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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In Response to a Comment

On this post, Robin commented about Josh's violent behavior a year ago and questioned his rapid cycling early this spring.

Robin, when Josh was violent it turned out to be the result of the anti-psychotic that he was on.  It is one of the side effects.  When he stopped the medication, ALL the violent behavior ended.

When Josh was cycling up and down so quickly, he wasn't on ANY medication at all and hadn't been for 9 months or so.  He was experiencing quite a bit of stress in his life at the time.  This is when he actually sought medical help for the first time and the doctor said he was experiencing hypomanic episodes.

Does that clear it up?

Thanks for the comment

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's Just Too Sad

In just ONE week, these are the searches that brought people to this blog:

boyfriend is mean to my bi polar son

can i ever stop worring about my bipolar son

for the love of god i can not handle my bipolar son

how to explain to child that mom has bipolar

meds overcharge

mom of bipolar son

my bipolar son took his life
my perspective on bipolar

my son is 21 and said he has never been happy, always bored

my son is hopeless

What these searches remind me of is twofold.  First that there are SO many people struggling as I have with their bipolar children, but secondly, and probably most important to note, is how many people are left to turn to the internet for information and support.

Our society has GOT to get with the program and put an end to the stigma attached to mental illness, and the mental health profession has got to begin doing a better job of educating and supporting not only the Bipolar patient, but the families and loved ones of someone diagnosed with this disorder.

Every single thing I know about Bipolar, I learned from reading books and searching the internet.  It shouldn't BE that way.  When Josh was diagnosed while hospitalized, I received NO information and ZERO support.  Our journey through this disorder could have been so much easier if I had been educated and if there was ongoing support available to assist me as questions and problems cropped up.

I attended our local Bipolar Support Group, and that was incredibly helpful but desperation led me there.  I am 100% convinced that the experience of Bipolar could be very different if more attention was given to education and support of loved ones.

Everyone who reads here and emails me says that it helps to know they're not alone with all this.  Sadly, they are not.  As parents of Bipolar children we are in a club none of us signed up for, and the number of members in this club is staggering.   The saddest truth is that this is a club we'll belong to the rest of our lives.

How true is the search, "can I ever stop worrying about my Bipolar son."

I KNOW the answer to that one.  No.  I don't think it will matter how well Josh is doing, now or in the future, 'worry' will always be there for me, no matter how far in the background I try to force it.

Because of the stigma attached to mental illness, many people don't share their struggle with the people in their lives, but how is the stigma ever going to be diminished if we don't TALK about this? I openly share my experience with this disorder with anyone willing to listen, yet I also try very hard to respect Josh's wishes. His cousins STILL don't know about his illness. I'm sure they wonder, "what the hell happened?" as they've watched their cousin's life spin out of control. But he isn't comfortable sharing this with them, and so they're left to wonder.

Things have to change and each one of us are responsible for making that change happen.  I for one am beginning the process of identifying how to do that.  I have no idea WHO to contact, but I'm going to go back to the internet and figure out the best options for having my voice heard.

I refuse to struggle in silence.  This blog has allowed me to connect with people who are struggling as I am, but I feel compelled to take my story to a broader audience.  It's not enough to get through the tough times, I want to make people's struggles easier in the future.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oh the Difference!

Josh began working last week and so far he's enjoying it.  He's worked four days in a row, pretty long days, and when he stops by after work, he's tired.

But he's also very happy, full of stories about the dogs he worked with that day.  He's finding the differences in dogs very interesting and their different personalities amuse him.

As I've spent time with Josh over the last month, the changes in him are stunning.  His mood is very stable, the Josh I saw yesterday, is the same Josh who will walk in my door today.  As he prepared to begin this job, there seemed to be very little anxiety about it; what I would consider to be 'normal' anxiety.  He hasn't taken his anxiety medicine in months, feeling like he doesn't need it.

He told me recently that he considers himself to be happy and that the anti-depressant seems to have really made a difference for him.  Yet, he also feels like he's 'boring', "my thoughts are so boring to me, I miss my insane mind."

We discussed this, the fact that many people who are on medications for Bipolar feel that way.  "But Josh, an insane mind doesn't produce a happy, successful life.  The doctor is going to begin removing some of your meds soon, so maybe you'll find that some of the creative thoughts you're missing will return."

Here's an example of a change I see in Josh that really surprises me.  He gets up for work two hours before he needs to leave, feeling like he enjoys some time in the morning before work.  This from my son who has always hit the snooze button until the last possible minute, or beyond, IF he even heard the alarm at all.  He sets FOUR alarms, afraid of oversleeping, but wakes up every day when the first alarm goes off.  "Then I have to run around and shut off the other three alarms, it's kinda nuts!"   His sleep schedule is right side up for the first time in a long time.

It's these seemingly small changes in Josh's general routines that surprise me, in a good way.

I've also noticed that he willingly does things to help me out; small things, but in the past if I'd asked Josh to, say, help me move something, he'd have balked and complained and acted as if I'd asked him to rebuild my house from the ground up.

The journey to THIS place has been so long and difficult, and I feel so blessed that every single day I get to actually 'enjoy' my son again.

Will this last?  Who knows, and that's probably one of the more difficult aspects of this disorder.  So many people struggle and finally find 'normal', only to lose it again somewhere along the line.

I've been in this living hell called Bipolar long enough to know that my job right now as Josh's mother is to be there for him as he begins rediscovering life.  I am mindful of the facts; I know this could all go tits up at any time, but I have laid my fears of this aside and tasked myself with simply being in each individual moment, and I thank God when I pray every night and ask that God continue to move through Josh's life.

Monday, August 29, 2011

He Got the JOB!!!

Josh got the job he was wanting.  Hopefully things will continue looking up for him.

He deserves it, he's a good kid who has gone through hell.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Almost a Month to the Day Later

It's been almost a month since I posted my last fairly frantic post.  Josh is still in treatment and doing fairly well mood wise.

He's yet to find a job, although he HAD a job offer contingent on passing a drug test.  But, oh, he had smoked pot with his friend a week and a half or so prior to the drug test, so who knows if he'll actually pass it and get the job or not.  If he doesn't, I HOPE it is a lesson for him.

He has made reference to his 'bipolar' lately, as if he might actually accept that he has it.

In this journey I remind myself to look at how far we've come.  He's in treatment, his mood is pretty stable, he actually cares about keeping his apartment clean, his laundry done.  He's trying to eat more healthy foods and he's been working out regularly, and it shows.

During the first two months on medication he had gained 25 pounds.  He needed the extra weight, but he has turned it all into muscle.  He looks really good.

So that's where we are today.  I try very hard to appreciate the positive changes and have patience with the job thing, but sometimes I get frustrated.  Still, in the end, I'd rather have him where he IS than homeless, or in a psych ward or dead.

I appreciate all your comments and the private emails I receive.  It all makes me realize just how many parents are struggling right along with me and my heart and prayers go out to each and every one of you and your children.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's Never Easy

Josh's continued unemployment concerns me, for two reasons.  One I think a job would help him get on a much needed schedule; add some structure to his life, plus he's bored and lonely, so it would help with that.  And of course secondly, I'd like him to begin supporting himself.  It is a financial burden to be totally supporting him right now.

He can't seem to get his sleep turned round.  He sleeps all day, until 4 or 5 PM.  He needs to be up during daytime hours so he can actually look for a job!

In addition to that concern, I'm concerned in general.  He still doesn't really WANT to believe he's bipolar and the things he's said make me realize that he isn't looking at medication as a long term thing.  He'd love to not be taking them.

So I called his therapist yesterday to voice my concerns.  Josh has never signed a release form so that I can communicate with his new doctors, so I knew that I would only be able to give information to his therapist; his therapist wouldn't be able to give me any information.

I told his therapist of my concerns, that I'm totally supporting Josh, what our arrangement is, and that I'm frustrated that Josh's sleep schedule is such that it doesn't help with the job search.  I told him that I never know how hard to push Josh, not wanting to create anxiety or stress for him, but also not knowing which side of that fine line between enabling and helping I'm walking on.  I told him Josh still doesn't really accept the diagnosis and isn't thrilled being on meds.

He asked me, "Do you believe Josh is Bipolar?"

"Yes.  It breaks my heart, but I've learned enough about it to be pretty sure he's gotten the right diagnosis.  I can't find anything else that explains what happened to his life.  He was my easy child, and while he'd tell you he's never been happy, I would tell you that through his high school years, he was an easy going, fun loving, responsible...great kid.  And then it all went south, his life got totally derailed.  But he doesn't accept this diagnosis yet and he told me the other day he wants to move to his dad's property eventually and stop taking his meds so he can be HIM again."

I got pretty emotional as I talked, I'm sure the guy probably thinks I'm either A) a very loving and concerned mother or B) a complete and total nut case.

Either way, he said, "Well, this is very helpful information to have.  Actually, I see Josh tomorrow and I'm going to tell him I've talked to you and ask him to sign a release form because I think having you involved could help the process along."

"Well, Josh is coming for dinner tonight and I'll tell him I talked to you too, but he may be resistant to signing a form.  He might even be mad I called you, but you know, I'm SO glad he's in treatment, but I still see his mood shifting around and in general I worry about him."

"Well, I'm worried about him too, actually very concerned."

"Are you afraid he's suicidal?"

"He says he's not, but....and I can't say too much here, but I'm very concerned about his hopelessness, I've actually called him several times just to check on him."

"Yes, he doesn't see how anything good is in his future, his negativity is a real problem."

"Yes.....but that's about all I can say right now."

"Well, I've considered coming down a bit harder on him, pushing him to get his sleep turned around and work harder at getting a job.  But like everything else with this disorder, I never know HOW to handle any of this."

