because it matters

Ok, I don’t want to do the abc thing. It’s not what I want to write about. So I won’t. I want to write about something I care about, something that moves me.

Can I just say that I HATE Bipolar disorder ? ‘Cuz I really do. It robs children and adults alike of the joy that life has to offer, instead offering endless days and nights of cycling torture. There is no cure, and medicine’s only “take the edge off” of the symptoms, leaving a foggy mind that is expected to function as quickly as everyone else does.

What does mental illness look like?

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5-7% of all children and adolescents, but that number is rising as doctors are learning to recognize the symptoms. Children and adolescents may present differently than adults, but research is showing that as these children mature, their diagnosis remains the same. When the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV was published, this disorder had not yet been recognized in the pediatric population.

Bipolar disorder is often accompanied by symptoms of other psychiatric disorders (those other disorders are said to be “comorbid” with the bipolar disorder). In some children, proper treatment for bipolar disorder clears up the symptoms thought to indicate another diagnosis. In other children, bipolar disorder may explain only part of a more complicated case that includes neurological, developmental, and other components. An accurate diagnosis of a child or teen presenting with severely troubled behavior is perhaps the most problematic issue facing families.

Diagnoses that mimic, mask, or co-occur with pediatric bipolar disorder include:  

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)* 
  • Depression** 
  • Oppositional-defiant disorder (ODD) 
  • Conduct disorder (CD) 
  • Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) 
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) 
  • Panic disorder 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • Tourette’s syndrome (TS) 
  • Seizure disorders 
  • Reactive attachment disorder (RAD)

* It is estimated that 85% of children with bipolar disorder also have ADHD and up to 22% of children with ADHD have bipolar disorder.3  

**Depression in children and teens is often chronic and cyclical. A significant proportion of the millions of children and adolescents with depression may actually be experiencing the early onset of bipolar disorder, but have not yet experienced the manic phase of the illness.

Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as:

  • ADHD or ADHD with depression
  • Depression
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance abuse

Just, as juvenile diabetes is generally a more severe disorder than adult-onset diabetes, pediatric bipolar disorder appears to be more perilous than adult-onset bipolar disorder. The rationale for early intervention is compelling.

There is also some evidence that children with bpd may have smaller amygdala’s than other children. Because the amygdala is an organ in the brain that controls emotion, this is a significant finding.

So, why did I post all this? Because it affects 3 of my 4 children. Because they have a label. Because their label, instead of inducing compassion and empathy in others like a label of juvenile diabetes does, instead induces statements like “weird” “psycho” and other less attractive terms. Because the next time someone is behaving a little out of the ordinary, instead of talking about them, snubbing them, and being just downright rude, maybe you will take a moment to brighten a day that may very well have been planned to end in a suicide attempt. Maybe you will realize that there is a human being in there that also needs care and affection and understanding. Maybe you will talk to your teens about mental illness, and attempt to destimatize it, understanding that it is a biological disorder just like diabetes, cancer, or any other more “sexy” diagnosis. And just maybe, you can save a life. Because that is what this Man taught, all of His earthly days, and continues to teach now.


3 thoughts on “because it matters

  1. I liked how you expressed your feelings, Viki. You have unusually thoughtful kids and I’m impressed with you and your family. Thanks for sharing.

  2. My heart is breaking. There are few hells more agonizing than a body and brain that betrays you on a whim and at every turn. No child should suffer this, and it is inexcusable for small minded and pious individuals to pretend that it is anything but a life long sentence of agony and private, unending terror. My only hope for this life is that one day our loved ones who suffer this terrible affliction will no longer be relegated to the shadows and vicious gossip mills, but stand proud in the knowledge that they daily wage war with foes that will not be beaten in mortality, a war that few of their peers would have the fiber and valor to wage for a single day, much less a lifetime. One day, our children who suffer the modern leper’s curse will stand tall and straight, whole and hale before their Lord and all humanity. Who then will feel the sting of shame and humiliation? It will not be these victimized prisoners who are tortured every moment by their own malfunctioning bodies. One day, we will never fear the judgement in the Eyes of Him Who Loved Us. Those who judged us so harshly and condemned us for a curse we did not bring on ourselves will shrink and wish they could be covered from the judgement that will surely rain upon their heads. Truly the Lord said that it is better that a millstone be hung around their neck and they be cast into the sea than that they offend His little ones.

    Hug him for me, and tell him I’m crying with and for him too.Tell him to not let this curse and agony break him. He has so much to give, so much to teach. I love you all. One day, this too shall pass, never to return again. And he will be the purer, wiser, and more compassionate for his personal captivity in hell. The God of Israel may not remove the affliction, but He will temper the devastation and soften the blows if we will let Him. I wish I could take his pain as my own. My baby brother has not ever done anything that would warrant a millisecond of this. One day, little bro, you will stand free and easy, and never have to fear the shadows and cruelty of your mind and body again. Keep reaching for that day. It WILL COME!

  3. Viki this information is so informative and helpful. I’m so glad you posted it. I have loved and appreciated you and all four of your kids.

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