About our Daughter
I am mother to four wonderful daughters, ages 13, 15, 17 and 19, 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.
Friday, October 30, 2009
I can't believe we actually went on a date and didn't get a single phone call! Miraculous, really! We are very grateful. We tried not to talk about the kids, although they have a way of sneaking in, and just reminisced and laughed, and ate great Mediterranean food. Dessert too, yum. Of course now we have to put the youngest two to bed, but that is a small price to pay. I hope we can do this a lot more.
Posted by Megan at 10:01 PM
I am so excited that my husband and I are going on our first date in several years! Some may ask why the long wait, but for those familiar with pediatric bipolar disorder, you know that going on a date is no small thing. For years we could not go out because we couldn't leave Caroline at home without a parent. She had been in such an unstable state for so long that we knew if we were gone, something would happen that would ruin our time. But with Caroline so remarkably stable after coming back from Meridell, I realized we could actually go on a date now and not worry about leaving her home with her two younger sisters (who will be engrossed in a movie.) We just haven't been able to do a lot of things "normal" families do, like go in one car on vacations. We still take two cars on any trip over an hour because Caroline does so much better without the noise of her sisters irritating her to explosion.
Hopefully nothing will go wrong tonight--we know there is always that chance, but we will be close by if we have to head home quickly.
Thank you, Meridell, for doing wonders with our child!! Brandi, I hope you still read this!
Posted by Megan at 5:10 PM
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
My Apple laptop came back better than new, so I am up and blogging again. Things have been going pretty well here since my last posting. Caroline continues to do well in school and is enjoying basketball. The only minor mishap last week was my forgetting to put in the smaller 50 mg Lamictal dose in her med box in addition to the 150mg for about five days. I figured this out when one morning she woke up and was extremely depressed, so unlike how she had been. I immediately checked her med box, and yes, I had left out the smaller pill of the anti-depressant-like Lamictal for days. So I kept her home from school that day, knowing that nothing would go well if she went. She was able to go back the next day, and has been much better since except for Sunday. We found that on either Saturday night or Sunday morning she must have dropped one of her Lithium pills while taking her myriad of drugs, because I found one under the kitchen table Sunday afternoon. She had been acting way too "up" so that must have been the cause. It is amazing what one little pill can do.
I taped the bottle containing the smaller dose of Lamictal to the larger bottle of the bigger dose of Lamictal so I can't forget.
Tonight a new friend of mine shared about her battle with breast cancer, in detail. I haven't ever met anyone before close to me who has gone through this, so I was really in awe of her strength and faith. Bipolar disorder does have a mortality rate (about 18%), but I wonder if breast cancer tops it. I am reminded that I am overdue for a mammogram. I am calling the doctor tomorrow.
Posted by Megan at 7:42 PM
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Just wanted to let those who follow my blog that I won't be posting much this week because my laptop is in the shop. The only big news is that Caroline started basketball at her school and is thrilled to be on a team again. No back pain either. She continues to do remarkably well as far as stability goes. We are so very grateful.
Posted by Megan at 7:41 PM
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
"He comes to us in the brokenness of our health, in the shipwreck of our family lives, in the loss of all possible peace of mind, even in the very thick of our sins. He saves us in our disasters, not from them. He emphatically does not promise to meet only the odd winner of the self-improvement lottery; he meets us in all our endless and inescapable losing." Robert Capon, The Astonished Heart.
I love that quote, especially the part about "the shipwreck of our family lives." I have certainly experienced that and I know of other dear ones who are feeling that sort of desperation right now. There is hope, unseen now, but coming. Sometimes we need others to hope for us when we are despairing.
I have a new challenge thrust upon me. My youngest child seems to have developed a food allergy and we don't know yet what is the culprit, but now we have to carry an epi-pen for her all the time, and at school. Hopefully we will find out what the offending food is quickly.
With the swine flu here threatening the health of our kids, and now a scary food allergy, you would think I would be feeling pretty anxious. Actually, I have, but honestly, if I had to choose between my child having the swine flu, a severe food allergy, or bipolar disorder, I would choose the first two without hesitation. Why? Well, because a child with early-onset bipolar disorder has problems that can break the spirit of a child: the loss of friends, going from school to school, admissions to psychiatric hospitals, doing embarrassing or illegal things that bring a bad reputation, and having to swallow dozens of pills each day, and always there is for the parent the anxious thought of a future suicide (I think the rate is 20%).
I downloaded a song that I find a lot of meaning in today. Hope you enjoy it! It is by the David Crowder Band.
