Joann: Learning about Bipolar Disorder

Determined to learn about Jacob’s illness, Joann found a First Episode support group for families.

Note: First episode psychosis programs are for individuals who have had one psychotic episode. The goal is early treatment, intended to reduce the long-term negative effects resulting from repeated episodes.

As time goes by you realize that it’s nothing you have control over but it took me over a year to get there—learning and listening from others. It’s so many emotions. I had wished when Jacob was discharged the first time there was some kind of resource for the caregiver, for a parent. Your child’s being discharged or your loved one is being discharged and what’s next. What can you expect after? What the heck is psychosis? Who carries the definition of that around in their head?

When Jacob refused to take medications, Joann could not understand his decision. He told her, “I’m healthy. I’ve never been on meds. I’ve never had to take things for ear infections. I never get sick, mom. Why would I take meds?” Then she read a book by Xavier Amador, titled I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help! She explained, “Of course, why would you take meds if you don’t feel like you’re sick; why are you taking something? He took himself off of the medications.” Joann struggled with her desire to fix Jacob’s illness. She always took care of her children and prided herself on doing it well. She agonized over how to help Jacob.

Joann came to realize that she did not have control over Jacob’s symptoms and illness. She is “letting little bits [of Jacob] go at a time.” Over the past two years, Joann worked on coping with her feelings and normalizing losses through participating in classes, reading books, listening to others, and continuing to educate herself.

More of the Story: What Happened to Jacob?