About our Daughter

I am mother to four wonderful daughters, ages 17, 19, 21, and 23, 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, March 4, 2009

I left out what's positive

I realized that I have been mostly negative regarding Caroline and all of her struggles and ours, and that I hadn't really shared anything positive about her.  She has many delightful traits and can be quite charming.  I've had total strangers come up to me and tell me how impressed they are by her maturity and depth of insight.  At the age of five she was in the very superior range of IQ, but her learning disabilities (poor working memory and short-term recall) have hampered her academic achievement.  In school settings, she often received the end of year award for most creative.  When the first graders were asked to bring in a decorated box for their Valentines, Caroline didn't just slap construction paper on a shoe box.  She got a small shipping box, made four turrets, and turned the whole thing into a big pink castle.  No help from us either.  

All of her art teachers  have enjoyed  her natural drawing ability, frequently picking out her works to display.  Most of her teachers loved having her in their class (not her PE teacher in the 4th grade--she was too intense) because of her out-of-the-box ideas and adult-like conversational gifts.  She was given high marks for her respectful behavior in the classroom.  (The playground and lunchroom were another thing--too unstructured)  She loves science and history, soaking up information like a sponge.  I often find her reading one of our many history books all on her own.   Caroline has always been gifted musically, writing her own songs from about the age of seven.  Her music teachers remarked about her beautiful voice and she has sung solos.  

Her compassion for the less fortunate and for animals has always been evident.  Her favorite shows are all on animal planet. She volunteered with the SPCA when she was ten, wanting to help all of those dogs.  I had to do it with her because of her age--that was fun mother/daughter experience.  A rabbit bit me and drew blood.  I wasn't as excited about volunteering--too many pitbulls.  

Caroline doesn't care about make-up or the latest clothes.  We tell her all the time how naturally beautiful she is.  Even in this awkward stage, before braces and that final growth spurt, we want her to believe she is feminine and attractive for a lot of reasons.

 From the time she was little she loved to dance and move.  For a while,  gymnastics was her big sport, but she has played almost every sport.  She talks often about wanting to get a lacrosse scholarship to college.  Without prompting, she will just put on her running shoes and go for a run.  Not many twelve year olds have that kind of determination to stay fit.  She can outrace me, and I thought I was fast!   And this despite the fact she has exercised-induced asthma.

She has more insight about her inner workings than girls her age in general.  Even today, I couldn't believe how perceptive she is about the reasons for her present depression, and her desire to be in a school instead of being homeschooled, and about her relationships with her sisters.  I just sat there listening and thinking that she understands much more than I give her credit for.  Sometimes I am quickly dismissive of her protestations and don't seek to simply understand and help her find solutions.

She is affectionate and adores her Daddy.  She wants her sisters to like her and is very pained by the fact she has pushed them away with her outbursts.  Although she fights continually with Elizabeth, her older sister, she does express love for her and a desire to have a future relationship with her.  She is deeply hurt by Elizabeth's daily shunning of her.  We are too.

I could go on.  She has her daily ugly moments, but we see a bright future for her if she can conquer the demons of worthlessness and despair.  Today she said she doesn't know that God really exists at all because of how much she has suffered.  What do you say?  I told her that God does exist and deeply cares for her, but she doesn't feel it or see it she says.  But what about the parents He has given you, who will never reject you or turn away?  Are we not an embodiment of God's tender concern for you?  Still she is angry.  I don't blame her.  I struggle with anger also about all of the suffering in her life.  I don't want to give her pat answers, but I won't quit speaking the truth in love.


Kim Wilson said...

Yes, she has severe issues to deal with 24/7 but know that we have always seen the positive traits in "Caroline". Her outstanding athletic abilities are truely amazing and I often wished my kids had 1/4 of her talent. Her beautiful voice (just like her mama) would fill our house with songs that she would sing joyfully and unabashedly! And her zeal to share who Christ is with other children, leading them in prayer was a bold sight to see. God knows her pain, and has blessed her with many special gifts.

momofbpchild said...

Thanks Kim. You are such an encourager. I would be lost without friends like you! Megan

mamatufour said...

i apologize for continuing to leave comments--however, with each post that I read, I am seeing my own daughter. Her very high IQ, her intense emotional awareness of others' pain, her creativity and frankly, obsession over projects--usually geared toward helping others.....

Megan said...

Oh, please do keep leaving comments. Then I don't feel like I am just talking to myself.