My pregnancy with Thomas was a difficult one.  I was passing out continuously, which I later found out was because I have epilepsy.  I bled through the whole pregnancy.  I had a lot of pain.  It was so bad I had to stop working for the remainder of my pregnancy.  I was over a month over due when I finally went into labor.  I was in full labor for 12 hrs and I wasn't dilating much.  I was given the option to keep going the way I was or have a c-section.  I picked the c-section.

 When Thomas was born, he was a huge baby and he was jaundiced.  He spent the first 5 days of his life under lights.  Once Thomas was home, I had to take him to see the pediatrician every day until the jaundice went away.   It took 2 weeks.

Thomas was a normal, happy baby.  Very rarely was he fussy.  He started
eating food early.  He started walking at 6 months old.  He was on regular milk at 6 months old.  When it was feeding time, he couldn't get enough formula, cereal or baby food.  When I spoke with his pediatrician about it, he said we could try regular food and milk.  Thankfully he did ok.  His life was normal until he was 2 years old.

When Thomas was 2, I left Thomas' father because of his drinking and drugging.  It was to the point that we fought all the time that he was home.  I left because I didn't want Thomas growing up in that environment because that's the way it was for me.  Thomas' father and I came up with a visitation schedule.  I didn't want Thomas to get stuck in the middle of what was going on.  After a few weeks Thomas went to visit his father and he wasn't brought back.  His father thought that I would go back to him.  Well I didn't.  Instead I fought him in court.  Thomas father started using Thomas as a pawn and soon we had a battle going.  Thomas' father accused me of physically abusing Thomas, so the courts gave custody to him.  It took me over a year to get custody of Thomas back.  

When I got Thomas back, he was no longer the same happy child that he was before.  He was more withdrawn, didn't want to leave my side, cried a lot, and he started peeing and crapping in his pants.  He had been potty trained a year
earlier.  It took a few months to get him potty trained again.

When he turned 4, we started seeing a lot of behavior that I had no idea where they came from.  He started screaming a lot, swearing a lot, kept to himself a lot.  He pulled a knife on me,  He also tried to throw a baby sitters baby out of a window on the 4th floor.  After that, I lost my 1st babysitter.  I found another one and she didn't last long because Thomas kept screaming all day.  The only time he wasn't was when he was sleeping.  Because of the divorce, DSS (Dept.Of Social Services) was ordered involved because the judge wanted to make sure Thomas was
safe.  They put Thomas in a day care and he lasted there for about 6 months.  They threw him out because of all his behavior.  The last straw for them was when Thomas tried to suffocate a little girl. 

They thought Thomas was ADD/ADHD.  DSS helped me get an evaluation for Thomas.  The evaluation lasted a week and the diagnosis that they came
up with was Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The Doctors believed something happened to Thomas while he was under his fathers care.  To this day Thomas doesn't talk about that period. 

 Eventually the judge granted me the divorce I seeked and gave me full, legal custody of Thomas and his father got visitation every other weekend and one day during the week.  While on these visits Thomas was injured a couple times from a 3 wheeler vehicle.  Once Thomas flew into a house when his father left keys in it and he allowed Thomas to play with it.  Twice Thomas was burned from pipes.  I ordered that Thomas not go on it, and the court battle began again.  Luckily the judge saw that he was just trying to start trouble and then they ordered that Thomas not be allowed on any vehicle that can cause harm.  DSS was no longer involved with me because they believed he was safe with me but they continued with his father.

In the mean time Thomas started in play therapy and was enrolled in a preschool program for special needs kids.  The therapist had said the way Thomas
played indicates a child who has been sexually abused.  A couple weeks later Thomas said something about someone playing with his penis.  I let the therapist know and on her next visit Thomas told her the same thing.  The only thing we were able to find out it happened while he was at his fathers.

Shortly after that Thomas started having problems in preschool.  They called a meeting and it was their suggestion that I start going to preschool with him, so that when he started to lose it in class I could take him out of class until he calmed down.  He started showing behaviors of anger, screaming, crying, not following directions, being very defiant, and oppositional. As he got older the behaviors got worse.  As behaviors got worse,  I would lose more babysitters.  In a 2 yr period,  I lost 8 babysitters. Thomas went into kindergarten and he showed little behavioral problems at school.  The behaviors came out at home. 

