My son shared that prior to medication, most of the time he felt sadness. The kind of sadness that makes you want to end your own life. He also felt anger a lot and that would lead to rages. Other times he would feel happy.
He found that the hardest experience to describe was his quick changing moods. There was a time when his moods would change from happy to sad in a matter of moments. It would scare him and often he would cry out for help to make his moods stop changing, or he would bang his head on the ground hoping to disrupt it. But he said that trying to explain what it felt like is impossible, “it’s like seeing something so beautiful that there’s no words for it, only this wasn’t beautiful, but mysterious.”
He also talked about seeing “shadow men” hallucinations, I could tell this made him uncomfortable to talk about, as he said, “It still freaks me out.”
Then my son’s eyes lit up as he explained that he had another feeling he felt maybe five times in his life. He called it, “crazed with power.” He said a feeling would come over him that made him feel like he had one thing that he needed to do, “to destroy and get rid of anything in my path that would try to stop me.” He said it was like he was a robot programmed to do one thing and he couldn’t do anything else. “If you tried to stop me, I would hurt you.”
He explained that this crazed power was fun, but dangerous. He said he would feel overpowered with energy and that he felt like he could do anything. He said that this kind of power might make you want to jump off a cliff, but you wouldn’t have the understanding that it could kill you. He also described it as a feeling of being stronger than anything, he said that he felt like he could stand in front of a moving train and not die because he would be stronger than the train coming at him. He said he felt like he could survive anything, like he had an “infinity of lives.”
When he was experiencing this crazed power, he said that he didn’t pay much attention to those around him, he said, “It’s like everyone else was a speck of dust and I had to get through them.” He also said that he would take down anyone who stood in his way. That’s why he would rage against me.
In comparing his energy level during this time, he explained that if a normal person ran a marathon they’d start to wear down and tire out. But when he was feeling his crazed power, he felt like he could run two marathons and it would have no effect on his body—he’d never get out of breath. He felt like he could always do more, more, more... in the end he described it as “infinite energy.”
My son shared that sometimes he could sense these moods coming, but he didn’t know what to do with it, “should I lock myself up or tie myself down?”
I may not have understood it at the time, but I saw this “crazed power” he talked about. There was a particular look in his eyes. I could also feel an energy coming off him. I could feel it in my gut, it always made me anxious. Even today if he raises his voice I can feel my body tense up, fearfully anticipating the return of this negative energy.
Thankfully, since he’s become stable on Lithium, these symptoms are almost gone. As he said, “I feel like a normal kid most of the time with normal kid problems.” As his mom, I would agree.
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I’m so incredibly impressed with my son’s ability, at only 12 years, to put into words what I’ve witnessed for years. When he was younger, he didn’t have the cognitive ability to express these experiences, but now that he’s older, I’m able to learn so much more about what he experiences as a child with a mood disorder (Currently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder NOS).
I wanted to share with you—with his permission of course—so that you too may understand what your child may be going through, especially if they’re younger. I hope people can understand that our kids don’t desire to be oppositional, they really want to do the right thing and please their parents, but our kids are battling a war inside their brain. As we like to say, “the brain is making mistakes and there is no control.”
After hearing what my son has dealt with for so many years, I can only say that he’s absolutely amazing. That fact that he’s been on the honor roll his entire first year of middle school, that he’s making new friends and overcoming challenges and ultimately thriving under these conditions is miraculous. I’m so incredibly proud of him.
Tonight we ended our long talk with a hug and laughed as he could barely fit on my lap, with his knees scrunched up to his chin. He may be as tall as me, but he’ll always be my little man.