If you are a new visitor to my blog, may I suggest you start at the beginning of our journey with Bipolar by visiting my archives

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams RIP

We talk about the day the music died, yesterday will go down in history as the day that comedy died.

Robin Williams cannot be replaced.  He was a comic genius.

My heart goes out to his family and friends.

Mr. Williams was a perfect example of the notion, 'the higher the highs, the lower the lows'.  His manic performances are legendary, yet he often talked about the crushing lows.  In an interview in 2006 he stated that he had never been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder or Clinical Depression.  He stated that his mania was an act, but that the depression was real.

For those of us who have a loved one who struggles with the depression that accompanies Bipolar Disorder, losing Robin Williams to depression induced suicide is a wake up call to increase our vigilance......

and to talk about mental illness!

When will the stigma go away?  How many lives have to be lost in this way before we, as a society, lift the veil, step out from behind the curtain and actually begin dealing with this illness in appropriate ways?

I'm a bit of a hypocrite in this because, here I am writing a blog about parenting a Bipolar Son anonymously.  I do this to protect my son's privacy because he has yet to fully embrace his diagnosis; he is a prisoner of the stigma.

Mr. Williams gave the world so much, but maybe in the end he'll leave behind a legacy of not just his amazing talent, but also the beginnings of a movement to de-stigmatize mental illness.

In his honor, educate yourselves about mental illness so that you can offer support for the people in your life who suffer from it.  And trust me, there is someone in your life who is suffering from mental illness, whether you recognize it or not.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Very Bright Young Man

As I said in my post four months ago, Josh has been struggling.  Thankfully his mood swings have been fairly mild, but they do make his life more difficult than it needs to be.

He has slowly arrived at a better place, and all of it was through his own desire to get there.

He stopped drinking, etc. because he's wise enough to know that it only creates more issues.

He went shopping for a new psychiatrist, because his old doctor isn't covered under his new health insurance.

The process took a while, and his heart wasn't really it, but his head knew that he needed to stick with it and get some help.

He seems to like his new doctor, who put him on an anti-convulsive med (which has some pretty scary side effects).  So far he's doing OK on the med, but it will take another week or so to see improvements in his mood.

He met for the first time this week with a new therapist who works under his psychiatrist.  "She's a little bit older than you I think, and I really liked her."

"Well, if she's my age it means she probably has amassed lots of wisdom she can share with you."

I'm so proud of Josh for getting here on his own.  Yes, we've had many discussions about his moods, and yes, I've encouraged him and offered support, but he picked up the ball and carried it.

I think that's key with all this Bipolar stuff.  They have to find their way, and we're left to stand by and wring our hands.  We want to rescue them, but they really have to save themselves.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Almost Four Years

Josh was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder in April 2010.  That seems like a lifetime ago, and yet, those first two years are as fresh in my memory as if they happened last week.

In spite of the fact that I haven't posted anything here for months and months, this blog continues to get a massive number of hits each month.  That reality saddens me because it means that there are a large number of people who are effected by Bipolar in some way.

Josh remains off meds, but I continue to see glimpses of Bipolar working its way through his life.  He has dealt with several pretty stressful life events, and at those times he gets a bit 'wobbly'; he loses his temper easily and reacts in ways that are out of character for him and over the top considering the event that set him off.

I believe Josh self medicates with alcohol and recently he told me that he had been using inhalants (purchased legally at a head shop).  Of course, I was.......appalled, worried, disappointed.  He had stopped using the inhalants but he said to me, "It's a decision I have to make anew every single day.  It's not easy Mom."  As is true for most people who struggle with mental illness (or addictions), the goal for Josh is to "feel better or cope better".

Clearly his coping skills are not what they should be, but all of this is out of my hands.  Please don't read that as..."I wash my hands of the whole mess."  It's just that all I can do is monitor, advise and pray a lot.  I do all three.  Josh refuses to see a therapist to help in learning better coping skills, he continues to refuse medications and he continues to say that he doesn't have Bipolar.

I read a book this weekend, "Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff.  It's the story of his families experience as his son, Nic, struggles through Meth addiction.  It's a sad, hard book to read but much of it resonated with me.  My older son has struggled with addiction and as most parents of Bipolar children know, often addiction and Bipolar go hand in hand.  What some of my readers might find helpful about the book is the process that David Sheff goes through in finding that delicate fine line between worry and (relative) peace. 

You worry about your child, endlessly, and yet, you cannot stop living.  You don't know how much to do, or even what to do.  You can't sleep, can't eat, often can't function. 

Eventually you realize that you also can't live that way and you find that the Serenity Prayer is the ONE thing you can do, the ONE life line that is always readily available to you, and if you're smart, you'll use it and own it and be one with it.

"Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference"

There is nothing more than that.  It says it all.

To live with the specter of drug addiction or mental illness in our children's lives, the Serenity Prayer becomes our saving Grace.  Available to everyone and totally free.

It's easy for me to walk that fine line while Josh is (mostly) healthy.  If he ever cycles again, I hope that I'll come back to this blog and read these posts that I've written during the easier times and find the help I'll need during the bad times.

