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Life with Bob

Melissa David
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and video games: How much screen time do you allow your child with ADHD? I ask because parents of children with ADHD have a love/hate relationship with video games. They can be a huge motivator for our kids. They provide us with rare quiet times. Yet, we're often shamed based on how much screen time our kids get. Using screens is often viewed as poor parenting. I've even been told video games cause my son's ADHD (Stigma Against Parents Who Raise a Child with Mental Illness). These days, asking me about my child's screen time will elicit the same response as asking me about my weight. I will lie about it, then I'll go home and cry.
Susan Traugh
“Emotional contagion” occurs when we mirror the strong emotions of those around us whether those emotions are negative or positive. As a parent of a mentally ill child, it can be difficult not to "catch" our child’s negative emotions. By employing a few tools, parents can avoid the downward spiral of emotional contagion and help their melting down child find a way back to the positive.
Melissa David
Managing disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) in the classroom isn't as simple as knowing how to prevent DMDD behaviors. Yet parents of children with DMDD are often expected to have immediate solutions for teachers and caregivers in our children's lives. Symptoms of DMDD are tough for even parents to handle, and immediate solutions don't exist, but there are doable small steps that can help manage DMDD in the classroom.
Susan Traugh
Preparing your mentally ill children for natural disasters is vitally important. Knowing what kinds of natural disasters are expected in your area and preparing a plan to deal with a crisis will provide a sense of control and safety to children with mental illness during a natural disaster.
Melissa David
There are mental health benefits of pets for children with mental illness. Pets can be great friends and teachers to children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD), or other mental health concerns. Plenty of research exists backing up the helpfulness of having animals in therapy, school, or at home. My son's mental health benefits from the animals in his life.
Susan Traugh
Finding gratitude when you or your family member lives with mental illness can seem so hard. The holidays especially can feel like a real season of loss for families with mental illness. While “normal families” seem to celebrate all the traditions that film and commercials dictate, families with mental illness cannot take on such busyness and chaos without negative repercussions or a mental health relapse. But, rather than see our alternate celebrations as a loss, finding gratitude during the holidays helps us see the better side of mental health struggles.
Melissa David
My family experiences sibling abuse because my son has disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). This means his emotional responses are violently out of proportion to the trigger. Worse, the trigger is often his sister. If he perceives her to get anything positive that he does not, Armageddon breaks out. I don't know how siblings without mental illness interact. All I know is that the fighting that goes along with sibling abuse is exhausting.
Susan Traugh
Medication compliance for people taking psychiatric drugs is notoriously hit and miss. Because of that, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a form of aripiprazole (Abilify) that digitally tracks medication compliance in patients with schizophrenia, some forms of bipolar, and some cases of depression according to Psychiatric Times.1 A digital sensor in the pill tracks when the medication is ingested by sending a digital tracking signal to an arm patch. Information can be provided to patients and might be shared with families and providers. While this may be the first such drug approved by the FDA, it will not be the last. So, the question for mentally ill patients and their families is this: Is this a wonderful, new medication compliance tool, or is it a potentially dangerous invasion of privacy?
Melissa David
It's common for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to steal from family members and friends. Knowing ADHD is probably behind a child's stealing behavior doesn't make it less frustrating, of course, nor less scary. After all, outside our homes, stealing is illegal. Parents of children with mental illnesses already worry enough about our kids ending up in the legal system. It's important, then, to figure out what might be causing our children with ADHD to steal.
Melissa David
You can sometimes predict that a mental health setback will happen, but still, when it happens, a mental health setback seems to come out of nowhere. I got a call from school staff this morning saying that my son was disrupting the class. He had been out of his seat, kicking chairs, and refusing to do work. In the background of the call, I could hear his teacher attempting multiplication lessons while the paraprofessional explained quietly that my son was now on the floor, unmovable and unresponsive to everybody. He was no longer allowed on Friday's field trip. The staff put the phone to my son's ear so I could try to talk him, but he hung up on me instead. After months of doing amazingly well at school and home, this was definitely a mental health setback.