About our Daughter

I am mother to four wonderful daughters, ages 13, 16, 17 and 20, and wife to the greatest husband on earth. God has given us a special child to raise one who was diagnosed with early-onset bipolar disorder at the age of seven, though she showed signs of it from the age of fifteen months. She also has ADHD, Sensory Integration Disorder (sensory seeking), Dyslexia, and Non-Verbal Learning Disorder-NOS, all typical comorbidities for a bipolar child. She is in the very challenging teen years, and she is attempting a big public high school for the first time. In spite of the trials, she enjoys lacrosse, running, and reading and writing her own books. I will share with you the many joys and sorrows we have faced and will face in the future with the hope that you may find better understanding about this mental illness caused by both chemical and structural abnormalities in the brain. I desire that you will be encouraged by this blog if you are also dealing with a bipolar child. Thank you for reading and sharing in our journey.

How Did You Know She Was Bipolar So Young?

I wrote a long explanation of how we came to this bipolar diagnosis in a child so young under my post of March 19th of 2009. If your child or a child you know bears similarities, please seek out a good psychiatrist and don't wait for "things to get better." Often they will simply get worse, and the longer a child is unmedicated, the more damage their brain can accrue. Early diagnoses and treatment are key to providing these children with a chance at a successful life later as a teen and an adult.
Never change, start or stop a medication without the approval of your child's physician!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Steroids, Antibiotics and Bipolar Disorder

I just wanted to post a quick note that we have seen Caroline react to both steroids and antibiotics in a negative way, usually with mania.  This phenomenon has been noted by other parents of bipolar kids on the Balanced Mind chat room.   Obviously if a kid needs steroids or antibiotics, they need them and you just have to watch them carefully or add more of the mood stabilizers to the mix, per your doc of course.  With all the illnesses going around, this is probably an issue for many out there.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ok, Now I Feel Bad!

Now that I have finally read all of the comments and questions from the last four months, I am so sorry that I was ignoring this blog even though I had my reasons at the time.  I am back now and I will read your comments and respond to them and your questions.  I do have a measure of responsibility here.  You and your kids are precious to God.  Forgive me for my four month silence.

Haven't Written in Forever, Here's Why

I have discovered that when things are going really, really well, I don't want to come here.  I started writing this blog when things were almost at their worst.  There had been the very worst in the prior years, which, if you have read any of this blog, is probably hard to fathom.  But I associate this blog with hard, hard, dark places.  We have had many victories, large and small, but for many years, I would write and sob.  I am sure you know what I mean if you have a bipolar child.

So since this summer, since Caroline started the online public high school through our district, she has been doing so well.  This seems to be the right fit for right now, and likely through the end of high school.  She is a junior now and we are looking at the possibilities after high school, which at this point are 1. going to be close to home and 2. don't involve college lacrosse.  The first is our stipulation, the second was her recent decision.  She is so mature for her age.  She doesn't want to risk another concussion and thereby risk her future schooling and career.  Wow, she amazes us with her insight into herself.

She wants to be a physical therapy assistant.  There is a two year program not too far away.  She could live at home and drive there every day and work as well.  We just want to be sure she can manage college classes and managing her meds and moods.  Then she could move out and either continue in a four year college or just start working.

We have had to make some minor med adjustments, but nothing big.  The same med mix she has been on for almost six years has been the right cocktail apparently.    This is HUGE as a factor in her success in school.

We did find out she is very allergic to sulfa drugs and ended up in the hospital for a few days after the start of a bad reaction to Bactrim.  They put her on steroids which led to mania, which we nipped in the bud as we were looking for it.  Praise God for the experiences of the past!

One very cool thing is that Caroline has become quite the long distance runner, which is great for her moods.  She will play lacrosse in the spring, but running provides a nice pre-season workout and will be a good future alternative.  She runs four to eight miles during her weekday runs, and up to twelve on Saturdays.  Yeah, twelve!

So all is good.  I know things could change.  They could change tomorrow.  So we are thankful for today.  And for the last six months.  I pray that your child will find the same stability soon.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Scrolling Vision Issue Solved?

Well, we tried a reduction in the Trileptal, which was at 1800 mgs since Meridell.  She is now on 1500 mgs, and guess what?  No episodes of scrolling vision!!  This has been true for the last four weeks.  So maybe the scrolling vision had nothing to do with the concussions!   If that is so, then so much of the issues she had in school last year might have been avoided, but we are still more satisfied with the online high school option.  And this makes the whole lacrosse/concussion issue look less concerning.  Not completely, but a little less.   Her moods haven't changed with the reduction either, thank goodness!  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

College Lacrosse or No?

Such a big decision. Do we allow her to go on the recruiting circuit, with coaches contacting her from around the country, or do we put this dream to rest, as an impractical one.  Being bipolar is hard, very hard.  Life is ten times more challenging.  College will be very challenging.  Playing lacrosse plus college, maybe far too much.  As a junior, life moves very quickly through the end of high school.  She still has the SATs, the ACTS, college visits, applications, and so much more.   Yet her dream of playing college lacrosse has been what has kept her marching on despite everything.  I am not sure what would happen if that dream dies.  Praying for wisdom.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Huge Milestone: Five Years Without a Hospitalization!!

We have now gone five years without a single psychiatric hospitalization since her three and a half month stay at Meridell Achievement Center in Liberty Hill, TX, where she received intensive residential treatment.  There the doctors were able to find just the right medication mix, which she has been on since then with just a few tweaks here and there and the addition of Lamictal.  Very few bipolar teens have gone so long without a stay in acute care.   Prior to going to Meridell, she had many, many hospitalizations.  I just can't say enough about this place.  Please don't hesitate to look into long-term residential treatment at the right place if you can't achieve stability for your  child through what is available locally.  We travelled across the country to get her the best care we could find.   Sometimes you have to do things you never thought you would do.  But joy comes in the morning so to speak.  We don't regret sending her away and neither does she.  But don't just look for a place that focuses on behavioral therapy and downplays the role of medication.  If your child is truly bipolar or schizophrenic or seriously depressed, behavioral therapy alone can't fix this.  You will just be putting a band aid on a much bigger problem.  The behavioral aspect can't be truly addressed if they are not on the right medications.  We have had far, far fewer behavioral issues to deal with once Caroline was put on the right mix of meds.  Academic problems, yes, but now major behavioral problems.  There is hope!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Online High School

So far, with one week into the experiment with the online high school offered through our school district, the verdict is a good one.  Caroline loves it.  She is still having trouble with math, but that isn't anything new.  The good news is that she can go to the district offices (two blocks from our house) where the online high school teachers have office space and get help one-on-one whenever she needs it.  Couldn't get better than this!  Most of the classes have weekly assignment deadlines, so she can decide on a daily basis which subjects to do first.  She could finish everything by Friday if she wanted to so that she has the weekend sans homework.  I really, really hope this works.  She can still participate in lacrosse with the local high school too.  And she has daily discussions about the subject material with the other teens who are enrolled in the online school.  We are so grateful to be in a school district with this kind of option.  The program seems quite organized and well-run.  As the semester progresses, we will see if this turns out as we all hoped.