What is bipolar disorder?
What are its symptoms?
Why can it cause some to become suicidal?
Ryan?s Story chronicles a difficult and dark time in the life of a unique and wonderful teenager. He manifested symptoms of bipolar disorder, but it went undiagnosed until he was seventeen. Neither Ryan, nor anyone else in his family knew much about the disorder. As they were thrust into that stark, cold reality of a psychological disorder, they learned as much as possible to try to overcome its effects on their son.
Ryan?s story provides a look at how bipolar drastically alters the life of any individual who has it. It also shows the profound effect it has on the family members. You will see a firsthand account of a father, who saw one of his children trapped in the vicious cycle of this terrible disease.
It is a story that will take you on an emotional roller coaster as you see a strong, intelligent, energetic young man, wrestle with his disorder, his faith in God and his struggle for life itself.
A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rev.Kenneth M. Dignan has been a credentialed minister and pastor since 1976. He received a B.A. in Bible from North Central University in Minneapolis, MN; an M.A. in Biblical Studies from The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, MO; and a Th.D. in Theology from Carolina University of Theology in Manassas, VA. He has also written the book. ?Til Healing Comes.
This book is dedicated to the memory of my son, Ryan. It chronicles a difficult and dark time in the life of a unique and wonderful human being. He manifested symptoms of bipolar disorder around the age of sixteen, but it went undiagnosed until he was seventeen. Ryan, neither I, nor anyone else in our family knew much about the disorder. As we were thrust into that stark, cold reality of a psychological disorder, we learned as much as we could to try to overcome its effects on our son.
Ryan?s story provides a look at how bipolar drastically alters the life of any individual who has it. It also shows the profound effect it has on the family members. No one really knows the nightmare of living with manic depression unless you or a family member is diagnosed with it.
This story is shared from my perspective as a father. Our family is composed of my wife, Joni, and our four sons. These are my reflections as I saw and felt them. It focuses on many of the problems Ryan experienced as a teenager. Let it be known there are more good memories and wonderful family times we had with our son, than the negative situations chronicled in this writing.
The purpose of this book is to show a firsthand account of a father, who saw one of his children trapped in the vicious cycle of a chemical physical imbalance. This medical problem did not provide an essential chemical balance for normal brain and mood function. This problem, referred to as bipolar disorder contributed to my son committing suicide. I found it therapeutic to sit at the computer the day after my son died and begin writing down my thoughts, feelings and experiences that Ryan and we experienced the last five years of his life. I kept writing for many months and years. Eventually my writings became what you have before you.
I believe I did everything possible to help my son. I felt it was my God-given call to get Ryan through this terrible thing called bipolar. I consider this book a labor of love I would not trade for all the peace of mind in the world. I hope these contents will keep Ryan?s memory alive, so many can see what a unique person he was, who suffered from a disturbing life altering disorder.
Ryan?s mother, along with our faith in God was the glue that held us all together. Her loving care, patience, and unending persistence to do whatever it took to help her son were remarkable. I will never forget the way she gave of herself. We know Ryan looks down from heaven and shares my appreciation for his mother.
Ryan?s three brothers tried to help him deal with his bipolar and the substance abuse to which it led. Kids are kids and there were times when they would get upset at one another and bicker and fight. But these brothers did all they could to understand and come to grips with the problems and changes their sibling was going through. They loved him and were turned upside down by the shock of his suicide.
In this book, I open the door of our home for you to look into and see what a family can go through when faced with the terrible disorder called bipolar. It is my prayer and hope that many of you who have bipolar (and/or a family member or friend who does) will gain some insight into living with bipolar disorder. By taking appropriate and healthy steps you can live a successful, fulfilling life.
As you read this story, you can see our reaction to Ryan?s diagnosis of bipolar disorder. You will get a glimpse of how we struggled to help our son deal with this nightmare, and what the results of that struggle were. I desire to help parents, spouses, children, relatives, and friends gain a better understanding of bipolar disorder and how to help a loved one that has it. I hope to share more insights into mood disorders and substance abuse to doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and students headed to these fields.
There needs to be extensive funding to develop more effective medications and gain a better understanding of mental illness, especially bipolar and depression. I desire to raise public awareness to pursue more tax dollars and private donations for greater research into mental illness, substance abuse and suicide prevention.
I want to unmask the ugly head of suicide among those with bipolar. I am driven to encourage anyone who is thinking about suicide to realize you do not have to take that desperate and final act. There is help and hope for you. Your loved ones and friends will never be the same if you choose to end your pain and confusion by suicide. Our family will never be the same again. Although our faith in God sustains us, the underlying current of loss remains to threaten our peace in a most untimely fashion.
I never dreamed that my son would take his own life. I realized it was a possibility. I knew that many who have bipolar try to commit suicide, but I believed we were doing everything possible to prevent Ryan from taking his life.
I can hardly imagine the pain that caused my son to choose suicide. It is hard to conceive what would have convinced him that, ending his earthly life was the only way out. His family and friends grieve our loss. The pain will never go away. Though many individuals with bipolar can successfully deal with and treat this disorder there is a handful that cannot. Those who attempt to and successfully commit suicide have a mysterious darkness and screaming pain that specialists in the field of medicine and psychiatry have yet to predict, prevent and at times successfully treat. With millions struggling from mental disorders, Ryan?s chronicle should help you gain more compassion and understanding for anyone who is afflicted with bipolar disorder.
Rev. Kenneth M. Dignan, ThD.