Our son, Nathan was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of two.  For 7 years we played the med, therapy, new Doctor game.  There were times we found stability, but more often than not we were searching for stability.  After seeing several specialists in the field, we came upon Dr. Papolos in August of 2011.  After talking with him, it was clear to all of us that Nathan fell into the Fear of Harm phenotype, a new subtype of childhood-onset bipolar disorder recently identified by research studies. As silly as this sounds, what a blessing that he was in that category!!  Without having the FOH aspect to his disorder, we would still be searching for relief.

Nathan began the ketamine treatment in September of 2011.  It has been 4 months and although we know we still have tweaking to do, we have seen changes in our son that we had given up hope of ever seeing.  Nathan’s fears were debilitating.  He would not move within our home without someone with him.  He would not use a bathroom without someone standing in the doorway to watch his back.  He began sleeping on our bedroom floor at the age of 3 due to extreme fear of being alone.  It has been 7 years that he has slept on our bedroom floor.  Nathan has never been able to enjoy a family gathering as any large number of people made him anxious.  He has never had friends as he fears that they would touch his things or disrupt the order he has created for himself.  Nathan couldn’t look people in the eye.

After starting the ketamine regime we saw small changes on and off in the beginning.  For us, the ketamine was not something that produced night and day results immediately, which was discouraging at times.  But after about 3 months we began to see the real effects.  Nathan began using the bathroom alone without requesting help.  He would go from one room to another to get a toy and did not ask for us to accompany him.  These were things that he could have never done before.  He began completing his shower on his own without help from us (this is something he was always nervous about because of water getting on in his face).  This past Christmas, Nathan was able to enjoy 25 family members at our home.  He played a video game with his cousin.  He shared his toys.  For the first time in his life he was able to relax and enjoy Christmas.

On January 13, 2012, one day before his 10th birthday, Nathan moved from our bedroom downstairs into his own room upstairs by his own request.  It has been one full week today that he has slept in his own room and he is so proud of himself.   While we know we are not quite “there” yet with his dose of ketamine, we know we are close and we have seen a light at the end of a tunnel that we thought would forever be dark.


  1. We have a daughter who has been diagnosed at 13 with bipolar. I understand the pain and suffering that bipolar brings with it…….so happy that your son is feeling better, and best wishes to your son and family!

  2. My 9 year old son has bipolar and is named Nathan too. He was first hospitalized at the age of five and was showing symptoms of the disorder when he was much younger. Right now he is refusing to go out of the house because he is terrified of bees. It’s affecting his ability to play at school and church. I totally understand your pain!!! He’s on three meds right now and we are working with a specialist pediatrician to get him the right help. Finding help is such a difficult road.

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