"Right now, I think pushing him at all would not be a good idea.  We're at the beginning of this stuff and I think we need to work on where his head is at right now and I don't think he can handle much stress right now."

"OK.  And see, that's the kind of help *I* need with this.  I'm like a fish out of water, I never know the best thing to do."

We ended our conversation and I thought about how I would even tell Josh that I'd talked to his therapist.  I knew there was a good chance he'd be angry.  I have at least gotten better at gauging his mood and knowing when to try to talk to him about things.  I hoped his mood when I saw him would allow us to talk about this.

When Josh came for dinner, it seemed initially that he was not in a great mood.  He'd brought laundry with him to do and was trying to carry it in and my new puppy was all over him.  She loves him.  When I say, "Josh is coming to see you later!" she walks over to the front door expecting him to BE THERE.

As a side note, the happiest I see Josh lately is when he's with my two dogs.  The older dog always loved him, then during the time leading up to his mania, he would get so angry and yell, etc, and it scared our dog.  THEN when he came home from the hospital, the seroquel he was on caused terrible rages, and those rages REALLY scared our dog.  She remained frightened of him for most of the last year, not quite sure about him anymore.  Happily, their relationship has improved since Josh moved out.  He is so happy to see her, she can't help but realize that he's safe to love again.

But anyway, when he came in last night he seemed a bit frustrated, but he quickly began laughing and smiling again as he played with the dogs and talked to me.  At one point, there was a natural segue for me when he was talking about his therapist.

"Yea, I actually talked to him today on the phone."


"Well, I'm concerned about you honey and mostly I wanted to get some guidance from him."

"You worry too much!  Why can't you just stop worrying and let me live my life?"

"Well, part of it is that I'm totally FUNDING your life right now Josh, and your sleep schedule isn't conducive to really finding a job, but mostly, I don't really know what you're capable of doing right now.  I thought he could help me with that.  I'm trying to HELP you and I don't want to be doing things that might not be helping.  He's going to ask you to sign a release tomorrow so that he and I can talk, NOT about personal things, but so that, in general, he can guide me to help you better."

"Well, I'm not signing a release form, and Mom, you're doing all you can right now.  Like this, just having me over or dinner or when we go to the movies.  Those are the things you do that help me, the rest I've just got to figure out."

"OK, well, that's your choice, but try to look at it from my perspective.  I'm PAYING for all your visits and if it would HELP the process, why wouldn't you allow me to talk to him?"

"Because I like him mom.  He's the first therapist I've had that I actually like, and that's important, and I don't want you telling him lies and interfering.  Because if you get involved, I'll have to be looking for a new therapist again."

Josh feels like when he and I saw his therapist, Peter, during the time right after his suicidal period, leading up to his mania, that I 'lied' to Peter.  Actually, I sat there with the two of them and was HONEST about Josh's behavior.  His refusal to help with chores, get out of bed for class, his disrespect towards me etc.  We were trying to slowly get him to take responsibility for himself, and he's STILL struggling with many of those same issues.  But he views all that as me lying to his therapist.

But I understand Josh's position....to a point.  His relationship with his therapist is vital and I DON'T want to do anything to change that.  I think more than anything Josh felt like it was Peter and I AGAINST him, when in fact we were both trying to help.  The way he views what happened with Peter is WRONG, but it's his perception and so I have to keep that in mind.

Throughout the night, Josh would bring up the subject of signing a release.  "How do you think it would help?"

"Well Josh, sometimes I don't KNOW what to do, but more important I don't know what NOT to do.  He could help me with that."

Even though we talked about it a lot all night, Josh never really changed his mind.

So I'm going to leave a message for his therapist to call me today before he sees Josh tonight and tell him that Josh didn't seem willing to have me get involved and that I'd rather the therapist not push it too hard right now.  But I need to tell him that in dealing with Josh, the one thing he needs to know is that while Josh was doing very well up to the time his Bipolar began impacting him, that he has ALWAYS been immature, even as a kindergartner, he lagged behind his peers in maturity and THAT is about HALF of the problem we're facing.  I think his therapist needs to know this to effectively work with Josh.  He needs to know that even before Bipolar, while Josh was happy and a good student and responsible with his schoolwork and his part time job work, he NEVER stepped up to the plate, he never wanted to really grow up.  He was often disrespectful to me (NEVER anyone else), lazy and unmotivated (doing his schoolwork and his job work, but never doing MUCH else) and all those negatives were magnified by the Bipolar.

I told Josh last night how glad I am that he's in treatment and that I think his short term goal right now should be continuing to work on his life skills (he's begun working out more, is more conscious of eating regularly, has been working with his therapist on social skills etc) and one he really needs to try very hard to address is his sleep schedule.  "You need to be militant about a set bedtime, and stay within an hour or two of it.  You just can't allow yourself to keep sliding back to sleeping during the day honey."

And I told him that he should probably stop looking for full time work and find a part time job that fits his daytime schedule and is the type of job that has as little stress as possible.  "Listen, I know you feel you NEED a full time job, but I think we should take baby steps here honey.  Since you've started your medication we don't KNOW what you can handle stress wise, so lets start small.  While ultimately I'd like you to be able to fully support yourself, for right now if you're only able to cover your gas and groceries with your job, that's enough."

He told me how badly he wants to work.  How hard it is to have all this time on his hands.  "Don't you think I want the same thing you do?  I hate living like this Mom, I WANT to work."

He also said he'd like to run for exercise but he has no running shoes, "And even if I WAS working, I probably couldn't afford them anyway."

Because I WANT him to develop good health habits, I'm going to tell him to take my charge card and buy a pair of running shoes.  It might be a waste of money; he might get them and then never really develop the habit of running, but it's important enough that I'm willing to spend the money in the hopes he will run.  I'll tell him that he needs to start slowly with it, but run everyday and that within just a few weeks he will have developed the habit of running.  It could be a lifelong positive addition to his life.  He could use the endorphins if nothing else.

I'm able to continue supporting him now that I have a new job, but on the other hand, every dime I spend on him is one dime I could be applying towards the debt I've amassed over the last couple of years, so I WANT him to eventually be able to stand on his own two feet.

He did ask me last night, "Do you think I should consider disability?"

"Well, that's up to you Josh, the only problem I see with it is what your social worker told me, that it WILL limit your life.  We don't really know yet what you are capable of handling, you just started meds, so my opinion would be not to do it YET, it's something we can always do later if we find you just can't handle full time work."

"OK.  Sometimes I feel like I can, and other times I'm afraid I can't."

We also talked about his old bedroom.  I was going to have my handymen paint it, for $200.  "You know Josh, when I asked you if you'd help me paint your old room, there was NO WAY you would help me.  That kind of hurts.  You know what I've been through lately; all I've had to do around here, and it hurts that in spite of all I've done to help YOU, you don't WANT to help me out.  I'm not trying to make you feel guilty, I'm trying to point out that sometimes in life it's appropriate to help others, not only is it appropriate, it can make you feel good that you were able to help someone.  I'm spending so much money helping you, I hate to spend more money to have that room painted."

"How much are they charging you?"


"Yea, that's almost half my rent........well, I'll paint it, but will you help me?  I've never painted a ceiling before, and it would be nice if we did it together."

"Of course I'll help, but I've never painted a ceiling before either.  I've never painted WALLS before, but I'm pretty good at trim work now!"

You can bet that when we get the room painted, he's going to get a lot of positive comments from me, about how good of job he did, how much I appreciate it and all that.  I think he NEEDS that so he can learn how nice it does feel to help others out.  There are so many lessons like this that he should have learned by now, and I can't help but feel I've failed him as a parent in these areas.  But it's never too late to learn!

So, as usual, we're not where we need to be, but we seem to be continually moving forward, no matter how small the steps seem to be.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Forward Movement Would be Nice

It will seem a bit ungrateful of me to say this, but I'm beginning to feel pretty frustrated with Josh.

I am SO glad that he's on medications and seeing a therapist.  For that alone I will be eternally grateful, but since that process began, and he quit his highly stressful, night job, nothing much else has happened.

It's been six weeks (six weeks where he has one of MY credit cards to use for gas and food, etc.  Six weeks of me paying all his bills), and he still hasn't found work.

I have told him, over and over again, that applying for jobs online probably isn't going to get the job done.  "You need to walk in and fill out an application and then follow up the next day with a call when there is a place with a sign advertising help wanted.

I can't get him to do this.

He saw his therapist yesterday and then he and I went out for dinner. 

"I have something to ask you Mom."


"Well, when my lease is up, how would you feel about me living with you again?"

Not good, that's the real, true answer, but of course I didn't SAY that.

"I don't know, it would depend on a lot of things I guess.  Why would you want to do that though?  I thought you wanted the independence of a place of your own."

"Well, I want a HOME of my own, not an apartment.  If I could live with you for a year or two, I could save money for a house.  Dad said that I could build a cabin like his, on his property, and if I paid for the shell, he'd help me finish the interior.  It's only $5,000 for the shell."

"OK, but I imagine the interior stuff has got to run $10,000 or more."

"You think it would be that much, even if we did all the work?"

"Probably.  You're talking kitchen and bath fixtures, kitchen appliances, a heating/ac unit, so yea, with insulation, plumbing, electrical, drywall, I bet it could be at least that.  Then there's flooring too."

"Well, I guess I'd have to live with you more like two years then."

"Well Josh, I'm open to discussing it as we get closer to the time that your lease runs out, but for right now, you need to get a job.  I'm a little concerned though, at the thought of you living in such isolation.  I know there's a town close by where you could possibly find work, but all your friends will be several hours away from you.  I'm not sure if that's the best thing for you.  And I hate the thought of you being that far away from me too, with no cell phone reception."

