Journal Entry: The Story of a Bipolar Child – “Hopeless”
Last night I heard my mom say maybe she would like me to have cancer or something, instead of what I have is my bipolar. It really made me sad and made me mad! When I finally asked my mom, “why” she said “if only you had cancer or lymphoma or something like that.” Everyone would understand, everyone would be sorryâ¦ It would be so much easier than bipolar! She told me that I would have a better chance to be healed and to live, not to die. She said I would have fun with all the flowers, balloons, toys and special snacks! She said that important people like rappers and athletes could even help me, could even do fun things for me! And if I shaved my bald head, no one would laugh, they would even say âthat’s coolâ. Mom said then, the insurance would cover more, and people might even help me with money, if we needed itâ¦ Instead, no one wants to give something nice or pay attention to one. “Bad” child like me.
I’m just a mess. Is it my fault? My mother’s? My father? But my doctor says I can help myself. And my family. There are things I can do to help my BP. So, I don’t feel that bad. I just need people to care too. Not just to be “sick” of my “illness”. I want to be “normal”! I want to be well! I want to be good! I want to try! I will do it! But, please, please help me and take care of me too, even though I don’t have cancer!
Author: Anonymous (2002; excerpt from the diary of a high school student who works in second year)
Collected by: Ann Hull (former teacher and friend)
Editor: Shaheen Lakhan
Editor’s Note: The following diary entry portrays a child suffering not only from the crippling symptoms of psychopathology, namely bipolar disorder, but the child also faces the harsh and real impact of social stigma on mental health (prejudice, mistrust, stereotypes, fear, embarrassment, anger and / or avoidance). The stigma of people with mental disorders has persisted throughout history. Such ideology has built barriers that discourage people from seeking mental health treatment and, often overlooked though important, thwart treatment plans for those who courageously seek care. This is especially troubling in children, as they are seen in the context of a larger unit (family, peer group, and their larger physical and cultural environment). In their age groups, human contact is essential for good development and stigma can deprive children of their dignity and full participation in society.
Surgeon General Dr Carmona addressed mental health in a famous and long-awaited report that recognizes mental illness and stigma as a public health dilemma. He says that over the past 40 years, the stigma in some settings has intensified despite our increased knowledge of mental illness. He found that advocacy, public education, and outreach programs for people with mental illness in schools and other societal institutions can reduce stigma, in addition to active research in psychopathology. Dr Carmona says it best: âmost importantly, [people] should become much more receptive [that] mental health and mental illness are part of the mainstream of health, and they are of concern to everyone â.
Ann Hull is an educator, writer and researcher with over 25 years of experience. She encountered bipolar disorder in her personal family environment. Additionally, for over eight years, Ms. Hull taught children in a special education environment, who had been diagnosed with a number of psychiatric disorders, including bipolar, schizophrenia, autism, and Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.