Blame Me For My Son's Bipolar Treatment? Yes, Please.

July 19, 2011 Angela McClanahan

Occasionally, I get blog comments from people saying I'm a horrible parent for medicating my son with Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. Here's my response.

Most of the comments I get on this blog come from other parents like me--parents who are raising a child (or children) who have bipolar disorder, ADHD or another psychiatric diagnosis. Occasionally, however, I get a comment from a troll who wants to blast me for being a bad parent, drugging my bipolar kid into a state of submission, and throwing myself a pity party in the process. Why do I even read them? Why do I feed into their negativity?

Because deep down, I want them to be right.

Blame Me for 'Wanting' My Son to Have A Mental Illness?

I want there to be nothing wrong with Bob, other than what I'm imposing upon him with my Munchausen by proxy tendencies. I want to believe that someday, he'll stop taking all the bipolar medication pills (or I'll stop giving them to him for some reason) and he'll be just fine. Better than he's ever been. And he can point a finger at me and say "shame on you."

Mental illness--like any other condition--is one of those situations where the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I am all too familiar with feeling miserable, afraid, angry, and just generally unhappy for no apparent reason. I know how hard it can be just to get through a day sometimes. I know the difficulty of holding down a job and living a normal adult life when you feel like complete crap (for no apparent reason). I don't wish that on my son. Who would?

Blame Me for Being a Bad Parent

Honestly, I kind of appreciate the negative, "down with Mom" comments, because they leave me with some hope that maybe, just maybe, the "Boblems" are all in my head, not his. That maybe there's nothing at all wrong with him and I'm just a crappy parent.

Luckily (or not, depending on your viewpoint) I still have a toehold on reality. Enough to know better, and that to take Bob off all his bipolar and ADHD medications and pretend there's nothing "out of the ordinary" would result in nothing short of disaster. Because, unlike the nay-sayers, I've been here for the long haul.

I've been Bob's mother for going on 10 years. And despite what you suggest, I do know the "real" Bob. I see him a lot more than you might think. I also know the other Bob--the one who causes me sleepless nights and exhausting days--and I know he's real.

But thanks, anyway, for allowing me to have that little bit of doubt once in a while.

APA Reference
McClanahan, A. (2011, July 19). Blame Me For My Son's Bipolar Treatment? Yes, Please., HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Angela McClanahan

April, 28 2012 at 10:00 am

The only thing that I can think to say other than 'thank you', 'too true', 'amen'... and as someone who has been on and off various meds over the years, and who has a daughter who was dx w/ inattentive ADD in 7th grade (so THAT'S what was going on all those years...!) and who went from d/f's to a/b's in mere weeks on a fairly low dose of Concerta.... pretty much what I have to say is ... what would we do if our child had diabetes, or a heart condition? Would we hesitate to medicate them?
It is their life. Their LIFE.
Bipolar, ADHD, Anxiety, depression- all of which are often linked in intricate and exhausting ways, and all are prone to high suicide rates among a population within which it is already among the leading causes of death. We LOVE our children, we hurt when they hurt... we aren't medicating them to make OUR lives easier. We are medicating them to SAVE their lives, and maybe make it easier.... at least in some way. ~Chris

August, 16 2011 at 3:33 am

Please feel free to write back

August, 16 2011 at 3:31 am

Just wanted everyone to know that living with a Bipolar child is never easy, I could write a book about all the hospitalizations, visits with many different psychiatrists, all with different diagnosis's,and many different meds were prescribed. Parents not having any rights after the child turns 15, only when the bills arrive, When Bipolar children become adults and turn 18, you have no control at all, they normally move out of the house and live in chaos for many years until they figure out on their own that they need professional help, Our child took 10 years until she turned 28 and found a wonderful psychiatrist who correctly diagnosed the Bi-Polar disorder, she is successsfully medicated and lives a wonderful life with minimal ups and down. I sought help from a local chapter of Mental Health Center in my community and receive Family Counseling assisting with parenting coping skills for the duration of the 10 years my child lived in chaos. It does get easier but takes many years. Hope I helped. Many Blessings to all of you.
Just Love your child and do the best you can.

Angie Mireles
August, 6 2011 at 9:13 am

Amen! Love your come back!!!!!!!!!!!!

August, 6 2011 at 8:27 am

Helplessness writhes around and tries to find a culprit. Mom's blame themselves because it's a grab at control. If I did it, I can undo it. I wish.

