About our Daughter

I am mother to four wonderful daughters, ages 15, 17, 18 and 21, 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. In spite of the trials, she enjoys lacrosse, running (finished her first marathon in October of 2014!), 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!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

She graduated from High School!!!!

The day arrived and she did it!  She walked across that stage and took her hard-earned diploma today.  Praise God!  There were many times we weren't sure how she would finish high school, but she kept plugging along, and with the help of fabulous teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, mentors, and God himself,  she reached her goal.  We are so proud of her!   Time to celebrate!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Meridell and How Do You Know it is Time to Seek Residential Treatment?

I get this question a lot, and I thought I would just answer it right here.   If your child has been hospitalized several times without good effect, if the right med mix seemingly can't be found outpatient, if they are a consistent danger to themselves or you or their siblings, if they have given up hope that they can ever be anything but a failure in relationships, in school and at home, don't hesitate to consider residential treatment.  This is a last resort, but it shouldn't be out of the question.  To do nothing but what you have been doing without good lasting results is foolish.

That being said, do your homework.  There are great residential centers and some poor ones.  The poor ones would be worse than not going.  Find the best you can afford.  We choose Meridell because of its reputation.  We didn't live anywhere near Texas, but it was worth it.    I would take out a second mortgage if I had to.  The experience changed our daughter's life for the good, and she is still grateful she went.  

I think the key test is if the stress level is so great at home that everyone's mental health is seriously affected, you need to look at residential, to give your child real hope and to give yourself a much needed break.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Needs a Job after Graduation

So the summer is almost upon us and high school is almost done, forever!  Caroline needs a job and so if you are a praying person, pray that just the right one will come her way, preferably sports-related.  Just found out the district will most likely pay for her final year of enrollment at the technical college to become a personal trainer for next year.  Unbelievable!  Our school district rocks!!  On another note, I am beginning classes to become a real estate broker.  I had been looking a various career options now that she is stable and nearly out of school and after a lot of prayer and thought, I am embarking on this new phase of life.  Freedom!  Excited and scared to death at the same time.  I haven't been able to work outside of the home for any significant amount of time since she was diagnosed twelve years ago.  But being at home with her was important and worth it.  Not sure she would be where she is without the constant presence I was able to provide.  Many parents out there aren't so fortunate, I know.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Trying Gluten Free for Migraines

With a big uptick in daily migraines, we are looking for every possible cause.  On her own, she decided to try going gluten free for a while to see if this will make a difference.  I had to eliminate gluten and dairy two years ago and found that my digestive issues miraculously disappeared, but not the migraines.  Mine are definitely weather related.  Hers seems to be weather and who knows what.  We watched her get a sudden migraine right after finishing her birthday dinner at a restaurant on Saturday, so the food connection seems plausible.  Might be time to get a complete sensitivity test done.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Headaches and Scrolling Vision

There has been an unfortunate increase in these episodes of headaches and scrolling vision.  She is tearful and frustrated because of how much they have been interfering with her school life recently.  She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism a few months ago and we have had to make some adjustments after the addition of the synthroid.   We first had to increase the Lamictal by 25 mgs for some mania but this may have precipitated the headaches. So we go back to the doc as soon as possible so we can come up with a solution.  Maybe we need to get her into a neurologist.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lacrosse Replaced by Marathon Training

So Caroline has hung up her lacrosse sticks for good after a disappointing experience on her high school team the last two seasons.  Basically, the coach wouldn't play her during the games more than a few minutes.  This is the girl that has been pursued by college recruiters.  I think it was discriminatory based on her bipolar diagnosis and on her previous concussions her freshman year.  She did play last summer on a travel team, and was always a starter and got lots of play time, so the issue was definitely with this coach.

The good news is Caroline loves to run and started training for her first marathon last summer, and finished the Denver Rock N' Roll in October.  Now she is training for her next marathon in Utah.  Yes, this child of mine is remarkable considering the myriad of obstacles she has had to overcome since she was first diagnosed at the age of seven.  She turns nineteen this week.  We can hardly believe she is on her way to adulthood.  When we think of the many years of complete despair and difficulty, this is a miracle indeed.  Gratefulness overwhelms us.

Another positive development has been her relationship with her oldest sister.  Caroline has longed for reconciliation and wrote a letter to her last fall asking for forgiveness for the many events that unfolded while she was unstable.  Elizabeth, much to our surprise, embraced her sister's conciliatory note wholeheartedly, even getting a tattoo on her foot in Hannah's bold signature (not so excited about tattoos but nonetheless we are delighted.)

God is good.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Light at the End of a Very Long Tunnel

We are almost there.  She is going to graduate from high school in a few months.  We truly were not sure if we would ever get this far.  Life is peaceful, normal, predictable.  I wish that each of you would get to experience a place like this.    There were many times we wondered if she would have long term stability and be able to finish school so well.  But she has.  She is still doing the online high school but she is also dual enrolled at a local technical school to become a personal trainer.  Excelling would be the word.  She still struggles with friendships as I think she has a high level of fear and trust issues.   But she is hopeful and positive, and moving forward with life.  She fills up her own med box, makes her own psychiatry and psychologist appointments, drives herself everywhere she needs to go, and wants to fly the nest soon.  We have told her she needs to live with us for another year and have a job before she can move out (obviously) but she plans meals, shops for groceries, and cooks for us frequently.  What more could we ask?  To God be the Glory, Great Things He Has Done!