"I guess I'd have to make new friends.  Maybe it's a pipe dream, but I feel like I want to be ME again.  On this medicine, well, I function better and the anti-depressant has helped too, but this isn't me."

"I know you'd love to live surrounded by the woods and all, but Josh, without medication you'd be living in a bad mental state most of the time.  It would become hard for you to hold down a job again.  While it SOUNDS like an answer to you, I can see many problems with the whole thing, but we can talk about it further in six months or so, ok?"

So even though my boy is on medication and doing better, this isn't something he can see himself doing long term.  I'm not terribly shocked by that, yet it still disheartens me.

I'm going to leave a message for his therapist and ask that he call me.  While he doesn't have permission to share information with ME, I feel the need to share my point of view with HIM. Josh sees him again Wednesday, and it doesn't escape my notice that this therapist is scheduling Josh twice a week now, instead of once every two weeks.  I'm sure he sees a real need for intervention here and so do I, so I'll intervene as I'm able.

But no, I don't want Josh living here.  I don't think that's in his best interest or my own.

Oh, and he's gained TWENTY pounds since starting his meds.  It looks GOOD on him, it does, but much more weight and it's NOT gonna look so good on him.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Halfway Point

Three months ago I offered to help Josh re-establish his life by supporting him in a studio apartment for six months.  The original plan was for him to contribute to his support in increasing amounts during the six months, so that by the end of the six months, he would be able to completely support himself.

Here we are at the halfway point, and he's unemployed.

Not exactly what I had in mind.  While you could look at this and say this experiment has been a dismal failure; it certainly hasn't played out according to plan, I would say that we're headed in the right direction.

Josh is in treatment; on medications and in weekly therapy.  That alone is worth the money I've spent.

God has answered my prayers in bringing Josh to this point.  I've prayed for lots of things over the last year or so, because Josh's situation isn't the only thing I've been struggling through, in fact, I can think of no other time in my life when I've had AS MUCH to deal with, and I feel strongly that if God is only going to answer ONE of my prayers, this is the ONE I'd want him to address.

And he has.  I continue to ask God to walk with Josh and give him strength and guide him to true acceptance.

But lucky me!  God has also answered several of my other prayers.  He has helped ME in accepting the ending of my personal relationship and he's given me the strength to move forward with my life.

He's also answered my SECOND most important need.  He has put a job opportunity in my path that will allow me to climb out of debt and continue to support Josh financially as long as necessary. 

The relief *I* feel to have Josh in treatment AND my financial situation addressed is HUGE.

Josh considers himself to be agnostic, yet I have a deep faith in God.  Even Josh said not too long ago, "I don't know Mom, you look around at the world, all the beauty and wonder, HOW our bodies are so intricate, how we reproduce.  It's all so finely honed, it almost makes ME believe that a higher power must be at work."

I know that for me, sometimes the ONLY thing that helps when faced with a crisis, is my faith that there is a higher power at work in all of it.  When I'm able to turn my problems over to God....things always seem to begin heading in a better direction.

I spent a lot of time early in Josh's diagnosis holding onto it all so tightly, afraid to let go and let God because I suppose I was angry.  If God could LET THIS HAPPEN, how could I ever trust him to handle it? 

Silly me. 

Eventually, as the stresses in my life began piling up, I had no choice but to turn it ALL over to God.  Certainly when basic functioning was becoming a problem for me, I realized that *I* was powerless over almost ALL of my concerns.

I sit here today with hope, something I haven't felt in a long time.  While I know Josh may continue to struggle with acceptance, that he may give up the fight, I also know that no matter what happens, I'll get through it.  With the help of my friends and family, and my faith.

You might find it interesting that I don't attend church.  I was raised in the church, and have turned to the church sporadically as an adult, but I sit here on a Sunday morning blogging, not in a church pew.  In spite of the fact that I don't 'worship', I feel I have a strong relationship with God. 

My faith has been shaken this past year or so, and I've had to remind myself of the story of Job...that perhaps my faith was just being tested.  I don't KNOW, I'm not able to enter into a deep philosophical discussion on the matter, I only know how I feel about my relationship with God.

Perhaps there IS no God and all my praying is received by no one.  Maybe it only serves to calm me and bring me a new awareness of how I need to move through my challenges.  Whatever is at play, it works.

I believe in God for the same reasons Josh expressed.  SOMEONE much bigger than me created all of this, and while I believe that God gives us free will, I also believe that he guides our lives.  He gives us challenges so that we can learn and grow.  What I have learned this last year or so, will guide the remainder of my life...I can apply these lessons to all areas of my life.

Let's hope that Josh is able to find work soon.  Not so that I can relinquish financial responsibility to him, but so that he can begin to rebuild his life.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We've Ramped Up to Where we Are

I wonder if parenting experiences are similar for people who have sons or daughters who have Bipolar.

For me, I realize in looking back, that I 'learned' how to enable Josh, long before I ever knew there was a mental illness at work.

Josh was my 'easy' child.  Always.  The only real difficulty I ever had with him related to his incredibly, over the top, sore loser thing.  Seriously, if this child lost at Monopoly, the board would go flying and he'd stomp off in anger.  As he got older, he got better at taking his losses with something close to grace, but he was always very competitive.

And then this easy child became more difficult.  More combative.  Less easy to reason with.  We could have a fruitful discussion about a current issue one day, and then, two days later his reaction to a continued discussion on the same topic would have him yelling and screaming and slamming doors.

Some of the good skills I use today when communicating with Josh, were established back then, but also, some of the bad skills I developed back then have been in play since Josh's diagnosis.

It has been an ongoing struggle to identify the things that work, and the things that don't, but I can tell you, ALL of it started during the few years before Josh actually began having the types of problems that lead us to a diagnosis.

I remember long chat discussions with a blogging buddy of mine back then, BEFORE Josh began having major problems.  I remember trying many different things to get Josh more in line with where he should be, but his mood was ever changing.  He'd be as lovable as a newborn kitten one day, and a few days later he'd be an angry lion.

I began enabling Josh back then, because so much of the time I was just trying to keep the peace.

Tough love is...well...tough to DO, and back then I had many things going on in my life that made it very easy to 'lighten up' too much on Josh, but once his issues became more severe, I had no choice but to figure out HOW to do Tough love right...consistently....and stick with it.

That has been one of the hardest things for me, because the ramifications of doing something like tossing your child out of your house, has such potential for some serious consequences.

I think that I realize better today just how important it is to take all this with a one day at a time attitude.  Each situation you're faced with as you travel through a new bipolar diagnosis, well, you can only do your best at the time.  But I can clearly see that I was given many opportunities along the way...some of them I didn't embrace as I should have, and others seemed almost 'destined'.

Kicking Josh out of my house was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and certainly I agonized over that decision every single day, but I learned to make peace with the decision and worked on taking care of myself so I could be really strong for the NEXT step, whatever that might be.

I would encourage anyone facing a similar crisis to spend some time honestly looking back to identify how the patterns you use got established in the first place, and when you look back, it's usually easy to see what works, and why, and what you should have done differently.

I'd be curious to know how many parents feel as I do; that all this started long before I realized there was a serious medical issue at play. 

The one thing I've found out for sure is that there is a special skill set you must develop when dealing with a bipolar child who is a young adult, and you also have to develop a pretty thick skin as well.  Josh and I have always shared a very close relationship; his friends were often astounded that he would shout back to me as they flew out of the house on their way to do something, "I love you Mom!". 

Because we've always been close, and because he was always so easy to parent, the disconnect in our relationship that is very much a part of Bipolar, has been especially hard to adjust to, hence the need for the thick skin.  I think Tough Love becomes so much harder to accomplish when dealing with Bipolar...there is so much at stake, so much that can 'go wrong' and I always have a strong feeling of not wanting to do something that might push Josh towards suicide.  I do not want to have to live without him or with THAT guilt the rest of my life!

For me, I've found that looking a ways back has helped me a lot in dealing with this current situation.  Unfortunately, I don't get a 'do over', I can only do better from here forward.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Medication Overload

While the changes in Josh on medication are amazing, he seems to have days when he's not at his best.  His mood at times remind me of 'back then'; back then when he wasn't on meds and he'd be full of negativity and everything *I* do is 'wrong'.  To hear him tell it, when he's in one of those moods, I'm the biggest idiot to ever walk; I don't even know how to park my car correctly.  He is NO FUN to be around when he's like this and I steel myself as I take hit after hit.

I've been worried about these mood shifts, wondering what is causing them.  Is his medication just not dialed in correctly yet?  Is he derailing the process by occasionally drinking?  Is it situational? (He's not yet found a job, so he gets lonely and bored).

He saw his doctor last week, and before his visit he expressed that he wasn't sure what the purpose of the visit was, what he should say to his doctor.

"Well, you need to be honest with him and tell him how you are feeling on these medications.  You're worried about your weight gain (12 pounds since he began his meds just a few months ago), so tell him that, and tell him how long that one med is making you sleep.  He can make adjustments if he knows what you're experiencing.  I think you should tell him that your moods have been shifting a little bit too."

"Mom, everybody has mood swings, so I'm not telling him about THAT."

"Well, your mood swings probably aren't 'normal' mood swings, they're based on your disorder.  You may not SEE them, but I do."

"Well, I'm not telling him that."


The doctor added an anti-depressant to Josh's pill regime.

"Why did he add that?"

"Cause I'm depressed?"


The new medication is one that does not have weight gain as a side effect and the doctor feels it might actually help suppress Josh's appetite.  Josh says he feels better with this new med; more focused and more energetic.

As I talked to Josh about all this, I could tell he had done a good job of communicating with his doctor, but he said he feels so anxious when he has to meet with his doctor and therapist.

