My name is Stephanie. I'm a mother of a 13 year old son, who has bipolar disorder. For the last 4 1/2 years, we have been coping with his disease. It started when he was 6 years of age. He was diagnosed with ADHD (combined type) and was started on medications. Shortly after his medications started, he complained about hearing voices. As naive as I was about his new diagnosis and mental illness, I put off his complaints and made excuses about what he could be hearing. I didn't want to believe that it was something psychological.
I had no idea what was going on with him. He had no idea what was going on with him.
Four years later, he became very depressed and the voices became worse. At the age of 10, he was hospitalized for the first time. This is when we learned he had bipolar disorder. He was manic and I was devastated. I felt completely lost and alone. I had no idea what was going on with him. He had no idea what was going on with him. My family could not and would not accept that he was ill. For a long time, I dealt with it alone. The bipolar rollercoaster ride continues. He has been hospitalized 15 times and his recent admission was his first attempt at suicide. Thankfully he made it and is doing better now but it was the most horrible feeling ever.
Being involved has helped me reach out to those that feel alone and feel despair.
As a mother, you want to be as understanding, loving, and caring as you can be towards your child. Typically, it's easy when you have a child without a mental illness. When you have a child with a mental illness, it's difficult. They hate you, they blame you, and they tell you horrible things that you never thought they would say to you. It makes you so angry and resentful because after everything you have gone through for them. You get the short end of the stick. I had so much resentment and anger towards my son. I actually felt like I couldn't handle him anymore and I wanted to give him up. Every time he spoke to me, I felt anger. I lost that feeling a mother should feel and all I could honestly feel was guilt for being such a horrible mother. It wasn't till this year that I realized that it wasn't my son I had anger towards. It was his disease that I hate so much.
It’s a fight every day but people are out there to help you. The fight is worth fighting every day.
This year I decided I would change things. I contacted NAMI San Antonio and took a NAMI Basics class to become an instructor and I met many wonderful people that felt just like me and they helped me realize that I wasn’t alone against this fight. Since then I have become more involved with NAMI. I am now a member of the Board of Directors with NAMI San Antonio. My 30 member team participated in the NAMIWalk and helped raise money and awareness. I have shared my story with local law enforcement during their training for the mental health unit. Being involved has helped me reach out to those that feel alone and feel despair. A word of advice to anyone that feels like giving up: DO NOT EVER GIVE UP!!! You cannot let mental illness beat you or your loved ones. It’s a fight every day but people are out there to help you. The fight is worth fighting every day. You are not alone and giving up is not an option.