Erase the Stigma
Raising a child with mental illness: What I wish I’d known
My daughter was six when she was diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder. I was shocked, but also relieved. And so was she.
Her history of erratic, sometimes frightening behavior started in preschool. By kindergarten, she'd earned some less-than-flattering labels. The weird girl. The bad girl. The crazy girl.
Bipolar at 5?
When my daughter Sadie (who I wrote about in Bipolar at 5? and who is featured in the video Sadie’s story: The tale of a bipolar child) first started showing signs of abnormal behavior, I had no idea the kind of journey I was embarking on.
Trying to make sense of the opinions of teachers, a parade of mental health professionals, and information gleaned from books and late-night internet searches was often overwhelming. There were so many things I wish someone — anyone — had told me; things that, once I embraced them, made my life easier and my daughter’s path to feeling better that much closer. Each family is unique, so what works for one parent or child may not work for another. Still, there are some general, often overlooked, tips that can aid families struggling to help a child with emotional issues. Here are a few of the essentials I wish I’d known — along with resources for support and information — to help you on this journey.
When her daughter was diagnosed at age 5, she fought the label. Then she realized that her once happy, effervescent daughter was turning into a tormented stranger.
I wasn’t at my 5-year-old’s school the day she started to rip off her clothes and twirl in the rain in front of the music room. But when her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Stapp, called to tell me about Sadie’s latest episode of troubling behavior, I wasn’t surprised. I’d witnessed plenty of similar incidents.