later he came back to me crying saying he wasn’t feeling well and his moods keep changing.

Well that’s our day so far, it’s only 3:45 pm and there’s more day ahead. Hopefully the monster vision won’t return.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On the Road Again...


When I was a child, I clearly remember our long family road trips. It was back in the day when we didn’t wear seat belts and our van seats folded out into a bed. Thanks to my genius Dad, who installed a black and white TV and the video game Pong into our van, we were the coolest kids around. I remember singing Elvira at the top of our lungs and fighting over who got to sit by the windows. Yeah, we were styling it in our chevy van with blue carpeting up the walls.

As a kid, I didn’t have to think much about our road trip, I just jumped into our family van and enjoyed the donuts that were passed back to me as we hit the road. But now it’s my turn and I have a lot of planning to do.

Call us foolish, but we’re planning a long road trip to visit family. We’re going to be on the road all day with 3 bouncing boys in a minivan. Can you tell I’m a little nervous? I can imagine all the things that can go wrong, the meltdowns and changing moods or I can be prepared and hope for the best.

That’s where you come in. I’m sure over the years you’ve learned a thing or two on how to make your child’s road trip go smooth. So, I’m looking for YOUR expertise, any great advice or lessons learned would be welcomed.

Here are a few things I’ve prepared so far:

1. We’re leaving at 4 am so the kids can sleep off some of the trip. (Sorry Dad, here’s a Starbucks!)

2. Grandparents are driving along separately so the kids can switch vans to mix up the view and company. Also, it will be a way to separate the boys if they’re fighting.

3. I always plan a bag of goodies to help pass the time, you know the cheap stuff at the dollar store.

4. I may bribe with money. I was taught through the Magic 1, 2, 3 series to give the kids spending money for the trip, but they have to earn it through quarters given for every mile they behave well. The better they are, the more money they get.

5. We’re borrowing portable dvd players (thanks to generous friends), we’ll have one for each kid with lots of movies from our local library. It will be a great time to finish up The Little House on the Prairie series.

6. Of course we’ll have their DS games and Dramamine for our car sick kid.

7. Then for Mom, I’ll have my iphone with my favorite podcasts. (Helps to drown out the whining from the back of the car.)


So please, think back to your last road trip and share the good and the bad, I’m sure we can all learn a lesson or two from one another!

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Voice Behind the Door


I’m standing in front of my son’s bedroom door. He’s screaming bad words at me while smashing who knows what against the back of the door. I can feel each strike he makes through every muscle in my body as the walls around me vibrate. His anger is out of control.

I’m still a little out of breath from having to take him up the stairs into his room for a timeout. The locks are once again broken from a previous rage, so I’m having to use all my body weight to hold the door shut. My hands are aching from clenching the metal handle, my heart is pounding fast and my stomach is filled with anxiety.

As the anger is pushed through his screams, he starts to calm down. Then his voice begins to change.

“Mommy”... “Mommy”...

I recognize the voice. The gentle, innocent tone that I remember from when he was 4 years old. An image of my son in a home video, calling out my name, flashes into my mind. In the video, he comes up to the camera and in his unique way calls to me, “Mommee... Mommee...”, it’s the same sound I hear on the other side of the door. It’s like no time has passed, it’s the sound of my sweet boy before his illness. It breaks my heart in two.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just Another Day & Another Rage

Yesterday, we continued to see problems. When I picked my son up at school I could tell we were going to have a rough day by the look on his face. It turns out that my son got in trouble for jumping off the top of the play structure during recess. As a consequence, he was told that he would lose all his morning recesses for the rest of the week.

As you can imagine, this just set his mood into a downward spiral. For the rest of the day I was constantly navigating his emotions, trying to keep him calm. I even had a problem with him running off in the store and being impulsive.

At the end of the day, when I was at a church gathering, my husband went to put the boys to bed when my son went into a violent rage. My husband noticed that he seemed to intensify much faster than the past and he was very physical towards my husband.

After the mania that occurred last week, we increased his Trileptal again, but I haven’t seen a positive change yet, like we’ve seen in previous increases. I think in my gut I know we may be headed towards an additional medication.

I hate the thought of that. Every medication comes with new side effects and new risks. But our doctors don’t have anything else to offer. Even our therapist told me that if it’s biological, therapy won’t help in the heat of a rage, only medication can.

