You never think as a parent you will hear the words “bipolar disorder” pertaining to your six-year-old child. But that’s what happened when our son Trace was diagnosed by Sunny Hill just last month with a mental illness, and my heart broke.
I still can’t believe it. I look at my child and all I see is his warm smile and big heart in front of me. Then my fears set in. I do not want him to have to deal with a mental illness.
I don’t want my son to have to grow up the way I did. Always thinking that something is wrong. I don’t want his diagnosis to define him, or the way he deals with society.
That’s when it hit me. How am I going to deal with my child’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder?
A friend of mine who has dealt with her fair share of disabilities and raising children talked to me about my feelings and how to cope with my child being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She had this to say…
She was right. Society doesn’t see the challenges adults have in dealing with mental illness, so I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be for a child having bipolar disorder.
Each day is a new challenge. Kids growing up often feel bad about themselves and struggle with self-esteem issues. So tacking on dealing with bipolar disorder along with the changes that come with puberty and discovering who they are, makes it hard for parents to know where to begin.
Things that parents may hear and see when dealing with a child that has bipolar disorder.
- Lack of self-esteem
- Thoughts of suicide
- Hearing voices
- Angry or emotional outbursts
- Behavioral issues when thing don’t turn out right
- Hating everything
- Violent outburst
- Anxiety or severe depression
As a parent, it’s our job to make sure our children are happy and healthy. Dealing with something like bipolar disorder can make things hard for a child and parent to have an understanding.
We are working on helping Trace learn to cope with having bipolar disorder, especially since he’s so young right now. One thing I tell myself is that it is nobody’s fault my child has a mental illness. The brain is a complex thing. We don’t fully understand what makes it tick but we can learn.
Ways you as a parent can help you and your child deal with bipolar disorder.
Join a group or forum – A support group can help you cope and deal with your child’s mental illness. Having this type of emotional support, knowing you aren’t alone, dealing with your fears and worries can help you help your child.
Understanding the disorder – Take some time to understand what your child is going through. The quickest way to do this is to understand the positive and negative effects bipolar disorder can have on your child.
Keep a mood journal – It is important for parents of children dealing with a mental illness to keep a mood journal. Tracking your child’s moods, when they change or shift, what went on before the mood began, along with what they were eating, watching or doing can help in discovering the triggers that cause the behavior to happen.
Get in touch with your local youth and mental health – Check your local community services and get in touch with child and mental health. They have great programs for both parents and children, teaching and developing skills to help families deal with loving someone struggling with mental issues.
As a mother my wish is to do things to make my son’s life and the issues he is facing easier. By understanding his illness, the triggers that cause his moods to change, and by trying to gain the tools to teach him how to deal with what he is going through can help make his life easier.