Saturday, March 13, 2010

Who Do You Tell?

I once read “If your child has cancer, people bring you casseroles, but if your child has a mental illness, they stay away.” I’m sad to say that we’ve faced this in our own community. Our son lost his best friend after a rage with me. Once I explained the situation to the parents, they ended their friendship. This is still painful for my son today, almost 3 years later. He still talks about this child, draws pictures of her and still tries to find her new phone number. If I could restore this relationship, I would in an instant. My heart aches for the loss he feels.

On the other side, we’ve been blessed to feel the love and support of family and friends that have stepped in to help our family when we needed it most. But before we could accept this blessing, we had to open up and share our story with others. This means exposing the details that are so hard to share, so that they can understand what’s hard to imagine. If you’re struggling with this step, I encourage you to seek out those you trust and open up.

To be honest, I’m reluctant to open up to others because I’m afraid of being judged. I don’t want people to think I’m a bad parent, or that we ruined our son because we let him play video games and eat sugar. I’m also afraid that people will judge my son, thinking he’s a bad kid. I don’t want my son “labeled” and treated poorly because of it. I’m concerned that my dear friends will stop spending time with us because they’re afraid of my son.

Then there are the times that I’ve wanted to tell others about my son’s illness to create understanding and compassion for my son. Because of my son’s poor impulse control, he hasn’t always been the best playdate. I have, on more than one occasion, heard very judgmental comments about me being a bad parent because of my son’s behavior. It’s times like these when I wish I could just tell others our story so they can understand and forgive.

Lately, I’ve felt very broken, our recent challenges with our son have been so overwhelming and I’ve felt so isolated in trying to cope with it all. It was my Mother-In-Law that reminded me that “You can’t go through this alone”. She was right. I’ve started to open up about our pain, heck, I even started a blog to get things off my chest. I’ve leaned on my family and opened up to my friends. And you know what? I feel so much better today. I may feel weak, but I feel like I’m being put back together, one piece at a time by the strength of God and those around me. I am truly blessed.



11 comments:

  1. Wow, I could have written this just as easily! My 8yr old daughter is quite similar and we go through exactly the same turmoil of whether to open up or keep it under the cover so to speak. We surely wouldn't tell the school or she would be "labled" and treated differently and we don't want that, no one does!

    We kept it a secret from our 2 families for countless years until about 1.5 yrs back and do regret not opening that one up sooner. However, family is different as we all know.

    God bless and know you are not alone...not at all.

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  2. Thanks Wileycoyote for your words, it helps me feel not so alone in all this. Unfortunately, we have had to open up to his school, since we recently started having problems there. We are now glad that they now know since things have escalated there, and now there is some understanding. But the question still comes ”So how much do you share?”

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  3. i'm glad you found my blog! i added yours to my blog list so others can see it. i relate well to this post. in fact, i was just working on a post tonight about losing friends. there's a poem on a website (i can't remember if it's CABF or juvenile bipolar foundation) where the father of a bipolar son said he wishes his son had cancer instead of bipolar, for the very reason of the support that rally's around you. it's very sad. your story about your son's best friend broke my heart. how incredibly sad and hard it must be for him to understand. these parents just don't understand how much impact just one friend can be to our kids. i'm so sorry that happened. anyway, i'll keep up with your blog. it's wonderful to have other parents to lean on and get ideas from.

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  4. Great to see you here Taz, I appreciate your words of support, I look forward to following your blog!

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  5. Well, today was the last day of school, and now that my son is home, he has already become irritable. He is screaming for no reason...boredom maybe...but I can't play with him every minute. He won't play with his younger brother, and I have a 2 month old trying to sleep upstairs, but the frequent irritable screams keep waking him. The difficulty of dealing with this irritability is inexplicable. He was doing well on risperdal, but the past few days have been tricky. My son has also been diagnosed with tics, OCD, ADHD, and anxiety. Moods are the icing on the cake, but they seem to take precedence over the other problems. I just wish he could have a normal life. As I watched the other kids leave school today with friends for playdates, it tugged at my heartstrings knowing my son was coming home with no friends to call over the summer break. His "best friend" from kindergarten last year transferred to another school last September so this year was tough for my son. Anyway, we had a playdate last summer with his "best friend" that ended poorly. They ignored us the rest of the summer, and the boy had transferred to another school anyway, but my son was heartbroken. He still talks about him, and also uses his name when playing....similar to the comments above. It's like he never got over it. My son is starting a new private school in September so I'm hoping for the best, but I am nervous.

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  6. I have spent the past two days reading your blog. My oldest daughter was just diagnosed with ADHD and a Mood Disorder NOS. We are just beginning this journey. Thank you for having the courage to share yours publicly.

    (I apologize if this is a dupe comment. I thought I'd posted this yesterday, but it didn't seem to want to take it.)

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  7. With the kids- Thank you so much for reading my blog, I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter's diagnosis. I hope that you can find some support in knowing that you are not alone as you go through this journey. Maybe you'll be able to share with us things that have worked in your home, I’ve found that the online community that is here is so supportive, I'm glad you can join us!

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  8. with the trouble we had at home- my husband who works a lot and myself having CP I ran right to the school. At first it was the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He is a A student and no problems at school. I too in a drawing our son made of him with a gun shooting me. That sparked interest but it wasn't tell we took a friend in with us who vouched what was happening and from that moment on they have stood by us. They have not labeled him-they do not treat him any different, but are there for me. I believe it takes a village to raise a child

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    1. It really does take a village. I think it was my son's teachers that were able to help define his anxiety and depression when it first started. I’m glad they’re on your side!

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  9. I'm sitting here in tears, I could have written this myself. Somehow, in the beginning, it was easier to criticize my parenting, for letting a four year old behave the way he did. Until people had the chance to see it first hand, then they were intimidated by him... and once the diagnosis came, chit chat of "labeling" him surfaced and broke my heart. It was like relief from knowing there was something there, to guilt, to feeling judged! I felt and feel still like sometimes people don't realize I asked myself all the questions they are asking me, I tried the things they suggested, long before I resorted to medications. Things had to get really bad, before I broke down and said "Ok I need help!".
    When I make friends with moms, it is hard to find a way to tell them, but I know I need to. It's only a matter of time before something happens, and I feel they deserve the warning. However, when they can't see anything "Wrong" they think it's because he is okay. I know it's just that they don't have to understand what stability means. That's why I'm hear. I write a blog about parenting a child with a mood disorder (and some other issues), because I want to feel less alone, and I want to help people out there struggling to find a place. It's not easy to be a parent to a child with bipolar disorder, and the things that have to change in your life as a result of that aren't easy either. I loved your blog and felt like it could have been a page ripped out of my journal. I look forward to reading through it more!

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, I could really feel the pain in your words that so many of us feel. I look forward to checking out your blog and hope to hear from you in the future!

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