"You should probably take one of your anti-anxiety pills before your visits." (he takes these only as needed)

"Yea, I think you're right, I think it might help.  I just get so self-conscious when I have to talk to them."

His doctor wants to see him again this Friday to re-check the new med and Josh sees his therapist tomorrow.

Josh needs to find a job; I think things would begin to get 'better' for him if he were working and could finally normalize his schedule.  He wants so badly to work.  He had a job interview last week, but the job was only part time (28 hrs a week) and it's on the other side of town.  We discussed whether he should take this job or not.  Josh feels so badly about the fact that I am supporting him.

"Well honey, I think it's really important that you get the right job.  Whether you take this job or not is your decision, but I don't want you to take it if it's not a situation that's going to really work for you long term.  I'd rather keep paying your bills another month or two if that means you get the right situation in the end."

I gave him several ideas about other places to apply for work, several of them are low end clerical type jobs, but I think a job like that (40 hours in a low key office environment) would be a good jumping off point for him.  It's so hard for someone like Josh (no skills, no college degree) to find a job when so many people are out there looking.

We went to a movie this weekend and afterwards we were sitting at home talking and he said, "I feel so bad for you Mom, you've been through so much with me."

"Well, if you really feel that way, then keep doing what you're doing; seeing your doctor and taking your meds, because I know it's the only way you're going to be able to have a better life."

"Dr H asked me if I believe I'm Bipolar and I told him no."

"What did he say to that?"

"He just scribbled in my chart."

Yea, I just bet he scribbled in Josh's chart...probably a note to this therapist to help Josh with the issue of acceptance.

I cannot imagine what it must feel like to Josh to not 'believe' in his diagnosis, and yet, be treating it.  And because he's in this headspace, I worry that he'll eventually give up the fight and stop his meds.

I have an awful lot of respect for him that he IS doing this though.  I know that right now, his life pretty much sucks, and yet, he's hanging in there.

He has been spending quite a bit of time with his 'good' friends who are home from college for the summer.  I dread when they all go back to school the middle of August because that will put Josh further in isolation.  It would be nice if he has work by then to occupy some his time.

Josh's general demeanor isn't the only improvement I see since he began meds.  He regularly cleans his apartment and that is a gigantic step.  He has always lived like a sloth, but I've told him that my hairdresser, whose husband has bipolar, has told me that her husband MUST HAVE a neat organized home and work environment or she notices it causes him mood problems.  Josh has been keeping his apartment very neat and tidy which amazes me.

As a mother, this journey has been so difficult, and yet, I have had to learn that this isn't MY journey.  Because Josh is in treatment, I feel a huge relief, but I know that anything is possible and I try very hard to just be there for Josh in appropriate ways.  I can only offer guidance and advice, but he gets to make all the decisions.  Right now, for the most part, I see him making mostly good decisions and so I'm able to relax a bit with all of this.

It's very hard to know what is possible 'if only'.  If only he'll stay in treatment.  If only he'd get a job.  But it doesn't escape my notice that NONE of this is in MY control.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Book Review

Saturday Josh and I ran errands.  One of our errands was to go to the library.  There was a book there I'd been advised to read.  "Depression is a Choice"  by A.B. Curtiss.  The author believes that depression and mania can be treated without the aid of medications.  The premise being that we 'learn' to follow a path of depression and that we can 'learn', or reprogram ourselves, away from depression and mania.

I have barely begun reading that book.  That's not the book I want to talk about today.  While looking through that section of the library, I picked up another book, "Hurry Down Sunshine" by Michael Greenberg. 

Michael's daughter, Sally, suffered a manic episode at the age of fifteen.  This is the story of their experiences.  It was a 'difficult' read because so much of what this father experienced, mirrors what I experienced during Josh's mania and hospitalization.  I could relate to his feelings of fear and sorrow.

Once his daughter came home (she was hospitalized MUCH longer than Josh was), Michael became almost obsessed with monitoring his daughter, and her reaction was just like Josh's was when *I* was obsessively monitoring him; "Do you think I'm insane?  Is that it?"

Her mania, the things she said, so reminded me of the things Josh said during his manic phase, and then after, once medication had kicked in, she seemed to be trying so hard to figure out what happened, what did all this MEAN.  I remember Josh expressing those same thoughts, along with shame and remorse and the realization that they could no longer trust their mind.

It was disheartening to me to read the Epilogue, to realize that, even though Sally was stabilized on medication and doing well, Bipolar continued to impact her life.

This book is very well written, and if I actually had writing skills, I could have written a very similar book based on my experiences with this disorder.  The glaring differences to me, between Sally and Josh, are that Sally was a minor when she suffered her first full blown mania.  Josh was already a legal adult, and that changes things a bit.  First of all, when symptoms begin at a young age, the prognosis isn't as good regarding treatment, and because Josh was a legal adult, I had no real power to force treatment. The last real difference seems to be in the experiences with the mental health environment.

Sally was hospitalized longer and it seems, her family was much more active in the process than I was allowed to be.  Even though Josh had signed releases allowing for an exchange of information about his condition, I was NEVER able to get much information while he was hospitalized, nor was I allowed to visit.  Josh was not even close to stable with his medications when he came home and *I* was given no after care education at all.

Because Josh was given a dual diagnosis of Bipolar II AND drug dependency (pot usage), his after care focused heavily on the drug dependency and I believe this caused him to bail on the outpatient program.  He didn't stay in treatment long enough to see any benefits from anything being done for him.  Sally had no underlying drug use, and Sally had not been suicidal as Josh had been.

Reading this book brought back all that turmoil for me, it's a very accurate portrayal of the myriad aspects of a Bipolar diagnosis.  Michael captures all those feelings of being 'lost' and 'out of control' so well. When you're first faced with this situation, you're like a newborn baby; the lights are too bright, the air is cold on your skin, you are so much out of your element and the overwhelming feeling is one of, "put me back in there to float in blissful oblivion!"  You just so badly want things to return to normal.

But normal isn't easy to come by with this disorder.  For the patient or for the family members. 

I suppose, from my vantage point, I view this book as a cautionary tale for anyone struggling through the maze of Bipolar.  You can do everything 'right'; you can find something resembling 'normal', but you can still get derailed.

It sounds like Sally has been able to fashion her life in a way that works for her.  I only hope Josh is able to do the same.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Sense of Responsibility

Having just recently made this blog 'findable' via search engines, I realize I have a responsibility to anyone who might land here seeking information, support, or a CLUE what the hell to do with THEIR Bipolar Son.

Since I began letting Search Engines 'crawl' over my blog, my stats have shown the searches that land people here on my blog.

Things like, "Should I kick my Bipolar son out of my home" and "Bipolar Son ruining my life".

My heart breaks when I see these things, because I GET it.

I get the frustration, the heartache, the FEAR.  I've woken up and gone back to bed every evening with all those feelings for over a year now.

Right now Josh is receiving treatment.  He's SO much 'better'.  But things aren't 100% wonderful.  He continues to drink alcohol on occasion, he isn't taking his medication exactly as prescribed, his sleep is upside down AND he isn't completely his 'old self'.

He isn't working and I'm paying his rent and utility bills.  He just received his last check from his old job, that will be his gas and food money until it's gone.

So things aren't 'normal' yet, and there still is fear that I live with everyday.  He very easily could decide to stop his medications, he might increase his alcohol usage in an attempt to 'feel better', or begin using pot again.  He might refuse to see his therapist or make his next doctor appointment.

Nothing can be taken for granted with this disorder.

Other mothers who have a Bipolar son may read here and think, "Yes!  I'll kick my son out.  That worked for THIS mother!"  But I'd hesitate for anyone to use my experience and apply it to their own situation.

Offering to help Josh get his own apartment did eventually result in him FINALLY coming to me and asking to see a doctor.  The stress of trying to work everyday in the hopes that he could eventually become financially independent DID cause him to cycle to a degree that he couldn't live with, hence his request for medical help.

But any number of things could have happened as a result of handing him responsibility for his own existence.  He could have killed himself.  He could have done something in a mental state that resulted in police intervention.  The outcome could have been very different, and I'll point out, we're not at the 'end' here.  We haven't reached a 'happy ending' yet.  There is no way to predict what might happen today, or tomorrow.

I'll also mention that in the year and half since all this 'began', Josh's condition, everything I've tried to do to help him, has spiraled me into debt.  I HAD a nice little savings account and no debt.  I now have NO savings and have had to use my equity line of credit to help him.  My debt is mounting.  Even if Josh were to stay in treatment and slowly become financially independent from me, the amount of debt I have amassed will leave me battling it for YEARS.

The fact of the matter is, that for Josh to get the medical help he needs, *I* have to pay for it.  He isn't able to, and no one is going to treat him if someone isn't paying the bills.

We are 'lucky' in the sense that Josh has a private health insurance policy.  *I* have been maintaining the payments for his insurance to the tune of $200+ a month.  I have refused to let him become uninsured, my fear being that he'll never be able to get insurance with this diagnosis.  Our state insurance plan requires that you be uninsured for six months to qualify.  How stupid is that?!!

But even with insurance, the uninsured costs of Josh's care (especially his hospitalization last year) are staggering.  Plus I'm supporting him, trying to help him stay in his own apartment.

Would I suggest this to anyone else in my situation?  No.  I wouldn't suggest anything to anyone.  Bipolar manifests itself differently in each person.  There is no ONE way to treat it, there is no ONE way to move through all this.

I have moved through it by the seat of my pants.  I've made many missteps and I've occasionally 'lucked out'. 

More than anything I would hope that any other mother of a Bipolar son who might read here would find comfort in the knowledge that they're not alone, but I sure wouldn't want them to ACT with their child based on my experiences with MY child.

There's too much at stake and everyone moves through this disorder very differently.  Every situation is different, everyone's circumstances are very unique.

