Controlling Chaosroughdraft1


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This is a story about my personal journey raising a daughter with Bipolar disorder.

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Controlling Chaosroughdraft1

  1. 1. CONTROLLING CHAOS A family with Bi-Polar Disorder Is there a lighter side? Tammy Copechal-Beach Eng. 102 Dr. Nora
  2. 2. This is a story about a family who found the strength and courage to pull Sunshine from the chaos
  3. 3. I would like to dedicate this book to my Mother Dawn and my Aunt Rose One gave me a backbone to be resilient, The other the patience to temper it
  4. 4. I am tired of YOU’RE FUCKING IGNORANT I am tired of FUCKIN STUPID ASSHOLE I am tired of YOU’RE A FUCKING RETARD I am tired of YOU STUPID FUCKING BITCH I am tired of YOU FUCKING FREAK I am tired of YOU’RE STUPID I am tired of YOU’RE FUCKING LAZY I am tired of FUCKING SLUT I am tired of YOU FUCKING CUNT I am tired ofIM GONNA SLIT YOUR THROAT AND SET OFF A BOMB Can’t you just say, I am sorry mom I am tired of FUCKING WHORE I am just tired So please…. no more Author Tammy Beach LET THE CHAOS BEGIN
  5. 5. This is a story about your everyday, typical, dysfunctional, averageAmerican family. There is no such thing as a family without problems. Somefamilies have a parent who is an alcoholic or a child with asthma. Maybe youcould have a grandparent with Alzheimer’s. Every family has some sort of issuethey have to deal with. This is just one story, about one family, from one person’spoint of view, and how they dealt with their dysfunction. This is my story. Hi. I am not sure how to start this book or for that matter write it.Therefore, I think I am just going to go with what I know and how I talk. I think it isimportant that you get to know our family. Who we are, how we live, and wherewe live. Let me introduce myself, my name is Jane Deer, the answer to yourquestion is yes, I am changing everyone’s name. My husband will find the namechange funny considering he is an avid deer hunter. His name by the way will beJohn Deer, funny huh? So, back to what I was doing. I am happily married toJohn; he is a brick and block mason, and owns his own company. He is by nomeans a weak or small man. He is a perfectionist when it comes to work; hisphilosophy is, “a jobs not done unless it’s done right.” As I stated he is an aviddeer hunter, sometimes I think I have to wear antlers just to get a little action. Heis however a very kind and generous man. It has been 20 years and I have notgotten rid of him yet, I think I will keep him. I like to think of myself as a kind andcaring person. I worked in a pre-school, specializing in autism, for 7 ½ yrs. Iwould like to think I have the patience of a saint. We are blessed with three verydifferent children. Kyle, age 20, has an IQ of 143. He should be a politician. He isa charmer and loves to debate an issue until its dead. Next is Kalee, age 17, withan IQ of 136. She has the persistence and determination of a starving mosquito.Then there is my baby girl Karee. She is 14, has never had an IQ test, and is thenext Martha Stewart, minus the jail time hopefully. Included in our family is; Mama Mia (our St. Bernard), our cats, Tigger andKing Chuck or fatboy as I like to call him, 4 Rats; Sophie, Tink, Cookie, andScabbers, and last but not least a Chinese Water Dragon. She really doesn’thave a name except when she escapes. Then John has a few choice names forher when he finds her in the laundry basket. There is my sister, Nurse Ellie Rn,who lives just one block away. She is married with children, Adam age 12 isdiagnosed with Autism, kids with autism typically have a hard time in verbal, no-verbal, social communication, and leisure or play activities.(NationalAutismAssociation (nd). There is also her daughter, April age 9. Why isthis important? They play a huge part in our family. I was raised in a large familyand where taught that family comes first. Later on, you will understand why Imention this. We live in a 4-bedroom home on the river. In a picturesque smalltown sort of like Mayberry, love it or hate it, this is my family.
