Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pediatric Bipolar Disorder


"I struggle to open my eyes. Leave me alone. I want to sleep. My body is heavy, my head is swirling. How long has my alarm been ringing? Okay, I'm awake. I sit up in bed dazed. "Hurry, Hurry or you'll be late! Why are you so sleepy?" My nightmare woke me up. I couldn't sleep, I needed to stay awake. I didn't want to dream again. I stumble to my dresser. Where are the socks I like? Not this pair! They never feel right. The top is crooked and they go up too high. I hate the way they feel! No choice. On to breakfast. Who ate my waffles? There is only one left. You know I need two. One is uneven. I NEED two. There aren't two. I won't eat. I'll just brush my teeth. I can't go in the bathroom. It was in my nightmare. The bathroom isn't safe. I can't brush my teeth. It's time to leave. I can't leave. What if my house catches on fire? What if my parents die? I need to stay home. My stomach is churning. I feel sick. Can't I stay home?"

Sadly, this is the mind of an adolescent child suffering from bi-polar disorder. Left untreated this is how the rest of the day would play out:

The hall is noisy. Kids are pushing. Don't touch me! My sock is crooked. It bothers me. I'm so hungry. First hour I fall asleep on my desk. The kids laugh when the teacher wakes me up to go to the next class. Am I dreaming again? Is this real? I watch all the kids in class. It's like watching a play. Are they laughing at me again? What are they happy about. It's so hard to smile. Which hour am I in? What is my next class? When does it start? I don't remember. Why can't I remember? What if I go to the wrong class? I better check my schedule. "Don't fidget in class. Pay Attention! You can check your schedule later." I don't listen. I have to know what comes next. Okay...third hour is next. I won't go to the wrong class. Extra work because I didn't pay attention? Not again!

Third hour is test time. I can't concentrate when my sock bothers me. Is my mom okay? I need to call her. I know they won't let me call unless I'm sick. My stomach is rumbling. Can I go to the nurse? Okay, I'll finish my test tomorrow. I call from the nurse's office. Nobody answers. Mom didn't say she was going somewhere today. Did the house catch on fire? Is she okay? My stomach churns. The nurse gives me crackers to settle my stomach. That helps. Go back to class. Finally it's lunch time. What is that smell??!! I hate the way the lunch room smells. It's so loud in here. I have one friend. He's absent today. Where will I sit? I find a place in the corner of the room and eat. I hope nobody notices me.

P.E. is next. I love P.E. I run and jump, my body is light and fast now. I'm awake. I'm the BEST basketball player! I can make every shot. Why should I pass you the ball? Sit on the bench? But it wasn't my fault, he was in the way. He shouldn't take the ball from me. That makes me SO MAD! I'm HOT and my sock isn't right! I could redesign this gym. The bleachers don't belong here. Is my mom okay? I remember my dream. I don't want to remember my dream. I have to move or I will die. I run up and down the stairs.

Fifth hour is science. I feel better. Mr. Science is cool. He knows me. He knows I'm smart. I get to do experiments. It keeps my mind busy. He sends me to the office to run an errand. I'm important to him. Maybe the office lady will let me check on my mom. She asks me why I need to call. I can't tell her. It will sound stupid. I tell her I don't remember if I am supposed to ride the bus or be picked up. She believes me. Please answer! "Mom, are you picking me up today?""Of course, I am. I told you that this morning. Is everything okay?" "Yeah, bye!" Relief! She's okay. Back to science. Only one more class left. I can make it now.

Last hour. I sit through math. The teacher is glaring at me. Am I supposed to be doing something? It's my homework. Where is it? I did it. I can't find it in my bag. "Do you want to fail?" She yells at me! I feel stupid. I know I did it. I just can't find it. My stomach churns again. I need to get out of here. The classroom is noisy. My head will explode if I don't leave. Please let me leave. Can I use the bathroom? I really have to go! I walk as slowly as I can to the bathroom. My head feels better. My stomach stops churning. I reach the bathroom. I remember my dream. I can't go in. I wait outside the bathroom as long as I can. I really need to go! I run in and go as fast as I can. My heart is racing, my head is pounding. I'm breathing hard. I did it! School is almost out. I'm going to make it! Hurray! I run out of the bathroom and into Ms. Strict and knock her over. Not Ms. Strict! I didn't mean to. I'm sorry. It doesn't matter. To the Dean's office. In trouble again. I almost made it this time. I'm really sorry.
I'll try again tomorrow. I really try. School is so hard. Won't somebody help me?

Thankfully there is help for these kids. With counseling, patience, lots of love and the right medication this child's day would go like this:

My stomach is churning. I feel sick. Can't I stay home?
The hall is noisy. Kids are pushing. Don't touch me! My sock is crooked. It bothers me. I'm so hungry. Before first hour I check in with the nurse like I always do. I tell her my day didn't start so good. She gives me pretzels to eat. I feel better. But what if I need to call my mom? She reminds me that I can go to Mr. Counselor anytime if I get panicked about my parents. Okay. I know I can check on them if I need to.

First hour I start to fall asleep on my desk. Ms. Helpful asks me if I can help her with an activity. She knows I m a good helper. The kids are jealous because they wish they could help too. Onto second hour. I watch all the kids in class. It's like watching a play. What are they happy about. It's so hard to smile. Which hour am I in? What is my next class? When does it start? I don't remember. Why can't I remember? What if I go to the wrong class?

Ms. Caring could tell I was getting uncomfortable because I turned over the red card on my desk to give her a secret message. She came over right away. I can tell you are a little distracted. We are going to work for 10 more minutes on this project and then you can use the last five minutes of class to organize yourself. You will be going to Ms. Writes class next. She winked at me and smiled. I like Ms. Caring. I work really hard for the next 10 minutes.

