Monday, August 1, 2011

Raising Stephen

In my desperate search to find out what was wrong with my son, I spent hours reading anything I could get my hands on about children with rages and other mood issues. One of the first books I read was Raising Stephen: One Day at a Time, a mother’s account of raising her son who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In this book, Christian author Tami Lyn bravely shares her observations and experiences with Stephen, starting from the age of 3. From the first paragraph, I was glued to the page as she described how her son experienced night terrors, rages and impulses. From that point on, she takes you through his life, sharing the questions she struggled with as she tried to make sense of his behaviors and outlined the many circumstances that I could sadly relate to.

Reading this book was like reading about my own son. Her description of her son as “Stephen 1” and “Stephen 2” and how they were two opposite personalities was identical to our own experience. Her description of his “hulk-like” rages, his instinct to quit if he couldn’t win, the car rides filled with verbal abuse, the sensory issues with clothing, his “defensive mode” and anxieties and even his lack of invites to birthday parties was all too familiar.

She also shares personal journal entries written by her son at the age of 13 (with her son’s permission of course), giving an inside look of where he was coming from and his desire to change. One thing that stood out to me was her son’s description of his bipolar disorder. He referred to it as his, “anger problem”. This is exactly what my son calls his own mood disorder.

As the book continues, she shares a letter written by Stephen’s baseball coach describing his unique behaviors and letters from her 2 daughters and husband that outline what their own experience was like. She also mentions techniques and therapies they tried and the notes they took to track food and behaviors. I wouldn’t think of this book as a novel, but more of a journal outlining the 24 years of raising her son. It gives a very real, personal account, sharing mistakes made along the way, as well as successes and lessons learned, all while clinging closely to God’s promises.

When I bought this book from Amazon I read some excellent reviews, but I was caught off-guard by one review that felt this book was “hurtful”, by airing out her son’s dirty laundry to make a profit. After finishing this book, I recalled this bad review and felt just the opposite. I felt this book was written out of love for her son and was a gift to families like myself. I am that mom that wants to know every unflattering detail, not because I’m nosey, but because I live it. I want to read about the challenges that lay ahead and the mistakes I should avoid. Though it’s great to have “how-to” books, sometimes as a mom, I just need to know that I’m not alone and that there are other families that have survived by leaning on God.

Thank you Tami Lyn for writing this book. Thank you for having the courage to share what most keep private and for giving a terrified mom like myself a place to land, learning that I can survive and more importantly, that my son can thrive.

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Find Raising Stephen One Day at a Time here:

Etsy link:

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Check back for my next post when I introduce you to one of Stephen’s sisters, Traci, who graciously allowed me to interview her about her own experience of growing up with a sibling with a mood disorder and how she learned to live and love through it all.


  1. Thanks! I am going to order that one tomorrow. We also start on lithium tomorrow. Best to you all - paula

  2. Paula-Good luck with the Lithium, let us know how it all goes!

  3. Mama Bear, I just have to get this book now and I can't wait to read what his sister has to say. I agree that our need to know is so intense we are willing to read and share with others things that some would consider inappropriate, but we live it we have to heal from it too, the vicarious trauma.

  4. It's on my book list, sounds like a good one!

  5. Sounds like a great book, Mama Bear. I, too, agree that getting the un-sugar-coated truth is what helps me the most, even when it's sometimes hard to hear/read.