Having researched this disorder till I'm SICK TO DEATH of it, I have come to believe that Josh's symptoms, the way this disorder manifests itself in HIM, is very mild compared to many.  Yet, even though it's 'mild', it has totally derailed his life and without treatment he'll never have a 'normal', functioning life.  I cannot imagine having to deal with more severe symptoms.

The best advice I can give, is the best advice I've received.  Over and over again I'm told to take care of myself first.  My friend A reminds me that when flight attendants give their safety talk, they admonish passengers to put on their own oxygen masks, before helping others. 

In all of this, sometimes the ONLY thing you can do at any given moment, is to take care of YOU, because so often, you cannot really take care of THEM.  As I've moved through this, I've done my best in each moment and then tried very hard to let go of it.  Let go and let God.

That's hard to do when the outcome is so fraught with negative possibilities, but the reality is you have to continue to live your life and make the best of a bad situation.

Easy to say, often not so easy to do.  I'd be lying if I said I haven't cried myself to sleep many times over the last year and a half.  And sometimes, that's what you NEED to do.  Let it out and then regroup and face the next day with renewed determination.

One thing I know for sure is I won't give up.  Not yet.  Easily HALF the homeless people you see on a street corner talking gibberish are people who have a mental illness and their families have been forced to finally 'give up'.  I don't ever want to be faced with deciding to give up on Josh, but someday I might have to.

At what point do you decide that you can do no more?  I don't know, I just know that I haven't reached that point yet.  Not by a long shot.

For me, there is always the option of letting Josh move back in with me.  The only upside to that is the money that would be saved.  The downside though is that it will negatively impact my day to day life AND it might 'allow' Josh to not fight so hard for himself, for independence.

Bottom line, day by day is how you cope with this.  It isn't helpful to project and try to figure out the future, because things change with this disorder so quickly.  You make the best decisions you can make and then sit back and wait to see what happens.

That's what I'm doing, waiting to see what happens next.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Update... A LONG ONE (but the most promising one I've ever written)

Sorry about that, I had to take my blog offline for a short time.

Josh had borrowed my laptop, and then he called and needed the password to MY user profile.  He was having cable/internet installed and needed logged in as administrator.

I hadn't anticipated this eventuality and I didn't want him to 'find' this blog while logged in under my profile.

He has asked me not to write about him, and I've grappled with that.  While I understand his position, I also feel like I have a right to share *my* part of this story.  I do so here on my blog anonymously.  Josh is not my son's real name.   Were someone to happen upon this blog who knows us in real life, and then if they took the time to READ a large portion of it, they might be able to put two and two together and realize who we really ARE.

I've told Josh, "I write about my experience with this as a mother, and I do it anonymously.  You know honey, there may be other mother's out there who are struggling as I have and if something I write helps just one other mother, well, I feel a need to do it.  But more than that, it helps me.  It helps me to 'put it out there'.

So I will continue to write here, and starting today, I'm changing my settings to have google crawl over my blog.  Previously, I'd not made this blog 'findable' through searches.  That changes today.

On this blog, there is 'misinformation'.....because my knowledge base is forever changing.  I've been forced to LEARN about this disorder, as my son's experience with it has changed.

The biggest thing I've learned through all of this is that with this disorder, nothing is set in stone, there is no ONE experience with it, no ONE treatment for it, no ONE right path to take.

Now, for an update on Josh.

After moving into his apartment, while working mostly third shifts at a restaurant, he began really struggling.  It seemed to me that he was cycling every few days.  One day he'd be manic and animated, a few days later he would be an emotional wreck.

This played havoc with his work responsibilities.  He'd call in sick frequently, because when it was time to go to work, he was a crying, gooey mess.  He even had this happen AT work.

During this time I was deeply concerned.  It seemed that the stress of LIFE; the stress of work, the stress surrounding beginning to be responsible for RENT and EXPENSES, was too much for him.

And I beat myself up.  *I* did this to him!  I offered to help him with an apartment and he couldn't handle the stress!

Just about the time I was considering what other alternatives were available, he came to me and said, "You had asked me to see a doctor for a second opinion.  Find me a doctor."

Over a year after his Bipolar diagnosis, and he finally had ASKED to see a doctor!  Happy days.

Well, not so much.  And I KNEW this.  I KNEW that his request to SEE a doctor was just the first tiny baby step.

I researched doctors and made an appointment with one who was recommended to me. 

A few hours before we were to go to the doctor Josh called me.  He was filling out paperwork to take with us.  "What is this doctor's name?"

I told him and he wigged out!

Apparently this doctor was the doctor he'd seen while hospitalized and he hated him.  Well, to be fair, he hated everything about that hospital experience, but he felt this doctor didn't listen to him; asked questions and never waited for an answer.  "Mom, he never spent more than two minutes with me.  I'm not going to see him."

"Well, the hospital experience is much different than private practice.  In the hospital, the doctors have such a heavy case load, they don't have TIME to spend like they do in their own offices.  Can't you give this a try since we already have an appointment?"


"OK, well, I'll call them and cancel the appointment and we'll find another doctor."

"Forget it, I don't wanna do this anyway.  Just forget the whole thing."

I was crestfallen.  And I was ANGRY!  "Way to have my back God!!  Thanks a lot!  Of ALL the doctors I researched...I chose THIS one?!!!  WHY?!!!"

Hey! I had to take my frustration out on someone and God seemed like he could handle it.

I never KNEW the name of Josh's doctor in the hospital.  I had left countless messages asking him to call me, but NO ONE ever called me with the exception of the Social Worker.

A week went by, with Josh continuing to cycle, continuing to have issues as a result.

He came back to me, very dejected, and said, "OK, I've researched this till I'm sick of it.  It's hard for me to think that I really am Bipolar, but everything seems to point to it.  I know one thing, I can't live like this, so I'll go see that doctor."

Of course, I was thrilled, but of course, I knew this was just one more tiny baby step.

Turns out that the doctor I had found wouldn't be available to see Josh for WEEKS.  I wasn't willing to wait WEEKS; Josh needed help NOW.  I discussed with the receptionist other alternatives and was told that Dr. H could see him within a few days.  I had been referred to two doctors in this practice, and Dr H. wasn't one of them.  I grappled with this decision.  I knew that whoever saw Josh was going to have to be AMAZING.  I was only going to get this one chance to get him in front of a doctor.  But my options were limited and so I made an appointment with Dr. H.

I went with Josh to his appointment, but he didn't want me to go back with him.  When he came out he had a prescription for blood work, a sample pack of an anti-psychotic, a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication and a prescription for a mood stabilizer (an epilepsy medication).

He said he liked the doctor a lot, that he felt HEARD and that the doctor had explained all the medications to him.  The doctor asked him to see a therapist there at the practice named David.  He told Josh that therapy was as important as the medications.

He told Josh that the Bipolar II diagnosis was spot on, that he felt Josh had been experiencing episodes of hypomania and that he has a separate generalized anxiety disorder.

Josh began taking these medications and the results were almost instantaneous.  The changes in him were amazing.  He LOOKED better!  He was no longer white as a ghost, the dark circles under his eyes were gone and he had LIFE in his eyes.  He smiled, he joked!  His entire demeanor was different. 


A week later he came to see me and told me that he didn't like the medications.  We had a long talk where he told me that he could see the positives, "On one hand I'm getting all these good things; I'm happier, I'm coping better and all that, but I feel like on the other hand I'm losing the part of myself I love the most."

"OK, but Josh, give this some time.  It seems to me that as your body gets better adapted to this medication the positives will increase, and by simply functioning better, you'll regain and actually be able to benefit on that other side."

In the end, I got him to agree to stay on the medication and then talk to his doctor about how he's feeling at his next visit, just a few days away.

I went with him to that appointment and I joined him when he met with the doctor.  I told the doctor that Josh wasn't sure he wanted to remain on medications and that he questions whether he's really Bipolar.

This doctor is Indian, and talks very distinctly.  "OK Josh, let me ask you, does this medication seem to be helping at ALL?"

"Yea, I'm happier and I'm not so anxious.  I'm able to cope really well and everything."

"OK, now, what side effects are you having?"

"Well, I take that anti-psychotic right before bed and it's messing me up.  I sleep for like 12 hours.  I've slept through my alarm and I miss work.  I slept through 18 calls from my manager the other day!"

"OK, well, what I'd like you to do is take just half on nights when you have to work.  The rest of the time, take the full dosage.  That should help clear up that problem.  OK, any more side effects?"

"No, I haven't noticed anything."

"OK Josh, this is what I want to say to you.  You are on the lowest dosages of all these medications possible.  You are seeing very positive effects and no side effects.  Do you know how LUCKY you are?  Don't think of this as Bipolar if you don't want to.  Doesn't matter WHAT was wrong with you that was making you unable to function, this medication is working!  Here's what I want you to do.  I want you to commit to continuing these medications for one month.  I'll see you back in a month and I can almost guarantee you that you'll see more positives AND you'll realize you haven't sacrificed anything on the other side.  It's only been 11 days; in another month you will become stable on these drugs and I think you'll be pleased.  I want you to see David regularly too.  OK?"

Josh willingly agreed to this. 

Since then he's had trouble getting all his dosages in as scheduled due to his wacky work schedule.  He met with David and really liked him and I think he got a lot out of their first session.  He sees David again next week.

He wound up quitting his job because they were very upset he'd slept through those 18 phone calls.  He tried to explain that he'd been on new medication and had since seen the doctor who adjusted his dosage, but his manager kept yelling, wouldn't listen, and so he quit.

Probably for the best anyway.  Josh needs a DAYTIME schedule that is static.  He's actively seeking a new job.

