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!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day to Vote!

We have slipped to number 2 again and today is the last day to vote for CABF to win $250,000.  Please don't forget to vote today!  www.refresheverything.com.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

CABF is Number One But We Need to Stay There!

Keep voting through Dec. 31st.  Vote Now!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Social Skills

I think one of the biggest areas that Caroline must really work on is her social skills.  When she enters any conversation, she immediately tells larger than life stories about her accomplishments, and seems very focused on herself.  She doesn't seem to get the give and take of chatting.  Tomorrow when she sees her therapist we will be talking about how we can practice this skill in her office and at home so that when she is in a social situation she doesn't turn people off with her tall tales and non-stop monologue.  I know this is part of the disorder, but I think it can be worked on and improved.  I worry that if we don't help her with this now, she will carry it into adulthood and never be able to have a real conversation with people.  Sometimes this reminds me of Aspergers and I can see how she could be borderline.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ask Your Extended Family to Text at the Same Time for CABF!

We have fallen to number 3, but we can get right back up if we all do the little things like asking all your family to text all at the same time while you are together for the holidays!  Our kids needs this grant, and so do we! Text 104174 to Pepsi at 73774.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I hope that all of you out there are able to enjoy a peaceful, happy time with your family.  If this isn't happening right now,  I understand, we've been there.  The good news is that God gave us a special gift two thousand plus years ago, the gift of Himself in human form, that of a humble baby, to a broken world.  Our family has found the greatest comfort in God's promises fulfilled in Christ, His promise to redeem the lost and to bind up their wounds.  I pray you would know God's love for you tonight and seek His comfort.

Give the Christmas Gift That Keeps Giving for a Lifetime: Don't Forget to Vote Today and Tomorrow for CABF!

Today and tomorrow are going to be crazy busy, but don't forget to vote to bless our precious kids with more resources to support them and their families.  Text 104174 to 73774!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

JBRF Has A DVD for Your Child's Teachers

Educating the bipolar child is a challenge for everyone involved and the Juvenile and Adolescent Bipolar Research Foundation has a great DVD you can order off of their site called "Educating and Nurturing the Bipolar Child."  The link is here: Educating Bipolar Child DVD

JBRF Has Received a Matching Gift Challenge!

The Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation, which is behind the research study that defined the "Fear of Harm" syndrome, has received a matching gift challenge of $150,000.  If donors will give $150,000, a family will match it dollar for dollar.  This would be a huge boost to continuing research towards better treatment of bipolar disorder in kids and perhaps a cure someday.  Consider donating $5, $10, $25 or more to JBRF in the coming weeks.  Even small donations add up!  These are the people who are behind us 100% of the way. Donate to JBRF

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Back Up to Number 2, But Keep Voting Though Dec. 31st!

The Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation has regained its number 2 position for the Pepsi $250,000 grant, (yay!) but keep voting every day all three ways over the holidays.  Go to www.cabf.org. to sign up for daily email reminders.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CABF Has Fallen to Number 3! Please don't let us lose the $250,000!

We can turn this around if we vote every day three different ways and if we enlist our family members to vote too over Christmas.  Put a sticky on the fridge to remind yourself, or even in your car on the way to work.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Antibiotic/Instability Link?

Again Caroline is acting unstable after having two shots of penicillin, followed by 10 days of Ceftin.  These are not supposed to interfere with her psych meds, but we really think they do, as we have seen this pattern in the past of agitation and outbursts when on antibiotics.  We have to keep her on the antibiotics of course, but I am wondering if we need to increase the Seroquel temporarily.  I need to call her doctor and find out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bad Weekend, But Christmas Cometh!

