I grew up in a loving, normal family. I expected my own family would be the same. We went to church regularly, took family vacations, had family time every week. When my first son had his first mood swing (more than just being a child), I was shocked and frantically looked for ways to help him. After many years of council, reading books, praying, and doing everything I knew how to do, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He started on medication and things smoothed out in our family. Not too long after his diagnosis, my husband saw the change in our son and felt he might have the same problem. He too, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Our family had adjustments to make but were doing the best we could. Several years later, our youngest son wanted to commit suicide at the age of 11. Again, I was shocked, scared, and determined to get him the help he needed. I didn't understand the feeling but I knew it was very real to him. He was hospitalized and he too, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
There were so many doctors, appointments, medications, and mood swings that I thought I might lose my mind. But of course, I couldn't do that because who would take care of all of them? I had to just power through and do the best I could. I had to be their advocate and speak up for them when they couldn't. I had to keep track of all the changes to let each doctor know how things were going. There were so many things to do for them, I got lost in the process.
After my husband had his nervous breakdown, my only job was to take care of my family. I also had to make sure my middle son was not ignored or overlooked. I was on autopilot most of the time. After years of managing like this, things started to look up. My oldest son graduated from college and had a good job, my youngest son had lived through a suicide attempt and years of debilitating depression, and my husband was starting to be functional again. There are still ups and downs, mood swings, and hard times but the majority of the time, our family is happy and functioning well.
I want to share my story so others who are dealing with mental illness will know they are not alone and the feelings they are having are normal and understandable. My hope is to use my experiences to help others navigate this life we were dealt, the best way possible.