As a fifth grader I learned my mother was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. It was a very hard year for me because she was manic and none of us knew what was going on. I am not really going to go into what happened during that time but explain my point of view on mental illness.      

I remember feeling so sorry for myself because of all the things I heard about this disease. Truly, for an 11 year old to be visiting a mental hospital was surreal. I couldn’t wrap my mind around where I was. Yet, I was numb to it every visit. I was scared, some of these people were at their worst with their diseases. Men would be screaming. But the only thing a 5th grader thinks of when thinking of a mental hospital is through the way I learned things: media. Katy Perry’s song ‘hot and cold’ was popular that year. I remember hearing the line saying ‘bipolar’ in it giving a negative connotation. Then all the kids would talk about the disease because of that song. It became a new insult. Kids would say: “stop being so bipolar” to everyone at school. I thought it was something absolutely horrible because of how they talked. I wanted to say to them so bad: “watch what you say, my mother has that and you obviously know nothing about the disease”. Nobody went around saying “stop being so cancer”. It made it seem like my mom controlled everything when she was going through the manic part of this disease. I believed it was her fault. After my mom was healed through electroshock therapy she forgot a lot of my childhood and everything that happened in that time of 5th grade. I later found out when I was a little older why my mother had developed this disease. She had been raped at age 7 by a teenage delinquent. That’s when I realized many people with mental illness have something traumatic in their past to cause it. I am learning to live with my mothers depression right now and help her through it. My mother is a truly amazing woman. I’ve only gotten stronger through this experience. I have also learned to watch what I say.

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