I JUST WANT MY DAUGHTER BACK
A heartfelt story of a mother’s struggle to overcome fear, confusion, anger, guilt and frustration in the midst of her daughter’s battle with a devastating mental illness. How we came to
terms through love, courage, perseverance and hope as we struggled to learn how to live with Bipolar-1 Disorder.
This is a work of non-fiction. Character’s names outside of immediate family have been modified to protect their anonymity. All other names are accurate and events are written to the best
of my knowledge and memory.
Copyright © 2009 B.C. Levinson
All rights reserved
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval
system now known or to be invented, without the written permission from the author, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a
magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication
ISBN : 144213979X
EAN-13 : 9781442139794
Printed and Published in the United States of America
Additional information, please contact MAMA_BEAR_CLUB@yahoo.com
For my grandson, who has brought such immense joy to my life and brought us through a time when joy was something needed so greatly. Thank you for being a constant precious miracle. I
cherish you most of all.
For my daughter, who continually inspires and motivates me in my own struggle with the insignificant burdens of my world. Thank you for understanding my many failures and appreciating my
heartfelt efforts. You make me so proud.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. My quest for a form of therapy.
2. The perfect child.
3. A great pre- teen.
4. A confident Young Lady.
5. The beginning of something wrong.
6. The Diagnosis.
7. Finding the right meds.
8. Thinking she’s okay?
9. Everything falls apart.
10. Re-stabilizing to Pregnancy.
11. A child is born.
12. The transformation begins.
13. Can she do it?
14. Staying stable.
15. My hope continues.
16. A new beginning.
CHAPTER 1August 1999
Saturdays are my oasis, a reprieve from the incessant heat of another week at work. Sleeping later than usual, sitting on my back porch and slowly sipping coffee is my way of
finding balance. Days where there’s no problems to solve, no crisis that can’t wait. Saturdays I’m usually just like a kite, floating in the breeze but this morning nothing seems to be going
right, somehow things feel tense and scattered, all at the same time.
As I climb the stairs to check in on Steph, the quietness in her room makes me uneasy. As I reach the top of the stairs, I notice the usually sparse living area is cluttered with what
appears to be, most of her belongings. I’m bewildered by the lack of neatness that has always been her trademark. Stepping over piles of crumpled clothes and a homecoming corsage that has held a
prominent place on her bulletin board for almost a year; I approach the darkened corner room. Having two teenagers, the lack of commotion only magnifies the quiet stillness- moms just know
silence can be deafening.
“Steph honey, are you up yet?” Peering inside, I scan the walls and shelves. For a moment, I assume she must be reorganizing her room again. Gradually, I become aware of the emptiness of what
was once a perfectionist dream. It feels odd to me that her favorite comforter is bunched up in the far corner, but a closer look reveals messy strands of chestnut hair and one white knuckled
Standing there in her doorway, I almost miss her clutching the comforter like her life depends on it. Staring off into space, she is mumbling, her eyes as vacant as her room, saying nothing
and everything. For a moment, it feels like I have walked into someone else’s room, that I am looking at a stranger. I stand there blinking, looking around to find something that reveals some sense
of normalcy. Nothing about this picture seems right in my mind, only the corsage and the familiar comforter pull me back to certainty. In this moment, on this Saturday, I know Steph has slipped
away, to where, I don’t know—but I would do anything to get her back. Seeing her so out of her element, trembling uncontrollably, I realize I don’t know who is frightened more, me or my little
This particular Saturday will always make me think of a fierce storm. Warnings are always given but like many who get caught off guard, I’ve ignored them. I didn’t understand the magnitude of
the danger it could bring, I’m still not sure what is happening. Now as I’m staring in the face of this storm, I can feel its power tearing and twisting at my papier-mâché fortress. Our
lives are crumbling before my eyes and I don’t know where to turn.
Despite all the warnings, I find myself totally unprepared for the devastation this storm is bringing to my home. Being an accountant and office manager, analyzing and
solving problems come easy for me so this shouldn’t have caught me by surprise, but it did. Even the phrase there’s a method to my madness annoys me. I’d rather just eliminate the madness. Of
course when it comes to my daughter, to do away with the madness I must first acknowledge the chaos. Denial can be such a potent word.
All my life I have been told that there are solutions to all problems. Yet, I have somehow failed to see that there is a problem even as it unfolds before my eyes. Well, that’s not
entirely true, strange occurrences have become commonplace for quite a while. It’s just that my inability to accept Steph’s uncharacteristic behaviors lately has steadily paralyzed me into
uncertainty, something I don’t readily like to admit.
The world is crashing down around me; I can’t breathe or even think straight. Every parent goes through periods of denial when their mind tells them something is going wrong but their heart
says “no- not my child, it will pass.” The saying “Love is Blind” often applies to not only those of us who are love sick in a rocky relationship, but also to mothers and fathers of children with
problems you as a parent can’t see objectively. Often times you will be the last one to accept the reality of coming truths.
Recently, I have struggled with the thought that maybe I’m just a panic-stricken mom, clinging to control as my daughter reaches for independence, that I’m making a mountain out of a mole
hill. I have convinced myself it’s just a strange phase she is going through; still I should have taken a closer look. I’ve had to fend off hundreds of pressing questions and comments lately.
Now, I suspect those warning signs should have been much more obvious than I’ve wanted to admit. Stubbornly, I’ve held on to the belief that nothing was really wrong, not with Steph, it will
And now that my world is in chaos, the sheer gravity of it has slapped me in the face; my mind is forced to see things as they are. It has only become more confusing, desperation is setting
in. Then, just as my mind begins to inch ahead of my heart, seeing things with a bit more clarity, I find I no longer trust my own instincts as a parent. When you know something is going
horribly wrong with a loved ones mind, how do our instincts react?
