Penny Pinkerton

from Eagan, MN

I am a lifelong sufferer of bipolar disorder. I am now the mother of a ten year old daughter, who now has explosive rages, can't focus in class, and has incredible difficulty in social situations.  She is on some very potent medications:  Zoloft, Seroquel and Concerta. Why that one, I have no clue. Yet nothing seems to help.  She has been expelled from school a couple of times.  She has also been kicked out of several daycares because she was “unmanageable.” 

At first, she was a “spirited child.”  Then came the “She's angry, because of the divorce from your husband.”  Then came the ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) diagnosis.  All along, it was my fault, bad parenting, because I never disciplined her enough, or was never tough enough.  She has threatened suicide a couple of times, has put herself and others in dangerous situations countless times, and now has her two younger, special-needs brothers (including one with autism) absolutely terrified of her. 

What does our county's support system advise?  Home-based care.  To me, that is plain B.S.!  You do not do that with a dangerous child.  Her psychiatrist will not diagnose bipolar, despite family history.  This is so frustrating to me. I feel like I am the only one who believes in my daughter and her possibilities, and that everyone else has abandoned her.  EBD (emotional behavioral disorders) programs in MN are inadequate, as are special education programs.  Now I am trying to get her into a residential, inpatient facility to reclaim my daughter and get her stabilized.  Why doesn't anyone understand that kids can get this horrendous and debilitating disorder, too?  I have it and am a success story. I hold down a job and am raising my kids as best I can.  I want what is best for my daughter and for my sons.  I just need for my daughter to be heard, believed in and treated for the underlying issues, not the symptoms, and the madness to stop!

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?

Looking back, I should have trusted my instincts more and obtained psychological/psychiatric treatment for her sooner, rather than when I did.  This “spirited child” label really did her damage.  Many educators just do not get it.  They just want control in their classes. 

Back to listener stories

©2018 American Public Media