Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How to help a friend who...has a child with a mental illness

From the How to Help a Friend Who... series.

http://amdunlevy.blogspot.com


I spoke at a retreat in November on the topic of suffering and afterwards, a couple of moms shared about what a private hell they lived in because they had children with mental illness.

One mom spoke about how much she dreaded going to church because of the horrific lies her  beautiful, charming daughter with narcissistic personality disorder had told other church members about her and her husband. Another mom sobbed, "There was a child on my street who had cancer, and the whole community rallied and brought them meals, and gave support, and I just kept thinking, my child has an illness that is just as difficult and just as deadly as cancer but no one is helping us at all!" 

It broke my heart, and opened my eyes.

Please welcome my friend Lynn, who has dealt with this personally.


The Mom in the Minivan Next to Yours


I'm a mom like so many others that you know.  I am a suburban, minivan-driving Christian mom trying to raise my four kids in a negative world.  My three daughters are ages fifteen, nine and two, and my son is six.  I homeschool two of my kiddos.  I taught elementary school for nine years.  See? Like so many of the moms that you know, right?

But not really.  My life is so not normal. Because my nine year old daughter struggles with mental illness.

"Issues" I tell myself.  I never tell myself "mental illness".  But my heart knows the truth.

My sweet daughter was born ten years into our marriage when our first daughter was five.  All three of us could not wait to meet this baby girl.  My husband was just finishing his doctoral program, and I was leaving my job to be a stay-at-home mom.  Our life ahead looked sweet!

When my baby girl finally arrived, we were all over the moon in love with her. She was perfection itself!  All 9 lb, 8 oz. of her! She smiled in the hospital, cuddled and snuggled and loved on her mama. I remember holding her against my chest, squeezing her tightly and thinking, This must be what heaven feels like.  How could life get any sweeter?

As she grew, things only got better.  Discipline with her was easy!  I could just look at her and raise my eyebrows, she so wanted to please. She had long, curly blond hair, and she had an amazing vocabulary. She was reading before she turned 3, and we enjoyed trips to the library and the silliness of reading Robert Munsche together.  One of my favorite memories of this time with her is of the two of us standing on the sidewalk in October and watching the leaves "dance down the street".

She was so bright that when we started to notice quirkiness, we just thought, "Isn't that cute?"  Because it was!  And we thought it was further evidence of how very intelligent she was.  Really Intelligent=Quirky, right?  And we were more than okay with that!

But - then came the temper tantrums if things were not the way they were "supposed" to be.  Or if they didn't "feel right". And when I say temper tantrums, I'm not talking about the kind that ended with a nice little "teachable moment" and a spanking or time-out or anything of the sort.  I'm talking about temper tantrums that often lasted for hours.  Day after day. Tantrums in which she couldn't get control of herself, and we couldn't get control of her, either.

She couldn't stand the way that clothes felt, any clothes, so she was reduced to wearing knit clothes that were several sizes too large.   Even then, she would scream and tantrum and stretch those clothes out until they had holes and hanging threads.  And forget underwear! Or socks!  Or any shoes except maybe Crocs.  All of this did a real number on her.

I remember her asking me if she was the worst kid in the neighborhood. 

Her pediatrician suggested therapy.  Then she suggested an appointment with a developmental pediatrician--the wait was nine months long!  All the while my daughter (and our whole family) was suffering.  I found another doctor who had left "the system", and he suggested PROZAC for my 6 year old daughter.  I politely declined on my way out the door.

We started occupational therapy, and I started hearing terms like, "Autistic Spectrum Disorders", "Pervasive Developmental Disorder", etc.  My heart broke a little more every day.  My amazing, lovely gift from God was slipping away from me, and I couldn't stop it from happening.

Then my kind-hearted daughter started becoming aggressive.  It's hard to blame her. She was in agony, and her Daddy and I - the people who were supposed to take care of her no matter what - were powerless to do anything about it!