Your comments that tell of your own personal struggles continue to sadden me, and yet, I'm always thankful that some of you find hope in Josh's story.  I pray that you all can find that fine line and learn to walk it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

And Now it's Fall

Josh had a few small 'bumps' after moving in with his girlfriend.  It was a very stressful adjustment for him, and there were a few times when his reactions were.....not good.

He also lost it at work one day and was in fear of losing his job.  Everything worked out in the end though.

The further away from meds he gets, the more convinced he is that he was misdiagnosed.  I'm not a health care professional, but I feel strongly that he was not misdiagnosed.  I feel that Bipolar will negatively effect his life again sometime in the future.

I'd LOVE to be wrong.

Enough time has passed since Josh went off his meds that I have begun to let go of that low grade worry that I have carried around.  No matter how hard you try to let it go, even though you know it's all out of your control, there remains a niggling worry, but mine has become less and less.

I continue to be broken hearted by the emails I receive and comments left on this blog from people who have also been negatively effected by Bipolar.  It is such a difficult path to walk and I admire so much the people who live with it and find a way to create a normal life around it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Another Spring is Here

Josh continues to do well, but I'll tell you that I still find myself occasionally waiting for the other shoe to fall, so to speak.

He and his girlfriend are moving into a new apartment together next weekend.  He has been a little stressed by this, hoping that he's not making a mistake.

We've had many talks where I've tried to inform him of the realities of living with someone else.  "The first year will be a little more difficult than you might imagine, it takes time to adjust to living with someone else.  Just keep in mind always how much you love her and don't let the little things get to you."

I worry that this major life change will cause him enough stress to cycle.  I worry that we won't get through April without a cycle.  I worry, I worry, I worry.

And then.....

I let go of my anxiety and remind myself how far Josh has come and what he's had to overcome to get here.  I know that he is mindful of his mood and his sleep.  He mentioned to me one day a few months ago that he thought maybe he'd been "a little manic" the prior evening.

"I realized I was chattering away, but, I'd had trouble sleeping the night before and so I got myself to bed and I've been fine since then."

I'd love to pull his girlfriend aside and let her know the things she should watch out for, but that's not my place.  Maybe Josh has told her enough that she has an idea what is possible, or maybe she's taken it upon herself to acquire some knowledge on the subject?

All I know for sure is how proud I am of him.  He has matured so much and taken control of his life, which means that it's easier for me to let go of that need to TRY to control a situation that is largely out of my control anyway.

We live.  We learn. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Heading Towards Spring

Josh continues to be OK off of his medicine.  I would say that he's not quite as good as he was while on it, but he's doing OK.

He's completely supporting himself, is maintaining a relationship with his girlfriend and the two of them got a kitten that he keeps at his apartment.  He's been amazingly responsible and manages to keep his collective shit together.

I feel truly blessed.

But spring looms right up ahead there, and I'm concerned for him.  Nothing would make me happier than to see him sail right through March and April, but history tells me that the likelihood of that happening is slim.

And if he does cycle, I have no idea how far down he'll allow himself to get before he reaches out for help.

I do know one thing.  I've learned so much over the last couple of years and I know that this is HIS journey and that HE gets to make the decisions about his life.

I also know from past experience that he has a breaking point; a point that he reaches where he feels he can't go on in that state any longer and he asks for help.

He has shifted back into denial about having bipolar, but he's a very intelligent young man.  I think if he were faced again with hypomania, he'd recognize it for what it was.

I continue to be heartbroken by the comments and emails I receive from other parents who are struggling through life with a bipolar child.  It's a difficult path to walk and 'the system' does such a poor job of educating and supporting both the patient and their loved ones.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Two Long Years

Here I sit, just a little more than two years after Josh was diagnosed with Bipolar II.

A year or so in he was still in complete denial, then almost a year on very successful medications, and now, several months with no meds.

I see the changes in him, with no meds, but he's doing OK.  He's snippy, with me and I'm sure with the people he works with.  He complains about work when he calls me on his breaks, but when I see him, he seems mostly happy and normal.

I'm not sure what to think to be honest, but I can tell you that I feel like I'm holding my breath.

If I'm correct, and Josh cycles seasonally, I would assume he'll remain in his present state until we move into spring next year.  Then again, a major stressor coming alone might send him cycling?

Right now the hardest part of this for me is knowing HOW GOOD...no...HOW GREAT...he is on meds.

I've made it clear to him that my financial support is over.  He is in a position to more than support himself as a Dog Groomer.  If he cycles and somehow loses that job...he's on his own.

"You have a lot at stake here Josh, I just can't imagine why you'd want to jeopardize all you've built."

The only small hope I hold onto is that a year ago, when he was suffering through hypomania, HE came to ME and asked me to help him find a doctor, feeling like he couldn't live like that.

I just hope that he gets to that point sooner this time if he cycles...you know...before he destroys this wonderful life he's built.

I'm so proud of how far he was able to come, against some pretty difficult odds (bipolar and the economy).  I got a good long glimpse of who Josh is capable of being as an adult; responsible, caring, kind, loving, fun and fun loving).

I want him to be his best, and to me, he's his best self ON MEDS.