Monday, July 11, 2011

Dear Media...

I’ve written the following in response to the flood of articles written recently with claims that bipolar disorder doesn’t exist in children, bringing about negative criticism that our children just need to modify their diet, be raised by better parents or be given a good spanking. For those with the naive opinion that we’re lazy parents using drugs to make our job easier and that our children are just spoiled brats, I have the following to say... you have no idea!

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I find all these articles very frustrating. My son has a real mental illness. We are not bad parents. We have tried many things to help our son get better, but it wasn’t until we tried medication that we started to see a positive change in his life.

My son knew at the age of 7 that he had a problem in his brain, after wanting to kill himself he cried that he wanted to see the doctor so they could fix his brain. My son has suffered depression, rapid mood swings (he would cry, then laugh, then cry, then laugh until he would slam his head into the ground begging through tears to help make his brain stop changing moods all in a matter of 1 minute). He has seen monsters for episodes that has lasted up to 30 minutes, ending with him vomiting. He has heard voices and seen shadowed men coming at him when having panic attacks and has punched himself in the face to stop the images in his brain. He has trouble sleeping, feels too much energy and has violent rages attacking his family, sometimes up to several hours. He suffers from great anxiety that keeps him from playing with other kids and his sensory issues that keep him from enjoying family outings and fun experiences.

He says he feels worthless and that he’s God's mistake.

He has seen professional therapists and psychiatrists and to this day we don’t have an official diagnosis other than “mood disorder”. My son is being treated with bipolar medication and with the recent addition of Lithium, we’ve seen a tremendous change in our son. My husband and I both feel like we have our old son back. But I think our son can share the remarkable change in his own words:

“I feel happiness for the first time in a long time.”

“I no longer feel anger inside.”

“I feel great Mom!”

My son’s story is one of many. We are parents that love our children deeply, we recognized that our children need help that no diet, religion, parenting methods, exercise, fish oils, etc. can fix alone. We know, because we tried. Most parents are terrified of putting their child on medication and from experience I would say that most wait too long. We resisted it because of the bad press and judgments of society. Parents need support, not judgement.

You have no idea the hell my son has lived through. Please withhold your judgement.

I don’t know what will be my son’s final diagnosis, but I do know that I am thankful that he has an opportunity to have a life worth living thanks to medication and a mental health community that is trying to help our son in a time where answers are still outside our reach. We hope that within his lifetime we will have better solutions with less side effects, in the meantime, we will treat the symptoms and embrace the beautiful smile that has returned to my son’s face.

14 comments:

  1. I am going to share this with some of my friends/relatives. Very well written!

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  2. Only those that have been there like you could write something so eloquent on behalf of all parents whose kids struggle with mental illness. Bravo! We are all trying to help our children the best way we know how.

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  3. SarahinSC- Please share with others, it’s written from the heart. If only one person would change their views, it would make my day!

    Anonymous-Thank you!

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  4. You tell 'em, girl! Thanks for stepping out there on behalf of all our children! I send you much love and tremendous respect for your strength and tenacity.

    Vicki B

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  5. Well said! If only people would help instead of looking at you and your child and running the other way. Keep the talk going!!

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  6. Oh, no need for medication!
    All we need is a padded room, they were quite popular once. Then our sons and daughters could be there for life.
    (hope you get my irony)
    -PG

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  7. Go Mama Bear!

    Now if we could just get more letters like this in the media to counterpoint the nay-sayers. I too stayed away from medication too long because I'd read too many "our kids are misdiagnosed and over medicated" books and articles.

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  8. Great post, Mama Bear! Wish that lady at the Q&A session at Stanford would read it!:)

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  9. LOL! I know, I wish I could’ve had a discussion with her outside of the group. I wondered what her experience was that made her so judgmental.

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  10. I wonder if you could get this published as an article for a paper or magazine.....that would be awesome. But, would any body want to hear that much truth? Who knows. I think this is a wonderful post.

    As you know I work with kids and I have seen many as young as 5 displaying mood disorder symptoms. It is so unfortunate because they have very kind, structured, and well balanced parents. It is no joke when a child suffers from a mental illness and I just don't get why it is such a taboo diagnosis.

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  11. In the Pink- I hear you, I would love to anonymously share our story someday, I think too many times the media uses inappropriate examples of children on meds, further supporting the negative stereotype that only hurts our kids in the end.

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