What do we tell him?

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So how much is to much for our kids to know about their illness/disease ?
For years when dude had 8 different diagnosis, we only told him bits and pieces. We didn’t want him thinking he could do less, was less because of his conditions.
With the years came us sharing more information with him.
With the diagnosis of bipolar came a cross road for us as parents. What do we tell him? How do we explain something we still don’t fully understand.
I initially sat him down after a very rapid day and told him in a few words what bipolar is, how it affects him, etc. We left it there. But with the moods, the feelings came daily dialogue. And so though there was no long drawn out discussion, bipolar and conversation, coping,and learning for ALL of us has just become normal conversation in our days.
We questioned giving him the name, definition, details.  There was some concern around him Googling bipolar and being made to feel worse, concern about him using it as an excuse, mainly to stay home.
So here’s my thought. How can we move forward with treatment when he doesn’t know what they are helping him with? That would just cause undo anxiety, confusion and become overwhelming.  He needs to be an active participant in his treatment plan. He needs to understand the mechanics of what he has. He holds a lot of guilt, more often than not saying, “I’m not trying to be this way “. He is 12, and needs to know why he feels these insanely rapid moods  To have such rapid emotions, and the coping skills he has not working, it becomes very frustrating and overwhelming for him, making it cycle faster.
As for using it as an excuse:  First I think I’m throwing that word in my do not use bucket. His illness IS NOT an excuse. Ask him, he will tell you he hates feeling the way he does.
Second,  he’s a kid. All kids are going to try anything to stay home from school at times. There’s very few kids that hop out of bed, ready and excited every day of the school year ☺ I believe him using his illness at times to stay home is no different than his little sister using a tummy ache. Our job as his parents is to gauge when he is trying to stay home to play, or really needs to stay home because he’s low. We have a few signs we use to determine which is which for him. Those signs he does not know! They are clear signs to us as his parents as to weather we can encourage or sometimes push fairly hard to get him out the door,or hug him, calm him and let him stay. Anyone with children with almost any mental issues can vouch as to just how hard it is to get our kiddos to leave the comfort of their home. That’s a whole different post!  I also wonder how I would feel if everyone around me knew something about me and didn’t tell me. Not very good. I try hard to educate others and bring awareness, how fair is it if he doesn’t even know?
My point is we chose at 12 years old to let him have the knowledge of his disease in hope’s that it allows him some peace of mind amongst his lifelong turmoil. So he can at this young age learn and carry skills that one day may save his life.

*again I say each child is different. Every age is different. And what works for us may not for others.

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