"I wanted this film to tell their stories in their own words. No narration, minimal doctor's overviews and anchored in the daily ups and downs which parents and kids face."
What drew you to this subject?
Having children myself, I have witnessed extreme mood swings and wondered at times where my own kids fall on the spectrum of 'normalcy.' Then I began seeing articles on pediatric bipolar disorder in which parents were criticized for medicating their children, where the diagnosis was clearly the center of intense debate, and I wondered what life was like from the families' perspectives. It seemed to me that their experiences were being overlooked, often misunderstood, and needed to be portrayed.
How did you gain the trust of your subjects?
I told them about my intentions, which were quite simple, really. I wanted this film to tell their stories in their own words. No narration, minimal doctor's overviews, and anchored in the daily ups and downs which parents and kids face. I explained that their openness would help a general public overcome possible negative stigmas regarding children with mental illness, and help people sympathize with how unclear the answers are at this point.
Why is it so difficult to diagnose bipolar mood disorder?
One reason is that there is no separate criteria for children in this country. The diagnosis is based on the expression of the disorder in adults. Also, children, of course, have hormonal and brain development shifts as they grow, and so it makes it even more difficult to separate out behavior extremes from what is within normal range and what would benefit from medical attention or special treatment.