Erynn is a sixteen-year-old girl originally from Alberta, Canada. Like most high school students, Erynn likes to spend time with her friends. She has a creative mind, and when she can’t be with her friends, she keeps herself occupied by browsing the Internet for new and interesting things to do. She enjoys playing and writing about video games. She recently decided to change up her appearance by getting a short haircut. Being the busy girl that she is, she had better things to do than to maintain her long locks. “I told her to try out a bob, but she went for the pixie cut,” laughs Heather, Erynn’s mom.
Erynn was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of seven. Years earlier, her mother began to notice that something was not right. “As a parent, you’re the one who knows your child best,” Heather explains. The family moved to Ontario when Erynn was three, and that is where she began to receive more specialized treatment.
Erynn and her family moved to London, where she began attending an early intervention program through the mood disorder clinic at CPRI. As an outpatient in the early intervention program, Erynn got to meet other children in similar situations, and she began her treatment through a support system. “I was five and I don’t really remember much about my first experiences there,” admits Erynn, but she explains that CPRI helped by guiding her toward the right programs and treatments.
The program was developed in a way to accommodate both the patients and their families. While Erynn attended the children’s program, her parents attended a program of their own. This was the first time that Heather got to meet other parents who were in similar situations. “For me, it was really enlightening,” shares Heather, pausing to relive the moment, “because I wasn’t alone anymore.”
Heather explains that attending the program was a rewarding experience. “A lot of laughter and tears were shared in the parent program,” she describes, emphasizing the importance of her tremendous support system at CPRI.
Erynn recognizes the importance of both branches of the program as well, stating, “I imagine my parents would be a lot more stressed and I’d be a lot sicker if I hadn’t gone to CPRI.”
Being able to attend a parent program at CPRI was very important to Heather. It gave her strength during trying times. She notes that it was not her daughter who was the source of her frustrations. Heather’s frustrations stemmed from the systems around Erynn that did not understand how to accommodate her. “CPRI worked with Erynn’s school, and now she can experience her education a lot better,” praises Heather.
Erynn has been with CPRI for more than 10 years now, and she wants to provide other kids with assurance that the programs do help, even if it takes some time. She and her family continue to receive support, and they continue to learn more through their interactions with other parents. They are able to share information, exchange strategies, and advocate together at schools to make their children’s lives a little easier. “There’s a lot of people at CPRI,” Erynn tells us, “And I feel I can trust a lot of people there.”
“CPRI works cooperatively with other agencies, services, and school system. Not all places are set up to work cooperatively,” says Heather, “but it is critically important.” She explains that both children and their families need to feel a sense of teamwork and community. She doesn’t know how she or her family could have managed Erynn’s school life or daily life without all the support they have received.
“As a parent, you’re the one who knows your child best,” repeats Heather. “But you can’t go wrong with listening to the people at CPRI.”