I was determined that we could "lick" this thing without medication, but finally, I broke down and took her to a psychiatrist because I was convinced that she was going to hurt herself or someone else if I didn't. My six year old daughter.  To a psychiatrist.  That was a dark, dark, dark day.

We put my daughter on medication.  And not ADHD medication.  "Black box warning" medication.

And although it was the last thing that I wanted in theory, I was begging for it by the time we got it.  Our family had descended into hell.

Then there were medication changes, side effects (including an extra 20 pounds) and lots of reading for me.  We added a gluten-free, cassein-free diet, which made a big difference despite the fact that most medical professionals told me it wouldn't work and wasn't worth the effort.  We did a yeast detox that made a HUGE difference.  We added lots of supplements. We saw more doctors and had more blood tests.

Mood disorder.  Bipolar.  Generalized anxiety. OCD.  PANDAS. Lyme.  Anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, antibiotics, probiotics, enzymes.  Leaky gut, inflammation, strep, mycoplasma.  And a tonsillectomy, too! I'm sure that I've left out some of the details, but you get the idea.

So this is my life right now.

That sweet life that I thought was waiting for us all? We're so far away from it that it doesn't even show up on my GPS.  Except in my heart, where it's always there in the profound sadness of what ought to be, as I constantly search for  the way to get it back.

The kids, the husband, the home, the minivan - this was my dream.  And sometimes, like when we sit down to dinner, and my little son giggles so hard that he falls out of his chair or my nine year old daughter tells about going out of her way to be kind to a classmate who needs a friend ... at times like that, my heart smiles a warm grin.

But sometimes, my dream is a nightmare.

In addition to the daily struggle against super anxiety, tantrums, sensory processing issues, and hyper-irritability, there's my guilt:
Did I eat something while I was pregnant that caused this? Was it because I didn't ask to get off of bus duty at school, and I breathed all of those diesel fumes? Did I cause this by giving birth to her brother at a vulnerable time for her?  Did I miss some sign of illness or allergy when she was an infant? Why did I give her all of those vaccines?  Was it because of the way that I parented her as a baby and hugged and kissed on her all of the time, never leaving her with anyone else?  Was it because I talked on my cell phone too much while I was pregnant with her?  Did I cause this by eating gluten when I was pregnant?

And there's my anger:
How can my pediatrician not know where to send me or what to do???  And then how can he look at me like I'm crazy when I tell him that I don't want him to vaccinate my baby because we don't know what caused this in her big sister?   How can doctors lecture me about ineffective diets, avoiding vaccines and trying holistic remedies when they don't have anything else to suggest?  Why would people give us grief over feeding our children a special (much healthier, but much more difficult) diet when they know the issues that my daughter has struggled with?

There's alienation from family members who think that they could fix it all with a harder spanking.

There's trying to seem "normal" so that my precious daughter does not experience rejection from other children and adults who do not understand.

There's stress, and loads of it, because there are a million therapies to try, but none of them are free, and most of them come from doctors who aren't even in our state.

And there's exhaustion from trying to reason with my girl when she is not reasonable, discipline her for outburts that are often beyond her control, and trying to prevent my younger children from copying her negative behaviors.

And finally, at the bottom of it all, there is loving my amazing daughter, who deals with more than any child should have to. Loving her in a very tangible way: making sure that she gets her meds, doesn't eat a "forbidden food", goes into her classroom even when her daddy or I have to carry her in so that she doesn't give in to the separation anxiety that can paralyze her.  Reminding her that God works all things together for the good of those that love Him.

And searching.  There's always more searching until we find the answer for her. 

And one more thing:
There's missing my girl.

Someone once asked me how they could help me, as my girl's often-overwhelmed mom.  I didn't really know what to say because the answer that comes to mind so easily is, "Give me another hour in the day!" or something equally un-givable. But since then, I've thought about that a lot, and I think the biggest ways that someone can support a mom in my situation are the ways that she can support anyone in a difficult situation.