  6. 6. I would like to start off by introducing you to my girl Kalee. She is thesecond to be born and the first to hit the ground running. Being born at only 4lbsshe was determined to survive, by the time she was 3 months old she was in awalker, with towels stuffed around her to keep her in, watching basketball on TV.This was the only way I could get her to stop crying. She can be completelyindependent at times and entirely attached to my hip at others. She has anindomitable spirit and hates the word no and has been my most challengingchild. I would find her playing in her bedroom at all hours of the night and still beready to go during the day. The doctors however could find nothing wrong withher, which was a relief and heartache at the same time. At the young age of 2she was diagnosed with sever migraines and night terrors. Despite lack of sleepand debilitating headaches she was always looking for something to do. Kalee was a beautiful toddler, with strawberry blonde hair and big greyeyes, with a laugh and smile that was contagious. She was a firecracker fromthe start and never sat still. From the moment she woke up, until the moment shefell asleep, she was on the go. Not only was she extremely active, she was verydemanding. She was a tiny little thing, who would stomp her little foot andcommand everyone’s attention. At just 5 years old, she decided to find herindependence. It was a beautiful warm summer day, one that makes you want to beoutside and feel the sun on your back. The smell of the fresh cut grass wasintoxicating. There was a warm gentle breeze coming off the river that cooled theskin without being cold. It was the kind of day that’s perfect for taking off yourshoes, getting down in the dirt and planting flowers. Kalee and I went out to thegarden to get really messy. We were planting flowers in the garden for about onehour, Kalee asked to play with Sally, who lives four houses down. ”Mom can I play with Sally?” “You don’t want to stay and help me plant flowers anymore?” “No, Sally has a new puppy. I want to play with it.” “Alright, but you stay there and don’t go anywhere else okay.” “Okay, can I ride my bike?” “Yes, just stop at the intersection and look for cars” “Its okay mom they’ll stop” “Ha ha not funny little miss, just stop at the intersection okay” “Okay mom” I watched her ride her bike to Sally’s house and enter the yard. I went back tomy gardening. About 45 minutes later the phone rang. It was my friend Janetwho works at the gas station that happens to be about ½ of a mile from myhouse and across railroad tracks and down a major road. “Do you know where your daughter is?” Janet said. “She is supposed to be at Sally’s house but obviously she is not if you’recalling and asking that question." I got into my car and picked up Kalee and her bike. For fear of losing my
  7. 7. temper I kept my mouth shut during the 2-minute ride back home. Kalee; however, did not. “Mommy aren’t you proud of me. I buyed my own pop."It took all the patience I could muster to not scream at her, as I asked, “Didn’t all the cars and trucks scare you?” “No mommy they would have stopped for me if I told them too." According to, this is what they call grandiosedelusions. A grandiose delusion is when a person or child thinks they areinvincible, have super human powers, and that the laws of nature do not apply tothem (CABF, 2002). It took everything in my power to not spank her little bottomand send her to her room for the rest of her life. She was grounded to my sidefor the rest of the summer. By the time she was nine, she had taken the jet skifor a little ride, told a police officer off, and turned our home into a battleground.Several times, I had asked her pediatrician if she could have ADHD. Hiscomment was that she was just a “high maintenance child”. I grew to hate thatterm. Over the years, she turned into a strongly independent, willful, determinedchild. At 11 years old, she was jumping out of moving cars. When asked why shedid this, with tears in her eyes she said, “I just couldn’t sit in the back no moremom. I had to get out, I couldnt breathe". Her pediatrician finally agreed sheneeded to be evaluated. Our family was diagnosed with a disability. We were diagnosedwith Bi-Polar Disorder with a co-morbidity of Attention Deficit HyperactivityDisorder or BPD/ADHD. Wow what a mouthful. Were we scared? Hell yes! BothJohn and I have experience with BPD. John’s sister- Marie, my mother -Dawnand my cousin -Lynn all have BPD, it’s a family affair. My first introduction tosomeone with BPD was my mother. I can remember there where times when shewould lock herself in her room for days and just cry. Then it would be all over andshe would be the best mom ever. At the time though it wasn’t called BPD it wascalled Manic Depressive. It is important that the general public knows that“Bipolar disorder is a serious but treatable medical illness.” (CABF ProfessionalAdvisory Council, 2002). “The causes of Bipolar disorder aren’t always clear.Scientists are studying it to find out more about possible causes and risk factors.”(NIMH, 2009). I am not sure where I heard this but there is some evidence linkedto there being a genetic aspect to the disorder. This aspect of the disorder is newand still being researched. I am convinced and believe that it is genetic, just lookat how many there are in my family. In one article on a study performed atLudwig-Maximillion University in Munich, Germany says, “family histories ofbipolar disorder were shown in many previous studies to be key variables todifferentiate between bipolar and unipolar disorders.“ Blackwell Munksgaard(2003). The symptoms of BPD can vary greatly from mild to severe and there areseveral types of BPD. There is also Childhood onset Bipolar Disorder, (CBD),which can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms are very similar to ADHD.If I had known what life was going to give me would I have changed anything?No, I love my children just the way they are.
