This newsletter has been created entirely by parents for parents, and is in not intended to take the place of advice from a medical or other professional.
Welcome to the Winter edition of Persephone! Since the Fall edition, much has happened in our children's lives. The kids went back to school - some gleefully, some reluctantly - and our families entered back into the school routine. Many of our school aged children were evaluated by Study Teams comprised of educators, school psychologists and other experts. Some of those children are now receiving Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), special education, or other school related services. As awareness of Early Onset Bipolar Disorder increases, so too does the likelihood that our children will receive accommodations designed to promote success in school.
Unfortunately, the darkening of the year also brought dark times to some of our older children and adults. Tough decisions were faced parents, and some of our children have been hospitalized or have entered into Residential Treatment Facilities (RTCs). These are painful decisions, and parents struggled with feelings of self-doubt and loss. Our parents of adult bipolar children know especially well how difficult it is to let go when one's child is suffering.
Like Bipolar Disorder itself, the life of the bipolar parent is filled with bright days and dark, good times and bad. As the new year dawns, the days ahead are bound to be filled with just as many uncertainties. Still, there is Hope for each and every one of us as bipolar parenting support networks grow, as media attention and public awareness grows, and as we ourselves grow and educate ourselves about our shared differences and challenges. May Hope be with you and yours in the coming year and always.
The Bipolar Child: The
Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood's Most Misunderstood Disorder
Reviewed by Krista Long-Shroyer
Dr. Demitri Papolos and Janice Papolos (authors of Overcoming Depression) have given the equivalent of What to Expect When You Are Expecting for parents of children with a mood disorder. Written in language a frantically searching parent can understand, this concise and comprehensive guide captures both the emotional and clinical facets of this disorder. The organization of the work makes it well suited to thumb through and find information pertinent to a current situation. Divided into three distinct parts, it is a vital addition to a caregiver or professionalís library. I will be keeping it as a reference, although it was also fairly easy to read cover to cover.
Beginning with stories of parents from the trenches, which give a perspective on the disorder, the first focus is on diagnosis and treatment. Following the stories are detailed descriptions of possible symptoms of Early Onset Bipolar Disorder. Wide arrays of treatments are also covered, including alternative therapies and possible benefits and drawbacks of treatment courses. In addition to an excerpt from Dr. Charles Popper's ADHD Vs Bipolar paper, I found one of the most useful references to be the comprehensive medication section. This section describes all medications that may be used to treat and the possible side effects, as well as a chart on drug interactions.
The second section focuses on the medical aspects of Bipolar. It explores different theories of the causes of the disorder and the genetics of it. This was actually the hardest section to read. It was quite technical, but well worth the time I put into it.
The third section is one of the best. It is about day to day life and coping. It has a model IEP. It talks about school, hospitalization, and the social aspects of Bipolar Disorder. I cried while reading the first chapter, "The Impact on the Family." I was moved by the similarity to my own life, and it explored areas I prefer to forget normally. It has an excellent chapter on adolescence, hospitalization and insurance as well.
This well-written book truly delivers on the subtitle: The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood's Most Misunderstood Disorder. I felt like my life was bared on those pages, for the world to see, understand, and eventually accept. I give it 5 stars and will be buying copies for anyone that works closely with my child.
As the first in a series of exceptional parent profiles, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you about my dear friend and webmistress, Krista Long-Shroyer:
I first met Krista on another parenting mailing list. The discussion was centering on ADHD behaviors, and I sent in Charles Popper's BP V. ADHD article. As it is currently being said that nearly 25% of children diagnosed with ADHD are or will become bipolar, it is more important than ever to ensure that children receive a proper diagnosis. The mortality rate for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder still hovers around 20%, and the suicide of a child will always remain a parent's worst tragedy. It must be prevented at all costs.
Krista contacted me privately about these issues. Her husband has bipolar disorder and she was very concerned about her son, then 4 years old. We corresponded via email and I sent her what resources I had on hand. I encouraged Krista to join us on the Bipolar Parents mailing list, but Krista was reluctant to do so since our group is restricted to those who are either bipolar themselves or are raising a bipolar child. She felt she did not qualify for membership since her son did not have a bipolar diagnosis. I told her she was welcome anyway and, after a time, she accepted my invitation to join us.
As our group grew, it was decided we ought to have a website. I got to work and soon discovered the truth about website building: it is easy to build a bad website, but extremely difficult to construct a good one. I sent out a desperate cry for help to the Bipolar Parents. Krista responded with intelligent sounding mumbo-jumbo regarding HTML coding. My virtual wide eyed blink must have tipped her off to the fact that I had no idea what I was doing. Krista kindly stepped in, and we now have a site of exceptional quality. At the time, I was impressed with the unselfish effort Krista was dedicating to the Bipolar Parents group and to bipolar parenting issues in general. If I knew then how much more she was about to do, I would have been astounded.