For the most part, I feel like I have my son back again.  On this medicine, it's like we've rolled back the clock about a year and a half.  He is functioning better in every way.  Occasionally his mood seems a little off, but I don't think he's consistently taking his meds on time AND it sounds like he's drinking alcohol on occasion.  I've talked with him about this, about how alcohol disrupts what the medicine is trying to control, but I can get nowhere with him on that front.

Of course, I'd love to see him continue on these meds and with therapy.  IF he would continue down THIS path, I feel confident that he can regain a normal life.  But with this disorder there are no givens.  I realize that he could step off this path at any point and I see my job as being the one to REMIND him how bad it was before he started treatment.

As a mother, the one thing I'd like to feel is secure where he is concerned.  When you face a crisis, there is nothing better than that feeling of finally being able to let out a big sigh when it's over; that calming breath you get to take when you finally get on the other side of it.

It's sad to me to know that it may be a very long time before I feel confident that I can let out this breath I've been holding for the last year and a half.

Everything happens for a reason.  I LOVE Josh's doctor, so all that yelling I did at God?  Well, I've had to apologize for questioning his plan.  THIS doctor is the one Josh was supposed to see and that's exactly what happened.

Josh said to me last night, "I don't know how you've done this Mom.  How have you gotten through all this?"

"Well, first of all I love you.  I would walk through fire for one of my kids, but secondly, none of this is your fault.  You were dealt a crappy hand, right at the VERY moment your adult life should have been taking flight.  I won't stop fighting for you until I see you soaring."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A LONG Talk with Josh

I was driving to a client appointment yesterday morning when Josh called.  I sat in the parking lot at my client's office for over an hour talking to him.

He had a lot to say and finally I asked, "Honey, are you a bit manic today?"

"No, I took an adderall because I have a lot to get done today and it makes me like this."

"Well, be careful with those, I've read that they can trigger a manic episode."

He told me that he's staying at his job, but that he's embarrassed because the night he gave his notice he'd had a 'breakdown', complete with tears. 

"Did something happen that upset you?"

"No, nothing at work, but something I was thinking about upset me."

This triggered my memory.  As a Junior in High School Josh worked at a local grocery store as a stock boy.  He had an emotional breakdown, complete with tears, one night there too.  He had been having issues with his Dad and in thinking about that situation, he had a breakdown.

This made me think about some of the other jobs he'd gone through back then.  His first job ever was at Target, stocking shelves.  He was there maybe six months when he quit because he hated it and the people.  Then he worked at the grocery, which he quit and then he worked as a busboy at a local breakfast/lunch restaurant.  He quit that job too.  Then he landed at the video store, and he worked there for over two years.  He was in his element at that job, which is why I think he stayed as long as he did.  But it makes me wonder if Bipolar wasn't present back then to some degree.

Anyway, Josh had been reading and reading about schizophrenia in an OLD, OLD encyclopedia set his Dad had given him.  He seems to be trying very hard to figure out what's wrong with him.

"Well honey, reading that probably isn't helpful, the information is so outdated."

"Yea but Mom, this Bipolar thing seems so fuzzy, I just can't figure out where I fit into all this."

"Well Bipolar IS fuzzy, it manifests itself so differently in each individual person, but a doctor should be able to wade through it all and make an accurate diagnosis."

I told Josh about Jim Phelp's book and the Mood spectrum he describes and that I've felt that Josh falls on the depressive side with a slight underlying mania that feeds his negative thoughts.

"Yes!  Now that sounds like what I'm feeling."

I told him to come by and get my Kindle so he could read the book, that I thought it would be helpful to him.

He talked a lot about how his mind is working and he said he has had a few auditory hallucinations, where he hears music.  "Living in an apartment is great though, if I hear something I just assume it's the neighbors."

He was concerned that those hallucinations are an indicator of schizophrenia.

"Well, a woman I know who has Bipolar told me that she has hallucinations too, but that she KNOWS they're hallucinations.  A schizophrenic often doesn't realize that what they're experiencing isn't real."

"Well that's reassuring.  When I have them, I KNOW they're not real.  I guess I've been thinking that since I have those I MUST be schizophrenic."

"No, and really honey, from the reading I did about it, I really don't think you need to worry about that.  So many of the symptoms between the two conditions are the same, but you HAVE to have significant hallucinations to qualify as a schizophrenic."

"Oh good.  But what about my paranoia."

"Well, do you think people are out to get you?"

"No, not really, it's more like I think people are talking about me and stuff like that."

"What I read about a paranoid schizophrenic is that they SERIOUSLY think people are out to get them, like tapping their phones, poisoning their food, stuff like that.  I think maybe your anxiety is what feeds those thoughts that people are talking about you and stuff.  I really think that anxiety is a big part of your problem actually and I think a good anti-anxiety medication could really help you, in fact, that could be all you need, I don't know."

"I agree, I think I need something for anxiety."

Josh expressed concerns about the costs of all this care.

"Well, I've kept your health insurance in force and I'm glad I've done that.  Yes, this will cost some money, but it will be basic co-pays.  Think about how much more expensive it would be if you didn't address this and wound back up in the hospital."

"True, but I know money is so tight for you right now."

"Honey, please don't worry about that, I don't want you stressed about money.  You concentrate on getting well and working towards being able to handle your own rent and living expenses."

"Well, I've already got $70 saved up for my June rent.  We talked about me giving you $200 this month and that shouldn't be a problem."

Josh stopped by in the afternoon to get my Kindle, use my computer and do some laundry.

I spent a couple of hours with him, but then I had to leave for a late afternoon client appointment.  Before I left I told him, "Honey, I am so proud of you.  I know this is so hard, all of it, and I'm so proud that you are self aware and intelligent enough to process this and want to get help."

The look on his face told me that he appreciated my comment.

"I keep thinking about things like being on medicine and never being able to drink again.  I guess it's hard to accept that there are things I can't do anymore."

I told him about the essay I'd read on acceptance and that the woman who wrote it expressed that very same thing, "but she realized after struggling against this disorder for twenty years, that she could either accept the limitations this presented so that she could stay healthy and have a good life, or she could continue to quit jobs, throw away relationships and travel the country like a vagabond and never really find any satisfaction.  "Josh, it's a choice that every Bipolar person has to make.  You have to CHOSE to accept the limitations so you can stay healthy."

"Yea, I guess so, but that is hard."

"I know it is honey and honestly, there are people who have Bipolar who are able to occasionally drink in reasonable quantities.  They just know that doing so will throw them a little off kilter and they prepare for it and handle it.  They know they can't go on a bender, but they can have a beer or two once in a while.  Other people just can't drink, either because of the Bipolar or the medication they're on.  All this is unknown for you right now and you'll have to figure out as you go along what is possible for you and what actually causes your illness to get worse."

Right now, and really since he moved into his apartment, Josh's mood has stayed in the normal range, possibly leaning alittle more towards mania actually, but the depression has lifted.  I know that the depression can settle back in at anytime though and I don't think in a depressive state, Josh would be able to maintain this desire to get help.  So for me, time is of the essence here.

I'm waiting for Josh to text me his schedule for this week so I can call the doctor and make an appointment.  I will adjust MY schedule to accommodate this.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Not Even Sure What to Title This Post

Something pretty amazing has happened and while I should be on Cloud 9, I'm kind of surprised that my feelings are what they are.

Let me explain.

Yesterday I was home all day because I was having a Garage Sale.  Friday Josh asked if he could come over Saturday and use the computer to apply for jobs online.

So I was expecting him yesterday, but he never showed up.

About 4 o'clock I began getting worried about him, so I texted him, "I thought you were coming over today."

No response.

By 5 o'clock, I was beginning to get really worried.  My BF tried to relieve my fear by saying, "He probably got off work really late (he worked at 10PM) and didn't get to bed till 4 or so this morning.  He's probably just asleep."

So I tried not to worry.  The BF and I had plans to go out, so we went.  But the entire time I kept checking my phone. 

Josh finally called, he'd just gotten up and seemed a little put out that I wasn't home.  "Well honey, you can go to the house and use the computer."  He said, "OK," but he sounded 'weird' to me.

A few hours later he called me, "Mom, I'm sorry to bother you but I really need to talk to you about something."

"You're not bothering me honey, what'd you need?"

"You know you talked about taking me to that Bipolar doctor?  Well, I think you need to make an appointment for us."

I was completely taken aback by this, and for some reason, at times like this with Josh I try to react very nonchalantly.  I did this when he was manic.  The entire time he was behaving like a 'crazy' person, I tried very hard not to let him KNOW that I thought he was behaving like a 'crazy' person.  It's the strangest thing, I don't understand why I do this, but I do, and for some reason I didn't want Josh to sense my true feelings at this moment when he asked me to take him to a psychiatrist. 

"OK.  Well I researched that doctor that was referred to me and I wasn't very happy with what I found so I didn't look further, but I'll get right on that Monday honey.  I just want to make sure we get in front of the right doctor."
"OK, I love you."

"Love you too honey."

And we hung up.

I turned to my BF and said, "You won't believe this.  Josh asked me to take him to a Bipolar doctor."


"Yea.  God, I wonder what made him decide this."

The BF must be like me, cause his reaction was about as nonchalant as mine, but I think we were both sitting there just thinking about it. 

"I wonder if he began to regret quitting his job, you know, maybe in a different 'mood', he looked back on it and maybe saw that something bigger was at play when he made that decision."

My BF said, "Well, he could talk to them, just explain he's been under a lot of stress with his move and the new job and all and ask if he could stay."

"From what he's said, I think they like him and it sounds like they think he's doing a good job, so maybe they would let him stay."

And we sat there and thought some more about it and I was wishing I'd asked him more about his change of heart.  I was having such mixed emotions.  This came out of thin air.