  8. 8. With Bipolar Disorder you will find behaviors such as; trouble sleepingand a very short temper. You might also find appetite changes, trouble stayingfocused, irritability and racing thoughts. (Dowden Publications, 2008) This is aphysical disability that manifests itself mentally. It is not a deficit of character; it isa deficit of their chemical make-up. There are chemicals that our body producesthat help us function. Serotonin is the chemical that wakes us up and keeps usup. Dopamine helps us fall asleep; it is also known as the “feel good” chemical. Iwas told that my daughters brain could be producing unusually high amounts ofthe chemicals; serotonin and testosterone, and not enough dopamine. There arehowever, at the time, no tests that could determine this. Translated, it means shecan stay up for long periods of time and be as mean as a bear if you fall asleepwhile she’s still up. Western Psychiatric Institute of Pittsburgh diagnosed Kalee with Bi-Polar 2 Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at the age of 12. BP Twois also called rapid cycling bpd or severe mood swings all the time. She can gofrom happy to extreme aggression in a matter of seconds. Add ADHD on top ofthat and you have one hot mess. I also feel that she has selective mild colloquialTourette’s syndrome, she has a bad habit of saying inappropriate words atrandom and sometimes not so random times and when she is stressed ornervous she has facial twitches. Tourette’s is a neurological disorder that causesfacial and or vocal tics. (NINDS, July 15, 2008). Just imagine that Dr. Jeckle was a woman, who says what shewants to say, with extreme PMS, who just found out her boyfriend is gay and issleeping with her brother. Now that’s what I call a roller coaster ride, can we sayhomicidal maniac? This is what Kalee’s personality looks like. Some days shelaughs, cries and screams in one breath. Before medication, she used to be ableto stay up for 9-11 days at a time, with little to no sleep. Then, she would crashfor about three days and start the process all over again. Most nights she wouldsleep for about 1 ½ hours. I would try to stay up with her as long as I could. Thiswas next to impossible. It was during these long nights that I learned a lot aboutmy daughter. I knew she slept with the TV on, but I didn’t know it is because sheis terrified of the dark. I soon found out her favorite station is Nickelodeon. I knowmore about SpongeBob than any adult should. I knew she loved animals, but Ididn’t know she doesn’t like them in her room, she doesn’t want them getting onher bed. Some nights we would make popcorn and watch “old” funny movies like"Uncle Buck" or the “National Lampoon” movies which really are not so old.Other nights she would talk, and talk, and talk, until I fell asleep. Other nights Iwould wake up to find her staring at me. When I asked her what the problemwas, she said “mommy I just had to make sure you are breathing and you didn’tdie.” This disturbed me just a bit. The doctors told me to be patient, that with theright medication it would get better. I thought it was going to fix all our problems. The medication was only the beginning. It takes at least a year to findthe right combination of drugs and when experimenting with differentcombinations of drugs, you have to wait until the old medication clears out of
  9. 9. your system before starting a new one. This takes about two weeks. Even then,you may not see any kind of improvement. I like to consider myself an informedparent. I found an excellent website called, this is where I would go tofind information on the different medications she was given. Medication can helpa person get on with life, despite the difficulty coping with the problems (Franklin,D.J.Ph.D., 2003). I was hopeful that medication would be our miracle. The first trialmedication was Topomax, which is a migraine medication, though; it is supposedto work with BPD patients. Boy did it work; it caused her migraines to get worseand her to become more aggressive. Her doctors agreed that it wasnt working.Three long weeks later, they tried her on Abilify. This one seemed to work. Untilshe started crying and wishing she could just die. In the many years that followed she has tried Tegretol, Amitriptalyne,Depakot, Lexapro, Lithium, Lorazepam, Trazadone, and Propranolol just tomention a few. Thats not even scratching the surface of the differentcombinations they tried. Finally, after three very long years, right before her 15thbirthday, we found the combination that worked, Risperadol and Concerta. Withthis discovery, also came side effects. Some of the mild side effects are;drowsiness, dry mouth, increased length of sleep, joint and stomach pain, sorethroat, stuffy and runny nose. (Ortho-McNeil Janseen Pharmaceuticals,Inc.20002009). That is for the Respiradol alone. The Concerta is a stimulant used for ADHD, which causes dry mouthand a decreased appetite. (Mcnall Pediatrics, 2008). However, the benefitsoutweigh the side effects. I think we have a keeper. Kalee was able to go to sleepand stay asleep for more than two hours a night. She was also a little morepleasant to be around. Her mood swings decreased and she was able to just sitstill for more than 60 seconds. I thought that we had been through the worst of