My son spent his elementary school years struggling with academics, social and behavior issues. I worked with his teachers, counselors, and psychologists at school to get through these struggles. When I asked the school about him being ADHD, I was referred to his doctor. When I asked his doctor about him being ADHD, he in turn, referred me to the school. My son is a great kid who would give anything for anyone, but deep in my heart, I knew he was hurting from something.
Life spun out of control during middle school with my son ending up in a psychiatric hospital. We learned that a combination of medications prescribed to help him with ADHD put him on a high-speed roller coaster ride. We worked with psychologists and psychiatrists to understand what was going on. After months of appointments (some good, some bad), my son was finally diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. As hard as it was to accept, it was through patience, a trusted psychiatrist, and a great combination of medications that put his life back on track.
All during this, not once was I ever referred to a good book, an Internet website or a support group for help. What I learned I did on my own through research, reading, and maternal instincts. It was through sheer luck that I stumbled upon a list of support groups in the Sacramento area. This is where I found Bipolar Insights, a Bipolar Support Group, in El Dorado County.
I had never been to a support group so I wasn’t sure what to expect. To be honest, I never knew anyone who had bipolar disorder. I spoke with Marcia Rose, the founder and facilitator of Bipolar Insights, prior to attending my first meeting. She encouraged me to attend, she welcomed me, she made me feel very comfortable with the group.
The things I learned from this group are more than you can imagine. The people that attend the group, those diagnosed with bipolar disorder and family and friends, are “real life.” I learned that my instincts are not far off track. I learned to understand my son and how he lives each day, dealing with emotions that rise and fall moment to moment. I learned there are people and families just like us, who struggle with the unknown, but have learned to manage their lives and their responsibilities.
The most valuable thing I learned was – a quote from Marcia – “The mere fact that an individual has bipolar disorder does not constitute an excuse for their behavior. I do not condemn or judge the circumstances that lead to an individual’s behavior, but I do hold them to a responsibility.” My son will grow up being a better person in life because he will understand what it takes to manage his life and be responsible for it.
Since becoming involved with Bipolar Insights, my son has learned that he is not alone with this disorder. He has grown to understand his moods and anxieties; challenges that he will live with for the rest of his life. In 2008, my son graduated high school with an academic award in digital and graphic arts. I couldn’t cry at his graduation because I was so proud … so proud that he is MY SON.
Bipolar Insights 2009
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