My husband spent the whole weekend in the ER, not for himself, but because of Caroline, and then one of our dogs.  On Saturday Caroline developed another UTI so it was back to the ER for more cultures and antibiotics.  Then last night one of our dogs decided to try my dark chocolate cookie dough batter that was left within reach of his nose on the countertop in the kitchen.  He consumed more than half of the dough, and seemed OK, but then this morning he was vomiting continuously and became quite ill.  So then my husband spent the afternoon at the vet ER hoping that our dog would pull through.  He did, but he will be there overnight, to the tune of $600.  Fortunately, we have pet health insurance, so we will only end up paying $100 once we get reimbursed.  Yuck.  So Christmas in only a few days away, I am done with shopping, and I still need to finish decorating the tree.  I am not as excited about the whole Christmas commotion this year, dragging my feet a in the decorating department.  I think Bill and I are very worn out.  He has been super grumpy lately, very quick tempered.  And then in turn I am grumpy because usually he is the positive one.  I know the stress of joblessness is getting to him and being home all day with the kids doesn't help.   Blah, blah, blah.  Whatever.

I hope you are having better days.  We all need to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and then get over ourselves.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A New Approach to Diagnosing Early Onset Bipolar Disorder: Fear of Harm Syndrome

I  came across this article just recently when I was browsing the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation website.  A group of researchers, including Dr. Demitri Papolos who wrote the "bible" about childhood bipolar disorder (The Bipolar Child),  has come to define a new "phenotype" of bipolar disorder in kids, particularly in the most severe forms.  They feel that the present DSM description of bipolar disorder in children does not exactly fit what they feel is an underlying disorder, which they have named "Fear of Harm Syndrome."  Now, I am not going to go into the full explanation of this article with all of its fine points because this article is not in easy to understand language, but in very technical language as they are speaking to the world of psychiatry.  So I will refer you to the article itself so that you can read it several times, like I needed to, in order to grasp what they are saying.  This Fear of Harm phenotype describes  many of our kids better, apparently, than the present DSM IV categories.  You can find this research summary at www.jbrf.org/research/phenotype.html.   I am just glad that research continues towards the goal of eventually finding a cure.  Please support JBRF and CABF, and NAMI if you can as they are the beacons of light in the dark world of mental illness.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow Makes Everything Look Better

I love the way that snow looks softly falling, covering everything in white.  My kids are never happier, outside most of the day, and I have no reason to go anywhere.  Hot cocoa, baking Christmas cookies, no schoolwork, just family memories being created hour by hour.  I needed this.  Thank you God.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This is Getting Really Old

That would be unemployment.  I am feeling very discouraged today about the prospect of going into January with still no paycheck.  Fear accompanies discouragement.  Will we be able to pay our mortgage?  Will we be able to pay the electric bill?  Should I pull my homeschoolers out of their supplementary classes?  I just wish the Navy would hurry up and decide to put my husband on Active Duty or not.  He has had several recent job offers that he can't accept because we have to wait on the Navy's decision.  This really stinks.  Unemployment is the Grinch that wants to steal Christmas.  I am focusing on necessities in buying my kids gifts, not all of the wants.  I don't care if I don't receive gifts, and my husband doesn't either, I just want my kids to not be bummed out on Christmas morning.  I hate that his lack of a paycheck affects them and what we can and cannot do.  So we cut out the frivolities and focus on the important.  I can only deal with this one day, right in front of me, as Jesus said, "Don't worry about tomorrow because today has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Friends

Caroline has a acquired a new group of friends, mostly boys, with whom she has been hanging out.  She met them through one of the boys who is related to a family in our neighborhood which has taken a real liking to her.  One of these boys goes to a school she used to attend in elementary school, so they knew each other for several years when they were younger.  It doesn't surprise us that she is more comfortable with the boys than she is with girls right now.  She has been badly hurt by girls in the last few years, and I don't think she likes the cattiness in general that most middle school girls exhibit.  Boys are easier to deal with, and they share her athletic interests a lot more.  So we have been allowing her to hang out with them, supervised, at a nearby park, and at the movies, basketball games, etc.  This is more work for us, now that she has people she wants to be with on a daily basis.  But her life has been so void of friendships that we can't exactly stomp on her new relationships. Obviously, these will be carefully monitored relationships.  So we are happy for her with reservations.  Nothing is easy about her, but we want her to enjoy life as much as she can.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some Good News

Our oldest daughter got an acceptance letter from her first choice of colleges, early-decision.  Yay!  At least this is now decided and we have one less thing to worry about.  Thank you, Lord.