it.Little did we know, the storm was just beginning to brew. I’m sure that as you read some of the things Kalee has done, you’llsay that’s just typical teen behavior. Keep in mind that she is not a typical teen.She has some mild OCD’s. She is always checking her room and making sureeverything is in its place. She is also mildly paranoid. Taking her to the mall is notan option, she would think other girls are staring at her and laughing. We wereout shopping looking for her first middle school dance dress. We had gone intoJC Pennys and were looking in the juniors section; God had blessed her with amature figure at a young age. We were looking at some really soft velvety,revealing dresses. I said to her “No you can’t get that one; everyone will see yourbreast.” “So, who cares?” “I do” “You don’t matter” “Yes I do. I’m your mother and I have the last say so”
  10. 10. She said, in a very conversational tone “mom, tell that bitch to quit looking atme.” There was a woman of about 53, 20 feet from us, looking through the racks.I replied “Kalee lower your voice, she’s not even looking at you!” “Yes she is, she’s starring at me” “No she is not, but if you keep making a scene she will be looking at us, onemore time and we will leave” “You’re a bitch I hate you” “Ok lets go, we’ll do this another day” “I fuckin hate you” as she storms out the door and shoves people out of theway. She also doesn’t like to be touched, her skin is very sensitive and it hurts her.Some of her other symptoms are: laughing at inappropriate times, very shorttemper and highly aggressive. She also talked and thought about sex more thanusual for a girl at age 12.She engaged in risky things, had trouble stayingfocused and suicidal thoughts. She suffers from insomnia but doesn’t feeldrained and had no interest in fun activities. These were just some of the atypicalthings we had to deal with. Kalee has a true Jeckle/Hyde personality. The personshe is at school and when we are not around, is completely different from whoshe is with us. I think that this is partly my fault. I had told her that I didn’t carehow she acted at home as long as she was respectful in other people’s homesand didn’t embarrass me in public. We would always hear “your daughter is suchan angel; I wish my kids were as well behaved as her.”At home though, we wouldcall her cyclone Kalee. The minute she would turn walk through the door she wasturning the house upside down. She would demand that Karee get off thecomputer. “Let me on there” she would say. “No” Karee replied. “I said get the fuck off” “No, I was on here first” “Get the fuck off now” “No” As she grabs Karee by the face she screams, “I’m going to fucking kill youstupid cunt if you don’t get off the computer now.” With tears streaming down her face Karee cries, “Fine, whatever, I’m tellingmom” “Go ahead there’s nothing she can do about it” This was our everyday life. We were always cleaning up the emotionalmesses she would create. When big sisters are supposed to protect and look outfor you, she was causing her’s to cry. Karee was turning into a victim ofemotional and verbal abuse. She had become quiet, shy, and avoided her sisterat all costs. In school she was the girl who sat in class and never spoke or got introuble. She was turning into the child who is over-looked. She is such a good girlthat even at home she was getting ignored. In hindsight, I found that these arethe children who do commit suicide, or bring guns to school and take their angerout on others. Thankfully this is not how she is maturing. I started to do thingswith her just one on one. Like mommy daughter dates, we would include Kaleeon some of these, but most were just her and I. When I saw that this was working
  11. 11. I included the rest of my family. It turned into; Mommy/daughter dates, mommy/son dates, mommy/hubby dates, daddy/daughter dates, daddy/son dates andeventually family dates. Kalee always enjoyed these unless she had other plansthen it was a fight to get her to go. On those days that we forced her to go wewould pray that she acted like a regular teenage girl. You know, girls who arerespectful of their parents, or maybe point and giggle at boys if there were anyaround. That was only wishful thinking. At least none of this has affected her inschool, yet. Then middle school came along. In 6th grade, she got into her firstfight. She was actually trying to defend a smaller child from the school bullies.However, because she says what is on her mind, regardless if you are an adultor not, she was kicked out of school. I could go on and on about small town ruralschool systems and how they show favoritism. This is a sore spot for me and acompletely different book. In retrospect, I am actually glad that she attends aspecialized school. She is receiving a far better education than she would if Ifought to keep her in the public school. Although, it’s a different placement, she isfollowing the same curriculum as her peers; just with adaptations (BeachT.2009).She has some of the most supportive teachers and staff that I have hadthe pleasure to work with. They have taken the time to get to know her and herfamily, find out what works best for her and what her learning style is. I am now afirm believer that it is not the student who cannot learn, it is the