The Partnership welcomes back author and blogger Ginnah Howard. We’re also excited to be giving away two free copies of her novel Night Navigation – new in paperback – see below for details.
What if, in addition to having a substance abuse problem, your son or daughter also has a mental illness such as bipolar disorder? Your child’s behavior is erratic, temper explosive, judgment impaired. It’s hard to know which roller coaster you’re riding. Is it drugs or manic depression?
If the answer is “both,” then the whole dilemma of when to hang on and when to let go has become even more complicated, especially if a history of suicide is in the family footnotes. This is the dilemma which my novel, Night Navigation, explores, a story inspired by my own family’s experience of riding that roller coaster for many years.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Sixty-one percent of individuals with bipolar illness also have a substance abuse disorder. Bipolar, or manic depression, is a medical illness that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy and functioning. Most people usually require lifelong treatment. While medication may be a key element in successful treatment, psychotherapy, support and education about the illness are also essential components in the treatment process. Though the exact causes of bipolar disorder are not known, most scientists believe bipolar illness is caused by multiple factors that interact with each other to produce a chemical imbalance affecting certain sections of the brain.
Bipolar disorder often runs in families and studies suggest there is a genetic component. A stressful environment or negative life events may interact with biological vulnerabilities to produce the disorder. This is why when people debate the whole nature/nurture cause-and-effect question, I always say “both” to that as well. Many families have generational histories of co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse, even though neither is fully recognized as such until way down the line.
For those parents who have concerns that their son or daughter may have a co-occurring mental illness, the National Alliance on Mental Illness website is an excellent source for information: www.nami.org
Editor’s Note: WIN a copy of Night Navigation by Ginnah Howard. HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment responding to Ginnah’s post with a valid email address and two winners will be chosen at random at the end of this giveaway. Enter as many times as you want! This giveaway ends next Tuesday July 6 @ 5PM EST. US only. Good luck!