Third hour is test time. I can't concentrate when my sock bothers me. Is my mom okay? I need to call her. I know I can go to Mr. Counselor if I need to. My stomach starts churning. Ms. Write asks me if I want to take the test in the small quiet room with Ms. Aide. She writes the answers as I dictate them. She knows it's hard for me to think and write at the same time. I did really well. Finally it's lunch time. What is that smell??!! I hate the way the lunch room smells. It's so loud in here. My best friend is absent today. Where will I sit? Oh there's Joe. He s my study partner in social skills class. I like him. He wants me to sit with him. I eat my lunch and talk with Joe. He doesn't like the way it smells in here either!

P.E. is next. I love P.E. I run and jump, my body is light and fast now. I'm awake. I'm the BEST basketball player! I can make every shot. Why should I pass you the ball? Oh the Coach needs me. It s time for a water break? I don t want to leave the game but coach says just for a second to get some water. The water tastes so good and cold. I didn't even know I was thirsty. I take a second drink. I feel much cooler. Remember the best players know their teammates and make them work hard too. Yeah I shouldn't have to make all the shots. It s hard work running up and down the court all hour. Coach says I m a good player. Then just for fun I run up and down all the stairs in the gym. It s a pretty cool gym but they really should change where the bleachers go.

Fifth hour is science. It s my favorite class. Mr. Science is cool. He knows me. He knows I'm smart. I get to do experiments. It keeps my mind busy. He sends me to the office to run an errand. I'm important to him. I m still worried about my mom. I stop in Mr. Counselor's office. He wears funny shoes but he s nice. He lets me call my mom. I hope she's okay. I hope she answers Please answer! "Mom, remember you re picking me up today?" "I remember. Are you in Mr. Counselor s office? Is everything okay "Yeah, bye!" Relief! She's okay. Back to science. Only one more class left. I can t wait to be out of school.

Last hour. I sit through math. The teacher reminds me that my homework is due. Where is it? I did it. I can't find it in my bag. "Don t panic, I m sure it s in there somewhere! She helps me look through my bag. There it is!! How did it get in my reading folder? The classroom is getting noisy. It s giving me a headache. I feel like my head will explode if I don't leave. I turn over my red card. The teacher sees that the noise is really getting to me. She sends Joe and me together on a bathroom break. We walk slowly to the bathroom. My head feels better. We reach the bathroom. I remember my dream. I don t want to go in but I really have to go. Are you coming? asks Joe. Yeah in a minute. I wait outside the bathroom as long as I can. I really need to go! I run in and go as fast as I can. My heart is racing, my head is pounding. I'm breathing hard but trying not to let Joe see it. I don t want him to know I m scared. Look at that! says Joe. What is it? Suddenly I forget my dream. Somebody stuffed one of the toilets full of paper towels! What a mess! Joe and I hurry out of the bathroom. We almost knocked Ms. Strict right off her feet. Good thing I wasn't running. We tell Ms. Strict about the bathroom. Thank you boys! Will you please go get the janitor for me so we can get this mess cleaned up. I' m so glad you boys caught it when you did.

I check in with the nurse before I go home for the day. How was my day? It was pretty good but I' m glad school is out! I' ll see you tomorrow. Thanks for all the help!

When I read this, I was crushed. Knowing that my son was suffering like this every day. I am happy to say that he is finally on the right meds that help him have a day like the last scenario. Be an advocate for your child. Go to school and demand that they are given the help that they need and deserve. These kids are our future and they deserve the very best care.

*I wrote this entry in another blogspot a while back. Unfortunately, my son is having a rough time-we are working on his meds and continue therapy as well. My whole heart aches for him when he is suffering.....

9 comments:

Atiyanna said...

Oh my goodness, I am so glad that Steve E guided me to your blog. I sit here in tears...bawling actually...as I see so many similarities in my son, but no body seems to be able to assess him properly and I am at a total loss. Thank you! Thank you so very much for sharing this.
((hugs))
~A

Scott W said...

Oh that was painful to read. Good luck with the meds change.

J-Online said...

I'm sorry your son is going through this again. Reading this brought back so many memories of how I felt as a child. Most of my days were as you described in your post. Thinking of you and your son.

Syd said...

It sounds like a difficult disorder to deal with. Found you through other recovery bloggers. Glad to read your posts.

Fractalmom said...

OMG !!! [[[major f'ing hugs to you and son ]]]

Cat said...

Gosh I cannot imagine my brain going off in so many directions in such a short period of time - that has got to make living each day, no each hour very difficult!!!

Zanejabbers said...

Queeneenee, what a powerful post. Two of my friends, Daave and Steveroni have given you a heads up to be sure not to miss. I was here yesterday and I'm back today.
I hope your son gets better and back on track. You are a very good example of You Don't Drink No Matter What. Thanks. You Rock Ghurl.

Bill said...

School was cruel enough on its own. This gives good insight into how much harder it is when you add an extra difficulty.

Gledwood said...

is there any link between bipolar and ocd?

i had ocd as a child

of course i never got help, never got diagnosed blah blah

do you know it only struck me TODAY actually how I had a breakdown about 3 years ago... it was "diagnosed" in retrospect by a psychiatrist

things got so bad (and i never told this because no-one EVER asked, not the drug service who should have seen i was physically falling apart... no-one) i ended up living like a wild animal, sleeping in a nest on the floor. i was paranoid, hearing voices, depressed. i think it was a combination of depression and the drugs...

but just because i could string a sentence together and was "intelligent" it was assumed i was ok

this makes me incredibly angry when i think back and yeah i do know a little bit how your kid must be feeling