teacher whocannot teach. Time and again the teachers at Colonial, IU1 Campus, have shownthat a good teacher will get to know their student, but a great teacher will find outhow they learn. I digress though; all pre-pubescent middle school kids haveissues. Most teachers will tell you that they are the worst age to try to teach.Kalee had a full plate, yet for the most part her behaviors were manageable.Although she attends a specialized school, she is allowed to participate in anysports or extracurricular activities that her home school offers. In seventh grade she tried out for the cheerleading squad for the sixthtime, and she made it. I have never seen a girl more proud of herself. The yearstarted off great, she had plenty to do with practice and then games. She wouldcome home from practice so exhausted, that she would sleep for at least 3-4hours a night. Then the season ended and it was back to the same old pattern ofbeing up all night. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. At 3:25 am on December 13th, 2004, Kalee came storming in mybedroom, screaming. "Mom wake up, Kyle is being an asshole." "What do you mean?" "Hes been in the bathtub for 2 hours and wont let me in, I have to go pee." My heart sank like a stone. Kyle is a very predictable son. He comes homefrom school, grabs a snack and goes up to his room to play video games. Healways takes a shower, never a bath and takes it before school. There was
  12. 12. something seriously wrong. With dread and my heart pounding out of my chest, Irace to the bathroom as fast as possible and knock on the door. I call his nameseveral times, “Kyle open the door.” no answer. “Kyle honey open the door now…please.” "If you don’t answer me I am coming in." “All right I’m coming in, so if you’re naked I’m going to see everything” What I saw completely devastated me. The air was heavy with the smellof iron and burning dust. My only son was sitting in cold bath water, which hadbeen tinged red, holding an old electric heater just inches from the water. Thepain and tears I saw etched on Kyle’s face will be forever burned in my mind. Ihave no idea where I found the strength to remain calm that night. I gently shutthe door and said, “Honey, please dont, Im sure we can find a solution to what’s making you hurt.Let’s just talk about it, okay." “Nothing’s going to make it stop, mom” “Just tell me what’s wrong, okay” “I can’t” “Please honey please don’t do this…it’s not the answer” “It’s too late mom” “It just hurts too much, I can‘t think anymore mom” “Do you just not want to tell me?” “Why doesn’t anyone like me?” As He’s talking, I used my foot to knock out the plug from the wall, rightbefore he dropped the heater in the water. It seemed like it took a lifetime. “NO Kyle… are you okay” “No mommy help me please” “Here stand up so I can put this towel around you” “I can’t I’m too weak, why did you stop me” “Because I love you and you saved my life when I got pregnant with you, yourmeant to be here, now let’s get you out of here and upstairs too your room” Kalee had been standing on the other side of the door the whole time. “Kalee, go call your Aunt Ellie, tell her we need her over here now, I’m goingto take your brother upstairs to get dressed and then were going to the hospital” “It’s my fault isn’t it?” “No, it’s not. Now will you just please call your Aunt, this an emergency” “Okay” My handsome, sarcastically funny, happy, 16 year old son almostsucceeded in committing suicide. He had slit his wrists twice and when thatdidn’t work, was going to electrocute himself. He was admitted at Mon ValleyHospital that night under 24 hour supervision. When I finally got home, I went uptoo his room and cried. As I’m cleaning up the wet towels and getting him someclothes for in the hospital, I found a suicide note that was dated three weeksearlier. This is what it said;
  13. 13. “Mom and Dad, I am sorry that you have to do this. I just couldn’t take my hearthurting no more. I just don’t understand what is wrong with me. Why don’t I havea girlfriend like everyone else? Am I that ugly? Am I gay? I don’t think so, I triedlooking at boys but it was just gross. I feel so alone, like there’s no-one else likeme. I’m just tired of not being able to sleep. My brain keeps racing with all thesethoughts and I just don’t know what to do with them. It just hurts and I’m tired soI’m going to go now it’s time. I love you. Kyle” I was completely devastated. I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to.The only thing that kept running through my mind was not Kyle, please notanother child with Bipolar Disorder, I don’t think I can take anymore. Those who suffer from bipolar disorder, a non-curable disorder, can feellonely, judged, and different (Manic’s Dance, nd). After three weeks in thehospital, he was diagnosed with BPD/Anxiety Disorder, or possibly emergingSchizophrenia. The doctors weren’t quite sure since schizophrenia can’t bepositively diagnosed until about 22 years of age. We never saw it coming, he wasalways so happy. Kalee had inadvertently saved her brother’s life. Shortlythereafter her behaviors got worse. She had blamed herself, saying if she was abetter sister and didn’t cause problems, this would have never happened. Wetried to explain to her that he had the same