“In my medical opinion, he is a danger to himself and others and the choice is no longer yours, I am admitting him for inpatient treatment.”
Those were the words spoken to us by the covering psychiatrist when my twelve year old son was admitted the first time for inpatient psychiatric treatment of Bipolar Disorder. I knew in my heart that I could no longer keep him safe. Eddie was in a wildly manic state and the full blown psychosis had ensnared and snatched him away to some alien, dangerous place within himself. Once the “locomotive” began its destructive decent, it crashed mercilessly into my son, with us, the family, flung as shrapnel into the wreckage. Eddie’s physical features remained the same, yet the glassy, electrifying intensity in his eyes rendered him a stranger even to me. The question remained, would he return?
This being our first experience with a psychiatric hospital, we had some real concerns for his safety. Our fears were quelled by the wonderful mental health professionals we were working with, including Eddie’s private psychiatrist who stayed in contact with us, via cell phone, during labor with her second child. It is that type of selfless dedication, compassion and kindness for which we are forever grateful.
And just when I thought we had things under control, my younger son, Joseph, began to manifest symptoms which seemed more fear based, and somehow, more controllable. However, one night as he was getting undressed for bed, I was horrified to find ligature bruising encircling his neck, and, I discovered a noose erected from a wire hanger dangling menacingly in his closet. Through body racking tears he screamed that he was too “sad” and too “scared” to live anymore. He was twelve years old when the suicidal ideation spiraled out of control and once again we found ourselves at the child psychiatric hospital, admitting my second “baby”. At first I was consumed with my own grief, however, when I saw the baby sized gurney with its miniature leather restraints, and a diapered three year old patient toddling down the unit hallways, I felt fortunate.
Ours is an inspirational story which begs to be told for it is ultimately a story of triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds. I believe that other families raising children with Bipolar Disorder will benefit from this altruistic revealing of our very intimate saga. Through it all, I have found that there is a nation full of dedicated, kind and caring individuals willing to help those in need. You must believe these “guardian angels” exist and take every initiative to find them.
Both of my sons are currently in college, a monumental achievement many thought impossible. By maintaining focus on the core strengths and individuality of each child, outside the spectrum of the illness, it has helped them achieve their often elusive potential. They are the “un-medaled” champions of numerous astounding victories as they continue to navigate the challenging vistas of adult life.
This, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.