Trying to Teach a Six Year old with Bipolar What Personal Space Is

AJ in pilot seatMy son, Aedan, the middle child was diagnosed with a mood disorder last April and while they leaned towards bipolar I am uncertain if he truly has bipolar on his record for true diagnosis due to his age. Since bipolar runs in the family and he has always had the symptoms of that of my bipolar sister, I can honestly say he exhibits pretty much 100% of the symptoms of child bipolar. I don’t know if being bipolar is part of his issue with respecting personal space or if it’s just unique to him, but trying to teach him about personal space is proving to be somewhat difficult. It’s as if he is six years old in many ways but a little behind in other ways, the way he doesn’t respect personal space is as if he is a younger child who knows no boundaries. I am an extremely affectionate person, a hugger if you wish to call me that, so I get that I don’t always respect that boundary that many in our society place upon people. Sometimes I realize that in a line at the grocery store I may be standing a tad bit too close to the person in front of me, when they give me that look like what the heck, I back off.

Maybe that is where Aedan gets it from, his Mama but whatever the reasons for his lack in respecting personal space there are times when this lack of knowledge of personal space creates an issue. Like when he wants a hug, which lately has been all of the time, he can hang off of you. He also is about the height of my large boobs so it makes me extremely uncomfortable that he is hanging on me with his head in my boobs basically. I am trying to teach him personal space and that some body parts are private, but he just doesn’t seem to get it. It’s frustrating when he thinks my boobs are something that he can try to touch, not under shirt but just touch like a tap outside of the shirt and sometimes he just doesn’t get that those are my body parts and he needs to ask for a hug so that I can be prepared to hug him. When he is hanging off of me and then trying to tap my boobs like a baby would, I get frustrated and feel uncomfortable.

Aj Making MaskAedan has this lack of respect for females in his life too. He truly feels that girls can’t do anything; they can’t win races, they can’t succeed in playing board games, he is so against females at times that even playing the game of Life he is found “marrying” a boy peg because he doesn’t want any girls in his Life car. It’s crazy. I have never had to deal with such behavior, even my four year old son is not like this. I have shown by putting my hands out what personal space is. I have explained that he can touch his own body parts anytime, they are his. No one else can touch them except Mama or Daddy when giving a bath or a doctor who needs to examine him. The normal boundaries one would teach a child. I also try to show him that while I love hugs, and he can hug me anytime, he needs to let me know he wants a hug or ask for a hug because unlike my other two kids who try to hug me in a normal way, he does it in this weird way, that makes everyone he tries to hug feel uncomfortable. I don’t get it. I am so confused on this behavior.

Back last year someone somewhere who was seeing him to help diagnosis him properly for proper parenting lessons for me and his Dad and also, if needed proper medication, they questioned that he may be autistic. Aedan does have some small signs of a spectrum of autism and the older he gets, the more I want to research autism because based on what little I know of autism, I almost have to wonder if that fits him more. Then I realize that for five years of Aedan’s life he was sheltered, he pretty much stayed home because he had such a mood up and down disorder that I couldn’t bring him anywhere for fear one of the bad moods would hit and he would go ape on someone. His mood changes where that bad, so I guess while he is technically six years old by birth rights, emotionally and socially he is just getting started. Last year in Kindergarten was the first time he had been outside of the home, interacting with other children and adults.

So maybe it’s not that he has “something wrong with him”, it’s that I have to step back as a parent and realize that while my son is six years old that he has never been demanded or taught to be a six year old, he wasn’t taught various normal every day life lessons that have been taught to my other children at the age appropriate time due to his mood disorder. Everyone tells me I am one patient Mom, so I know I will succeed in teaching Aedan the social skills he needs to know in both through parenting and living the way I live. It’s just hard sometimes because I think “he is six, why does he do this”.

Journey with Mood Disorder/Bipolar – Fighting For My Kids

Raising a Bipolar KidSince my last blog post on the weight gain with risperidal that has worked well for Aj’s bipolar/mood disorder diagnosis there has been some changes.  For one, it dawned on me that the medication Aj takes to help keep his moods steady also brings on weight gain, therefore one would safely assume there is a contradiction between this medication. For one, risperidal is somewhat based on height and weight of the child for dosing, but at the same time Aj gains significant weight on this medication due to the increased appetite side effect from risperidal. Make sense?! I think not.

With that being said, this medication has truly done amazing things for Aj; when he was first placed on risperidal it was the lowest possible dose. The lowest possible dose worked for nearly a year before his weight gain seemed to really be affecting the dose. The pediatric psychiatrist currently has Aj on .75mg given two times a day. That has been the dose for about two weeks before I noticed that Aj was starting to get his moods more and more. The medication dose change did not seem to help 100% just yet and they had noted to take one week before this new dose would affect him.

