It’s not easy being a mom of a 6-year-old diagnosed with early-onset Bipolar Disorder. In fact, when most people find out, they are literally shocked. They are even more shocked when they discover my son also has mild cerebral palsy, sensory disorder and anxiety disorder. I talk a lot about mental illness on my blog. So when I was asked to be a guest on CBC Radio One with Michelle Eliot for the “Parent Project” to speak about being a special needs mom. It was an opportunity I couldn’t ignore.
You see when people meet my son Trace, what they see is a happy and healthy little boy who likes to run and play and have fun with his friends. Trace doesn’t wear his “special abilities” on the outside but he does wear them.
What’s even more frustrating is not how other people see my son, but how they don’t see him. After getting Trace diagnosed, something we waited a long time for, we learned that he doesn’t quite fall into the criteria for needing help from any Government programs. We were told to wait for the referral for Child and Mental Health and it was noted: Trace should be watched closely as he develops.
That’s like saying… “Sorry but until he actually feels bad enough to commit suicide and hurt himself, there is nothing we can do, nor do we really care enough to do anything anyhow!”
Dealing with mental health isn’t an easy thing. There is always a stigma attached to the disorder. It’s why so many people don’t come forward when help is needed. I speak from personal experience.
I was 25 when I got diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. Before that, I was just labeled as a crazy young woman who didn’t have control over her emotions. I spent a lifetime trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and whether or not I wanted to even be here.
Trace is only six and already he’s shared with a classmate that he sometimes thinks of killing himself. You have no idea how disturbing that is for me as a mother. It’s downright painful to know he feels this way inside, especially when I can relate. Yet, he’s not on some scale of requirements that show he needs help and guidance.
Parent Project is a fantastic show as it brings awareness to others on topics such as mental illness. I’m very open about my son’s challenges and hope that in talking about them it can help other parents who might be in the same boat.