My son has a mood disorder, I can honestly say Bipolar but the clinical diagnosis is one of two things; his counselor says “Mood Disorder – NOS” meaning he has a mood disorder not otherwise specified, his new psychiatrist is trying to diagnose him with “Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder”. Either way, he clearly has a mood thing going on and since bipolar is what runs heavily in the gene pool as well as what I grew up watching my younger sister (and only sibling) have; I will tell you he is by far bipolar. At age 7 and even younger though, they won’t diagnose such a mood disorder because he is so young. On average it seems bipolar doesn’t get diagnosed until closer to age 12, that’s just based on my own personal research.
Based on working with a counselor then a psychiatrist and now back to dealing with both, it’s clear my son has an issue with moods; they switch off and on like a light switch when not properly medicated, he’s easily irritated, he has some sensory sensitivities, he also has irritability and other symptoms that put altogether make it difficult for me to parent him as his primary caregiver and him lead a normal seven year old boy life. Don’t get me wrong ,he’s a fighter and since he also has anxiety, he is able to play sports, do well in school and function in society. The thing is that when his medication is off, his anxiety comes out more, he is more easily provoked, he melts down more and his routine driven and very serious can’t take “sayings” as just saying’s personality comes into play more. It’s difficult because we all use metaphors in our world but Aj can’t really deal with metaphors, when it comes to Aj, what you say is what you mean and what you get is what you get. There is no grey area, it’s black or white only.
When Aj is really having issues with medications or things are going a bit off kilter, I usually text my friend Dwan, because she is the one person who has been in my life for many moons and knows all too well most of what I’m dealing with. Dwan is who can easily help me in some ways when it comes to Aj because maybe she has tried something I haven’t with her own child or maybe she has learned something from a professional that I haven’t yet. It’s all about my online community of friends and I have a pretty good mix of them that can assist when times like yesterday happen.
Recently the psychiatrist added Prozac to Aj’s abilify treatment for medication. This was meant to help with his anxiety that he still sort of has in school situations, but his anxiety wasn’t anything major, he is just a bit more reluctant to act out aggressively in school because it’s not his “comfort zone”. At home, Aj is who he truly is and honestly isn’t that normal for most people? So we went along with the Prozac idea because, well we didn’t know what other option to try at this point because the abilify wasn’t working the way it should. I will be honest, I am insanely angry about putting him on Prozac. His moods are worse, he is more irritable and he is not happy at all.
Yesterday …. he had a dentist appointment so I took him there and we had a decent morning, he had a mini meltdown of anxiety when he had to go alone (which is the norm) back with the hygenist to get ready for his silver cap to be placed on his molar. I was able to be strong and be brave for him and encouraged him to go with the lady and he did so with a bit of tears in his eyes, but he did it. Then on our way home he decided he was angrily hungry, like OMG the world is going to fall apart if he didn’t eat right in that moment. We were in the middle of a city I am not going to drive around in to find food. I had to have him wait, he had eaten a great breakfast and snack earlier, he was fine. I also had a drink in car for him so he could drink that while he waited for me to happen upon a food place closer to home.
Then it happened, we got to the school to wait to pick up his brother and it was rainy outside. Aj decided he could no longer wait in the van, he had to get out. I told him that he could get out of the van if he wanted to, I could see him from where I sat in my van and I had an umbrella he could use. The next thing that happened took me by complete shock; my son jumped from his back seat and wrapped both arms around me, had me pinned to my driver seat in a fit of rage/anger and I could barely get his arms off of me. (yes I was parked with van off at this time, he didn’t do this while vehicle running) I nearly broke. The thing is when parenting a child with a mood disorder you have to be the stronger one, the smarter one, the patient one and when I say these words, you have to be those things both mentally and physically. Which is why I need to start working out again, my seven year old is and has always been one BUFF boy. He is starting to get stronger than me.
I pried him off of me, was in near tears, he grabbed umbrella got out of van with an angry look on his face, kept crying having meltdowns then all of a sudden as if someone flicked a light switch.. he was that happy, smiley kid I know. That kid that I raised to be happy and smiley. My heart sunk. My kid just blacked out and did something he has never, ever done. This medication is not helping him, it’s making him worse and my heart is breaking. There is nothing I can do to control a chemical imbalance in the brain, someone with a mood disorder such as my son and my sister cannot be “handled” in any aggressive physically nor verbally manner, it only escalates the situation or mood; you have to remain strong, stern in a calm/nice voice level and tone in order to get any form of positive response.
And later that evening, when Aj was calm and in a happy mood; we talked. Aj didn’t remember a thing that happened earlier at the school, he truly did not remember a thing. That is what scares me the most, bipolar people can black out and do things that they have no clue they are doing and as Aj gets older this can prove to be very, very dangerous. Thank God for having a wonderful counselor to help him and me parent him to assist in ensuring he doesn’t get worse.
That’s just it, I am using all of my strength to really just use the proper wording, tone and body language so as to not get my son to go black out angry. I also have to work with his siblings to try to get them to realize Aj’s medication is off so please do not tease him, instigate or anything that normal siblings do, because it could be a matter of a hospital visit or not. That is just how life is with a mood disorder child. Thankfully I have the help I need, I have the support I need and I have also dealt with this growing up so I know what I’m doing. I wasn’t given a son with a mood disorder because I can’t handle it, but boy some days my heart feels as if it has been broken in two watching my seven year old struggle in such ways and feeling that no medication will work for him ever. I keep hope and strength best I can though, I keep pushing forward fighting for this child I love so much because no one will tell me he can’t have help – he will have help and he will be a stronger person for having a Mom who fought for him always.
I cherish the moments he says I love you, I cherish the moments he hugs and kisses me and I cherish the moments he tells me “Mama you are the best Mommy in the world” with a big smile on his face; why do I cherish them so much more than the average parent? Because those are things that are rare with my seven year old son and he is also a child who doesn’t say things just to “say them”, when Aj says something he means it. He is a very serious child who has a side of jokster in him but it doesn’t come out unless his medication is proper, so right now I cherish the happy moments and try to shrug off the bad ones while continuing to work with professionals who can pinpoint the issue, get the medication right and allow us just a few more months of happiness before the medications wear off and we have to start over again.
Imagine if you only had a few months at a time to have a happy child? Imagine if this child was so sad struggling to be “good”, imagine if your child felt he was “bad” because of his mood swings that he cannot control? I cannot imagine this, but I am living this. Thank God for giving me the strength, love and compassion to be my son’s Mom. I am truly the “Best Mommy ever”, in his eyes anyways.