Instinct has played an enormous role in all humanity since the beginning of time. We are all born with these impulses that are designed to help us survive as a species. Behavior patterns
that do not appear to have been learned kick in magically, by some unknown trigger. But are they really magical or is it through trial and error that we learn to act subconsciously, only repeating
These types of instincts can easily be observed in a variety of examples. The fight or flight response is a result of an adrenaline surge our body instinctively sends to help us combat
threats. The craving of high calorie foods has been instinctively developed over millions of years simply to insure the survival of our most fit species. Babies use the simple instinctive
tactic of crying to get parents to jump to the rescue, insuring their needs are met. Our overwhelming desires to procreate, nurture, protect and safeguard our children have all developed as
instinctive behaviors in order to secure future human existence.
But do we have the instincts we need to respond to situations so completely out of our realm, such as mental illness. I know some of the instilled responses can be an enormous help to me as I
grope for direction. However, I have also been designed with instinctive emotions which govern my heart, sometimes getting in the way of my logic thought. These feelings and impulses are colliding
in a frantic jumble, making it difficult for me to sort through this crisis in a logical manner. In the midst of this nightmare, can I know how to hold on to my own sense of reality?
This has come out of nowhere—Crazy, Looney, Nuts, Twisted, Psycho—you name it, I’m thinking it. I know someone is not of sound mind, but which one of us is it? I don’t think I have the
instincts needed to deal with an issue so completely out of my realm; I’m not at all sure what the issue even is. What I do know now, in this moment, something is horribly wrong with my daughters
mind. This thought is so foreign to me, so unknown to me, my emotions are suffocating me.
All these emotions cloud my mind, then like a life raft, somewhere in the midst this turbulent nightmare my mind drifts to phrases from my past. They’re just words, but I want to cling to
them the same way Steph is clinging to her comforter. The same way my family has always clung to these phrases to survive life’s storms. Phrases my parents have taught us that have become such a
mainstay in our lives for years. So I tell myself that is what I must continue to do, to cling to those precious words.
Like most mothers, after a little practice I quickly began to look at myself as the fix-it Mom, the go to gal. My baby gets hurt, and I’m there with a kiss, bottle of peroxide and a band-aid
to make it all better. Just tell me someone hurt my child and I become the Mama Bear no one would ever want to encounter. You’ve got a question, I’ve got answers. I’m the twentieth century
heroine of the world, and the conquering leader of troubling times. I’m the epitome of the super-mom. That is, until I stepped out of the fog and see how utterly lost I am, see how totally
helpless and clueless I am, as I did today.
What would have prepared me for the greatest challenge of my life?Oh I’ve had my share of trails and troubles, suffered loss in one form or another as much as anyone I guess. And like most
people, I found ways to deal with them. Although I must admit sometimes it seems more in spite of me as much as through my own efforts. But this is not a topic that was covered in those baby
classes I took. In the entire library, amongst all those books about baby names, how to raise an obedient child, what to feed them, how not to spank them, toilet training and breast feeding,
where does it explain how I as a parent, can cope with my child’s mental illness?
I don’t know where to turn. Who can understand what’s happening? I certainly don’t. I’m not sure I can even remotely describe what’s happening. Is there anyone out there that can tell me
what’s going on? And if you’re out there, how will I find you? If I find you, how will I be confident of anything you say? I need someone to tell me what to do.
Anger, fear, confusion, frustration, panic, resentment, disappointment, hopelessness, these and many other varieties of emotions are flying through me all at once. I must look like a chicken
with its head cut off, running around the farm yard, or one of the salmon of the northwest trying to swim upstream in an attempt to reach an unfathomable goal.
Nevertheless, I instinctively know in my heart, I must remain the rock, the safety net and protector, because someone more important to me than all the gold in Fort Knox will need me to stand
with her. I must never tire, never stop seeking answers, never leave her unsupported, always be conscientious of my reactions and most of all never ever turn my back. I will do all these things
gladly with my whole heart and soul.
What I didn’t expect was that the path on which I was about to embark would be the emotional equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. I only wish there was a manuscript to follow, an instruction
book to use as a guide, even a small check list that will give me the direction I am so apparently lacking.
We parents all have trials and heartaches in the course of raising our children. With the rise in mental health issues in our country, you may have found yourself in my shoes. My heart goes
out to you with a sense of camaraderie for the continual anguish we share. My purpose in telling this story is not to advise or suggest in any way that I know the answers to your questions relating
to these illnesses. I only want to communicate that you are not alone in your suffering and uncertainty. I want to share with you a sense of hope and inspiration that is so desperately needed
to survive this type of crisis.
I am not a doctor or psychiatrist nor do I have any medical training. I’m just a Mom, a mom with a child in a crisis. I have thought a lot in the past few years about the importance of
telling Stephanie’s story. Knowing what I know now, seeing what I’ve seen, understanding things a little better now, I have decided it is just the right time.
Selfishly, I believe this adventure may be therapeutic for me. As if putting it all down in print will wash away some of the frustration I have set aside this past decade. I’m not at all
confident I can put my thoughts to paper, in a manner that will have any clarity for you, as a reader. This story makes little sense to me some days, with confusion and self-doubt reining over my
world so much in these past years. But I will endeavor to pour from my heart the account of this challenge as best I can. Maybe it will give us both a better perspective if, I start from the
© Copyright 2016 B C LEVINSON. All rights reserved.