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, April 8, 2009

Bipolar Disorder is Messy, Literally

One of the most frustrating things about having a bipolar child is that they make continual messes, everywhere.  There are several reasons for this.  One is that they have documented executive function deficits, meaning the area of the brain having to do with organization and planning is greatly impaired.  Thus, her room, after being cleaned and organized (with my help too), by the next day looks like we never touched it. Clothes that were folded and organized in drawers will be strewn all over the floor, bed, dresser, closet, clean mixed with dirty.  It is as if she has not an organizational bone in her body.  This is not a parenting problem, because although there is always room for improvement, my other daughters manage to keep things in their rooms fairly picked up--at least they know where to find things. 

 She, on the other hand, loses things regularly throughout the day, doesn't know which gym bag is where, and when she looks at a pile of homework, her brain can't pick it apart to see just one assignment at a time.  She flips out because her brain is so disorganized on the inside.  We have to create order for her very often, which is typical of all bp kids.  She needs tight structure throughout the day, which, with three others to take to doctors appointments, go to their school events, help them with homework, etc, I can't provide enough.  My life is very unpredictable because of the competing demands of everything and everyone.  I would love to have a schedule that stayed the same every day, that I could fully control, but I've had to give up that idea.  Anytime I try, I am defeated.  Every day, something comes up that was not planned.  I feel like I have given up on my own natural inclination to be efficient and organized because I am only frustrated by my attempts.

Messes go beyond her room.  She will start on various projects, especially while manic, that involve paper, scissors, tape, glue, or dirt, shovels, muddy clothes,  or drawing pads, pencils, erasers.  This wouldn't seem outside the norm, but everything she does is bigger than life.  If she is obsessed with something, she has to do it full tilt.  And she definitely doesn't clean up after herself well at all.  I will ask her several times, but she's in another world.

And then I am so preoccupied with managing her and keeping her safe and caring for the youngest two that still need a lot of help with whatever, that days will go by when I have not done the laundry, so it is spread all over the house.  Or basic organization goes kaput.  I hate my house so disorganized and unkempt.  I asked a friend once who knew my house before Caroline really got bad, prior to age 7, if my house used to look like this.  She said no, not at all.  I was relieved because that is what I thought.  I remember loving to organize after the kids went to bed, maintaining a certain order as best I could.  

Oh, the maid service I hired didn't work out because it took them too long to do one floor, for a big chunk of money.  So I decided to get a weekly housekeeper that can stay until the work is done and can do laundry too.  I am not apologizing for this at all.  I must regain some order here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This description fits our 30 year old daughter. My husband didn't raise her. Her biological mother did. We didn't understand her mood swings at all. She seemed to provoke anger in other family members. She is certainly very disorganized and we see that she does much better with structured situations.