disability just a different type. Shejust didn’t understand and ran away. We knew where to find her, she always wentto the same place, this wasnt the first time she had run away. All this was justtoo much for one family to take. We had finally reached our breaking point. Therewas a time when I thought that maybe we should just pick up and move toVirginia with John’s brother. Maybe a different environment would help, but itwasn’t an option we could afford. I am glad that we live in Pennsylvania. Other families afflicted withBipolar Disorder are not so lucky. There is a growing trend in families that haveeither poor health care or depleted savings. “A federal study reported that 12,700young people with mental illnesses and severe behavior disorders have beenturned over to state custody for treatment, about 9,000 into juvenile detentionand the rest in foster care. Loving and responsible parents who have exhaustedtheir savings and health insurance face the wrenching decision of surrenderingtheir parental rights and tearing apart their families,” the federal commission said(Tanner, J.2004). After reading this, I was one of those people who said “I wouldnever turn over custody of my child just to get help.” Never speak unless youhave walked in others shoes. They call it tough love for a reason. After 9 stays in 6 different residential treatment facilities, 3 differentschools, family therapy, individual therapy, 2 behavioral specialists, and apartridge in a pear tree, we placed her in foster care. Yes, we released all
  14. 14. parental rights to our daughter. We felt we had no other option. Grounding didn’twork. Sending her to grandma’s house didn’t work. When we tried to stop herfrom leaving she would become physically violent. Kalee had been on severaldrug runs and was drinking. She was actively smoking pot and cigarettes. Shehad watched her so called friend shoot heroin and left the house whenever shefelt like it. She had become sexually active and stole money from family andfriends. She was choking her little sister and causing her big brother to punchholes in the walls, instead of hitting her and physically and verbally abusing us.She had also attempted suicide. All this by the time she turned 15 years old. Wewere at a loss as to what to do with her. As a parent, I felt like such a failure. Ihad failed to protect her and I failed to protect Kyle and Karee. We had to find asolution that would provide sanity and safety for us all. Her ICM, or Intense CaseManager, suggested we try the tough love route and we did. It was one of thehardest things I have done. She said we did not want her anymore. That we werejust giving up on her. We had no idea what to expect. March 28, 2007, Kalee’sICM picked her and her suitcase up, to take her to her new home. As I watchedthem drive away, my heart shattered into a million pieces, knowing I wasn’tallowed any contact with my daughter for three months. Tough love sucks. Kalee proved to be tougher. May 18, 2007, her foster mother called theICM crying. She had enough and just could not take her anymore. Kalee waspacked up and sent back home to us. What are we going to do with her? Maybesending her away was enough. Things seemed to go okay for a while. It was theend of the school year and she was trying to be a little more in control of herself.Summer was almost here and it was going to be a hot one. Thank god we have aswimming pool. July 16, 2007, turned out to be an unusually humid day. Karee,Mariah (Karee’s friend) and Kalee were in the pool. Kalee wanted Adam and April to come over to swim. “Mom call Aunt Ellie and tell her to send the kids over. “ "Thats not a good idea you hate it when they splash” “Please! Please! Please! I promise I’ll be good!” “I’m telling you now, you better behave or you’ll be grounded.” “Whatever.” Her idea of swimming is floating on raft. We have gotten into many argumentsbecause of this. I’m always telling her they are just kids and that is why we havea pool. However, she insisted and promised to be on her best behavior.Therefore, Adam and April came over. Things went good for a while. Karee and Adam were goofing off on the deck. Adam said, “I bet you can’twalk on the water” Karee replied “yes. I can” “Let me see” “Just watch me, I’ll show you how” she proceeds to the edge of the deck, putsone foot forward and splash into the water she goes. “That’s not how you do it” Adam runs, jumps, and pulls his knees to his chest
  15. 15. and SPLASH. The water was everywhere. It was the perfect cannonball. Well that was not such a good idea. Kalee was on the deck and got drenched.With water dripping from her hair and phone, she went from Betty Crocker toFreddy Kruger in 0.1 seconds. She started screaming; “If you don’t get the fuck out of my mother fuckin god damn fucking pool I’mgoing to slit your throat!” Adam is autistic and only 10 at the time. He had noidea what her problem was, so he splashed her again and was laughing. Thiswas going to get ugly. She jumped in the pool and started to choke him. I said “Get off him right now” She was so infuriated that her face was blood red andshe wasn’t hearing anything anyone said to her. Adam managed to break freeand get to the edge of the pool, Kalee followed him. I grabbed her and calmlysaid, “You need to let go and get