  • Pray for my child.  And for me and my family.  We need His strength to carry us through, and I need His words to show her how much He loves her.  Even though He has not delivered her. Yet.
  • Be there for me.  I mean, really be there.  Don't avoid me because you don't know what to say.  If you don't know what to say, say that.  Live life with me in spite of the difficulties.  Be you.  Be there.
  • Don't try to give me all the answers. Most moms in my situation have so many answers floating around in our heads that we haven't had time to sort through them all yet.  I may or may not want to brainstorm.  Follow my lead. Give suggestions only if asked.  Otherwise, just be there.  Hang out.  Have fun. Fun is important.
  • Obviously, don't compare children. I used to lie awake at night thinking about what I could do to help my children be faster swimmers, the best spellers in class, the best ball-catchers.  I'm so over it.  Some days I just worry about how I can help my girl get clothes on.
  • Encourage me in my efforts.  It may be hard to understand why I would not vaccinate younger children or why I would pursue a certain kind of therapy, but my husband and I are not making any decisions based on whims.  For each avenue that we pursue, we've weighed the consequences, calculated the costs and cautiously forged ahead.
  • Acknowledge the issue.  While I wouldn't want anyone to make more of it than it is, it makes me feel like people think I'm crazy when they discount what I tell them.  Some have told me that she'll probably outgrow it--it's a phase.  Or that she's perfect when she's with them.  Or that she doesn't seem like she's "having trouble".  (At this point, I bite my tongue instead of telling them that she seems fine because SHE'S ON SOME POWERFUL PSYCHIATRIC MEDS!)
  • Play with me.  Moms like me live a stressful, worried, what-if-filled life.  Will she have to take these meds forever? Will we find a nutritional answer?  How will we pay to find the answer? Will she be able to sustain relationships, have babies, take care of herself?  Will my other children develop these "issues"?  Like most people going through a hard time, we need to forget about worrying for a minute.  We need to laugh and play.
  • Don't judge me.  Right is right, and wrong is wrong; I'm not talking about not acknowledging that.  I mean that people don't always know everything that's going on. When I was a classroom teacher, I was a good one, great at keeping control in the classroom. If I saw a child misbehaving at school or anywhere else, I always thought that I could fix it.  My child would never behave that way.  But now?  Now I realize that sometimes kids misbehave because of slacker parenting or poor discipline techniques, but sometimes there is a deeper issue. I cringe at how arrogant I used to be about parenting.
  • And this might be the hardest thing, but: don't tell me that I shouldn't have to deal with these things.  I know that it might seem supportive to say that, but frankly, it just gives me license to have a pity party. Maybe I shouldn't have to deal with these things, but this is our life.  This is my girl's life. And I will never give up on her. For some unfathomable reason, God must have thought that I was strong enough to handle this. I can't afford to feel sorry for myself.  It works much better to encourage me in the journey.
At the end of this post, I'd like to tell you that you will probably rarely run into a mom like me....that this is a "just in case" post.  But I feel certain that you will run into more and more moms like me as time goes on.  Perhaps you will become a mom like me.  Because kids who don't neatly wear a label but have serious "issues"...there are more and more of them.

To read more of our story, visit Finding My Little Girl Lost.

If you or someone that you know is struggling with these issues, please feel free to contact me at tu4two@yahoo.com.  We're all in this fight together!

66 comments:

  1. What a helpful, touching post. I'm in contact with several families who have kids with disabilities...specifically Autism. There's one in particular who goes to my church and other than being friendly, I always wonder how I can help more. What extra support, friendship, etc does she need? This helped answer some questions. Thank you!

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  2. You described growing up with my little sister. And you helped me to understand my mother. Thank you.

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    1. oh how your comment touched me as much as the post itself. <3

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  3. Hi, Lynn.
    Blessings to you from a mom in a similar minivan,
    with similar prayers,
    and a similar family.

    Thank you for reminding me I am not the only one.
    Press on, Friend.
    Press on.

