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

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 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.