the hell out of the pool.” It took her a minute to realize what she was doing. She got out of the pool andran in the house screaming; “I’m going to slit you’re throat when you’re asleep if you don’t get Adam thehell out of my fucking pool, I don’t ever want him over here again!” “This is my house and you do not make the rules here. “ "There you go like you always do, picking his side over your own daughters!Im fucking leaving and you will never see me again!" "If you walk out that door I’m going to call the cops." "Go ahead and call the cops you stupid fucking cunt whore bitch, theresnothing they can do about it." She left and I picked up the phone to call the cops. She came slammingback into the house, ripped the phone out of the wall, smashed it on the groundand left again. I had to use Karees friend’s cell to call 911, how embarrassing. Bythe time the police arrived, she had returned home and locked herself in thelaundry room. They asked if I wanted to press charges. I had no idea what to do.John was in Virginia working with his brother. I had to protect my family. I let themarrest her. There was a slight altercation and then they took her away inhandcuffs. Kalee had been charged with assault and battery on a minor, terroristthreats, resisting arrest, and destruction of property. I didnt know that this wasthe best thing I could have done at the time. Kalee spent the next two weeks in a juvenile correction facility until hercourt hearing. I spent the next two weeks crying. Not sure if I had done the rightthing and pretty much beating myself up about it. John didn’t help either. He saidthat it would have never gone that far if I had just said no to Adam and Aprilcoming over. He pretty much blamed me too. Here is where the family comesfirst comment happens. Ultimately Kalee comes first, but not at the expense ofthe others. I couldn’t exclude my nephew and niece just to keep peace in thefamily; after all they are family too. When it was time for her court hearing Iexpected to see her. However what happened was not what was expected. Shewas sent to a juvenile detention center in Ohio, three hours away. She was at the
  16. 16. hearing through a teleconference TV. I saw my daughter dressed in that dreadedorange jump suit with hand cuffs on her wrists and ankles, it is the last thing aparent ever wants to see. When I asked her if she knew why I had her arrestedshe said, “It’s because you’re a fucking whore and I hate you.” The judge said she was not coming home that day. He felt that she coulduse a little wake-up call. With tears running down my face I had to agree. Afterspending a total of six weeks in a juvenile detention center, Kalee was allowed tocome home on the stipulation that she agreed to participate in the LeaderProgram, which is an intense after school program that teaches them how torespect themselves and others. She was also put on 3 months house arrest,given one year of probation, and had to complete family therapy which includedre-teaching John and I how to deal with her behaviors. Adam and Kalee haveformed a better relationship. Having my daughter arrested was the hardest andmost wonderful thing that happened to our family. As for Kyle, he was attending college but dropped out. I think it was toomuch, too soon for him. He is an amazing artist and I try to encourage him tokeep at it and maybe sell his artwork. I am always telling him that there arefamous people with the same disorder and they have managed to be successful.For example, Jim Carey, Ben Stiller, Tim Burton are all successful people in theentertainment. Beethoven and Van Gogh are thought to have BPD and they weresuccesses in the fine arts industry. There are also some very important people inthe political eye that are diagnosed with BPD. Kitty Dukakis, Robert Boorstin,P.A. To Pres. Clinton, and Lynn Rivers, US Congress, who are all strong pillars ofsociety. Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were alsothought to have BPD. (Bipolar Disorder Today (nd). They are proof that you canovercome and succeed at life. There is hope; you just have to know where tolook. “Bipolar Disorder affects 1 to 2 ½ percent of the population. Although theillness of manic depression reaches even the rich and famous, the movie stars,great singers, television personalities and artists-- much of the public still thinkmentally ill people are in categories such as homeless, violent, people who arebasically weak and won’t pick themselves up by the boot straps”…and the listgoes on….much clouded with misconception and myth.” There is hope…you arenot damaged goods…you are not alone” (Manic’s Dance, nd). I am always encouraging my family to read about what we werediagnosed with. I think it is important to be knowledgeable; you can’t makeinformed decisions otherwise. As I was researching for my book, I stumbled upona website that offers reviews of books on BPD. “The reviews are not those of aprofessional critic, but by the parent of a 20 year old child diagnosed with BPD. “(BPSO, 2009) Some are written by professionals, most are written by familiesaffected with the disorder. I found some books that I would like to read. There aresome that offer “a little light at the end of the tunnel.” I like to be hopeful that myfamily will survive what life has handed us.
