Bloggy Moms

Monday, April 13, 2015

It's Never Just a Coincidence or How I Ended Up Being Able to Speak to Congress

Like all moms, when they are told their child has a possible diagnosis, I went into research mode when my knight and I were told that our daughter might have Bipolar Disorder. One of the first places that I went to in 2010 was to my local bookstore. I did not find one single book on Pediatric Bipolar. I was told they could order The Bipolar Child by Papolos since it was not in stock. Instead, I found Bipolar Disorder for Dummies. I thumbed through this book only to find one  little chapter about children with Bipolar. At the tail end of the chapter, it read, "For more information and support, go to Child and Adolescent Bipolar" (This organization is now called The Balanced Mind Parent Network.) I closed the book, put it back on the shelf where it belonged, and left the store richer than when I walked in.
Upon returning home, I rushed inside to look up the website on my computer. At this site, I found a wealth of information and support. I would read the stories that other parents shared and be thankful that my child wasn't "that bad." Even though I was an active member I was in denial for a long time.
Then came Princess' first hospital stay. We were 100 miles from home and I was scared. The first place I turned to was my online support group. The parents loved on me, gave me advice and virtual hugs.
Over the years, I slowly became one of the "experts" in my support group and was asked to be a volunteer to help others. Initially, I declined because I had so much going on in my personal life that I was unable to give to others. Eventually, I decided to help out. During a time that I was grieving the loss of my life long passion, teaching; I wondered what I would do next. My therapist assured me that I would find something as it is my "legacy" to help others. This is when my volunteering efforts really made me feel needed outside of my family. I cannot explain it. It is just a part of me. I truly enjoy helping others.
Every year I would hear about a huge conference in Washington, D.C. where  parents and family members were given the opportunity to educate Congress about mental health issues. I wanted to go but again the timing was never right. Finally, this year when The Balanced Mind asked their volunteers if anyone wanted to go, I emailed that I would like to go. I also asked if my daughter could join me as she is the face of mental health. I was met with yeses every step of the way.
My daughter and I are thrilled to be given the chance to speak to members of Congress. In a way, it is a dream come true for both of us. It all began with a sentence in a book. I don't think that was a coincidence at all.

Here's your chance to help me out. What do you think are the concerns of parents of children with mental health issues in America? Comment either here or on my Facebook page. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My Family's Journey with Medication

Recently a friend of mine asked me how my husband and I were able to get our daughter to take medicine. I thought she asked about the process so I began explaining how we practiced with mini M&M's before she ever tried pills. Princess was a pro from the very beginning.  She mastered the skill on the first day. After my explanation, my friend rephrased the question so that I knew that she meant more about buy-in than the actual act.
I explained that it took us a long time to achieve success. My husband and I had to be committed to the importance of medications for our daughter. We didn't give up even after many failed attempts. I never felt that my daughter was a guinea pig. I researched various books and talked to lots of parents so I knew that every brain is wired differently. That means a medication that can work on one child's brain, may not work on my child's. I knew this would be a long arduous process.
I never stuck with a psychiatrist who was not helping my child. The first psychiatrist we had worked like a factory supervisor. It was all about the number of people that he saw. It was never about taking the time to get to know my child. The second one we saw had this same god complex, but she also did not get along with my daughter or our family. She didn't return phone calls in a timely manner and then was upset when we took our child to the ER after a bad reaction to a certain medication. Our therapist recommended the psychiatrist we have now.  Our current doctor would go to the ends of the earth for my child or any patient of hers.
In the beginning, there were times when Princess would spit out her pills or throw them across the room. When that happened, there was a consequence such as a loss of a privilege along with an explanation as to why  these drugs were important. I felt it was crucial that my daughter knew that we as a family were serious about getting her the help she needed.
As we traveled along this journey I educated my daughter about each of the medications she was taking as soon as she became curious about them. At first she wasn't interested in their names. She only wanted to know that the green pill helped her to focus, the white capsule helped her to not obsess so much etc. At time went on and she matured, she had a desire to know the exact name of each medication. She now knows when I've goofed up and forgotten a certain pill or if I gave her too much of one thing. Her body knows when it is about time to have them because my husband and I have been so consistent with dispensing them daily.
I know that some families choose to go the supplement route or to make dietary changes. Our family chose the medication route. We dove in right from the start. I think it is like anything we do as parents. We do the best we can and give it all we've got.
I'm so glad that my family chose to stick it out. The benefits we have seen have been life changing. I actually enjoy spending time with my daughter. Before stability, this was not true.
I do worry that when my daughter is ready to spread her wings and leave the nest, she might choose to go off of her medications. That is something we will have to deal with when the time comes. For now educating her about her medications, is the best preventative measure that we can make.

It's worth it!