Then Josh called me back.

"Mom, I think I need to tell you something else, when I went to the house, I didn't look for jobs online, I did some research and when you're looking for a doctor,  you need to find a doctor who can really make a good diagnosis cause I'm beginning to think that maybe I'm not Bipolar, I think I might be schizophrenic."

"Really? Why do you think that, do you hear voices and have hallucinations? I mean, I don't know much about schizophrenia, but I always thought that was one of the big differences between it and Bipolar."

"Just read about it Mom, there are four basic kinds of schizophrenia, and I kinda see myself a little bit in each of them."

"OK, I"ll research that, and I'll make sure that we find a really good doctor honey, but Josh what brought this on, I mean, are you regretting quitting your job?"

"I don't know."

"Well, if you are, I think you could talk to them about that."

"I talked to my manager last night and she said I could stay, and I'm gonna talk to her again tonight, but I don't know."

"OK, I want you to do what's best for you honey, only you know how you're feeling."

We hung up and I was totally wigged out.  "Josh says he thinks he might be schizophrenic and I don't really know much about that disorder except that in reading about Bipolar it seems like schizophrenia is so much worse, so much harder to treat and all."

I got pretty worked up, mostly I was feeling so sad for Josh, that he was going through all this and I was thinking about how he must be struggling so much trying to figure out what is 'wrong' with him.

I began crying thinking of Josh, normal and happy, just a few short years ago.

"Well," my boyfriend said, "this is a start at least."

"Yes, but I guess I'm feeling like that's all it is, just a start.  Tomorrow his mood could change and he'll be back to total denial, or during the process of finding the right medication he could hate the process; the way the medication makes him feel to the point of giving up.  I'm glad he's taking this step, but I guess I'm realizing what a long road lies ahead of him."

Of course, the first thing I did when I got home is research schizophrenia, and I'm not an expert, but I just don't 'see' Josh as schizophrenic.  He never answered me when I asked if he's hearing voices or having hallucinations, so I don't know if he's having those major hallmark type symptoms.  The only other area of schizophrenia where I think he fits is paranoia.  He's never expressed feelings of people being out to get him, but he recently said that he doesn't trust anyone and therefore he doesn't trust what anyone says to him.  This statement was in relation to his job, that his manager said he's doing a good job, but that he doesn't trust anything anyone says anymore.

One of the types of schizophrenia is called catatonic.  In this state people just stare into space, sometimes for hours at a time, not blinking.  But it also describes people with this disorder to be, well, I guess, unemotional.  Incapable of joy or anger.  Josh may see himself here in the sense that he feels no joy with life, but he has no problem expressing his anger, so again, I don't see him in this, and he's never appeared catatonic to me, even for short periods of time.

So, I don't know.  What I did read is that Bipolar and schizophrenia are often misdiagnosed for each other because there are many similar symptoms, but it seems to me in my reading that hearing voices or having hallucinations HAS to be present and ongoing for a month for a diagnosis of schizophrenia to be made.  I'm praying he's wrong because it does sound much harder to treat schizophrenia than Bipolar.

So I'm scared and unsettled.  Nothing new here really, I've been scared and unsettled for over a year now.  It was just over a year ago that Josh was hospitalized.  It has been the longest year of my life.

I have to pass this on too.  I spoke with Josh's brother Friday, telling him that Josh had quit his job and  I expressed how helpless I felt.  We talked about the financial ramifications of all this on me and how impossible it is to talk to Josh about all this stuff.

I got an email from Josh's brother late that night.  He sent me links to a bunch of sites that offer financial assistance and medical support for someone with disabilities, including Bipolar.

"I don't know what we're gonna do with that kid, but maybe you could call some of these places and get some help with all this, for you and for him."

I thought that was sweet of him to take the time to look into this stuff.

Clearly we all want Josh to get 'better'.  We all realize there is no cure, but there is a path forward for him and I'm trying to not project into the future very far and just be glad that Josh has finally put one foot on that path.

On a lighter note, I hope Josh doesn't have schizophrenia because when I spell checked this post, I had spelt it wrong about half the time.  Bipolar is much easier to type.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bipolar Rears Its Ugly Head AGAIN

My BF and I went out last night and had a great evening.  As we were driving home, I got this text from Josh:

"I gave my two weeks notice at work."


"I'm miserable and tired of the bullshit there."

As my heart was breaking ALL OVER AGAIN, my BF began venting.

"You need to tell him that bullshit is part of just about every job out there.  He can't just quit, he has responsibilities now.  He can't hop from job to job like this, eventually it's gonna catch up with him.  You need to tell him....and on and on and on....."

I don't know how to help Josh get to acceptance and a better place, but I do know that saying any of THOSE things will not help.  I know that because hearing them doesn't help ME.  While my BF views Josh as a normal kid who just doesn't 'get it', I know that my BF doesn't 'get it' at all.

As my BF vented, I just kept repeating my mantra, "Yea, but that's the Bipolar at work honey.  This is what Bipolar people do.  They can't COPE, they can't handle STRESS, they don't make good decisions for themselves because they don't SEE that they're the problem."

I'm hit from both sides with this Bipolar thing.  I am TERRIFIED for my son and worry about what the future holds for him and I have a BF who just can't understand the whole thing. 

I don't know HOW to help Josh.  I don't know what to SAY to him.  I kind of get what NOT to say, but I can't find the right words that will lead him to see REALITY.

I search the internet at times like this and I always find something that helps me.

Last night I was up for hours reading and I found this:

Julie Fast's Essay about Acceptance

Which lead me to her Blog where I found this:

Bipolar in the NFL

I shared these articles with my BF today.  In both of them, it's very easy to SEE Josh's behavior.  Demitius Underwood (an NFL player) even was haunted by visions of the apocalypse, something Josh talks about ALL THE TIME.

My BF left for work this morning saying, "I just find it so sad."

"Well, it is sad, and I know that you worry about how THIS will effect our lives, but I show you these articles to help you understand better that this is NOT Josh, THIS is Bipolar.  Of course he shouldn't quit his job, of course he should cope with the bullshit, but he's not capable.  He's just not capable.  Your reactions are totally appropriate if we were talking about a normal person, but Josh isn't normal, he has a mental illness."

"I'm just not going to involve myself in it then, I'll keep my mouth shut.  But if he comes in this house and is verbally abusive to you I know I'll go off on him."

I'm basically struggling here to get TWO people to understand what's at play here and I hate that Josh's troubles negatively impact my relationship with my BF.

My BF said, "I will never allow him to be disrespectful to you in this house."

"Honey, *I* don't let him be disrespectful to me in this house anymore either.  When he lost it that day at the storage unit, I made him leave.  If he hadn't left, I WOULD have called the police."

"You've let him treat you terribly!  The things he's said to you, calling you names, showing absolutely NO appreciation for what you do for him.  It's hard to watch that."

"Well, it took me a LONG time to accept this myself, and to understand it.  For a long time *I* didn't understand that his behaviors were Bipolar related.  So I understand it all better now, but just because I understand doesn't mean I'll allow him to ruin my life or our life.  My friend A tells me all the time to remember the flight attendants instructions, "Put on your oxygen mask first before helping your neighbor".  I had to LEARN how to protect myself from this, and that's the hardest part for me.  I'm a MOTHER, I want to help him, but at some point I may have to accept that it's all out of my hands."

He said, "Let's face it, we just need to set aside about $1,000 a month to support Josh, for the rest of our lives.  Then he can sit in his apartment and dream about the apocalypse."

I tried to explain to my BF that that is NOT something I intend to do.  Support Josh forever?  No.  I can't afford to support Josh for the six months I've promised, I certainly can't do it forever. 

I said, "At some point I'm going to have to let go and let him fall.  I have just held on to hope that in this six months I can get him to a better place.  If I can't, well, I don't want to even think about that, but I know I'm not willing to have TWO (or THREE) lives ruined here."

So I showed him this post from Julie Fast's Blog:

Julie Fast talks about Charlie Sheen

In this post Julie quotes Martin Sheen:  His father said, “I’ve tried everything. We have done everything. All I know do to now is leave and hope he will be ok.”

I may have to do the same thing eventually, but it doesn't escape my notice that Charlie losing the support of his friends and family left him in a horribly vulnerable position.

Josh and I continued texting last night; I was being very careful not to offend him:

"So where are you gonna look for a job?"

"I don't know."

"What time do you work tomorrow"

"10 PM"

"Maybe you could try Aldi's tomorrow?"

"I don't think they have an opening now, but I could try.  I just know I need to pick a job that doesn't suck dick this time."

"Well, in this economy almost any job you get is probably gonna kinda suck, so you have to figure out a way to cope.  Maybe a job like you had at the grocery IS good cause you don't have to deal with SO MANY people?"

"I guess but you are a little annoying right now so how about we talk later."


Seriously, I was a 'little annoying'?!

The BF and I have a horrible three days ahead.  We moved in together about six months ago, and in combining two households we have a MOUNTAIN of stuff in our storage unit to get rid of.  Our neighborhood is having a garage sale tomorrow, so we will spend the afternoon and evening dragging everything to the garage and setting up for the sale, which takes place Saturday.

I don't have TIME to be sitting here blogging, but this is what *I* do to cope with all this.  I pour it all out here, and then I try to get on with MY life the best I can.

I totally fell apart last night when we got home.  I don't do this very often and I've never done it in the presence of my BF before.  I curled up in bed and cried.

My BF came in and laid down and I began talking about Josh and how scared I am, and then I made an awful confession, and as I made it I totally lost it, barely able to talk as I sobbed.

