Wow, now there’s a word. Bi-polar. Kind of makes you want to run in the other direction, right? Wait until you’ve got one in the family.

My 17 year old son, Z, was diagnosed as bi-polar two years ago. This is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through. See, Z has always been my buddy. When my ex-husband and I split up, Z was mine. I was young and in college and so wherever I went, Z came with. He was such a good little guy. Sweet temperament. Polite kid. It’s hard to reconcile all of that with the surly young man that stares out of his chocolatey brown eyes at me.

Until you get bi-polar disease under control, the person that you know will disappear. And even when it gets under control things are still a challenge. My Z is so smart it’s incredible. His academics, however, are very reflective of his disease and much less so of his actual mental acuity. And I’m so tired of hearing, “Are you sure he’s not just acting this way because (insert whatever reason)…” Dear God, who would choose to have horrid mood swings that take you from the height of the clouds down to the depths of the sea in a heartbeat? Nobody. Watching my son plummet and then rise is agonizing.

I’ll talk much more about this subject because it’s always on my mind. Of my 4 children, Z is constantly there. He takes up the most space in my head but it’s because I worry about him so gravely. Will he hurt himself? Will he hurt someone else? When will he be arrested and what will it be for? Will he graduate? The list is exhaustive. But I love him tremendously, with or without his illness. He no more asked for this than the kid down the block asked for Type 1 diabetes. Yet he’s got it and we’ve got to deal.