Friday, December 10, 2010

CABF Has Slipped to Number 2: Let's Get Back Up!

Don't forget about texting 104174 to Pepsi at 73774 every day. Get your teens to vote too!  We have five cell phones in our family, so we have no excuses!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Regrouping, Happy Hanukkah!

Caroline has fallen into an academic rut, and I must say it is not entirely her fault.  This fall has been incredibly challenging for all of us, and with Bill home every day, it has been hard to maintain the homeschooling schedule with which we started in September.  In fact, there has been no schedule to speak of lately, more like, "Go do this subject, let me check that later, oh we have a doctor's appointment, we will have to finish that after dinner."  Caroline has seen her grades slip in the homeschooling co-op and we realized we needed to crack the whip again in order to catch her up by the end of this month.  I redid the schedule and we spoke with her about the need to regroup and buckle down before Christmas.  I am trying hard not to schedule morning appointments but sometimes you can't avoid it.  Having my senior in high school come home from school every day at 12:30 is also really distracting.  We are not close to being done at that point but as soon as she walks in the door it feels like the school day is over.  Now that Elizabeth can drive, maybe I can arrange to have her gone until 2:00 at least.

The Navy has "un-retired" my husband, which is the first step in putting him back on active duty so they can treat his benign tumor.   We still don't know when he will be able to draw a paycheck again.  That would be a very nice Christmas present!

I am wondering if I will continue to homeschool Caroline next year.  Part of me doesn't want to be responsible for her education, but the other part sees all the benefits of keeping her sheltered from all the temptations of being in a regular school.  We find it so challenging to keep on top of her activities and whereabouts just having her at home.  She still manages to push the boundaries constantly.  We are always having to stay a few steps ahead of her or risk disaster.

Anyway, hope you are enjoying the season!  Happy Hanukkah to all who are celebrating right now!  There is a hilarious video on You Tube of some very cute Jewish young men from New York City singing Hanukkah songs in a whole new way acappella.  They are really good!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Helpful Holiday Tips: Decorating the Tree, Unwrapping Presents, Shopping

Decorating the tree?  Let your bp kid decorate the tree with their own ornaments separately from everyone else.  They don't do well with the noise and confusion of the whole family trying to decorate at once, and meltdown can ensue.  We know.  Same thing with present opening: you may want to have them unwrap their gifts in a separate, quiet corner of a room,  everything in front of them ready to go.  Holiday traditions have to take a back seat sometimes to provide these kids with order instead of chaos.  Like going to the light displays that you drive through:  you may want to take the bp kid by themselves so the siblings in the car don't drive them crazy.  Peaceful, leisurely drives are always better than loud experiences in a very small  space.  Christmas shopping?  Avoid the malls when packed at peak times.  Try one big box store at a less busy time, like early in the morning on a week day or on weekend early enough so it is empty.  Everyone will enjoy a better shopping experience.  Or let them shop online for their siblings, friends, etc.  Or find a quiet gift making activity.  Oh, and if there is a ginger bread house to decorate, let them have time to decorate by themselves, maybe a specified part of the house, without loud siblings around.  Same thing with decorating cookies.  Give them their own cookies and space and decors during a quiet time alone and this can be a great experience!  Anything that can be done in a less chaotic way is going to go so much more smoothly.

Interesting Health Insurance Option

For those of you out there who align yourselves with the Christian faith, there is a ministry out there that offers a health care "sharing" program where members share each other's medical bills but never pay more than more than $320 for two parent families and even less for singles, couples and single parent homes.  The website is www.samaritanministries.org.  I don't know much about them, but perhaps this may help someone out there without insurance and high medical bills.

Print CABF Pepsi Flyers, Give Them to Your Child's Psych Docs!

