“Leave me alone!!!! I want to die! Please, please help me, just push this knife hard- if you love me you will help me. I hate this world I don’t want to be here why did God make me this way I hate God!!!!!! Help me, please help me to just die. I am so ugly and fat and no-one can love me, I hate myself, everyone hates me, I have no friends PLEASE do it!!!!”
“Get out of my room, this is my room! Say sorry to me, sorry sorry- no not like that say it properly or it’s not a sorry at all. Give me a tissue, get out of my room, give me that tissue NOW, I said NOOW!!!”
Two moms, ordinary people, and this is our life. I am a mother of three adult children who have all reached a certain amount of success in their lives. I am also the step mom of a beautiful, funny, sad, angry little girl of thirteen.
Lisa is the mom of a little girl of eleven, and we share the same story.
Our little girls are not perfect.
Until we met one another, Lisa and I, we believed ourselves to be the most misunderstood and lonely mothers in the world. You see, no-one quite understands what it is like to live with a child who suffers from bipolar disorder. All the screaming, shouting, punching, fits of hysterical giggles and grabbing steering wheels on the road, is reserved only for mommy. So try as we might, our family and friends think we are nuts. The professionals at first think we are nuts. How could these two lovely girls be anything less than perfect, albeit spoilt brats who have no manners. Girls who throw tantrums over the smallest slight or what they perceive to be a slight. This is all the outside world sees, and we, the mothers, are considered to be nuts. So we explain and we explain- and we rapidly get nowhere.
“Your child might be bipolar” These words, said quietly and without emotion, are almost a relief when we first heard them. They told us we are not these crazy mums looking for excuses as to why we have children who cannot learn to have good manners and all the etiquettes required to be accepted by society. What we are experiencing is not in any way our fault, because by some quirk of fate, our little girls have inherited a gene along the familial pathway that sometimes makes their lives unbearable.
Suddenly, the reality of the diagnosis sinks in, and in horror we have to realise there is no cure. We can manage it as best their changing ages allow, trying different medications until we get the right mix – until they change again, and we start from scratch.
With difficulty, we have to manage ourselves too. We face the pattern of grief in all its phases, anger, sadness, guilt and denial, until we finally reach acceptance.
The purpose of starting this website in South Africa, is to enable us to reach out to all the parents and families out there who have to live with this disorder. We found that no matter how hard we looked, we could only find advice, support groups and information internationally. So we pretty much thought we would like to start something for our very own country. Where things are familiar, and names of medications are familiar. We are by no means professionals, but we have done a lot of research in our efforts to discover what living with bipolar children means. We would like to hear from other parents and families and perhaps, as a group, we can help each other and support each other through rough times. We can offer and provide advice to one another, and tell our stories.
One of our principal concerns is how many times we have seen misdiagnosis and the ramifications of same. ADHD is a problem, but it can be dealt with relatively easily. However, the biggest concern for us, is that Bipolar mood disorder in children is all too often diagnosed as ADHD. Whilst it is so very difficult to accept that something is psychologically wrong with your child, acceptance is better than the alternative. We hope you will find our website to be informative and helpful. We also welcome suggestions and interaction, and who knows, we may get to have some support groups going, because having a child with bipolar disorder is indeed a cold and lonely place. Together, we can all change that.