I once had a casual friendship with a co-worker who had three boys being treated for bi-polar disorder. From her descriptions, I assumed she let the kids run roughshod over her, but when I visited her house a few times, I didn’t see any evidence of that.

Her children were exhausting, and as a result, she and her husband had very few friends. They also got no time alone, because the few family members who lived in the area couldn’t handle their boys and refused to babysit. Their house – a prison, really – was filled with expensive broken things; her husband sought refuge through his compulsive eBay purchases.

The last time I talked to her, her 11-year-old had been institutionalized – for trying to kill her.

I just couldn’t handle being her friend. It was all too much, and I put her out of my mind. But when I read this, I thought of her.