There is a pill container in my kitchen sitting on the windowsill above the sink that contains psychiatric medication that I give to my child with a mental illness. It contains 14 compartments, labeled the days of the week, AM and PM. The compartments have dosages of antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers and acne medicine. My son, Bob, takes a handful of these pills every morning before he goes to school and every night before he goes to bed. Keep reading »

Two weeks ago my son Bob told me he got a Saturday detention for skipping gym class. He said they were swimming and he didn’t want to swim. Later, I went online and discovered Bob was failing physical education (PE). This was maddening to me since Bob was an athlete and strong swimmer. I knew instinctively this had nothing to do with swimming and everything to do with my son’s mental illness. The screaming question in my head was, “What do I do now?” Keep reading »

My son Bob is doing really well right now. I wish I could say he has been cured of his mental illness, but that is not the case. In fact, he is symptomatic everyday. My son is doing well because he is treatment compliant and his mental illness treatment is working. So what is treatment for a child with mental illness? Keep reading »

My son Bob began talk therapy at age eight after he knocked over a heavy wrought-iron barstool that ripped the back of my upholstered couch as it fell. Next he went upstairs and slammed the door to his room, putting a hole in the wall. Bob’s behavior got worse despite my best parenting efforts. He was a sweet kid, but his moods changed rapidly, resulting in damage and destruction. I didn’t know what to do, so I asked one of my mom friends for a referral. Keep reading »

It took four hours to admit my 15-year-old son, Bob, to the psychiatric hospital for suicidal ideation. It had been a long stressful day since Bob told his therapist he almost killed himself the night before. She had made Bob sign a safety contract then released him to me. I tried to keep him busy and distracted, but by late afternoon he could fight no more. Bob asked me to take him to the hospital. Keep reading »

October 29, 2012, it was the perfect storm. Hurricane Sandy was coming from the south. High winds and heavy rain tormented the east coast. My 15-year-old son, Bob, was spiraling towards the psychiatric hospital with suicidal ideation. I knew about the hurricane. However, I had little appreciation of the deadly depression developing in my son’s brain. Keep reading »

I am a working mom with two challenging jobs. I’m parenting a teenage boy with mental illness and I’m an airline pilot. The parenting job is much harder. I often say I would rather land my plane in the Hudson River with no engines, than undergo the tailspin of raising a child with bipolar disorder and social anxiety. Keep reading »

Last week, my son Bob announced he is no longer playing basketball. Bob’s been playing competitively since age five and is pretty good. This year he is a junior in high school, which means varsity — his dream.

Bob made the decision to quit because basketball is “no fun” anymore. It brings about severe stress and crippling anxiety. In the past, Bob’s anxiety has led to depression and suicidal ideation.

I told my son I support him. I’m proud he made his mental health and well-being a priority. Then I went upstairs to the privacy of my bedroom and sobbed. Keep reading »

As parents of children with mental illness, we witness extremely bad behavior. We know it is not okay to be disrespectful or put holes in walls. Yet, traditional discipline methods don’t work. We become desperate for effective parenting tools for our kids.

The key is to understand what is driving the bad behavior. Is it the kid or the mental illness? Keep reading »

I worry my son will end up in jail. This is ironic because my son is a rigid rule follower. He attends a small college prep high school and plays basketball. He’s a good kid. But, he’s a good kid with a serious mental illness. Keep reading »