I've been wrestling with a decision in regards to this blog. This post has been germinating since April, when The Kid was re-diagnosed: the bipolar diagnosis was dropped, Aspergers was added, and the ADHD, prominent as ever, remained. I've dreamed that this blog is a signpost for some mother, out there in the middle of the night, googling for answers to her questions about her little kid, who can't function in school, who has temper tantrums way beyond what she'd ever expect of a child before she experienced them, and had been given an indication that these troubles with her child were not from shitty parenting, but from something psychiatric, neurological, brain-based. I could never truly be a guide or an expert, but I've hoped to provide a comforting beacon, You aren't alone.
I don't want that beacon to stop shining, but I want so badly to erase The Kid's history of being considered bipolar from the face of the earth. He was so wronged by being given that diagnosis, and the medications that go with it. I want to irradicate the notion that my child was unrecoverable, as conventional wisdom considers bipolar a life-long struggle, one that is viewed by many as only treatable by medication. I took the advice, and gave him the meds, and we started a spiral of violent behavior and school struggle and weight gain, until the pictures I took of The Kid, his face swolen and heavy, his moody depression and way-too-early-cynicism rendered him almost unrecognizable. I couldn't believe this was it, that my boy was this person, was going to remain this person, and was going to grow into the teen and the adult that would constantly bring me trouble: spending too much, drinking or doing drugs, police reports: when I looked to the future, it was bleak.
I finally cocked my guns and went into the psychiatrist and told her I was done with medications. I wanted to see him off of them. It took so long to recover, it got worse before it got better, and if there is one thing I want my beacon to say to the late night googlers: Anti-psychotics cause withdrawals that make the withdraw-er psychotic. Bipolar. It takes months for the effects to go away. So next time you hear of someone crazy who's gone off of their meds recently, keep in mind that this is not necessarily proof that the person really is crazy and needs the medication, but proof that the drug is leaving the body. For us, it took about 45 ugly days from his last dose to see my baby again.
It sounds strange, but the official autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, the Asperger's, was greeted as good news to me. Autism, while horribly disabling and lifelong, comes with strategies we'd not tried before. There is recovery, and recovery that isn't entirely dependent upon medications. I know so many moms of kids with Autism that would think I'm nuts for saying that, but after being where we've been Asperger's is like a big glass of ice water on a hot day: not like we'd never be thirsty again, but refreshing for now.
And so, the byline to this blog is changing. The Kid is not Bipolar. He still hasn't come out of the cookie cutter, but now when I look into the future, it's just as foggy, and I still have concern, but it isn't as bleak.