Their behaviors seem odd or unpredictable to themselves as much as to society. They are misunderstood and overlooked, thus the name "Forgotten Kids. Maybe I can bring understanding by showing and providing insight into the life of a child struck with mental illness and hopefully people will realize that my child is just as special as the next. An estimated 7,000,000 children in Missouri that suffers from these "invisible disabilities. " Mental illness not only affects the life of the child but the whole community. I live with this fact every day because my son suffers from Bipolar, better known as Manic Depression.
Bipolar children long to be free of the strange feelings of sadness or euphoria and the voices that torment them. They wish for a good nights sleep and hope for a day when they can put their words on paper. They dream of friends who don"t abandon them when their moods change; and look for a miracle in the eyes of doctors who don"t always believe that bipolar can happen to a child. Until society becomes more aware and accepting of these illnesses, our future children with these disabilities stand no chance.
My son,was diagnosed at age nine after his third stay in a child"s psychiatric unit. He was admitted following a period of behaviors I could not understand nor control. I remember him being "different" (I now know he was Manic) as far back as three years old, leaving me with raging emotions of guilt, shame, loss and grief. By age nine, he had begun lying, stealing, destroying property, setting fires, and hurting himself (these are called rages. ) He had no friends at school, though he would say that wasn"t true.
He was filled with an anger I could not comprehend. Most people who knew us said it was my fault as a parent that if I would just "control" him, he would be fine. Not only was my son stigmatized but so was I. Not until we located the right doctor and started the proper medications that he needed was he "fine. " Through the years as the medication began working its wonders a new child began to emerge. He laughs, he plays, but most of all he talks about what he feels. He would say that we cannot conceive his isolation, and the depth of it at times.
He would apologize for the fact that he couldn"t offer me better understanding. I realized then that what he gives is so much more valuable. He gives me an opportunity to discover the depth of my character, my love, my commitment, my patience, my ability to cope, and the opportunity to explore my spirit more deeply than I ever imagined. I told him that because of him, I am driven to go further than I would have ever gone on my own, working harder, seeking answers to the many questions that seemed to have no answers.
He describes a world that seems to pass him by. How he longs to run and play like other children. How sometimes it is a challenge just to crawl from his bed in the morning. Hearing this it becomes obvious how much "normal" people take for granted and how we forget how precious life is. We"re not burdened with the strifes and conflicts of a much more complicated life. I only wish he could enjoy the freedom of just being a child.
He cries from the loneliness that tears his world apart wondering if he is bad or evil and why he isn"t like everyone else. I can"t answer, except to say there is a reason we just don"t understand it. His ability to live through the nightmare of his life is amazing. It"s not easy raising a child with a mental illness but what is even harder is not being accepted by your community because of ignorance and fear. To let a physical, neurological, biochemical or mental handicap stand in the way of these children"s future would be a major tragedy.