Granted, this is a letter written in retrospect to my parents about my illness and what happened as it began. In writing this I aim to show parents what it can be like when your child is going through an unexpected episode of bipolar, and to show the priceless value of parental support through a child’s struggle with bipolar disorder.
Dear Mom & Dad,
Do you recall how depressed I was in 2003? It seemed like I was on the brink of the blackest bottoming out. Then without notice, my mind was a buoy, bobbing on cresting waves of euphoria.
Evidently, the changes I went through my junior year of high school lent themselves to my breakdown. I guess the switch to private school wasn’t all I expected it to be. I wanted a Christian education with a Biblical worldview, but it wasn’t black and white that way. I was ignored by my classmates, sidelined for my poor soccer performance, shamed for being late or showing any opposition to the rules, and undermined when I began to have a voice.
My actions and behaviors may have been a bit strange, especially when I stalked my class crush, but I don’t think I meant to embarrass him or you. I simply wanted everything to fall into place. After all, there’s a place for everything, and a time for everything. I was just listening to my instincts…I think.
The days were trying. Mom, I remember you meeting my spiritual awakening with such a fear…even an unwanted denial. Dad, I felt as though you barely saw the depressed me. And then when I began to get happy again, Mom, you didn’t know what to do. I’m sorry for jumping on the car and trying to call my classmate at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning. Dad, I’m sorry I didn’t know my spontaneous raps and rhymes were really a manic high. Though it was pretty cool I could do that, wasn’t it?
I apologize for such crazy behaviors, but I understand that at the time none of us had a clue what I was going through. There was no one to brief us on the surprises that bipolar disorder would bring. Who would have known I was destined to break from reality and be disposed to this burden of a disease? It wasn’t like there was a handbook that came with me at birth letting you know “at sixteen, Katie will quickly descend into bipolar depression and need immediate psychiatric care.” There simply wasn’t a sign or foretelling clue. At all.
So, not only do I apologize, but I thank you. I thank you for the patience you bore as my symptoms emerged. I thank you for getting me to a psychiatrist when you did. I thank you for your support and unwavering presence while I was in the hospital for 21 days. I thank you for your work to get me to an outpatient clinic for more help. I thank you for advocating for me at school, to keep me in classes so I could finish my studies to pass for the year. I thank you for your hearts of compassion, to see me at my worst and love me unconditionally. And I thank you for all the time and effort that went into keeping me well. You were my biggest supporters. I couldn’t have made it out as well as I did without you.
To God be the glory. He was there in providing me the parents you have been to me. I hope this gives my story more clarity and closure for you. I love you.