"You know my greatest fear in all of this is that Josh will kill himself, but let me tell you a secret.  There's a part of me that would understand if he did that.  *I* don't want to see him live the rest of his life like this.  I cannot imagine how awful this life seems to him.  I think about him killing himself and I can see how someone in this state can see that as the perfect solution."

My BF help his arm out, and I rolled over and laid my head on his chest and as he wrapped his arms around me he got to see his strong, capable girlfriend turn into a complete puddle of goo (complete with snot and tears).

"Oh honey," he said, as he held me tighter and kissed the top of my head.

"You know, as I've raised these two boys, I've always KNOWN what to say, what to do, to help them.  I KNOW them, I know what approach works best with each of them and I've always been able to move them forward.  Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to suddenly be incapable of effecting change?  To not be able to communicate with one of my kids?  I've said it before, I have never felt so helpless before in my life.  This disorder is so insidious."

I'll spend the day doing what I have to do to get ready for this garage sale.  A lot of physical labor and time to think can only do me some good.  I don't have a plan, but I need one badly.

Perhaps the first thing I'll do is attend the Bipolar Support Group Monday night.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Lot to Say

It's been a stressful weekend for me.  I have several things to get done for work this weekend and I've been trying to help Josh get settled into his apartment.

HE has been working almost non-stop, and his shifts are all over the place.  In between, he's tried to get some sleep, which is hard for him to do with his ever changing schedule.

He would do so much better with a set schedule, and probably with a set paycheck; not having to rely on tips.  However, he made $40 in tips Thursday night and $60 in tips Friday night, so that's not bad.

He picked up his apartment key Friday and signed his lease.  He moved everything from his Dad's in, then went to work, dropping his apartment key off to me on the way.

My boyfriend and I took a load of boxes, etc to the apartment, then once the rain looked like it would hold off awhile, we moved Josh's bed and dresser in.  

Josh had asked that we not unpack anything, he wanted to do it himself so he'd know where everything was.  I did hang his shower curtain and towels in the bathroom, and put a rug down for him.  I stocked his bathroom with toilet paper and his kitchen with paper towels.

My boyfriend has been wonderful through all this.  Because we just combined households, we both have a lot of household things we're no longer using.  My boyfriend gave Josh a practically new, great set of pots and pans, and all the bathroom stuff was his.  He gave Josh a full set of silverware and a large variety of cooking spoons and spatulas, etc.  He gave Josh his entertainment center as well.

We made Josh a basket with cleaning supplies and I had gone to the grocery and got him some basic food items to get him started.

It was hard to keep my boyfriend from unpacking and organizing the entire apartment; he can't stand clutter and messes.  He did unpack the groceries and put them on the counter so Josh could decide where they would go.  He set the pots and pans on the stove and loaded the dishwasher with the silverware and a few other kitchen items that we'd had in storage.  We started the dishwasher and I almost had to bodily remove the boyfriend to prevent him from unpacking anything else.

Josh still hasn't unpacked.  He's been working a lot and I know that Friday night when he got off work, he had a couple of friends over to just chill.  Among the mess.

He worked all day yesterday and stopped by after work.  He seemed in good spirits, but was very tired.  We were planning on moving his couch, but he asked if we could wait.  He wanted to go home and get some sleep.  We agreed to do it today (Sunday), but he texted me this morning and asked if we could put it off again.  "I don't even know if I want the couch Mom.  I'm not sure I'd really use it.  But right now, I'm gonna try to get some sleep before I have to work at 2:30."

The good news is that he seems to be being responsible about work.  He told me yesterday that his only day off was Tuesday, but he'd picked up a shift and was going to work that day.

The bad news is that he's working an awful lot and 'worrying' about getting settled in his apartment.  I've offered and offered to come and help him ANYTIME; that I would make myself available around his schedule.  I see the stress in his eyes and his stress is stressing ME.

He was REALLY stressed when we saw him Friday before work.

And my boyfriend doesn't really 'get it'.  He doesn't really 'get' Bipolar at all.  He views Josh as a spoiled, entitled man child who needs to get his shit together.  And Josh is those things, but the BF doesn't get that on top of those things, Josh is bipolar, and the bipolar makes it much more difficult to deal with Josh's immature nature.  He also doesn't understand how stress can trigger a slide on the bipolar pole.

"Well, it's just like Catherine Zeta Jones, she's had a lot of stress in her life, and for someone with bipolar, that stress builds and builds and builds and then, BAM....it triggers a slide.  She wound up in a mental facility for God's sake.  And for Josh?  It doesn't take much to stress him really.  Things that would be wind in the face to you or me are HUGE stressors to someone like Josh."

The BF has mentioned several times as we were moving Josh's things, "You know, Josh should really be here doing this with us, this is HIS stuff."

"I know honey, but his work schedule doesn't really coincide with our schedules, and I want to do this FOR him, to alleviate some stress for him.  That's important to me, it's just one of the little things I can do to keep his stress level down.  I really do appreciate all your help with this and Josh does too."

As I was typing this post, Josh called, "So, what are your plans today?"

"Oh, I have some work to do, but it won't take all day, what did you need?"

"Well, I wondered if you wanted to go to breakfast."


I picked Josh up and after we ate we stopped at Meijer and got him a small microwave and some measuring cups and spoons.  And Butter.  He had slept right after work Saturday, from about 4 pm to 1 am.  When he got up, he'd gone to the store for groceries, but had forgotten butter.

He seemed pretty tired and a bit 'out of it'.  When we got back to his apartment, I unpacked the rest of his kitchen stuff and organized his kitchen for him.  Then I unpacked and shelved his books.  When I headed to the bathroom to put away his toiletries he said he'd rather do that himself.  Then he said he was getting tired so he planned on taking  a nap before work, so I left.

His mood is kind of all over the place.  He's been pretty 'up' all last week, and even yesterday after work when we saw him briefly.  Today he seemed on the downslide.  Mostly he just seemed tired and like his brain wasn't firing right.  He's stopped smoking pot which is good, but he said he drank 'too much' Friday night and felt like it left him not feeling well.  He doesn't drink often (I don't think) and when he does he drinks in moderation.  He's not used to drinking 'too much' and I know that on the rare occasions when I tie one on, it leaves me feeling 'off' for a day or two.

He told me that after going to the grocery at 1AM, he just watched some tv and this morning he was feeling a little bored, so he was glad I could spend some time with him.  He said he sleeps like the dead there, in his own bed, and I know what he means.  I always sleep so well when I return home from a vacation to my own bed.  He's been missing his bed for almost six months now.

All in all, I'm not sure how I feel about him, I can't get a good gauge on his mood.  I imagine some of that is because he's going through a few pretty big life changes; adjusting to a new job and then this move.  In the end, if he manages himself right, both of these things will be positives for him, and that's the outcome I'm hoping for.

I feel the need to express my opinion about Catherine Zeta Jones' admission that she has Bipolar II.  We don't have much information; like was this her first experience with it or has she been long diagnosed? I imagine she would have preferred to never reveal this, but when someone with her exposure is admitted to a Mental Health Facility, it's pretty hard to hide that information. 

I think she's in a very powerful position to enlighten the world about this disorder, and I hope that she takes the opportunity to speak openly about it because she could make real inroads in decreasing the stigma attached to it.  I'd much rather see her face associated with this disorder than Charlie Sheen's.

Not that I have anything against Charlie Sheen, not at all.  If you listen to the experts, they all feel that Charlie's appearances on talk shows was during a Bipolar manic state (either that or very heavy drug use).  *I'm* not an expert and I have no idea if Charlie is Bipolar or not.  What I do know is that when I saw those clips of him, it reminded me so much of when Josh was manic and admitted to the hospital.  It offended me that news organizations didn't use more discretion and compassion towards him when he was in that state.  While that looked very much to me like the 'reality' of Bipolar, I'm not sure his appearances did anything to further the discussion about this disorder.

Basically, these two actors have shown both sides of this disorder.  One quietly managing it and getting appropriate treatment when necessary, and the other, well the other was too heartbreaking to even watch for very long.

Josh refuses to accept that he has Bipolar.  I look at the son I raised and KNOW that something very powerful has derailed his life.  I see all kinds of behaviors that convince me that he is Bipolar.  I feel very strongly that someone in his state, struggling with the 'softer' symptoms of Bipolar COULD live life unmedicated.  But that person has to be VERY aware and do all the basic lifestyle management things that aid brain function.  At the very least, I believe that for someone like Josh who is so medication adverse, it would behoove him to do everything in his power to manage his life in ways that are 'natural'.

I intend to talk to Josh about this, at the right moment, and basically say, "If you don't ever want to be on 'brain' medication, then do these four or five things as INSURANCE against depression and the soft symptoms I see.  Be militant about sleep. Cut caffeine out of your life.  Exercise every single day.  Take a multivitamin everyday, as well as B vitamin supplements and Fish Oil.  Eat from the 'outside' aisle of the grocery store; fresh meats, fruits and vegetables.  Eggs,yogurt and Milk."

I would like to see Josh adopt good, basic, healthy lifestyle practices, because I think he MIGHT be able to avoid medication.  And finally, I'd like to get him to see my therapist.  NOT a psychiatrist, but my very, very skilled therapist.  I think she could help him learn to manage his stress and frustration better (which will aid him in interpersonal relationships as well as workplace incidents).  She could teach him basic coping skills and teach him to be aware of his feelings and have a plan of action to deal with those feelings.

I think Josh is SO intelligent and self aware and if anyone can manage Bipolar without medication, he could.  But it would take a real dedication on his part.  I honestly think that at some level he knows or at least is afraid that he does have Bipolar.  I somehow need to get in touch with that part of Josh who KNOWS he's struggling against something that is bigger than he is, and hopefully get him to see that very small lifestyle changes will give him a much better chance of handling this the way HE wants to; without medical intervention.

Wish me luck.