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    1. Prayers for you and your family's journey. There's comfort in knowing that we're not the only ones.

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  4. I am so thankful for this series that Missy put together because it creates such a safe place for sharing our deepest hurts.

    Thank you for writing so honestly and powerfully here, Lynn. I am praying, even now, and will continue to do so. He Himself is our peace.

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    1. Thank you for your prayers. You have no idea how much that comforts me. :)

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  5. You have perfectly stated what I have so often wanted to say, especially the part about the guilt. Did we spank too hard, not hard enough, or did we cause all of this because we DID spank? Was it my age or my husband's age? Was it a medication I unknowingly took during pregnancy? On and on.

    And in our case, since he wasn't diagnosed until just last year when he was 7, we got to hear every bit of parenting advice you can imagine. I'll never forget one Sunday, after dealing with his meltdowns all week long at home, he had gone to Sunday School and kicked another child. The teacher paged me to his room - a regular occurrence - and lectured me on how to instruct him to, for instance, put his shoes away, then follow the instructions up with logical consequences. She had no idea what we were dealing with, and her words just served to further convince me that there must be something wrong with us, that we were so inept at parenting this child.

    It wasn't until I began to meet other mothers in my situation that I saw how desperately ignorant people are in our churches - and how desperate these parents are for a place where they can take their child and have just an hour of respite while they attend church. I visited such a church and CRIED when they assured me they were qualified to care for him, and then hugged me and encouraged me to go and enjoy the worship service. I'm now on a mission to see such a ministry in our church, and I pray God will continue to lay it on the hearts of His people. There's such a need.

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    1. You're right. There is a tremendous need. We've been blessed with a fabulous little school that works with us and tries their hardest to understand, but I know of people who have such a difficult time with their schools. The relief of knowing that someone else can handle it for just a bit is priceless. Kudos for your work toward helping other families in your church! :)

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  6. i could have written this post myself!!!!! wow- especially the guilt part! i found myself the other day asking if it was because i ate too many little debbies when i was pregnant. thanks for posting this- it is exactly how i feel. at the end of the day, i just choose to love my child- all of her- even the part that i don't understand and doesn't fit the mold. i keep pressing on through therapies and interventions, etc. but i also take time to enjoy every moment of her childhood that i can...uncertain of the future, but hopeful, too. i will NOT abandon my child. and this experience has made me so much stronger and empathetic, i can't even tell you. it does amaze me how many judgemental and know-it-all moms there are out there. i just ignore them, though. someday they *may* understand, and if not...well, i don't really have time to deal with them anyway!

    i am curious to know more about this yeast connection. going to look into that. thanks!

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    1. You are absolutely right to live in the day, love your girl as she is and find happiness in your current space. "Bloom where you're planted," I keep telling my oldest girl. But sometimes I forget to bloom today because I'm hoping for a bigger bloom tomorrow!

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  7. Okay, for real, y'all have GOT to stop this guilt thing!! It's not your fault!!

    Listen. There are women who SMOKE CRACK FOR NINE MONTHS and their babies come out just fine.

    Jesus addressed this, y'all, in John 9:

    As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

    “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

    God made your babies the way he did for a reason - and the reason is, always, to show his glory. And it's a HARD row to hoe, this glory showing business, I am not denying that it is.

    But I KNOW that y'all see the works of God displayed in your children - I know you do - more than lots of other moms. I know you've called out to Him when you wouldn't have otherwise. I know he has answered you! But God is displaying his works in your children - NOT because of your sin. But because that was God's plan, and all the Little Debbies in the world can't thwart his plan.

    So send that guilt back to the hell that it came from. It's from the Enemy, not the Healer.

    And y'all way too busy to waste any time listening to any crap from the Enemy.

    xoxoxo

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    1. Thank you Missy... tears welled up as I read your reply about guilt. I have often wondered why I keep having miscarriages.

      Thank you for speaking boldly the word of God.