Since becoming our webmistress, Krista has gone on to become one of our most visible activists. After the launch of our website, Bipolar Parents immediately began to experience growing pains. Krista was there to step in as Co-Moderator. The first thing she did was to make vast improvements to the technological side of our mailing list. Next came the addition of an all accessible chat room, eliminating the sporadic here-and-there nature of our scheduled chats. While I was gone on my much needed vacation, Krista held the group together with both kindness and professionalism. But that's only the tip of the iceberg.
Krista went the extra mile and took her activism from the confines of the internet and into the real world. Allowing a television camera to dominate her 600 square foot apartment, Krista willingly gave up her privacy in order to show the world the day to day life of a bipolar family. She then flew to New York to be interviewed by ABC's 20/20 at the Papolos' home for a segment on bipolar children. Krista has done more in the last six months to raise awareness about bipolar issues than most of us will do in a lifetime.
Though we parents don't necessarily enjoy thinking about it, the bones of the bipolar parenting issue is this: 1:5 people with Bipolar Disorder will take their own lives. Krista Long-Shroyer has given hundreds of hours of her time, has given up the privacy of her own home, and has even appeared on national television to raise awareness about Bipolar Disorder. Krista is helping to save the lives of our children and our children's children. A mere "thank you" does not seem an adequate payment for such efforts, but nevertheless...
I thank you, Krista, from the bottom of my heart. You are an inspiration to us all.
Do you know of an exceptional Bipolar Parent that should be profiled here? Contact us!
Every evening, I have a ritual. After the house is quiet and everything is settled, I go tuck my oldest son in. After I re-arrange the sprawled limbs and move his head up onto the pillow, I think about our day. I smooth the sheets and just stand there, lovingly gazing at an image of innocence. As I do this I start taking a mental inventory. I relax, open up my mind and relive the events that brought me up to that point. I forgive him for his misbehavior, praise him for his achievements and bring myself to a center to face the next day.
This is not easy. My son is what most would term a spirited child. At three and a half years old, he is quite the terror. In fact, I am writing this after cleaning up a quart of cooking oil he spilled on the kitchen floor while I was feeding his little brother. He is very headstrong, and is not the type to pay any attention to admonishments, threats or rules. He is also extremely intelligent and able to circumvent any child safety devices I have used.
Asleep he looks like a blond, blue-eyed cherub. He has those chubby cheeks and a lower lip that sticks out just a bit. Awake, his face takes on another countenance. The chin is set, and he has this look that says "Just try and stop me!" My biggest concern in life is keeping him from doing bodily harm to him or us. He is not the type of child to believe you if you tell him that a hot stove will burn you.
In fact, he has touched the burner to my stove, not once, but three times. We have a standard "Stay out of the kitchen while mommy is cooking rule." I won't tell you how many dinners I have burned while trying to make sure he stays out of trouble. I will tell you that at this moment he has a cut and huge bruise on his cheek from jumping off the couch and landing against my rocking chair. I live in fear of being accused of child abuse. I am thankful that he behaves the same way at daycare, so they know where all the bruises come from.
After all this, would I give him up? No, I won't, not in a million years. He is my own special someone. I am blessed to have this opportunity to mold this child into an adult, and watch the traits that get him in trouble now be appreciated later. So here I stand, emptying my mind, letting the love flow in and the frustration flow out. I take a deep breath and go to bed. I am ready to face tomorrow. He will surprise me, frustrate me, and teach me more than I ever imagined.
© 1997 Krista Long-Shroyer
New Site for Significant Others
A Brighter Day was created by two women who are married to men who suffer from bipolar disorder. After exploring different SO groups out there, they decided to create a group that focuses on the positives in their relationships.
Colleen, of Bipolar World fame, is back at the helm as editor of Suite 101's Bipolar page. Better than ever, this site is a must see. Check it out!
New Mental Health Site
Healthyplace.com is a community of people providing mental health information, sharing their insights, trials and tribulations, and offering support, in addition to providing mental health information from experts, as well as everyday people who are dealing with psychological issues. Opening 2/7/2000.
Have you found a great new bipolar web site? A fantastic new bipolar document? Share it with us! Send your Net News to: Persephoneemail@example.com
Persephone: The Bipolar Parents Newsletter, is FREE and may be freely distributed, so long as it is done so in its entirety.
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Letters, opinions, first person stories, informational articles, bipolar poetry, and Net News are all welcome! There is no monetary compensation for accepted articles; however, we will be happy to promote guest authors in all editions of Persephone. Articles, opinions, and stories should be less than 500 words (about a page), but longer submissions will be considered. Email submissions are preferred and can be sent to Persephonefirstname.lastname@example.org. No attached files, please. Typed manuscripts can be mailed to:Bipolar Parents
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