Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mother Knows Best

Don't mess with a mama bear and her cubs. Mothers will not let anything harm her children. When it comes to the safety of her kids, her natural motherly instincts will kick into high gear. She will protect her young at all costs.

Almost a year ago I found myself in the emergency room. One of my sons had attempted to suicide. He had confided in his brother who alerted us about what had happened. It was a struggle, but we convinced our son to allow us to bring him to the hospital. I was scared because I had read that one in five people with bipolar disorder succeed in ending their lives. I knew that his actions were serious because, to be honest, I made numerous attempts to kill myself in my youth. I knew that this was not just a way of getting attention; it was a plea for help.

When he was admitted to the hospital a social worker interviewed him. I told her that I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that it was a hereditary illness. She dismissed the idea stating that she felt that he suffered from only depression. The social worker expressed that his behavior could be attributed to the normal behavior exhibited by adolescents his age. She suggested that we should follow-up with our family doctor and ask for a prescription for an antidepressant. When I told her about my concerns about antidepressants and bipolar disorder she recommended that we could ask for “mild” one.

Biting my tongue, in my head I was screaming, "Are you eff-ing kidding me! Seriously, are you that ignorant? Ms. Know-It-All, you have no idea about what you are talking about. I would never have known that I had bipolar disorder if it weren't for having a bad reaction with an antidepressant; it put me in a hypermanic phase. You do not arbitrarily give an antidepressant to someone who has a high probability of having bipolar disorder!”

Her suggestions did not sit well with me. I did not believe the stuff that was coming out of her mouth. For one, a general practitioner is not adequately educated when it comes to the field of mental health, especially mood disorders. Secondly, a doctor other than a psychiatrist will not regularly follow up with my child and know how to adjust any prescribed medications. Finally, I cannot guarantee that a “generic” doctor will be responsible enough to refer my child to a good psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in mood disorders. I will start my child’s treatment by finding a mental health professional of my choice, thank you!

No matter what she could say, it would not change the feelings that I felt within the depths of my soul. I know my children. I have researched my disorder extensively. That trumped any “expert” advice that she could have given me. My intuition said that she was wrong. She was wasting her breath by trying to convince me otherwise.

I am glad I followed my gut instincts. Soon after that event, my son went through a battery of psychological testing and interviews. He got an official diagnosis of bipolar disorder. After his diagnosis, I wanted him to start medication and therapy right away. At one of his first appointments he decided that he didn't need help, he just wanted a diagnosis. We fought in the car on the way home. I informed him about the high suicide rate associated with the disorder and reminded him of his trip to the emergency room. I started to cry. I told him that I did not want him to die.

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