I did this recently.  CABF has voting flyers for the Pepsi challenge that you can print off the internet and hand out to your child's psychiatrist and psychologist to give to their patients or post on their walls in the waiting room.  How about the local psychiatric hospital with a peds and adolescent unit? There are so many kids and families out there who would benefit from this grant money to CABF, and your child's psych docs are a great place to start.  Go to the CABF website to download the flyers and/or the cards to hand out.  www.cabf.org.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Off Topic: Favorite Christmas Movies

My kids are watching "Charlie Brown Christmas."  This has to be my top favorite movie of the season.  I love the low key, slow feel of the film, no special effects, just the beauty of children anticipating Christmas.  My favorite part is when Linus shares the Christmas story.  So simple, yet so powerful.  What are your favorites?

Friday, December 3, 2010


But please help the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation STAY there until the 31st of December!  Keep voting every day all three ways!!!  www.refresheverything.com.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Good Day

Yes, at this point I am celebrating one good day at a time.  Yesterday was a great day actually, because I finally have A CLEAN HOUSE!!! Well, at least the downstairs is clean.   The maid service had budgeted two hours to clean the downstairs, and then would come back next week to do the upstairs.  I requested this split up because having not had a deep cleaning in six months, my house was really dirty.  When you have four kids, two dogs, and add to that the fact that three of my kids are mostly home during the day, you get a dirty house really fast.  Anyway, it took them 3 and 1/2 hours just to clean the downstairs!  And they were working hard too.  But to have a picked-up downstairs, sparkling floors, dust-free blinds, and an orderly kitchen comes pretty close to heaven for me.  I feel sooooo much better.  I am thankful for this early Christmas gift from Bill's dad.  The whole world looks brighter today, and I feel like I can handle life with a spring in my step.

On top of this special treat, we had another surprise.  Yesterday we found out that it was going to cost $400 to fix our heating system for the winter.  We could pay the bill but I had forgotten all about the grocery budget when I was doing the Quicken thing yesterday.  So we had enough money to pay the bills but not eat.  Hmmm, not good.  Well, after the heating and air guys left, I got a phone call from one of the deacons at church.  The deacons wanted to do something for us and they were giving us a $400 gift card to a local grocery store!  Isn't that impeccable timing?  Wow.  Thanks, God.  No, not abandoned at all.  2 Corinthians 4:7-10.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

CABF Votes Roll Over to December for Pepsi Grant!

We are still in the running for the $250,000 grant in December.  Let's move up from #5 to #1!!! Keep voting all three ways everyday! www.cabf.org.

Pressure Cooked

That would describe what Bill and I are feeling right now.  Breathe deeply, remember we are not abandoned.  I made sure we could pay the mortgage this morning, so that was good, while we wait for funds from a life insurance policy.  This is not fun.  Yes, all of you out there, make sure you have at least six months worth of salary saved up.   You won't think this will happen to you and then it does.  So far this has happened twice in about three years!

Yesterday, I spent some Christmas money we received from the in-laws in a "I have to do something nice for myself right now" moment.  I felt the need to escape so I got a pedicure and a manicure, and today we will get maid service.  Of course getting ready for a maid to come is stressful too when your house is as disorganized and cluttered as mine.  Breathe.  I have noticed that when I feel extreme anxiety, I can't think at all, my mind just freezes up.  That is the worst part I think.  I can't stand feeling impotent when there is so much to be done.

So I must go now and attack the downstairs somehow.  Breathe.

I saw a double rainbow in the sky yesterday for the briefest moment, but very bright, and then it was gone. I remembered God's promises to us and reminded myself that our feelings can't be trusted as much as the truths we know.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

For Real?

Our heating system for the downstairs has died apparently.  My poor husband looks exceedingly anxious this morning, which in turn makes me feel panicked.  I feel worse for him than I do for the rest of us because I know he feels like the weight of the world is on his shoulders.  Maybe the Navy will call today and reenlist him.  I loved KLOVE's encouraging word of the day, from Isaiah 40:11, "He will feed his flock like a shepherd.  He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.  He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young." I cling to this promise today.