Siblings Bipolar AwarenessIt had been about two weeks when reality hit and anxiety came back during transition from home to school. No longer did Aj just go into his classroom after a hug and kiss, no longer was he so agreeable to even get ready for school. The first five years of Aj’s life, prior to medication and proper diagnosis, flashed before my eyes and I could tell my daughter knew that this was just like before. Tears flowed. Hearts raced. And my daughter was just as concerned as I was, reason being? Prior to medication and proper diagnosis Kiara and Aj did not have a real bond, they were unable to form one because the bipolar made Aj unable to really be that sibling. Do not get me wrong, even on proper medication, they both have their normal sibling rivalry and Aj still has his normal six year old testing Mama boundaries going on as is age appropriate. However, when Aj is on the proper medication, things run a lot more smooth in the household and the up and down moods are not there with Aj.

Mama Bear Fights for her KidsBipolar is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Aj can not control his mood swings, the anxiety – none of it.  Some people just DO NOT understand. Heck when my sister was growing up and then later on in life diagnosed bipolar – half of the people in her world did not get it either! It is a confusing mental health condition that few know much about unless they have had it run in their family directly. This means, when Aj has his moods coming back due to lack in proper dosage of his medication due to weight gain, I have to spend time explaining why Aj is the way he is, and that it is a mental health condition. A true condition that is not to be taken lightly.

I get extremely frustrated when I have to not only deal with switching around medication dosing for Aj but also have to explain to new people involved in his schooling about bipolar. You see, there are a lot of people in this world who really do not get bipolar {honestly there is still lots more for me to learn}. Apparently they just seem to think it’s some over diagnosed thing like ADHD or ADD, I don’t know. I am not that type of person, so I honestly have no clue what they are thinking. All I know, is that I will fight tooth and nail for my son, all three of my kids know their Mama always fights strong, morally and for them. No matter what.

So as I journey into the land of Aj’s medication not working as well anymore, I have been told to try to give him .5mg in the morning and 1mg after dinner. This is a way to help see if moods stay steady, anxiety disappears and he can sleep through the night again. After all, the .75mg twice a day was working to some extent, but to up the dose to 1mg twice a day may knock him out cold. Another fun side effect of risperidal is the sleepiness.

I hope to educate more people on the topic of bipolar through my personal journey raising a child with bipolar. I hope to bring more awareness and I hope that if you have a story to share with my readers that you will contact me to share your story on site. This is an important mental health issue for many, both adults and children, it is time to bring the world more awareness to the topic of living with bipolar.


My Son Will Not Live That Life

Ever since my five year old son was born I knew something was different about him, but I swore it was only because I felt not ready to be a mom. Honestly, I had zero interest in being a mother again but I was pregnant and about to have another child. I blamed myself for so long and to this day I sometimes am caught blaming myself for the way Aj is, but I have been reassured that my feelings of not wanting a baby, these internal feelings, are not the cause for who my child is. I am not to blame, even though I know this for a fact, it’s hard to swallow and accept.

Ever since Aj was a baby he seemed angry, he was always crying, ate constantly and for that reason I only breastfed him for 8 weeks, yes I gave myself a hard time about that too, considering I had breastfed my first born for 9 months before she stopped taking to the breast and preferred the bottle.  It seems that no matter what diagnosis Aj gets, I still go back to his days of being in my womb. I never listened to cool music, I don’t remember ever “talking” to him, nothing. I just was at a total state of disconnect, which makes sense for the position I was in during that time of my life.

Now, fast forward to age 2, I finally realized something was truly different about Aj, he wasn’t your typical acting out 2 year old, something was much deeper. At first we went to see a family psychiatrist after a referral from his pediatrician,  that didn’t go over so well. I left there pretty angry for that man wanted to put my 2 year old son on a skitzo type medication, seriously?! So I walked out and finally walked into a counselor’s office, one counselor who has really assisted in getting answers and seems to truly care about my son.

After a long time of seeing this counselor it appears we are all on the same page, my five year old same may indeed be bipolar. The problem with being first diagnosed with ADHD and now a mood disorder is this: the new pediatric psychiatrist is “new to our situation” so they have to go through their route of diagnosis, which I respect, but despise. The mood fluctuations of my son need to be resolved now, not later. We’ve already spent at least a year in counseling, probably longer, to diagnosis a mood disorder, of course after testing out if this was learned behavior or not and other routes to ensure a mood disorder was proper diagnosis.  We can not wait, he can not wait, he needs a chance now to have a normal life, to have bonds with friends that stem long term, that are not weathered by mood fluctuations and anxiety.

