I grew up in a godly Christian home with parents and siblings who loved me. I had a completely “normal” life in that I grew up, went to college, and married. There was nothing out of the ordinary in the script my life took.
Like most couples, Bob and I wanted children and after a few years of settling down we took the leap and had our first son, Jack. Everything seemed normal then as well and along came James after a few years.
It was not until around Jack’s 5th birthday that we began to be really concerned. While we had some minor challenges before this time there was nothing so completely out of the norm that it concerned us. But around his 5th birthday we began to see his expression of emotion swing in wild extremes. Over the three years that followed we saw rapid and extreme changes in emotion from giddy laughter to paranoid fear to depths of despair to raging anger, often seemingly unconnected to the circumstances around him.
Like many who have shared this journey we initially reeled from the chaos it created in our home. We tried everything we could think of to help from prayer to counseling to nutrition to exercise. After more than two years of unpredictable chaos we finally took the last step in the exploration — we tried medication. We had determined that we would not go the medication route until we felt we had exhausted every other possible resource and until we were in complete agreement that it was absolutely necessary. After two years, we were spent. I finally told the doctor that he needed to put ME on meds or my SON on meds — even then I was trying to maintain some level of good humor.
Within days of trying a mood stabilizer our home became less chaotic. Within months we actually had some moments of “normalcy.” Within the year he was formally diagnosed with early onset bipolar disorder.
We have been on this road for many years now. There have been good days and bad days. Much like the illness itself we have had our ups and downs. But we are still together as a family. Bob and I have walked the challenging road together. We have come to rely on each other as indispensable partners in the challenge and on the presence of God as the underlying grace to sustain us no matter what life or this disability brings us.
We count ourselves blessed to be raising such remarkable boys. God entrusted them to our care because He knew we would rely on Him in the task. He knew we could not do it on our own and He knew we would learn that.
Every birthday we celebrate with our son is a celebration of victory. We have walked another year as a family. We have walked another year with God. We still have many challenging days before us. But we will walk those days as we have learned — relying on the faithfulness of God to sustain us in each moment.