A day in the life of a bipolar child

by Jodi Shaw
9 comments

It has been two weeks since Trace was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He’s only six. If there is one thing I have learned it is that nothing gets easier. Life just goes on.

Through all the tears I weep (daily) battling my own bipolar disorder which is much more under control than my child’s. Things have been difficult.

But there is hope.

Each day is different with Trace. Sometimes it’s like walking on egg-shells, never knowing which child is going to show up around each bend.

While other days things are easy breezy where nothing goes wrong and he’s happy as can be.

Trace asking god to help him not have migraines

Take this past weekend for example.

Trace rages for different reasons. We never know what will set him off.  It could be something silly or something that seems like not a big deal to us, but is a big deal to him.

Then there are the looks or whispers we deal with daily from those who might happen to see his behavior.

But it’s our family life that has become a bit of a circus. It’s like we are walking on a tightrope without a net to catch us below and let me tell you, I’m deathly afraid of heights.

I lost count how many times Trace told me he hated me this past weekend. Each time for something unwarranted but if things don’t go his way, Trace reacts and part of that reaction is to take things out on me. 

It’s not easy as a mother to listen to your child screaming at you how they wish you were dead. I cried a lot this weekend, but not because of the nasty words Trace used against me.

I cried because this is my little boy and he’s hurting and I can’t seem to fix it. I don’t want him to hurt, and the fact he does is a tougher pill for me swallow than anything mean he could say.

At school, Dr. Jekyl shows the world what they want to see, but the moment he walks through the door — Mr. Hyde slithers and creeps…

Trace is very good at school. He is polite, helpful, caring, social, and respectful. Always listening to his teachers. Never gets into any trouble. No meltdowns. No freak outs.

And it drives me insane!

I ask myself why he spends all his time being good at school and then unleashes the monster at home. What am I doing wrong? Does he hate living with us? Does he not want me as his mother?  I just don’t get it. 

It’s not that it’s hard.  It’s that it’s easy for Trace to fall into relaxation and just be himself with us, which also means allowing himself his ups and downs and mood shifting to show through.

Trace slipped on some water and his pants got wet, just a little but enough to throw him into a rage wanting new ones.

Any time his clothes get wet he needs to change them. That’s part of having a sensory disorder.

I don’t argue. I let him pick out another pair, give him a hug and teach him to breathe, telling him water won’t hurt him.  

Mind you this is a kid who has no problem having a water fight with other kids, just so long as he can wear his socks (strange) I know but that’s him.

I want Trace to understand he has a mental illness and to accept it. Sometimes it is hard though because when I watch him freak out, get upset, throw a mental tantrum. It’s like looking through the mirror. I see myself and what I went through growing up, always feeling distant and alone.

The first steps to getting healthy are to realize and deal with the emotions that come with being bipolar.

I know it’s not going to be easy. Having mild cerebral palsy, sensory disorder and bipolar disorder — hell I’m amazed my sweet boy has any time to smile.

But that doesn’t mean things can’t get better. 

One day at a time. Each day is a new day. That’s our family motto. So far we are still here, still love each other, and still working together to be a family and deal with these issues we face each and every day.

Do you know anyone who has bipolar disorder? How do you cope?

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9 comments

Angel May 22, 2012 - 12:20 am

I fought for years to have my son labelled with his true disorder when he was younger. They fought me here and I dealt with years of drama and trauma because of their lack of desire to 'label' him. I am glad you were able to get a diagnosis early, better able to grow into dealing with it and managing it.

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Jodi Shaw May 22, 2012 - 3:37 am

Thanks Angel. It's hard dealing with it, but I know you are right. Having him diagnosed early is a good thing. He can learn to cope with it and deal with things much easier than I did b/c I was diagnosed at 22. It just sucks that's all 🙂 As a mom I ache for him.

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