To make a long story short, we are now moving forward in trying to see what the pediatric psychiatrist will do, the counselor took the time to speak with her on his opinions and findings from our seeing him and stressed the importance of trying a mood stabilizer. I just hope and honestly, pray, that things will finally move forward, I hate watching my five year old son have no control over his moods, have no control over who he is and get sad over being mean but knowing he can’t control it. He is in school now and has learned to communicate what’s going on with him better, he has already told me that “sometimes when he is angry, he can think and it’s okay but then other times he is so angry that he can’t think harder to stop the anger” my son, at age five, went on to say that he “doesn’t want to be a bad boy, but he can’t think harder enough to stop sometimes”.

My heart breaks, but behind that broken heart lies a mom ready to fight, fight with all of her might to get her son properly diagnosed and ready to have a fresh start at a real childhood with normal moods and normal behavior. I have no problems with a child acting at his age level on things, but watching my son grow is like watching my sister all over again and I refuse to let him go down the road she went down because no one knew what was going on with her, yes my sister is bipolar and she went through hell and back before being diagnosed in her early 20′s with this condition. My son will not have to live that life, no way will I let that happen!

It’s Frustrating When Your Child, or You Are “Different”

I honestly hate the word different as it is pertains to defining any human being, I prefer the word unique because every person is unique in their own way. If you have kept up with the What Would you Do Show on ABC, then you know they seek out various situations and try to see what other people would do. It’s amazing to see the judgements, the non judgements and how people truly respond to various situations.

One episode showed a girl with a stutter working at a local ice cream type shop, waiting on customers, but she struggled with getting what she had to say out, meaning customers had to wait just a little bit longer to get their order put in and completed.  Some of the rude comments to this “actor” girl who stutters made me cringe! Are we all in such a hurry that we can’t have one moment of human compassion for another person in this world who obviously struggles with speech and is trying to make a living? Come one people, get a clue and a compassionate bone for what goes around comes around and you better pray that you are never in a less fortunate situation because maybe others will return that favor of evil behavior onto your own self.

This actress on the show that night actually has a stutter, I love when What Would You Do puts real life people who have been in the situation or are living that situation in play as the actor or actress. The reason I love when the actor or actress is a living life story about the situation is because it’s puts more of a real feeling in your heart about the situation.

What if your child has a mood disorder but others view your child as a “bad kid” or view you as a “bad parent”? That is the life of many parents living with a child who has a condition that many don’t understand, while I have a child who has a mood disorder, quite possibly bipolar disorder, others have children with autism that has so many spectrum’s, it’s no wonder many kids go wrongly diagnosed. I feel like we, as a nation, need to have more compassion for our fellow human beings, stop the judgement.

There was a great point on the Dr Drew show one evening where one of his guests stated that we all have prejudices, we all judge from time to time, it’s how we handle that prejudice that matters. I can’t say there isn’t a time where I have looked at a yelling kid and thought, to myself, wow that kid is horrible or what is that parent teaching this child, but honestly, since I have been living in a real life situation with a real life child who has a mood disorder, I am able to step back and redirect my mind to remember that we can’t judge a situation by it’s cover. The saying “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover” goes a long way when you put it towards other human beings, parents and children.

So remember, the next time you go to judge a person or a child in a tough situation, remember that you don’t know the whole story behind that situation and it’s not your place to pass judgement on others, we all live to the best of our abilities and we are allowed to disagree with each other, heck, we are even allowed to pass judgement; all I am asking is that you take a moment to try to have compassion for your fellow human beings, young and old.

Overcoming Your Self Doubt and Increasing Happiness Part 2

The list you made yesterday will serve you power to move forward in increasing happiness and removing self doubt. Here is a quote to help uplift you and assist in getting you a higher form of self:

Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential. –Winston Churchill

All too often people who have lived with self doubt for a long period of time do not feel that they have the strength to move forward, to pick themselves up and start over again with a whole new attitude. What many people do not realize is that in order to remove self doubt, negative mindset, or depression it doesn’t take strength, rather yet continuous effort.  Just as Winston Churchill stated in the quote shown above, this positive mindset does not take intelligence nor strength, if you are willing to put forth the effort and take each piece of advice to heart as well as seek out professional help to better assist you, then you can look forward to crawling out of that deep, dark hole you have been dying in to awaken a new you.

Each day remember your list, study the list you made in Overcoming Your Self Doubt and Increasing Happiness Part 1, this will be key in moving forward instead of standing still or moving backwards. Do not allow any other person to make you feel negative or depressed, this is something you can control. Yes, it is true – you control how people make you feel, other people haven’t the power over your mind so do not allow them to feel that they have that control. Remain in control of your own mind, life and morals.

Remember today and every day afterward that only you can allow another person to make you feel negative. Do not give another human being the power over your mind and life – they do not deserve that power. You are the powerful one, continuous effort, plug away each day focusing on the good inside and outside of your own self. You can do this, you can be a happier person.

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