WEGO Health's National Blogging Month challenge. I have accepted the challenge to write a new blog post every day for thirty days, using the prompt they have given me. Today's prompt is: My TV show. Write about the TV show based on your life or blog. Wow, where to begin? I like the prompt, but it seems that I have too many options. First of all, I suppose I need to pick a genre. Drama, reality, comedy, horror, documentary? I suppose reality or documentary would be the obvious choices, although I am not convinced that anyone would be entertained by watching my life. Therefore, rather than discuss a fictional account of my life, why don't I just discuss my life? It makes more sense to me.
Cycling. An innocent enough word, unless you are the parent of a child with bipolar disorder. Then it becomes terrifying. Right now, we are at the beginning of a manic cycle. It starts out innocently enough. Suddenly, your child only needs four hours of sleep every night, and if you're lucky, maybe a two hour nap in the afternoon. However, (at least at the beginning) they are animated and happy, so you deal with the sleep deprivation by taking a nap while they are at school, and becoming close personal friends with coffee and Red Bull. The time for panic hasn't come yet.
Then you hit the peak of the cycle. Your sweet little boy becomes mean and aggressive. He hits you, and kicks you, and bites you. He throws things. By now, if you're smart, you've already locked up the knives and scissors (if he was even stable enough to store them unlocked in the first place, which is unlikely). You make frantic phone calls to his psychiatrist, who advises you to tweak the dosage on this or that med. He might suggest (depending on the severity of the psychosis) an inpatient admission to the children's psychiatric hospital. Your home, and life, become a battleground. You live for the two hours that your son is gone at school, so you can frantically eat, bathe, make a quick post to your online support group letting them know that you are alive, and lay on the couch and cry. You advise your friends and family to not come over, he's not stable enough for company, and it's not safe. You might send your daughter to go stay with her father for awhile. Your life begins to feel completely surreal.
Then comes the down slide. If you didn't end up inpatient with the last portion of the cycle, here's what your reality becomes now. Your child tells you over and over again that he wants to die. He must be watched, 24/7. Period. He can't even be left alone when he is sleeping, someone has to sleep with him. If you have to pee, and you are alone with him, you station him outside the bathroom door and make him talk to you the entire time you are in the bathroom. Privacy no longer exists, for you, or for him. To keep him safe, you have to observe everything he does-dress, bathe, use the restroom, everything. You do the best you can, turn your back, or whatnot, but he cannot be left alone. Period. Luckily for us, this portion of the cycle usually only lasts a day or two for Kastle.
Then we hit "normal". Our normal, I am sure, is far different than your normal. Even during "normal", he's still having at least one meltdown every day, maybe as many as three or four. While he doesn't require absolute constant supervision at this stage, he certainly requires more than a neurotypical nine year old would. You're still handing out medication three times a day. However, you can have people over, make phone calls, go to the grocery store, and do many other things that most people take for granted. You feel like you have breathing room, a little bit of time to regain your sanity before it starts over again.
And that's it, in a nutshell. The length of time it takes to go through this cycle varies widely. It can happen within a day or two, or sometimes it takes months. Our hope is that at some point, between medication, therapy, and getting older, Kastle won't have to go through this anymore.
Does this change your thoughts about what a family with a mentally ill child goes through? Did you have a different perception? Please leave a comment, I'm always interested in what you have to say!
This post was written as part of NHBPM -30 health posts in 30 days.