It’s been really hard lately, Trace has been dealing with a lot of stuff. In the past week, I noticed his moods had shifted. He seemed down, depressed more often, getting upset easily, meltdowns with no real triggers (none that I could see) anyhow. By the end of the week, my frustration hit an arc so high, I was ready to pack my bags and hit the highway.
But of course, I can’t do that. I’m MOM and even though I battle Bipolar Disorder myself. Watching Trace go through his journey knowing bad days are coming — just tears me down.
“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked Trace Friday after school. He seemed so out of sorts. He ended up in tears several times during the day, and after school with his friends, he got into fights.
“Nothing,” he replied.
Typical answer for a ten-year-old boy who doesn’t know what he’s feeling. “Come on, babe, tell mom what’s wrong? Something at school?”
“The kids are calling me porky pig and making fun of my weight,” he says.
Right away I want to take numbers and kick ass. The thought of someone hurting him that way enrages me. However, I know from going through it myself, it’s a part of life. Trace right now is going in to a chubby phase. All kids do as they begin to shed their baby fat. My oldest son did. I told him not to worry about it.
I also told him that if he is worried, then it’s up to him like it is me, that we make good eating choices. Instead of a cookie, grab a yogurt. Instead of a chocolate bar or something sweet, grab an apple or fruit snack. I had a feeling his weight was bothering him when I caught him weighing himself and getting upset if he didn’t lose a pound or two.
“Why am I like this?” he asks.
“Like what, monkey?”
“I get upset and don’t know why. I get angry and don’t know why. I feel sad for no reason, and then angry I’m sad. Plus then I get upset my legs don’t work the way I want. I can’t jump right. I can’t walk right. My feet hurt all the time.”
I listen as he goes through the list of things that are bothering him. It’s not a new list. It’s just one Trace is becoming more aware of. He knows about his bipolar disorder, how much he understands I don’t know. He also knows he has Cerebral Palsy and that’s what affects his legs and feet. Combine all that with the mix of entering puberty, and my little boy has lots on his plate.
“Where did I get bipolar from?”
“Me,” I said simply. “I got it from someone in my family, and they got it from someone in there’s. It’s inherited or can be.”
“Can I get rid of it?”
“No,” I reply. “But you can learn to deal with it. When you’re sad, you can focus on things that make you feel happy, or just let the sadness in. You can cry, or shout in your pillow, color or play with your cars. Anything that makes you feel better and it will pass. Breathing in and out like I showed you also helps.”
Trace nods. “I do that at school lots! I breathe lots mom!”
“Well, that’s good,” I laugh, giving him a smile. “Breathing is important. We’d turn blue if we didn’t breathe.”
“I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to be alone. What if nobody likes me. I don’t want to be sick.”
“I know and I know it’s hard, but we take one day at a time, right?”
Dealing with bipolar disorder in kids isn’t easy. They have good days and bad ones. Keeping a schedule is important. Recognizing triggers goes a long way. Keeping a mood journal can help you focus on what helps and what doesn’t in certain situations.
“Hey, mom there’s one good thing about me having bipolar disorder. You have it too, so we are the same!”
Trace has good days and bad. We see bad days coming, but we’re prepared to help him. I’m prepared because as a mother who grew up living the life he is, feeling the way he does, I think it will go a long way to helping him understand that he’s not alone.
Thanks for reading!