Dear Bobby,

One of my greatest accomplishments in life was becoming your mother – I had hopes and dreams for the man you would become. Your intelligence, compassion and determination in everything you did brought me a great sense of pride. Bipolar disorder no doubt changed the way I see the world and what I now want for you, my loving son.

This brain illness at times has made you say and do things uncharacteristic of the person that I know is deep inside of you.  It is an illness that has caused much turmoil for you, for this I am deeply sorry and only wish that as your mother I could take the pain away. Despite great suffering, despair and heartbreak, bipolar disorder has taught me so much.

It has taught me that we live in a world where those with serious brain disorders are discriminated against.  We live in a society that accepts homelessness and incarceration rather than providing treatment to those that are too sick to ask for it. I have been motivated by these injustices to turn my pain into actionable change, to make things right for those afflicted with illnesses that are no fault of their own. I have learned how to be the voice for the 22 million people that live with serious brain disorders.

Your illness has helped me to become a more compassionate and non-judgmental person. I no longer take anything for granted and appreciate the small things in life – a sunny day, the sounds of waves crashing, or a moment that makes me laugh. A day without chaos is truly a blessing.

I have met some wonderful and truly exceptional people in my journey as a mother who has experienced the unthinkable, having a child diagnosed with a serious brain disorder. These are friendships like no other.  Though I have never met any of these friends in person, I hold each and every one close in my heart as they truly understand the struggles we go through. We recognize each other’s trials and tribulations and are there to support one another. We are all fighting to make this a better world for those that live with these debilitating illnesses. These friends and their advocacy work provides me hope – hope that we will become a more compassionate and just world and the suffering will end for those that live with serious brain disorders and their families.

I still have hopes and dreams for you, my loving son. I hope that you find stability. I hope that you can forgive me when I thought I was doing the right thing in getting you help and it made your life harder. I hope that you find happiness. I hope that you find the healthiest version of yourself. I hope that you find love. I hope that you find purpose. I hope that you find the life that you are happy with.

Despite all that we have been through, I have never been more proud of you. I am proud of the strength you exhibit in living with bipolar disorder – this is no easy feat. I am proud of you in trying to navigate a world that is so unjust to people that live with these illnesses. I am proud of you for the level of compassion you continue to show to others. I am proud of you for never giving up on yourself. I am proud of you for recognizing when you are struggling and need time for self care. I am proud of you for being able to recognize your triggers. I am proud of you for wanting to pursue your dreams. But most of all, I am proud to be your mother and this will never change. I love you!