Josh was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder in April 2010. That seems like a lifetime ago, and yet, those first two years are as fresh in my memory as if they happened last week.
In spite of the fact that I haven't posted anything here for months and months, this blog continues to get a massive number of hits each month. That reality saddens me because it means that there are a large number of people who are effected by Bipolar in some way.
Josh remains off meds, but I continue to see glimpses of Bipolar working its way through his life. He has dealt with several pretty stressful life events, and at those times he gets a bit 'wobbly'; he loses his temper easily and reacts in ways that are out of character for him and over the top considering the event that set him off.
I believe Josh self medicates with alcohol and recently he told me that he had been using inhalants (purchased legally at a head shop). Of course, I was.......appalled, worried, disappointed. He had stopped using the inhalants but he said to me, "It's a decision I have to make anew every single day. It's not easy Mom." As is true for most people who struggle with mental illness (or addictions), the goal for Josh is to "feel better or cope better".
Clearly his coping skills are not what they should be, but all of this is out of my hands. Please don't read that as..."I wash my hands of the whole mess." It's just that all I can do is monitor, advise and pray a lot. I do all three. Josh refuses to see a therapist to help in learning better coping skills, he continues to refuse medications and he continues to say that he doesn't have Bipolar.
I read a book this weekend, "Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff. It's the story of his families experience as his son, Nic, struggles through Meth addiction. It's a sad, hard book to read but much of it resonated with me. My older son has struggled with addiction and as most parents of Bipolar children know, often addiction and Bipolar go hand in hand. What some of my readers might find helpful about the book is the process that David Sheff goes through in finding that delicate fine line between worry and (relative) peace.
You worry about your child, endlessly, and yet, you cannot stop living. You don't know how much to do, or even what to do. You can't sleep, can't eat, often can't function.
Eventually you realize that you also can't live that way and you find that the Serenity Prayer is the ONE thing you can do, the ONE life line that is always readily available to you, and if you're smart, you'll use it and own it and be one with it.
"Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference"
There is nothing more than that. It says it all.
To live with the specter of drug addiction or mental illness in our children's lives, the Serenity Prayer becomes our saving Grace. Available to everyone and totally free.
It's easy for me to walk that fine line while Josh is (mostly) healthy. If he ever cycles again, I hope that I'll come back to this blog and read these posts that I've written during the easier times and find the help I'll need during the bad times.
Your comments that tell of your own personal struggles continue to sadden me, and yet, I'm always thankful that some of you find hope in Josh's story. I pray that you all can find that fine line and learn to walk it.