Watching your children struggle is hard on a parent.

This is her story:

I sometimes say that I won the craptastic mental health lottery. I’ve had my share of minor struggles. My children, on the other hand, have dealt with much more than I did.

My daughter is twelve, and has just returned home on Wednesday from her second hospital stay in four months. I am confident really believe hope like hell that we’ve gotten to the heart of identifying her disorder so we can do the right things to treat it. She’s smart and creative and beautiful, and I want everyone to know that about her, not focus on her anxiety or her awkwardness or her peculiar outbursts.

My nine year old son was the one who pulled us kicking and screaming into the world of mood disorders. I’ve done lots reading (books, websites, you name it) about kids like him and the myriad of Disorders (the conditions are often too big to be suited to a lowercase “d”) that could have caused his behavior. Always one to resist a label, Hoss does not fit neatly into any of the diagnoses that generally cause the behaviors as they manifested themselves in him.  Welcome to “mood disorder- Not Otherwise Specified.”

He’s witty and brilliant and is such a computer whiz that I could see him as the next Bill Gates.

My baby boy, who is seven years old and therefore long past being a baby, is the hardest to pin down. He may be quirky. He may be something more serious. His stubborn streak and need for routine may not be OCD or Aspergers, but no one has ruled it out yet either. Little Joe, he of the unbelievable memory and soothing routines, is still a wild card.

Most mental illnesses have some genetic link, although there are always families with no history who  have a child with some issues rising to the surface. What would be the odds of having not one, not two, but three kids with these disorders?

Like I said, maybe I just won the lottery.