Once he got into 1st grade, he showed same behaviors in school and home and then new stuff began.  I started getting calls at work because Thomas kept saying he wasn't feeling well.  The teacher he had had the patience of a saint but she would call me at work when the behaviors started interfering with the other kids in
class.  It was at this point that the special ed dept starting talking about possibly trying to get him into a day treatment program.  Unfortunately no one would accept Thomas because of his age.  Thomas therapist recommended residential.  The school dept looked into residential.  Thomas has been accepted into a program that was 2 hr drive.  We had to put Thomas into the hospital to have an evaluation done.  Couldn't find a bed so we called emergency services.  Thomas' therapist said that he felt Thomas was a threat to himself and others.  Emergency
services found a hospital bed for Thomas.  It was in a hospital that was in the next city where the residential program is.  Thomas was there 10 days and then we took him to Brightside in W.Springfield/Holyoke, Mass.

Thomas stayed there for 9 months.  While there Thomas seemed to be doing pretty good.  He was put on Zoloft.  He stayed on it for about a year.  When Thomas was released, he was put into a day treatment program. Thomas only lasted there 4 days when he was expelled.  The behaviors started all over again.  I was at my wits end as to what to do with him. Again Special Ed was contacted. They said a new day treatment program was starting up that up till now only
did residential.  Thomas was accepted 2 weeks later.  

Thomas was a day student for a year and as time went by, he got worse and worse.  It got to the point that I couldn't handle him.  He struggled in school and on the way to school and home from school.  After a yr,it was recommended that Thomas go into the residential program.  The special ed dept said whatever Thomas needs they would provide.  Perkins did another evaluation on Thomas.  Bipolar Disorder was mentioned, along with Intermittent Explosive Disorder and the ODD.

Thomas was in the residential program for 2.5 yrs until I pulled him out in July 2000. Thomas had periods where he made progress and then he'd slide backwards, then forward again then eventually backwards.  But overall he did
pretty good in the program up until the last 4-5 months.  New staff started and all types of problems started showing up.

Thomas was coming home every weekend and then it turned into he wouldn't be home for 4-5 weeks at a time.  His anger was getting worse.  He started talking of killing people more and talking of suicide,  It became a daily occurrence.  When Thomas was coming home he was covered with bruises.  Some he said were from riding a dirt bike in a program.  The other bruises were from restraints.  He'd have bruises on arms, legs, shoulders, chest.  I filed complaints with officials at Perkins but they found no wrong doing.  I then filed a complaint with DSS.  

On July19,2000, Thomas was put into a psych hospital in Boston because the staff at Perkins said Thomas was a danger to himself and others.  The word homicidal came up.  Thomas was in the hospital for 5 days and they saw none of the
behaviors that Perkins said he was exhibiting.  When I found that out, I contacted Special Ed dept and told them I longer wished for Thomas to be enrolled at Perkins.  They said that was fine but Thomas will need to stay at home till
they could find him a program.  

It took them a little over a month to find a program for Thomas.  In that time I only
had problems with Thomas once.  He was raging and he was swearing at me.  I've learned when he's like that, I just give him space and he'll calm down.  He calmed down in about 2 hrs and then we talked.  While in hospital Thomas' meds were increased.  He's taking Depakote and Tegretol.  For over a month now Thomas has been calm and in a good mood most days.  He's in a program in our school district.  It's only been a few days that schools been in session but he's doing pretty good.

Thomas is in therapy.  He participates in it.  I participate in any workshops that are conducted, whether its parenting or on mental health issues.  Through all the problems with Thomas, I stuck right by his side.  We are very close these days.  I think he appreciates me more than he used to.  He lets me know how he feels too.

When Thomas was 3, I began a relationship.  Today we are married.  Come Nov., we'll be married for 6 yrs.  He stuck by me through all of the hell.  Today we are stronger than ever. Thomas and Al have a great relationship too.  We are a family.  For a long time we were just surviving.

I've learned a lot through the years and since Thomas has been diagnosed bipolar disorder, childhood onset,  I've had to learn patience and I had to learn to accept Thomas the way he was.  I think I've become a much better mother because of it.  Its nice to be happy again.  In the middle of all that was going on, I cried a lot, was angry a lot. All because I didn't know how to help my son.

There isn't much support around here for mental health issues, but through the internet I've gotten loads of support.  I've met people I probably wouldn't of ,if it weren't for the illness my son has.  For that I'm grateful.

bulletLeanne would like to hear from you especially if you have a child with Bipolar Disorder.  Please send her




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