Moms of children who live with mood disorder
You’re not alone. In fact, 1 in 5 children ages 13 to 18 have, or will have a serious mental illness (National Alliance on Mental Illness [NAMI],n.d). I’m one of those moms. I have a daughter who lives with bipolar disorder. She was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 19 years old. This is somewhat deceiving though because she had presented with the signs and symptoms of a mood disorder years prior. However, her father and I didn’t understand what she was enduring and trying to cope with. By the time she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she had experienced a suicide attempt, her first hospitalization, and an initial diagnosis of major depression. A few months later she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and on May 21st, 2010 she attempted suicide again, this time it was a near fatal attempt and culminated in a medically induced coma. Miraculously, she survived.
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On this journey with her, as her mom, I’ve accrued some credible, helpful resources that have helped me, my family and my daughter cope. Today, I’m sharing 6 resources with you that I have found to be incredibly important to have in my parenting toolbox and that I oftentimes share with moms who walk a similar walk. I’ve noted them below.
Resources for moms of children who live with mood disorder:
Parents Medication Guide for Bipolar Disorder in Children & Adolescents (Prepared by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
The Bipolar Medication Guide is a medication guide, but it’s also so much more. You will find that bipolar disorder is defined, causes and symptoms are addressed, and questions from parents that pertain to diagnosis, co-occurring disorders, suicide, and treatment are answered. In addition, the parent’s role is discussed as well as school concerns. Important to note, if you are the parent of a child who lives with ADHD or depression, there is a guide for you as well. You can find the additional guides, prepared by the AACAP, here: ParentsMedGuide.org.
The Balanced Mind Parent Network (a program of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)
The Balanced Mind Parent Network facilitates wellness from childhood through adulthood. You will find a wealth of information at the BMPN. I’d like to highlight several areas of their website that you may find particularly helpful. As you familiarize yourself with their website, I encourage you to check out the Getting Started article even if this isn’t new territory for you because topics like Police Intervention and The Impact of Bipolar Disorder on the Family are addressed. A lot of ground is covered, and you never know what you might discover that could possibly help you and your child. They also offer Education Corner. There you will find information pertaining to becoming an effective educational advocate for your child, and the IEP process is discussed. Additionally, they provide Parent Online Support Communities and a Family Helpline. Both the Parent Online Support Communities and the Family Helpline welcome you.
Does your child text? All of my children do and have for years. Of course, as parents, we hope that our children never need crisis intervention services. However, as a preventative measure, we can share important tools with them such as the Crisis Text Line just in case they ever need to reach out for help. All a person needs to do to seek help from the Crisis Text Line is text START to 741-741. My daughter didn’t have this information when she was experiencing suicidal ideations and acted on those ideations. Can you imagine how different her story might be had she had this information?
The mission of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is to provide hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of people who have mood disorders. They offer a multitude of resources and tools for persons living with a mood disorder. And in particular, they offer a Friends and Family Center for parents like us. I encourage you to check out their What Helps and What Hurts guide. Within the guide, you’ll find a chart that lists some helpful statements to consider using when talking with your child. I encourage you to check out all that DBSA has to offer.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a non-profit organization that I encourage you to check out. They offer the Family Members and Caregivers guide. In addition, they offer the Learning to Help Your Child and Your Family guide. Within each of those guides, you will find additional resources as well. NAMI offers a free, 6-week educational program called NAMI Basics. It’s a class for parents and family caregivers of children and teens who are experiencing symptoms of mental illness or who have already been diagnosed. To find the nearest NAMI Basics class near you, click here: NAMI Basics. They also offer additional NAMI Programs, Discussion Groups and the NAMI Helpline. You can find your local NAMI on the NAMI home page. The NAMI Helpline phone number is 1-800-950-6264.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is yet another valuable resource to know about. They are available 24/7, and the Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They offer a Get Help guide, Learn More and even help for Veterans, Young adults, and Bullying. They offer a Suicide Prevention Toolkit that includes a safety plan template. You could share the lifeline phone number with your child and/or give them a Lifeline wallet card that you can download and print. I shared a wallet card with my daughter, and she ended up helping a friend by giving her friend the wallet card.
Finally, these 6 resources are just the tip of the iceberg.
I’ll be sharing many more resources and tips with you in the near future regarding a multitude of topics that pertain to caring and supporting our children who live with mental illness as well as caring for ourselves. In the meantime, I encourage you to check these resources out and add them to your parenting toolbox too so that you will have them if, and when, you need them. Remember, you’re not alone, and there are resources available to help you care for your child who lives with a mood disorder. Let’s walk the walk together. Do you have resources that you’ve found helpful? Please feel free to comment.
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National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/Children-MH-Facts-NAMI.pdf