The other thing I’m struggling with is the school’s consequence. I know my son should have a consequence for jumping off the play structure, but to have a punishment that will last for an entire week is unbearable. This will just continue the downward spiral of his mood. He needs a consequence that is immediate, then he has a fresh start. I also think that his behavior may be connected with his recent instability. It’s very unlike him to do risky things, when he’s stable he’s very cautious. So for him to make such a bold move at school, makes me wonder if his body was still having moments of mania. So to take away recess, a moment where he can get some healthy exercise, seems to be a move in the wrong direction.

* * *

So how does your school handle consequences with your child?


Monday, November 15, 2010

Really People???

Ok, so I’m a little fired up this morning. As I was placing my daily vote for the Pepsi Refresh Project to help the Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF) win $250,000 to help children suffering from depression and bipolar disorder, I took a peek at who is currently in the lead for winning this amazing grant. It’s an organization that wants to help rescue animals in underserved areas.

Really people???

Now, don’t think I’m a total jerk for not showing compassion for animals, I do like animals, but I love our children more. I would be at peace if the winner was runner up #2 who is trying to help babies with cystic fibrosis, now that sounds like an equally worthy cause, but for voters to be putting animals before the wellness of children just makes me sick. What is wrong with us?

People need to realize that our children are seriously hurt by this illness. They are NOT “moody kids” that just like to defy their parents. These kids suffer in a way most of us have never known.

They battle a war everyday inside their heads, fighting against their chemical instincts. They don’t see the joy that surrounds their life because their brain makes them see sadness instead. Their stomachs twist with anxiety when sitting in their classrooms and they’re overwhelmed with the pressure to make friends that they often choose to sit alone during recess while the kids tease them from a far. The simple joys of childhood are taken from them when they can’t enjoy birthday parties, movie theaters and amusement parks. They live everyday feeling like they’ve messed up again when their moods make them act out and the stigma of their illness makes them believe it’s all their fault. Instead of bedtime dreams of being a superhero or king of a castle, they have terrifying nightmares seeing themselves being eaten alive by monsters, every time they go to sleep. During their waking hours they hear voices and see scary men living in dark corners. Sometimes, their bodies are taken over by their illness, making them act out in dangerous ways and other times their illness makes them feel so miserable that they would rather die than live another day. Sometimes, this illness does just that.

My son is incredibly loved but his illness makes him feel “worthless”. I hope people can prove him wrong and vote for this great cause everyday, please, don’t let our animals be valued more than these innocent children that are begging for help.

Vote!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mania

I’ve been looking forward to this post because I have a heavy heart and I hope that after blogging I’ll feel a little better.

This week my son had his therapy appointment. It was disappointing on several levels, but after the appointment, as we were walking to our parked car, my son ran off. He started darting between parked cars and running between buildings while my youngest cried, afraid his brother was gone forever.

The entire time he had a smile on his face and an impulsive energy about him.

I knew from past experience that if I chased him things would escalate, so I tried to keep a distance. At one point, I had to move our car to another lot to keep him in our sights. Once closer, he started attacking the car with his fists. I coached his brothers to keep their eyes forward, to not look at him since it was obvious that my son was trying to scare them. Then my son started climbing onto the hood of my car and started beating the glass.

When I got out of the car and asked him calmly what he was doing, he said, “I don’t know”, with a smile spread across his face.

I asked him if he was having fun scaring his brothers and he said, “yes”.

He then ran around the car and grabbed an umbrella and tried to stab his brother with it, all the while I was throwing myself across the van to protect my little ones. This struggle went on for moments. It was all so fast, it’s like a blur now. I remember there was a lot of screaming, in a panic I was yelling for him to stop, while his brothers were crying in the car, terrified.

I screamed at my little ones to run out of the car into an office building while I kept his brother at a distance. With all the commotion, I wasn’t surprised when a man approached and asked if he could help.

YES! I was so relieved to have assistance. With the little ones safe inside an office, the man and I approached my son.

At first my son looked confused, he started slowing down and continued to walk away from us, but the man began talking. I was so impressed, he talked and talked, about being a soccer coach, about his daughter wanting to marry a rock star, he went on and on.

And it worked! With a look of total confusion on his face, my son calmed down, I was able to take his hand and lead him back to the therapist’s office.

Once there, our therapist got a first hand look at my son’s transformation. He went from being a sweet boy, full of life and anticipation for the weekend, to a scowling child tipping a table over in the lobby.