  17. 17. Kyle still struggles with his disability and I worry that maybe one day hewill accomplish what he tried four years ago. I’m not sure I can survive that kindof loss. He is currently living with my sister. I would like to share a letter he wroterecently about his disorder, “My disability no longer affects me in any negative way. I’ve trained mymind to such an extent, to where I now have the ability to turn off certain parts ofmy brain. The only adverse affect of such an intense mental exercise is insomniaand headaches. However I am fully prepared to except these trivial side effectsfor peace of mind. I’ve now reached a heightened level of consciousness towhere my mind can run on auto pilot. I can now perform physical tasks withoutbeing aware of my physical being. So am I angry for my disability, no I am glad.For now I have increased thought process and memory storage. I believe thateveryone who is affected should study my techniques. They can only end in agood way. Also the human race needs to learn that the mind is the most powerfulthing there is. Now I will sound crazy for these statements but they are as true asthis one. If we as a species can accept death as the last gateway we can allattain a higher level of existence.” I’m not sure what to think or say about this letter. He sounds like a realnutcase. Should I be worried or should I believe he has made peace with hisdisorder. I will never really know what goes on inside his head, I think it would bea little too much for me to handle. I find it hard to put this person together with theperson I know, who is funny, handsome, artistic, and easy to get along with. Timewill only tell what the future brings. Until then “ya gotta laugh, at yourself and atlife, because it is what it is and only you can change it.” In March of 2008, Kalee graduated from the Leader Program and wasfinished with probation. She is currently in 11th grade and working on her seniorproject. Her senior project includes; researching what it takes to be a specialeducation teacher and job shadowing in the Multiple Disabilities unit. She hasmaintained a GPA of 3.62 for 2 years. She was also invited to be a studentambassador and has been on the high honors list for the last 2 yrs. She hascome a long way. She will always have the disability. Now she is owning it andtaking the steps to live a productive and healthy life. She will always haveattitude, determination and that “I don’t care what people think of me” outlook onlife. I never want to change that about her. I just want her to channel itconstructively. As Winston Churchill once said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. “ (Winston Churchillquotes.2009) Who by the way was also thought to have BPD. Maybe one dayshe’ll make a big, positive difference, until then we will love her no matter howshe acts and try to redirect her as best as we can. Kalee and Kyle will never see eye to eye. I can only hope that one day he
  18. 18. will be strong enough to accept her for who she is and her differences. Kalee istrying to make the effort to patch things up between them. I think she’s doing agood job. I catch him joking around with her every once in awhile. It will never beperfect, but what sibling relationship is at that age. As for Karee, I immediatelyenrolled her in a program at school where an outside counselor comes in to talkto the kids that could use someone to talk too besides family. With everythingthat she has seen and heard or had done to her, I thought it was important thatshe had someone besides me to talk too. Kalee is busy mending that relationshipalso. She has a lot of work to do. John, however; still struggles with her disorder. He get frustrated with herlack of respect and language. She does have an extreme potty mouth. It reallydoesn’t seem to bother me. He doesn’t know, but I sometimes catch himinstigating her, which in the end gets ugly. He thinks that sometimes all sheneeds is a good spanking. How are you supposed to spank a 17 year oldteenager? Now that’s something I would like to see. He would have to catch herfirst. Hopefully with her maturity their relationship will also improve, until then he’lljust have to get a prescription for Xanex and find the humor in it. Karee, my youngest and most like me, little girl has blossomed into abeautiful soul. She has patience and the courage to stand up to her sister now.She is understanding and generous. She no longer sits at the back of the classgetting looked over. I enrolled her in dance classes which gave her confidenceand a sense of self-worth. She one day hopes to be an executive chief and ownher own restaurant. She can laugh with her sister and find the humor in Kalee’s“weirdness” as she likes to call it. My favorite saying is “live hard, love harder, laugh the hardest; you neverknow what tomorrow will bring.” I have no idea who said that but it is so very truein our family. I think that is why our marriage has survived. Most marriages don’tsurvive a child with severe disabilities. Yes there is humor, but some people won’tbe able to find it. We, however; were able to find the humor of it all. Others willread this and say I’m crazy. They would say things like, “Bipolar disorder isnothing to joke about, and people die from Bpd.” Don’t get me wrong it is a veryserious illness. There are very serious times in our house where we struggle tofind the humor. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I cried myself tosleep, thinking I did something wrong. I always woke up the next morning withhope and optimism, saying “this is a new day, take it slowly and see whathappens.” That’s all anyone can ever do, is take things “one day at a time.” Lifein general is hard; you have to see the humor to survive. Don’t focus on the baddays there will be enough of them, focus on the times you laugh. Hopefully it willbe together that you find the sunshine in the chaos. I am sure there are going to be rough times, nothing worthwhile is evereasy, but now we know how to rip sunshine from the chaos. I can now finally seeKalee’s sunshine and it shines strong, independent, bright and bold, saying lookout world, you had better be ready because here I come.
  19. 19. I wrote this the summer before our lives changed. The sentimentremains true to this day, my love will never end. My Pixie Princess Little precious one My heart filled with joy You were to be My first little girl Not my second little boy Four years later With hair of strawberry gold and eyes of grey You flashed a mischievous smile Ready to play Little pixie princess Tiny and petite Pretty in a flower dress So very very sweet My love for you shall never end Even though you try my patience Again and again My life is so much more Thanks to you The little girl I waited forever Author Tammy Beach
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  21. 21. Retrieved January 23, 2009 in Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, (October27, 2002) RetrievedJanuary 26, 2009 from <http://www,> .