Considering significant mental-health experiences, whether our own or those of others, can conjure a broad range of memories and reactions in us all. At the least, most of us have had experiences on the periphery, like temporary depressive “blues” or nervous anxiety that subsides. Perhaps we had an abusive parent, addictive uncle, or a cousin who was persistently melancholic. We may even have lost a loved one or close friend to suicide. The media has traditionally been unwise and insensitive in its portrayal of individuals with eroding mental health in films like The Snake Pit, Psycho, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Girl, Interrupted. Too often characters with bipolar mood swings are seen as prone to deliberate, out-of-control violence, or doomed to the recesses of irretrievable depression. They are shown as stereotypes, “others” far removed from the norm, and they are often sensationalized or exploited for entertainment. We are all human beings; they are us and we are they. But when it comes to the exhilarating, omnipotent highs of mania and the extreme hopelessness of depression, how many of us have unwillingly embarked upon that roller-coaster-to-end-all-roller-coasters known as bipolar disorder? When we consider that bipolar disorder may impact the mental health of our children, it can be a very daunting prospect.
It may be an apt analogy to suggest that modern psychiatry is, today, where medical science in general was 100 years ago. That is, we are learning more and more about the intricacies of the human brain as it relates to chemical imbalances that perpetuate experiences like bipolar disorder. And as science uncovers more information, we are better able to accept that, under the right conditions, such imbalances can affect any one of us. In other words, no one is to blame, so it will be helpful to stay grounded in one thought: We are all more alike than different.
In recent years, there has been an increasing awareness of the importance of mental health in our children, especially with the explosion of diagnoses like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder. The diagnosis bipolar disorder was once reserved for adults, but it is now gaining attention as an experience that affects teens and even young children. Distinguishing its symptoms from typical kid behaviors, especially where raging hormones prevail, can be an art.
The Everything® Parent's Guide to Children with Bipolar Disorder endeavors to aid you in making balanced, informed choices about you, your family, and your child. Parents can become overwhelmed with technical or clinical-sounding jargon. This text uses plain language to walk you through the different mood disorders, describing the symptoms of each, and it describes how to help your child gain the upper hand over this disorder. You will read how you can best partner with your child in effectively communicating symptoms—not behaviors—to your child's doctor. Other important topics include safety in your home, school-related issues, and supporting your child through the teen years and beyond.
Medical science continues its research of the human brain in an effort to curtail or cure mental-health issues, including bipolar disorder. Where our children are concerned, we should focus on maintaining a balance that is safe and manageable from day to day. This book offers a realistic, no-frills starting point for those seeking to foster family unity, self-advocacy, and the prospect of future hope and resilience.