Posted by Megan at 9:19 PM
On Friday we met with Caroline's two teachers for the first parent-teacher conference. We didn't think there would be any surprises, and there weren't, thankfully. Her mid-quarter progress report was good: three As, three Bs, and one C, in Spanish, which we are not too concerned about. The teachers both had glowing remarks about Caroline's behavior and work effort. They said she is a wonderful example to the other kids with her attention to detail and her seriousness about her assignments. One even said they wish they could take a piece of her and put it in every kid! So we are not only relieved that she is doing so well, we are overjoyed with her experience at this school. They are seeing the real Caroline, not the bipolar-distorted Caroline. We have warned them that she may have a period of time where she isn't so great, and to let us know if they see a patterning developing of either mania or depression/anger. They had no idea that she takes seven bp meds right now, which, along with her supplements, adds up to 22 pills a day!
I can't believe how good I am feeling now with the stress of homeschooling our youngest off the table. I really felt like I was completely falling apart. I guess I can only handle so much stress--Caroline would be enough, and I have three others kids to care for! I know what my limit is now, and I am promising myself that I will be kind to myself and not stretch myself that thin again. Lesson learned.
Our pastor puts these amazing quotes in our bulletin each Sunday. They are often truly gripping and poignant. I thought I would share one of them with you:
"Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God's plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God's love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love." Eric Liddell (1902-1945) Olympic gold medalist, missionary to China, subject of Chariots of Fire.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
You know it's time for your husband to come home from a business trip when you suddenly lack any vestige of patience with your kids. Caroline got upset over Mae's bossy behavior, while I was chiding (loudly) Caroline for picking fights with her. Caroline then became very upset, burst into tears and wanted to call her daddy. She was acting much more moody yesterday and today, which may very well be signs that she is missing him. I am not her favorite parent, and if I lose it at her, she takes its pretty personally. Mae is dragging out homework again, as usual. She's doing it, at least, just at a snail's pace. Bother.
I just read that Seroquel XR has less of a weight gain reputation than its regular form. And apparently the XR version is less sedating. I looked at Caroline's prescriptions and realized she is not getting the XR version, so I will be calling her pdoc about that because why use a form of a med that isn't as great as an XR type? Every little bit helps.
Posted by Megan at 8:26 PM
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Last night, while wrestling with my nine-year old over homework, Caroline came downstairs and asked if she could talk to me. I went into the living room, where she held out her cell phone and told me she wanted me to take it from her because she realized she couldn't handle the temptations that came with it. Crying, she explained that she couldn't resist talking to a boy from school and that the conversations were going in the wrong direction. She would rather not have a cell phone than fall into the trap she fell into last fall. What a moment! I hugged her and told her how proud of her I was and how mature she was. I certainly wouldn't have had that kind of self-control at her age. She said she felt like the youth group retreat really helped her to remember what life was all about and her commitment to purity. This was a shining moment in an otherwise dark day for me. The homework battle with Mae has begun, adding a lot of stress to my afternoon and evening, but at least I am not battling her ALL day.
Posted by Megan at 10:11 AM
Monday, October 5, 2009
Caroline and Jane went on a church middle school retreat this weekend and thankfully Caroline handled herself just fine. We sent her with a little fear and trepidation knowing that in the past she hasn't done very well with that kind of over-stimulation and lack of sleep. Of course, we sent her with a lot of instructions for her leaders and with all of her medications labeled morning, noon, and night, assembled in little ziploc bags. The leaders said she had a great time and there were no incidents. We were very relieved to hear that and happy that she could feel like a normal teen for once, and do things that other kids do without mishap.
My husband is gone for four days which means it's just me holding down the fort. Oh boy. I slept badly last night, getting woken up by Caroline who couldn't fall asleep again after waking up at 2:00. I woke up with a migraine for Mae's first day at school. I wasn't a very nice Mommy this morning. I dropped everyone but Jane at their respective schools, then went back to bed for three hours while Jane worked on her schoolwork. I am so glad she is a self-starter! After school, we sorted through the fall clothes, which reeked of moth balls, making my migraine much worse. Stupid of me. Oh well.
Posted by Megan at 12:52 PM
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Mae is starting back at the private school she was at last year on Monday. You don't know how much relief this has brought me. We have a lot of work to do with her, but having her home all day was exhausting me to the point of panic attacks at the start of each morning. Jane will be my homeschool buddy. That will be fun, I know. She like to be at home with me and is so easy to school.
Caroline is having a hard time at school with her Spanish class. The teacher seems to have anger issues, and poor teaching methods. I normally side with teachers because I think a lot of parents take their kids' side when they need to support the teacher. But Caroline has told me this teacher curses at them, tells them to shut up, and has some pretty unrealistic ideas of how fast a kid can memorize foreign words in five minutes, and then be quizzed. Caroline has very low processing speed and a poor working memory, so this is impossible for her. She has failed the same quiz twice and was crying over the fact that she would likely fail tomorrow. I decided this was not acceptable, and called the principal to share my concerns, nicely of course. He was quite surprised and apologetic and said he would look into this right away. I really like this guy a lot. If Caroline starts to dread going to school because of this Spanish teacher, that would be awful. I will request that she do Rosetta stone on her own if they don't remove this teacher (if she doesn't change her ways).
Posted by Megan at 5:16 PM