I am not a mental health professional. I am not a professional writer who has done extensive research on my subjects. I am a mother of three who, with my partner, is doing my best to raise our brood. My daughter Olivia suffers with Bi-Polar disorder. It’s a real disease for all of you skeptics out there who think it’s nothing some firm Midwestern parenting couldn’t handle. In fact several times over the last year my little girl has been in such a manic state that it could not be controlled, even by this skeptic who believes that there’s nothing good Midwestern parenting can’t handle. Let me tell you a little bit about Olivia, she was born eleven years ago to a mother who suffers from this same disease but choose to self-medicate before, during and after childbirth. I understand the desire to self medicate when your options for psychiatric care are outrageously costly private care or overburdened state run facilities. So, my angel came to us under what some may consider less than desirable circumstances. When she was an infant I would look deep in her eyes and I would see a hundred years of living deep in those beautiful dark brown eyes. Olivia is a well mannered, intelligent girl (albeit sufficiently lacking in common sense) with a wonderful imagination, a few good friends and a good sense of humor. Her only draw back is the rage that rips through her entire body and has done so from the ripe old age of three years of age. This rage presents itself at home mostly and would caused this little girl to loose all control scratching herself bloody and hating herself and being alive. Once again I took on the parenting deficient role and tried my level headed best to get her to “control herself”. Fortunately, I have Doreen as a partner, who started dealing with the medical end of this right away. In my defense I did take her to a few alternative healers who seemed to be interested in dealing with her allergies, which were and continue to be extensive, but they weren’t able to hone in on my baby’s wiring. So fast forward several years to a fourth grader who’s disease starts presenting itself in school. The at home behavior now includes voices telling her what to do (often resulting on inflicting pain on her two siblings) and raging and school refusal that has resulted in home schooling and her attendance in an outpatient program that provides daily counseling, group therapy and med management. It was quite a year that involved several trips to the emergency room to seek help from crisis counselors and finding what combination of meds would help us keep ahead of this disease. The disease was relentless in Olivia’s pre-teen body and with natural pre-pubecent chemistry changes. The future looked impossible and scary.
Just last week Olivia turned eleven years old. She took cupcakes in for her 5th grade classmates, last night she had a sleep over with a few close friends. She has an amazing group of teachers that are working with us to see that she gets the most out of Fifth grade in order to prep her for middle school. Doreen continues to be a driving force in keeping her treatment in order. We no longer look at the long ball with Olivia, we look to the day to day and thank God that we can do that when so many people have lost precious people young and old to this disease and so many undetected mental illnesses. My daily lack of understanding about what is best for my angel is overwhelming, but I know one thing for sure, I am devoted to seeing her taken care of one day at a time.