Decoding all that transpires for your child—and truly trying to see the glass as half full—requires a bit of detective work in uncovering the truth of your child's motives. It is easier (and only human) to rush to judgment and point a blaming finger. Trying to understand your child's rationale from your child's perspective will take time, careful listening, and nonjudgmental support. As you both grow and learn about bipolar disorder together, you'll be better able to recognize the times your child is using great self-will to demonstrate self-discipline. In those moments, and despite whatever fallout you observe around you, please take time to do the following:
Recognize her efforts (even if they fell short).
Acknowledge to her that you recognize her attempt to exercise self-discipline during a really tough time.
Validate (again, with her) that you appreciate her struggle to exert some control over her experience and that she handled it as well as you know she could.
Most importantly, shower your child with genuine and sincere adoration. Remind her of all the reasons that she's such a truly amazing and terrific kid, and don't be shy about rattling off all the gifts and talents that make you so proud. After all, you're her biggest fan and strongest ally.
Remember, after a child comes down from a manic high or a depressive irritability, he often realizes that something awful and out-of-control just happened, and remorse and self-degradation can quickly set in. As difficult as the episode may be to understand, especially if you were a target, be available to hold your child. Hear him out—or just let him cry on your shoulder, if he needs to—and offer your gentle assurances that you are still his loving mom or dad, and that will never change. This is parental love. Where bipolar is concerned, love alone may not be enough, but where there is love there is hope.