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    2. My heart goes out to you. God bless.

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  8. THANK YOU. I am a mother of four who lives in this alternate universe (with mental illness + autism), a hidden, parallel world full of judgment, misunderstanding, non-recognition and struggle (with no meds that have worked in our case).

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    1. BIG hugs to you! Praying for you tonight....

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  9. PS - If I could ask just one thing, just one, in all of this, it would be please, please, make a genuine, **meaningful** place in your world-- and in our churches!!!-- for my special child and our family. Please. Be their friend, even if they don't "earn" it the old-fashioned way. Include us in ways that we can handle. I know it might cramp your style a little sometimes. Please don't assume that "those people" have a place for their kind, that there are "programs" for them. There are not. Physical disabilities evoke compassion. "Special needs" programs often target those with Down Syndrome and cognitive disabilities, but not those of us who are messier. Intelligent AND with difficulties. Please. Could you find it in your heart to be a genuine, non-judging friend? It can be the difference, literally, between life and death (by suicide) to those for whom the world has no place.

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    1. Marian, I've taught autistic and special children in Sunday School, and you are right. A special place must be made for them. Once I realized that William (not his real name) was autistic (age 10 at the time), I began to look for alternative activities to engage him in and found another adult who could work with him on certain things we were reading or doing. His behavior changed drastically over a period of a few short weeks. We MUST make our churches and yes, even our schools open their hearts and minds to those children who aren't just cookie cutter little ones like everyone else. They are special angels sent to show us how to love.

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    2. @Marian....Exactly.
      @ Sherrey...And truly, I think they are sent to help us learn to persevere. Our family motto is "Never, never, never, never, never give up!"

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  10. Wow. Powerful, thoughtful, and I especially appreciate the practical. My heart aches for you, Lynn, but I can tell you don't want sympathy. You need a friend. Thanks for helping all of us know how to BE that friend.

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  11. I think you're so right that all of us will know, or become, a mom like you one day. The thing I hope and pray for is for empathy, friendliness, and non-judging. We never know everyone's whole story, and won't even begin to learn it unless we take the time to ask and listen. Thank you, Lynn, for sharing, and thank you, Missy, for hosting Lynn on your blog.

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  12. Thank you Lynn for sharing this with us.

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  13. So send that guilt back to the hell that it came from. It's from the Enemy, not the Healer. ---- WHAT A WONDERFUL THING TO READ THIS MORNING... THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

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  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. There are three couples in our Bible study dealing with mental illness in their children. One child has PDD and autism, while two others are facing the very rare diagnosis of bipolar at ages 11 and 10. The very rarity of it is a reassurance that God brought our group together for a reason -- and you can bet I passed along a link to these brave, tired, caring friends of mine.

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  15. My name is Sherrie. I am from Portland Oregon. I just wanted to tell you THANK YOU...and that your post really spoke to me. What you do each and everyday matters....and what you write resonates with so many.God does see your efforts, your heart, and he is the one who will "Never give you more than you can handle." I will pray for you, your family, your daughter...and most of all for wisdom to come regarding the care of your daughter.
    God Bless you~

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    1. Thank you. Prayers for wisdom are our greatest need. :)

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  16. I am a Mom who has five children and Bipolar Disorder. These words of affirmation ministered to my heart having struggled with guilt and shame, and often being overwhelmed by my own behavior. I was asked by my own Christian mother if I had demons when I was first diagnosed. I had been a public speaker, writer, home educating mom for years when my life melted down. My own family still judges me, my sister recently brought up a list of "offenses" that she felt that I should know about-all related to my Bipolar but that didn't matter to her. I am often isolated because I am nervous about how I might behave: too loud? Too wordy? Too much information? It is very lonely. How I feel about my children having to be parented by me is beyond words. I apologize a LOT!
    I do believe that God is using my BP for His glory but on not so good days I say, "who sinned, me or my parents?" and try to laugh, knowing God is in control.

