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Difficult Times: My Son's Bipolar Diagnosis

Posted by Emmie

I have always held onto the belief that things happen for a reason. Many years ago, I went through a horrible time in my life that lasted six months. I had filed for divorce, was told by my landlord that I had 60 days to find a new home because he was selling all of his properties, and was told my office was closing in 3 months. My son, who was 11 at the time, had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I was constantly being called to pick him up from school because he was acting out. So began a frantic few months… looking for an apartment I could afford while getting unemployment, dealing with an unstable child and looking for a job, all while going through a divorce. During this time my son was hospitalized. He was there for a week, and came home the day before we moved. I have wonderful friends who supported me in so many ways- helped me pack and clean the old house, and they also took care of both of my boys.

Looking back, I try to make sense of that awful time. While I was unemployed for a year, I was able to advocate for my son and get him into a new school for the following school year. I don’t know how I got through it, but I did. I tell myself it all happened for a reason. Being at home enabled me to be there for my boys and devote more time to dealing with the school system.

People tell me they would never be able to do what I do. Really?  All I do is get up each day and do what needs to be done. Put one foot in front of the other. I am told we are never given more than we can handle. I often wonder why I am given so much and others are not. I don’t dwell on it, but it has crossed my mind.

Fast forward 10 years. My eldest son graduated from school, I got married and we bought a house.  My mother has passed away, as has my father-in-law and two grandmothers. My stepson moved in and brought a lot of emotional baggage with him. I was laid off yet again and my car was rear ended and totaled. My basement flooded 3 separate times. My younger son was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, and then recently, bipolar disorder. Again, I just keep going. What else can I do?

So that’s me. But what about my son? He is angry — he wants to know why he had to get diabetes, a chronic disease. He already has asthma and emotional issues: ADHD, anxiety & depression. When he became manic and was diagnosed as bipolar just 2 weeks ago, he wondered aloud, “What am I going to get next?” I explained that the anxiety, depression and ADHD has really been bipolar all along, but to him it is a new thing.

I don’t know what to tell him. That things happen for a reason? What reason can there be for him to be “given” diabetes or bipolar disorder? I’ve always rationalized to myself that there is a reason for everything, but now even I am wondering why my life has been full of these catastrophic events, over and over again. My husband and I joke around that we had to have been terrible people in a past life. We could believe that, or we could believe we were chosen for some purpose. Neither one makes any sense. I just take one day at a time. I think if I contemplate this for too long I would never want to get out of bed in the morning.

Now my son is at this point in his life where he’s naturally questioning why these things have happened. Obviously he is in therapy, but he has to deal with being dealt this bum hand of cards in his own way.

How have you talked to your kids about their diagnosis, if they have one?


About Emmie

I am a mom of two boys, ages 16 and 22, both with ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. I have remarried and my husband has 2 boys, ages 13 and 16. The 13 year old lives with us, and has some behavioral problems and attachment issues. There is always something happening at our house!

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