Blame Me For My Son's Bipolar Treatment? Yes, Please.
Most of the comments I get on this blog come from other parents like me--parents who are raising a child (or children) who have bipolar disorder, ADHD or another psychiatric diagnosis. Occasionally, however, I get a comment from a troll who wants to blast me for being a bad parent, drugging my bipolar kid into a state of submission, and throwing myself a pity party in the process. Why do I even read them? Why do I feed into their negativity?
Because deep down, I want them to be right.
Blame Me for 'Wanting' My Son to Have A Mental Illness?
I want there to be nothing wrong with Bob, other than what I'm imposing upon him with my Munchausen by proxy tendencies. I want to believe that someday, he'll stop taking all the bipolar medication pills (or I'll stop giving them to him for some reason) and he'll be just fine. Better than he's ever been. And he can point a finger at me and say "shame on you."
Mental illness--like any other condition--is one of those situations where the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I am all too familiar with feeling miserable, afraid, angry, and just generally unhappy for no apparent reason. I know how hard it can be just to get through a day sometimes. I know the difficulty of holding down a job and living a normal adult life when you feel like complete crap (for no apparent reason). I don't wish that on my son. Who would?
Blame Me for Being a Bad Parent
Honestly, I kind of appreciate the negative, "down with Mom" comments, because they leave me with some hope that maybe, just maybe, the "Boblems" are all in my head, not his. That maybe there's nothing at all wrong with him and I'm just a crappy parent.
Luckily (or not, depending on your viewpoint) I still have a toehold on reality. Enough to know better, and that to take Bob off all his bipolar and ADHD medications and pretend there's nothing "out of the ordinary" would result in nothing short of disaster. Because, unlike the nay-sayers, I've been here for the long haul.
I've been Bob's mother for going on 10 years. And despite what you suggest, I do know the "real" Bob. I see him a lot more than you might think. I also know the other Bob--the one who causes me sleepless nights and exhausting days--and I know he's real.
But thanks, anyway, for allowing me to have that little bit of doubt once in a while.
McClanahan, A. (2011, July 19). Blame Me For My Son's Bipolar Treatment? Yes, Please., HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/parentingchildwithmentalillness/2011/07/blame-me-yes-please
Author: Angela McClanahan
It is their life. Their LIFE.
Bipolar, ADHD, Anxiety, depression- all of which are often linked in intricate and exhausting ways, and all are prone to high suicide rates among a population within which it is already among the leading causes of death. We LOVE our children, we hurt when they hurt... we aren't medicating them to make OUR lives easier. We are medicating them to SAVE their lives, and maybe make it easier.... at least in some way. ~Chris
Just Love your child and do the best you can.
I live in the UK and here, doctors *never* diagnose Bipolar in kids. That said, my son (11) has been diagnosed with ADHD and I live with Bipolar Disorder. I felt really guilty about allowing him to be put on medication, it was as if I was a failure or something, so I think I understand some of the feelings you experienced too.
Thanks for an informative and stimulating blog.
What I wouldn't give to let Emily live her life without the looming specter of a lifetime of psychiatric appointments and prescription drugs and uncertainty of the highs and lows as any drug in her combination begins to fail or what have you.
What I wouldn't give for Emily to experience life as a balanced, healthy girl.
This apple fell more closely to my tree than to her healthy father's tree. And yes, I was certain that I had failed her as a parent, that it was something I'd taught her, that bi-polar was a behavior I'd taught her and that it could be un-learned.
All I can say is that the medicated version of Emily is not so sullen, irritated and anxiety-riddled; she is still the same Emily as ever and now she can handle the minor disappointments/bumps without upsetting the entire apple cart of her day. She is free to experience all the emotions of childhood, not being held hostage by anger and resentment. She still defies me, she still pushes the boundaries and tests the consequences of her actions; the real difference is that she can corral her anger/defiance into a more controllable sphere, temper it down a bit and work through an emotion without letting it take complete control of her, and then even accept a condition or consequence, and learn from the experience.
Oh, and she learns now! It's a miracle! After 7 long years of having a stubborn, angry toddler trapped in a child's body, it has become quite the adjustment for me as a mother to see her progress. She can be taught!
And she finally has a life; a medicated life, but that's not a cause for an asterisk next to her name.
Let me just say up front that I have issues with kids, diagnoses and medications. I just do.
But I really try not to judge others when I'm not in the situation. It's really not my place.
That being said, I can identify with what you're saying 100%. I get the same people. Not that I'm a bad mother (I'm not a mother) but that I'm a bad _person_ for being on meds. And for talking about being on meds.
And part of me wants them to be right. Part of me wants to believe that really, I'm fine. Really, I don't need meds. Really, I'm just part of an uber-big-pharma conspiracy. The men in black standing on my psyche.
But that desire causes internal conflict. It just makes it harder for me to do what I know I have to do. It's one of the reasons I'm sometimes a bit snippy with these people. Because I know if they can make me doubt myself then they can do that to anyone.
But as you've said, I have a toe-hold on reality. I know who I am, and what I am, and what the meds do, and what I personally do. And that is infinitely more powerful than weak naysayers who pathetically hide behind the veil of the internet to make others feel bad about themselves.