"So Maybe You're Not Bipolar"
Seek Treatment. That's what we hope people with mental illnesses do. We want them to feel free to acknowledge their condition and seek treatment. Talk to a therapist. Try medication. Follow a doctor's plan to treat your illness. "You can feel better if you seek treatment." Isn't that what we say?
Well, that's what my 21 year old son has done. Finally. After over two years of ignoring his diagnosis, he's finally acknowledged it and sought treatment. In prison.
See where it's gotten him.
He is currently incarcerated in our state prison. Inside, he has had to convince the DOC psychiatrists that his Bipolar Disorder is real. The psychiatrists on the payroll who are expected to treat inmates for mental illnesses have been less than helpful.
All this time, while my son has been in prison, he's been trying to tell them he's "Bipolar". At first, they believed him and gave him a generic anti-depressant and a low dose of a mood stabilizer. Not the meds he'd been on in the past, but at least they were something. Then he was experiencing bad side effects so he reported them to the psychiatrist making her rounds on his tier that day. This was her response:
"So maybe you're not Bipolar!"
You can imagine my shock when my son told me a medical professional said this to him. Isn't it her job to diagnose and treat mental illnesses? Yet she can speak to a patient like this?
But the worst part was what she did next.
She took him off the anti-depressant completely. She told him that in order to receive any more treatment, his doctor needed to contact her and inform her of his Bipolar diagnosis. She left him on the low dose of mood stabilizer which he said did "nothing". Subsequent visits from her and other psychiatrists doing their rounds on his tier did nothing to improve the limbo in which he'd been damned.
So for the last several months I've been trying to acquire all of his records to prove that he IS, in fact, Bipolar. First, I called his regular doctor who was unable to call the doctor at the prison- this is because the diagnosis did not come from his regular doctor, it came from a psychiatric hospital. Makes sense.
So then I went the route of requesting his medical records. Sounds easy enough. But consider the fact that he's 21 years old. This means every single medical professional he saw in his lifetime required a separate release form signed by my son. So, through snail mail, I began my quest of accessing the forms, sending them to him to be signed, having him send them back to me, and then sending them to the correct establishments in hopes of receiving the records. This was a nightmare. Thankfully, the nurse at his regular doctor's office helped me with this and eased the stress considerably.
We were almost home free when we realized that the release forms we'd been using were not accepted at certain mental health facilities.
Back to the drawing board.
Thankfully, at this point our attorney stepped in and worked his magic to acquire the records more quickly. It's amazing what attorneys can accomplish. What took us months took him less than a week. So now, we may have finally struck gold. The last of the records have been acquired and presented to the prison mental health ward director along with a personal note from our attorney.
After FIVE MONTHS, my inmate son may finally be given the proper medication for his Bipolar Disorder.
So Maybe he IS Bipolar like he's been saying all along.