August, 5 2011 at 4:00 pm

My youngest son is 23. He was diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities at 7 and bipolar disorder at 11. He had rapid cycling bipolar through most of his school years after being diagnosed. He was put on a lot of medication. It was a difficult choice-but it helped him stabilize. Medication wasn't a cure - it was a tool. He has been able to cut back on Meds as he entered adulthood. He realizes the behavioral differences when he takes his Meds and when he doesn't. I got a lot of flack for "drugging" him and as long as he lives at home he needs to take his meds. The alternative is allowing him to self destruct.

August, 5 2011 at 6:25 am

Being a good parent, as you've pointed out, doesn't mean you're trying to please everyone else or attempt to wish away your child's health issues. Perhaps someday Bob's symptoms may abate and he'll require fewer medications but until that happens you'll be stuck with having to look out for your child's best interests despite people with comments which can invoke guilt and wishful thinking.

July, 20 2011 at 8:29 am

You sound like a good, caring and loving mum, so don't let the trolls out there put you down.
I live in the UK and here, doctors *never* diagnose Bipolar in kids. That said, my son (11) has been diagnosed with ADHD and I live with Bipolar Disorder. I felt really guilty about allowing him to be put on medication, it was as if I was a failure or something, so I think I understand some of the feelings you experienced too.
Thanks for an informative and stimulating blog.

Michelle Chandler
July, 20 2011 at 6:25 am

Just like Stephanie and Tanya before me, I could have written this article, just replacing my 8 year old daughter's name in place of Bob's name, and yes, this touched me very deeply.
What I wouldn't give to let Emily live her life without the looming specter of a lifetime of psychiatric appointments and prescription drugs and uncertainty of the highs and lows as any drug in her combination begins to fail or what have you.
What I wouldn't give for Emily to experience life as a balanced, healthy girl.
This apple fell more closely to my tree than to her healthy father's tree. And yes, I was certain that I had failed her as a parent, that it was something I'd taught her, that bi-polar was a behavior I'd taught her and that it could be un-learned.
All I can say is that the medicated version of Emily is not so sullen, irritated and anxiety-riddled; she is still the same Emily as ever and now she can handle the minor disappointments/bumps without upsetting the entire apple cart of her day. She is free to experience all the emotions of childhood, not being held hostage by anger and resentment. She still defies me, she still pushes the boundaries and tests the consequences of her actions; the real difference is that she can corral her anger/defiance into a more controllable sphere, temper it down a bit and work through an emotion without letting it take complete control of her, and then even accept a condition or consequence, and learn from the experience.
Oh, and she learns now! It's a miracle! After 7 long years of having a stubborn, angry toddler trapped in a child's body, it has become quite the adjustment for me as a mother to see her progress. She can be taught!
And she finally has a life; a medicated life, but that's not a cause for an asterisk next to her name.

July, 19 2011 at 7:17 pm

this made me cry. Its something I can relate to. xx

July, 19 2011 at 8:18 am

I could've written every word of this. I have an almost 10 year old bipolar son as well. It's hard.

Natasha Tracy
July, 19 2011 at 7:38 am

Hi Angela,
Let me just say up front that I have issues with kids, diagnoses and medications. I just do.
But I really try not to judge others when I'm not in the situation. It's really not my place.
That being said, I can identify with what you're saying 100%. I get the same people. Not that I'm a bad mother (I'm not a mother) but that I'm a bad _person_ for being on meds. And for talking about being on meds.
And part of me wants them to be right. Part of me wants to believe that really, I'm fine. Really, I don't need meds. Really, I'm just part of an uber-big-pharma conspiracy. The men in black standing on my psyche.
But that desire causes internal conflict. It just makes it harder for me to do what I know I have to do. It's one of the reasons I'm sometimes a bit snippy with these people. Because I know if they can make me doubt myself then they can do that to anyone.
But as you've said, I have a toe-hold on reality. I know who I am, and what I am, and what the meds do, and what I personally do. And that is infinitely more powerful than weak naysayers who pathetically hide behind the veil of the internet to make others feel bad about themselves.
- Natasha

July, 19 2011 at 5:38 am

I don't think you're a bad parent for having your son on medication, which he needs. I myself have my son on medication for adhd and anxiety. Plus I have bipolar and anxiety too. So I know how you feel, both sides of it.

Chrisa Hickey
July, 19 2011 at 5:33 am


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