Protecting your child is always a mother’s first instinct. Mothers will do anything to keep their child from abusive situations and shelter them from evils of the world. However, what if the demons your child faces live in their “brain” and the abuse is coming from their own hands? What does a mother do then? This is what I face every day with my 8 year old and have been facing since around the time he turned four. Violent outbursts, emotional roller coasters, and even attempted self harm.
My son was always such a happy baby/toddler, always the teachers favorite, and very out going and loving. However a little after his 4th birthday, a switch was clicked and he slowly became short tempered, defiant, and irrational. Of course this is most behavior issues faced with young children, so I treated it as such, and tried to redirect his behavior with rewards and loss of privileges. It only got worse. By the time he started kindergarten, he was out of control and I was out of ideas. Then one day he finally began talking about his “brain” and how no matter how hard he tried he couldnt make it listen. It made him angry when he didnt want to be, sad when he had nothing to be sad about, and wouldn’t let him calm down and listen to his teachers. We sought help. Finally, right before his 7th birthday we found a psychologist that was able to earn his trust and break thru when the previous three had not. Six mos later his diagnosis was heartbreaking and surprising to say the least. Bipolar 1.
Floods of emotions rolled thru me, but it was apparent medications were now necessary and I began searching for a psychatrist. Two more months went by and I couldnt find one that accepted pediatric patients with medicaid and most did not accept pedis period. Then the day came he decided he wanted to stop feeling and the only way would be to die. Fortunately I was able to prevent this attempt and was given the number to Clarity. He was admitted and has made huge strides over the past two years. He has been in and out of their hospital during the past couple of years and sees his psychatrist out patient also. Our biggest fight currently has been the lack of resources and help he receives at our current school district. Until I had a child with mental illness I never knew the struggles faced with getting help needed to overcome disorders like his.
As a mother you want to protect, you want to shelter. But as a mother of a child suffering with mental illness, you can only stand by them, fight for them, and love them. You can’t bandage and kiss it away. Many times I can’t even hold and comfort him as he cannot be touched during many episodes. All I can do is continue to fight for his rights, ensure he is recieving the best treatments available, and reassure him that its not his fault and I love him and support him fully.
As a mother with a child who has been affected by mental illness at such a young age in a society that still fights about medicating children I have one job. To stand by my child and to continue to kick the wall that stands between him and his recovery until every brick crumbles. That wall has not fallen yet, but some of the brick has started to break. I will not stop till that wall is dust, but I and everyone else who suffers from mental health can’t do it alone. Our communities, government, and the country as a whole have to come together and ensire the wall is never rebuilt.