from Minneapolis, MN

I am 13 years old and my brother has bipolar disorder. Ever since we were little, he would get really angry and throw things. This behavior was normal for his age, but when he got older, the problem persisted. Sometimes he would become hysterical; yelling and screaming at the top of his lungs, and sometimes he would calmly sit reading a book.

One day, he tried to kill himself, throwing himself down the laundry chute. My siblings and I were resentful of him.“Why does he get special privileges? He's the one who doesn't follow the rules.” He got special treatment, and so this led to resentment we held for many years. We began to bond against him. When something went wrong, we blamed Spencer.

My other brother became stronger than Spencer and began to pay him back for those years of bullying. Spencer got better over the years, and eventually I came to understand that he had a disorder that made his life hell, and that I should feel lucky I wasn't like him. I suspect that my brother and sister still hold resentment against him. My brother Jamie is angry towards the world.

Eventually, we learned that this was the way he was and we could not just tell him to “grow up.” Now I am glad that he is my brother. He has really taught me a lot about compassion and learning to cope.

Looking back, what could have been done at the time to improve the situation? Treatment, medication, a different approach, or understanding from others around you?

I think that if they diagnosed it earlier and if my mom had told us more about the disease, it would have made it easier for my brother. The school system did not help at all. He would be shunned by everyone and read by himself in the corner. Right now, he goes to a school where two days he goes to the campus, three days he goes online with a tutor. He has made friends and is doing well, relatively speaking. He was misdiagnosed many times and it would help if the doctors got it right the first time.

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