His brothers confirm to our therapist that my son wasn’t angry outside, but had too much energy and was having fun.

Once my son had calmed down, he explained that it felt fun and he felt powerful when he was scaring his brothers, like he was big and they were very tiny. He also felt like he could do anything. But he wasn’t able to determine what triggered it all.

The next day our therapist called and asked if this type of thing had happened before. “Yes!” I said. He asked a few other questions, then when he was done he said, “It appears your son was experiencing mania”. He said he wasn’t surprised that the episodes weren’t very long since he was so young and they’re new to his illness, only being present this year.

Inside, I had two distinct feelings that were crashing together. The first, I felt such relief that our doctor was now verbalizing something I always believed to be true. My son has been manic.

Second, I felt a sick feeling in my stomach and a deep pain in my heart.

If my son has mania, things are going to get worse.

When I asked if this now appears to be a case of childhood bipolar. He responded that they don’t want to label kids this young, but he did feel that what we were seeing in my son yesterday looked very different than a kid with typical anger problems.

As he finished the call he said that we should expect a lot of med changes in the coming years and be prepared to add a second mood stabilizer soon. In the meantime, he told me, “We need to hope for the best, but treat aggressively.”

Hmmm... after all that blogging, I still have a sick feeling in my gut.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Curse of Reality TV?

Today, the morning news reported that yet another reality TV star has committed suicide. This is such tragic news and I can’t begin to imagine the pain that the family must be going through. When I hear that the individual was suffering from depression, a part of me becomes filled with fear, could this be something my son will struggle with?

Our pdoc claims there’s a possibility that my son will outgrow most of his symptoms and maybe only have depression as an adult, which she implied was no big deal since a lot society lives with depression and they have many medications to treat it. But you can’t ignore that one of the risk factors of depression is suicide. And this is so frightening to me.

Not only was I disturbed by today’s news report, but I was annoyed by the hype they gave it. They and many other reporters were trying to make the connection that reality TV has a curse (you can google it yourself). I tend to think this is foolish, it may make a good headline to bring ratings, but the truth is, that people are suffering from mental illness all around. So if you pull out a segment of society and put them on TV, they too will have a percentage of individuals suffering from mental illness. You can also make the claim that maybe some suffering from a mental illness that influences high risk behavior may seek out reality TV to start with.

Either way, I feel that these stories have less to do with reality TV and more to do with... reality.


Monday, November 8, 2010

A Different Kind of Cool

This weekend I had the privilege (thanks Mom and Dad) to see Jack Gallagher’s one man show, A Different Kind of Cool. From the beginning, I was captivated as he shared his honest experience in raising a son with autism. There were times when I laughed, which was no surprise since he’s a comedian, but I also had to hold on tight to my tissue because the tears started to flow.

Even though my son has a different kind of illness, I could relate to the pain and frustrations he’s felt. Especially the pointless efforts to “fix” my child. Early on in my son’s illness I read every book I could get my hands on, trying to learn the perfect parenting techniques to help my son get better. It wasn’t long before I realized that his illness wasn’t going to disappear because I used the Magic 1, 2, 3 timeout method. I had to come to terms that I couldn’t fix this.

I could also relate to the sadness he shared in knowing that your child has a serious illness and how it breaks your heart in half. He shared a terrifying experience where he watched his 4 yr. old son being taking out by the ocean. He remained helpless to save his son, only being able to watch it happen from a distance. This story seems to fit my own experience sometimes when I too feel helpless as I watch my son being sucked out by this illness. Like his story, all I can do is watch from a distance, bringing me unimaginable pain.

I also appreciated his honesty when he shared how once his son was given a label of autism, he started to treat him differently, he started to see him through the eyes of the label, forgetting the fun, creative son he was before the diagnosis.

I think it’s easy to fall into this. When our children’s illness takes over our lives, we all can get lost in it. It can be easy to forget that our kids are still those silly, creative, sensitive children under all those screaming symptoms.

As Gallagher states in his show, “They said my son was something, but he is Liam.”

I really like that. I know my son has many challenges, but he isn’t those challenges, he is my son and I’ll love him forever.

* * *

You can read more about this one man show at the following link.

Review by The Autism News:
A Different Kind of Cool

Jack Gallagher’s website:
http://www.jackgallagher.info/intro.cfm

You have to see this amazing show yourself!
http://www.jackgallagher.info/Store.cfm