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Our Mental Health Blogs

About Angela McClanahan, Author of ‘Life With Bob’ Blog

Although I have a bipolar child, this is a blog about parenting a child with a mental illness. We discuss coping strategies, tactics and more. Join me.

When I began my journey into this wild terrain called “Motherhood,” I thought I knew what I was doing. After all, I was a 28-year-old, soon-to-be college graduate with three younger siblings. I had years of babysitting experience and the gifts of critical thinking and research in my arsenal. Having a child surely couldn’t be any more difficult than having a puppy, right?

That was almost nine years ago. Boy, have I learned a lot.

My Child Has Bipolar Disorder

Although having a child isn’t a whole lot different than having a puppy, there are some distinct differences. When your child happens to have a mental illness, the differences increase exponentially.

Critical thinking and research have come in handy since “Bob” came into my life in 2001, and even more since his bipolar diagnosis in 2008. Being Bob’s mom has been a carnival ride full of ups, downs, twists and turns. It hasn’t always been fun. It has often been lonely. It has not been what I ever expected.

It has taught me I am not perfect, but I have more patience than I ever thought possible. It has taught me the world has a long way to go in terms of accepting mental illness as real and worthy of attention. It has taught me to appreciate my son for the wonderful person he is and hopefully will become, rather than dwell on what he is not.

Although I have chronicled our journey through various personal blogs, this is my first foray into the open blogosphere. If you are the parent of a child with bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness, I hope you will join me, and take heart in the knowledge that you are not alone.

Life with Bob: A Video on Parenting A Child with a Mental Illness

In this parenting video, Angela talks about the importance of having a blog that speaks to parents of a bipolar child, ADHD child, a child with depression or anxiety. Take a look.

18 thoughts on “About Angela McClanahan, Author of ‘Life With Bob’ Blog”

  1. Thank you so much for writing everything I’m feeling. I’m exhausted, we’ve had 12 different diagnoses in 5 years. Nothing is getting better, only worse. I am now exploring the thought of inpatient and it’s breaking my heart. I believe my son has bi-polar as well but is only 9 so it can’t officially be diagnosed so he has a laundry list of DSM diagnoses that all sound the same. How many ways can you say aggressive, unpredictable, and angry? Thanks for making me feel less alone tonight. It’s been a particularly tough day. Hugs!

  2. Angela you story sounds like what my husband and I are dealing with our 9 year old daughter, Emily. Would you share information about inpatient facilities that you tried. We are currently dealing with crisis centers and counselors that do not take responsibility of sending us to an hospital that will assess and evaluate in a 24 hour basis.
    Please help!

  3. Hi Angela,

    I saw on facebook that you took some flack – misinterpretation and twisting of your words, criticism of your parenting, and you handled it very well, diplomatically, you are very strong.

    I would have crumbled if those things were said to me and of my parenting. I already feel guilty enough, and yet I’m told I’ve done incredibly well, especially in light of the fact that I myself have bipolar depression, which has resurfaced due to all this stress. I’m told I’m also very strong. Yuck! You’ve got to be kidding me! I can barely survive, and just try to exist, moment to moment, until I have to get through the next moment.

    I am not a fan of facebook, not strong enough to withstand that kind of misinterpretation and criticism.

    Kudos to you for being able to keep your head held high in face of those comments of people who don’t know you and don’t understand. I would not have been stong enough to keep from taking it personally and being very hurt. I’m oversensitive enough as it is. I face enough failure and rejection here at home – I don’t need to have it reinforced by strangers.

  4. All these thoughts and feelings of these parents are totally my own.

    Finally.

    All my friends, who all have normal children can only look at me, with their faces mirroring the sadness reflected from my own face. They have nothing to say, because they don’t know what to say.

    I am now in the grieving stage of losing my 13 year old boy. I live in the hope that he will change – he doesn’t have to be normal, if he could just be a little bit happy. My 10 year old daughter and I have been his whipping boys for the last couple of years – we are evil, and any acts of love we show are twisted into trying to persecute him, hurt him, slander him, cheat him. I cry for the boy who still loved and trusted me, when he was in grade 4. My husband, never a man to break down, now cries also.

    And we all live tormented, as my son lives within the torment of his mind. We are all prisoners and slaves to his illness just as he is.

    Thank you for listening.

    Lori

  5. Sandy…

    I know where you are, Sandy. Probably a number of people who have posted here know where you are.

    The only thing I can suggest is to practice pulling in so tight inside your mind that you literally become your and hands and feet getting you through the day. Medicating doesn’t change anything, it just slows you down so that you have little energy to get inside yourself and find the coping tools. Letting the pain at its worst wash over you is usually the best.

    We must come to see the mentally disturbed child as a person rather than the child. If we can let the child go, we see that we really wish this sick person well. We don’t love them the same way, perhaps, but we don’t want anything bad to happen to them. It took me years to realize what letting go truly was.

    It’s really hard to do when we’re bleeding all over the floor. But deep inside us is a place where we have the strength. It’s truly a minute-by-minute mindset. These ill children have a way of coming from behind and grabbing us at the ankles. Then we go to pieces, and it takes a while to regain ourselves.

    No, it isn’t fair. It’s horrible. At least with a retarded child there is a sweetness that is there, usually. With Bi-Polar and Borderline, the child can do so much damage.

    But we must remain intact, Sandy. And that involves becoming selfish and pulling in and shutting them out until we can repair ourselves. I’m still working on it. But I know it’s the only way to survive over the long term.

    There is a book: When Madness Comes Home. You may find something there that will help.

    All our thoughts are with you.

  6. My heart feels for so many of you. Feels sadness, yes. But also – hope.

    I’m just curious – a lot of the behavioral traits that are mentioned by caretakers/parents seem to be more of the batch ascribed to Borderline Personality disorder. I know there’s overlap, co-current illness, grey area, etc., etc., but I was just wondering if anyone is referring to Borderline Personality disorder instead of Bipolar Disorder.

    Of course, as is clear – no matter the label, everyone needs support.

    Please take care, as best you can.

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