I first noticed something wasn't right with Summah in her last two years of school.I thought she was struggling with peer pressure at school and the typical problems young people face at that age. I was very ignorant about it back then. I thought she was a typical child and just going through the ups and downs. I ignored it really at that stage. It was only when Summah was 19 years old that she went to the doctors and was diagnosed with Bipolar. Once she was diagnosed I was shocked; I didn't believe it could be Bipolar. My thoughts were that she was a normal child and that we should see another doctor. I thought she'd just grow out of it and get over it. To our regret Summah did it tough for a while.
I'd heard about Bipolar before and people had spoken about it, but when it's your child you can put your head in the sand and put blinkers on. You need to become aware of what is happening and take the blinkers off because it is your child that this is happening to.
We finally realised that it was a bigger issue when she was put on medication and her episodes became more prevalent. At that point she went to the medical centre and was referred to headspace Wollongong. It was then that our eyes were opened to the issue and things started to improve.
When Summah first went to headspace we were really relieved. She started counselling and as time went on I could see how much Summah had grown. I had more of an understanding about how to support her. I think headspace saved her life. headspace also helped me and gave advice on how I could support her and how I could look out for the signs. headspace was always available and really helped Summah work through her problems. I think headspace was the best thing that ever happened to us.
If I had my time again I would really listen to Summah and look out for the signs more and I would try to be more aware of what was happening. I wish I had understood more. There are so many pressures children face today, so it is very important to listen to your children and to be aware of mental health issues.
I think Summah has a brilliant future ahead of her. She's doing a degree in counselling and plans to go travelling next year. Summah is an amazing person and will become a great councillor one day. She understands mental health and will use her experiences to help others.