Read below for a guest post from Sheila Temple.
Madison would always answer the cursory questions Dr. Jim asked her. For example:
Dr. Jim: How is school going?
Dr. Jim: How are you getting along with your friends?
Madison: Pretty good
Dr. Jim: Are you having any trouble sleeping?
Madison: A little
Dr. Jim: Today do you feel angry?
This particular visit was an attempt to figure out how to help Madi relate to other people better. Also how to prevent melt downs, that were still happening numerous times a day. And more than anything, how to get our family moving towards a happier place and for her to feel that as well. She had already dealt with so many issues in the few years since her adoption at six.
Just a regular psychiatrist appointment scheduled on a Wednesday afternoon, like normal for us every three months, did not seem monumental. Sitting on the overstuffed couch, staring at the weeble toys, books, and normal blocks that we always played with, she began to talk. She never talks at the psychiatrist’s office. NEVER.
She wanted a turn to talk. Using her normal gestures to help her relate meaning, she began to say that she didn’t like how she was feeling. From that conversation we began to hear these things:
* I don’t want to say ‘I will kill you’ to my mom and dad and sisters. I love them.
* I don’t like the things in my brain that are bad.
* My brain is messed up.
* I don’t want to feel like this (an arm motion of up and down like hills), but I want to feel like this (a hand motion of a straight line)
BINGO. The word “bipolar” had been uttered only a few times. Not sure what bipolar looked like, my mind began to process—this must be what it sounds like. For almost 3 years we had listened and probed and tried to figure out what was going on inside of this, sweet pixie-faced little one’s complicated brain.
It never even entered my mind that bipolar was a possibility but now (more than ever) the symptoms were all there. This was her perfectly articulated way of telling us. The sleepless nights, the night terrors, the incessant screaming for the smallest things, and the threats of harming family members are all symptoms to watch for. A different direction as how to help her get to a “straight line” kind of life.
I have read many times that being able to be grateful for things that are not going so well can actually be the place to start to turn things around. Bipolar is not what I wanted to hear, but it has made all of the difference for us these last six years. We are making progress and planning a very exciting sweet 16 birthday party at the end of this month. I am grateful for this diagnosis! It has changed our bumpy life into a smoother ride!
Sheila Temple is a wife, mother, aspiring grandmother, and author of two faith based adoption books: Gotcha Day: A Celebration of Adoption (Crossbooks, 2011) and Chinese Take Out: An Adoption Memoir (Tate, 2014).