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    1. Wow. I'm so sorry that so many do not understand. I so hope that we can change that. I often think that those that live with this are the strongest people around...
      I once attended a weekend long conference, and when I came home, I remembered one sentence..."Your children are not yours by accident." It gave me such comfort and reassurance even though I already knew that God has designed all things. Because in the darkest moments, I could cling to that sentence.
      Many blessings to you.

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    2. Oh, and I just finished a book called Manic By Midnight by Faye Joy Shannon. I loved it because she told the story of her life and how bp came in and took over and how relief and hope came to her. It left me feeling hopeful about our future, which is one of the things I am always searching for....hope.

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  17. Oh my goodness...how can I respond? With a child with special needs and a very very rare disease...I'm sitting here with tears streaming - you are speaking my heart! THANK YOU for articulating it so I can feel less awful about myself,...thank you! thank you! thank you!

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    1. Thank you. I definitely want you to feel less awful, GOOD, even. You are in my prayers right now.

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  18. Thank you for your honesty! We adopted a 10 year old girl who suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder, PTSD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Mood disorders, and depression. We adore this child because God chose her for us. She is on a lot of mediciation, and at times, she can not control her outburst, mood swings, or anger. I struggle often with the need to explain her to people. Just yesterday I had to take her to the doctor because she had an episode at school and hit the water fountain. We thouhgt maybe her hand was broken. Thankfully, it was just bruised. She has been with us almost 2 years, but she still has moments where she just CAN NOT control her emotions. People are quick to say "oh, all kids are like that at that age." Really? I wasn't like that. I think people need to be a little more understanding to parents of children with mental illness. Thanks for your post!

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    1. I agree; I hope they will become more compassionate.

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  19. hi Missy! My sweet sis-in-law Jamison Brunone had told me about your blog ages ago and am just now thinking to check it out... apparently God really wanted to me hear this today. our oldest child has aspergers and was recently diagnosed bipolar, and much of what was in your blog post is exactly what we have lived with and continue to live with in our house. it's very often a living hell. and our 3rd child appears to be headed down a similar path. thank you so much for posting this - i look forward to hearing more.

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  20. I have a child with issues as well, and what I loved to hear was "well I would not allow that behavior". (sigh) We don't allow the behavior, we are trying to teach her not to behave that way and some days we just have to choose our battles. Some people will never understand the myriad of issues many families face with children who have special needs. Just because it is not physical does not mean it is not real. We are certainly not perfect parents, but we are doing the best we can and sometimes just knowing you are not alone is the best thing for parents. (((((((((hugs))))))

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  21. I have a child with Generalized Anxiety Disorder & it took quite a few years for the diagnosis. I could relate to so much of what you said. God bless!

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  22. I just want to say - and I will only give this unsolicited advice once since Lynn said not to! - but many of you who follow my blog know that the Feingold Diet has helped my youngest child tremendously with hyperactivity and other behavior issues, and many other families who have been helped by it have compulsive or autistic behaviors. I believe it's worth investigating.

    http://feingold.org/symptoms.php

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    1. Woohoo for Feingold! Even though we are gluten-free/cassein-free, I have not taken the leap into Feingold yet (I've ordered the materials, but I haven't had a chance to really go through it). But I do see a big difference with my son in terms of hyperactivity when he has certain foods (ie. blueberries). I think Feingold is onto something.

      And I can tell you that I am also very interested in the possibilities of the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) which can be totally compatible with Feingold. And raw milk because of enzymes. And fish oil. Am I breaking my own rule? :)

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    2. Oh, berries make Ike nuts. Apples too.

      I LOVE raw milk. So good for you! Other milk is practically water in comparison. I just wish it wasn't so hard to get!!

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    3. Thank you for this post...loved it.

      I did a blog series last year about what life kind of looks like with our "difficult" child:
      http://laughingfamily.blogspot.com/2011/05/when-you-dont-like-your-child-extreme.html

      We have been doing GAPS for almost a year...wonderful! Difficult at first but we have been so blessed by the great results we have seen!

