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!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Holidays Are Always Hard

We love Christmas in our house, but we welcome it with a little trepidation. I remember the Christmas, before she was diagnosed, when she was obsessed with lighting candles and would run all around the downstairs, blowing out flames and relighting them, much to our horror, since she was all of seven. Over the last six years, we have learned to lower our expectations of what our family can do during the holidays, or at least we are working on it.

My husband and the three youngest kids went out to the country yesterday to pick out a fresh Frasier. Now that this prized tree is up, I am reminding myself about how disastrous it was last year when we tried to do a "family tree trimming night." with all of the ornaments down at once and not having pre-planned the whole thing. Between Caroline's total lack of patience with noise and chaos, and Mae's insistence on perfection, I seem to recall that we had to bring everything to a screeching halt. We decided to try again the next night, with only one child at a time hanging up their own ornaments. This was a much better strategy than the confusion over whose ornaments were where and who got to put up what when. Again, something simple for other families is far from easy when you have a child with Aspergers, or bipolar disorder, or severe ADHD (or all three for that matter.) Accommodations must be made or you will hate this holiday so much you may refuse to decorate at all, as I was close to doing last year!

Oh, and we do not make Caroline sit through one of our other daughter's Nutcracker ballets, like we did in years past. She hates watching ballet, so why make her endure, or make us endure, her discomfort? Without the normal amount of self-control that other thirteen year olds have, she would get claustrophobic and agitated with each passing minute of the ballet. Some things are just not worth the pain. So we will do our best to enjoy this wonderful season celebrating God's gift to the world of His precious Son, while keeping it as low key as possible. Now, ice skating as a family is something everyone seems to tolerate just fine, as well as seeing the display of lights at the botanical gardens. You just have to find what works and what doesn't. Decorating one gingerbread house at the same time doesn't work. Letting each child do one side by themselves, bingo. Taking all four kids shopping for presents for each other together: bad idea. Taking one at a time, magic. Be kind to yourself. Drop the idea of a perfect Normal Rockwell Christmas, and embrace one that is rich in meaning, if not in activities.


Through Thick and Thin said...

you hit it right on - you've got to find out what works and what doesn't. sometimes it takes a while to get it but eventually you do

domandkat said...

You know, I am thinking that your suggestions sound like a fresh breath of sanity to ALL. I'm the control freak in our house wanting the tree to look just right when - if I take my glasses off- the tree looks great no matter where the ornaments are! The kids like the attention of being alone with the parent and vice versa! THANK YOU!!!! Brilliant ideas! Simply brilliant!!!

Corrie Howe said...

Having a child with Asperger's we've learned to tone down the activities. It makes everyone happier.

I'm thinking we are going to see lots of white here in the mid-Atlantic region.

Cinda said...

Great thoughts. With young children (and four at that!) there can so easily be chaos and disappointments but with an overlay of a mental health conditions it can be even trickier. My daughter's birthdays over the last few years have always been very tough but it is finally smoothing out a little. Simple moments with lots of gratitude. You are ahead of the curve. Simplicity. Gratitude. Small moments of peace. Take care!