There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
– Edith Wharton
The day after my daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I went into her bedroom to see if she was awake yet. I sat down on her bed and she sleepily said, “Is everything okay? You look like someone has died.”
My daughter didn’t understand the impact of her diagnosis. And evidently, neither did I.
It is difficult for me to imagine, the pure hell my daughter was going through living with un-diagnosed and untreated bipolar disorder. I will leave that part of the story for her to tell. I could never tell it correctly.
However, I can help by telling my experiences as the mother of a child diagnosed with having bipolar disorder. Parents of newly-diagnosed children need to hear encouraging words. I sure wish I had.
A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.
– Tenneva Jordan
Our daughter is now 27. Only over recent years she has begun to refer to me as “Mama Bear.” I take this as quite the compliment. Unlike a “Helicopter Mom” who unnecessarily hovers over her child, a Mama Bear is a fierce protector. Liane calling me this now is more a mature recognition of how I was a strong advocate for her early on, when she first struggled with Bipolar Disorder, and even now, at times – but only when my help is requested.
I have always believed that a parent needs to be the strongest advocate for his or her child. After all, if you are not, who will be? Every child needs a fierce advocate, and it is particularly true if your child is struggling with a mental illness.
” ‘Cause there’s no use running
When you’re on the wrong road.”
– Don Williams
In my recent post, “Thank You Carrie Fisher and Maurice Benard,” I talked about the day our daughter was diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder. I had found this diagnosis so difficult to accept, in part because she had already been seeing a therapist for two years, and the only diagnosis was anxiety.
This therapist had been highly recommended to me by counselors at Liane’s Middle School. However, true to this therapist’s arrogant nature, he began to talk to my daughter about herbal treatment, without consulting me. At the time Liane was 12. He convinced her that a natural remedy would help her feel better. So of course she wanted to try it.
“Bipolar disorder, it’s a challenge. But it can set you up to be able to do almost anything else in your life.”
– Carrie Fisher
During the late spring of 1977, my boyfriend and I joined countless others in going to see “Star Wars.” I was mostly entertained by the whimsical nature of the film, especially the famous bar scene. And I did enjoyed seeing Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, a beautiful and fearless heroine — a rarity for box office fare, back then.
“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.”
– Oscar Wilde
My father wasn’t one to offer too much advice. He usually just worked hard, and quietly lived the family life. He was a chemical engineer, who was employed by the same engineering firm for about 35 years, until he retired at age 65. That’s how it was in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. You worked for one company all your adult life, if you could. Loyalty was a big plus to employers. Job-hopping was severely frowned upon by all; employers would see you as a person who was untrustworthy, as you might pick up and quit at any time.