      This site I do with my friend has more info on GAPS and recipes:
      www.TheWellFedHomestead.com

      Thank you again...this is truly a silent hell for most families.

      God is good and he is bringing us through the storm one day at a time!!

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    4. I'd love to hear about your experience with GAPS! Feel free to e-mail me at tu4two@sbcglobal.net

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  23. Our only child (a son) was misdiagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 13. He finally received what we believe to be the correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder at the age of 21. We have no idea what a normal family is like. I long ago let go of the dreams of being like everyone else. Support? We were shunned by own family members because our son is "crazy". Just as disappointing is the abandonment of pastors and our Christian friends. After all, he is just a lazy bum who won't work. There is a bright side so far; he has never been arrested and he has no illegitimate children. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?

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    1. Ugh. I know that stinks. After many initial ideas about what was going on, our psychiatrist was treating our daughter with an anti-depressant to stave off depression. Her situation is so complicated (I guess they all are), but during the darkest days of our lives I read a book about bipolar in kids and how antidepressants can make bipolar worse. Our psych worked with us and took her off of the antidepressant and put her on a couple of other things. While this hasn't CURED her, it's been so much better than those dark days. I know it's hard. Praying for you right now.

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    2. What a wonderful Mom you are! I had no idea that high doses of antidepressants can lead to severe manic episodes. Being on antidepressants actually triggered my first manic episode and led to a hospitalization. Good for you for being such a wonderful advocate for your child.

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  24. Thank you!! I have 3 children with mental illness and it's a hard road. People often assume it's my parenting (sometimes even I think that) but I am a good mom. I have tried everything, researched everything. I wish everyone could read this. Thank you!

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    1. Bless you, bless you. I know what you are saying. I know that my daughter has these issues. But sometimes I do still question myself. It's like living in a world of shadows and not being able to see what is real and what is the shadow sometimes. You're right to be confident in your mothering. :)

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  25. Excellent post. I highly recommend the group NEUROnetwork on yahoogroups - for general support, but also for lots of ideas, and potential approaches/treatments/solutions.

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  26. Thank you for posting! I have linked it to my FB page b/c we still have people that just don't understand.

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    1. I thank you on behalf of my daughter and our entire family. Big hugs!

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  27. Lynn, are you a member of CABF now known as the Balanced Mind Foundation...for parents of kids with mood disorders...lots of love and support and wisdom there.

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  28. No, I'm not, but I'm going to check it out! Thanks for the rec.!

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  29. Check out this awesome post on BlogHer:

    http://www.blogher.com/i-am-her-mother?from=nethed

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  30. what an eye opening post. thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your heart and experience. i feel like i have learned a lot and appreciate it.

    my recent post: introducing...

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  31. Thank you. I've struggled with many issues for years...my son is about to turn 15 and is autistic. He was originally dx at age 3 as severe and we were told he would never speak. He finally spoke his first words at age 8...THEN...oh my...we learned he was "dually diagnosed"...as a psychotic disorder as well (paranoid schizophrenia type symptoms).
    My 18 yr old daughter struggles with how difficult and different our lives are because he is in it and it has turned her into a very bitter and cynical young woman (that coupled with the traumatic death of her older brother 11 months ago)....but still...I so wish I could get to read this to see it from a parents' point of view.

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  34. Thank you so much for your post. It was very enlightening. You also encouraged me to think about the structure of our church nursery and Sunday School and wonder if families who have children with mental issues have ever left our church because they didn't fit in. This is such a good reminder to keep my eyes open for them.

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  35. Love this. Thank you for your honesty. I live this too, minor variations including brain injury..but so many of the same: Meds "issues" and so on. It's kinda isolating. Thank you for opening a window.

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  36. This post was such an encouragement. Thank you!

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  37. Thank you for sharing this. We all need to show empathy. We need to be more supportive of families trapped in mental illness.

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