almost a year to date. last fall. my youngest, at the tender age of 6, was diagnosed with a mood disorder and general psychosis. and in the last month we have found the answer. or at least part of the answer. she is bipolar. yes. my now seven year old is bipolar. and there is a good chance that there is some other type of psychosis laying in wait as well.
'Ms. Loco, your daughter is bipolar'
i cried when the doctor said those words. not because i was sad. because i was relieved. because she followed with the best thing a stranger had ever said to me. 'YOU are not a bad mother. YOU are not wrong. there is something wrong. your daughter is sick. YOU have done nothing wrong. YOU are doing the best you can. hang in there. we will fix this'. i had heard those words countless times from the BFF. and i knew she was telling the truth. but when you do not know what is wrong you always second guess yourself. but finding out. it was a weight. lifted. i was not shocked. it made so much sense after all we have been through. i had been doing my own research as well. i searched boards and walls. websites on bipolar children. read other parents stories. saw my child in so many others. read what worked and did not work. i read the CFR on what her school is required to do. and all of that was before the diagnosis. i knew. i knew something was wrong. and i already suspected bipolar. i started an ARD. today we filed for social security disability. i know other parents who go through the same thing. i read up on meds. and therapy. i did my homework. because i want to fight for her. even though there are days that all it seems i do is fight her. she is medicated and it is working. for now. there are still bad days. and there are still really bad days. the triggers are without end. one simple 'no' over the smallest thing can mean a ruined day. a buggy full of groceries left in the grocery store because the wrong cereal was put in the basket. a tantrum so bad that you can see the looks on strangers faces. deciding if they should call 911 or CPS on you. because they do not realize at that point you have barely been holding it together for the last 10 hours. because it has been hell. the screaming. kicking. spitting. falling down on the ground. breaking things. hucking things across the room. it gives waking up on the wrong side of the bed a whole new meaning. they do not realize that you have to raise your voice. you have to be stern. because yes, calm is better. but in the middle of a meltdown calm just does not work sometimes. they see a curly headed child who was two isles over entertaining everyone while singing Shirley Temple songs. 'On the good ship Lollypop...' all smiles and giggles. whose mom is now almost in a panic. who has her hands around fragile arms. gripping her child as if someone was trying to snatch her from her arms. with tears streaming down her face. like a wild animal. searching for the exit. and you can tell the strangers are worried. but not for her. because to them she looks like the monster. they do not realize she is trying to save her. the daughter. as well as her own sanity.
my daughter is a rapid cycler. she can go from breakdown to perfect child. Rosemary to Shirley Temple. two, three sometimes five or six times in a single day. read that again. one. single. day. there are days when it is good. all day. and days like today when she has been triggered for the last 48 hours. and just seems able to flip the switch at light speed. walking on egg shells. us. not her. because a day without Rosemary rearing her head is a great fucking day. a day without mom breaking down and crying in public is a great fucking day. the other days...well they are hell. and it will never stop. it will never go away. it is not just a cold. it is mental illness. and it is scary. even more so in a child.
i cannot hide anymore. you see i have kept this side of her away from so many. most of my family never really knew there was a problem. we would exit stage left at the very first glimpse of trouble in her eyes. me always looking like the ass that left the family get together early. no one wanted to hear me say there was something wrong with her. nope. it was just a kid being a kid. acting up. bad parenting. well you are wrong. THIS is not MY fault. my child is sick. and i know you do not get it. but i will not sugar coat it any longer. i have been strong. and i have fallen. and gotten back up. and fallen again. and i will continue to repeat those steps. but i will not avert my eyes any longer. i will not let the fear of strangers' gazes make me leave.
i will keep fighting. for her. and sometimes with her. but i am fighting.