Bipolar Disorder can destroy a family. It can also enable family members to help others. When my stepson was initially diagnosed in elementary school with early onset bipolar disorder with rapid cycling, I had to educate myself very quickly. The treatment options are not agreed upon and the medications with their side effects can be terrifying. (Comments removed)
There are support groups, online forums and listserv's, and some books for parents. I used the new Ask a Librarian feature of Heineman-Raintree to research emotional disorders for me. We found agencies like Tennessee Voices for Children very effective as we engaged in the I.E.P. dance with school. Sometimes you just need an advocate on your side. Even educated parents struggle when the issue is emotional.
Trends in Disorders?
Teaching for so many years I have witnessed the trends in diagnoses: ADD, ADHD, Bipolar, Autistm…. While I was weeding this spring, I pulled many of the initial books on hearing aids and visual impairments. I noted we have more therapy books on allergies, asthma and diabetes. But it's the emotional disorders that continue to be neglected in children's literature. You can search and find a few non-mainstream titles, but there are not many titles written for a general audience and for the children of bipolar parents.
One excellent newer children's book is Sometimes Mommy Gets Angry by BeBe Moore Campbell. Published and reviewed in 2003 I didn't find this until J.T. Fisher, my representative from Children's Plus, came by and showed it to me. The illustrations by E. B. Lewis were a perfect match. I was so excited to see this, but did find the emotions it sparked within me very intense. I tried it out with my counselor and she thought it was a wonderful title showing how children bounce back and can survive nearly anything.
My library assistant, however, had a completely different reaction. She was very upset by the book and the aspect of a child in danger from an untreated bipolar parent raging simply calling a grandparent and hiding in the corner. She didn't want children who had never experienced this to come across the book on the shelf and be frightened. The school psychologist agreed that the book demonstrated the resiliency of youth, but also suggested it best kept as bibliotherapy and in the counselor's hands.
I ask you….
"What would you do? Would you purchase this book and simply place it in the picture book section for everyone to read?" From the reviews on amazon.com that is how many people stumbled across this title because it sure enough is not being highlighted in the library world! Would you limit and restrict this book to only those children that YOU KNOW are in similar situations? Aha! You can see where I'm going with that question. Most people don't see who has an emotional disorder or who is dealing with a family member with an emotional disorder. It's not like a physical disorder that can be more easily agreed upon and has a pre-determined treatment plan like cancer and heart disorders.
Comment on this blog….
I'm very interested in your opinion. The pendulum swings on bibliotherapy and school librarians. Where are you in this discussion? Emotionally one of the books that helped me as an adult was Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy. Written as a set of poems from the point of view of a 13 year old whose emotions change as she wathes her sister battle an emotional breakdown, this title helped many people as I shared it with other adults. Finally it disappeared into the netherlands of sharing and didn't return to me. I hope it continued to help others.
Write me a book….
Now, if I could only get a children's author to write books about surviving police visits and watching a parent being removed from the house. I have dealt with this at school for years, but we don't have any titles to let children know it's not the complete ending of their world. Where's the web site where I can tell publishers all the special needs I have for books to be written? Wait! I know! I can continue to blog my ideas, participate in LM_NET, be part of a larger organization like ALA and attend conferences like ALA Annual and AASL National Conference and TELL THE PUBLISHERS in the exhibit halls what I need. Trust me, it works. Will you be there with me?