(To sign up for KLOVE's encouraging word of the day, go to www.klove.com.  Everything they send seems to speak to the crisis of the moment in my life.  Maybe it will encourage you too!)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A New Way To Help CABF Win $250,000 by Tuesday

We have only two days left to help the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation win a $250,000 grant to further their amazing work on behalf of our special kids and their families.  The latest winning strategy is to vote for eight organizations that have agreed to vote for us in turn.  The link to vote for these eight non-profits in one fell swoop is http://pep.si/fypFk0.  Please don't give up!  We can move up to number two and still win the grant!

Thanksgiving Was a Four

On of a five point scale.  So really pretty good as far as Thanksgivings go.  We saw family in the DC area, did a small bit of shopping (very small but it was fun), and in general it was great.  The only down side was that our hotel was too far away from the action, even though it was bed bug free, and we left the automatic pill dispenser at my husband's sister's house!  I am glad to be back but now the Nutcracker takes over my life until Dec. 13th.  I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving!

Off Topic: Shop for Diamonds the Ethical Way

We are not in the market for diamonds this year, and really mostly never.  But I have been eyeing a ring for our 20th anniversary which is coming up in a few years.  Hopefully by then my hubby will have a job!  Having heard so much about the shady diamond industry around the world, and being especially disturbed by the violence associated with much of it, I decided to look up diamond jewelry that is not obtained by the usual means.  A company called Brilliant Earth has a great website with all kinds of jewelry that is obtained ethically and without damage to the environment.  Just thought you might like to know.  The link is www.brilliantearth.com.  They have a great site and beautiful jewelry, not just diamonds.  Happy shopping!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Forgot One More Thing That I am SOOOO Thankful For!

You, my blogger friends, who encourage me daily by sharing your own wisdom, experience, triumphs and trials.  You are my biggest source of blessing outside of my own family.  Thank you for reading and writing!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Are You Thankful For This Year?

We have had a rough fall, but I know we still have so much to be thankful for, like a roof over our heads, food in the pantry, cars that run, health insurance, a good marriage, great kids, and the privilege of living in a country that is free of war, famine, most of the terrible diseases in the world, and that we can vote for our government.

And I am grateful to God who has carried me for so many years.  What are you thankful for?

Making Up for Lost Time

That's what we have to do now that Caroline has missed over a week of school.  With the holidays approaching I am very concerned about catching her up on Algebra in particular.  I know that every year she will miss a couple of weeks in the fall and again in the late winter/early spring because of mood swings and med adjustments, but add in a physical health issue requiring hospitalization and I start to get very nervous.  I wish I didn't have to be responsible for her schooling but honestly there are no better alternatives right now.  Time to start the day!  I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, a peaceful one hopefully.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Off Topic: Bed Bug Registry for Hotels

I don't know about you, but I am quite concerned about the increasing infestations of bed bugs being reported around the country.  The thought of bringing those things into our house in our suitcases is appalling.  The last thing we need on top of everything else is a very expensive treatment (I think $5000 to $8000) to cook all the bugs in our house.  So I found a registry where you can look up any hotel around the country to see if guests have reported bed bugs.  I used this to book our hotels for Thanksgiving and found that all of the hotels we had stayed at previously had bed bug reports, some very bad.  So I found a hotel that is brand new and has no bed bug reports.  Just thought I would pass this on!  The link is www.bedbugregistry.com.  Of course, we might still encounter these horrid pests, but at least we tried hard to avoid them!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Forgot Two More Very Important Tips!

I forgot two of the most important tips to surviving the holidays with a bp child!

A.  If your child is having regular rages, has recently been hospitalized, or is in general not doing well at all, forget traveling at all, which leads to the next tip...

B.  Always buy trip insurance if you are getting plane tickets, hotel rooms, etc.  You just never know if your child will suddenly take a turn for the worse and your trip would be hellish if you proceeded.   This is just life with a special needs child, and flexibility is the new norm.

Tips for Surviving the Holidays with a Bipolar Kid

Here are my top ten suggestions based on our own personal experiences over the last seven years:

1.  If you are driving longer than an hour to get to where you are going, try to take two cars and put the bp kid in one, and the other siblings in the other.  You will not regret this.  We had a truly awful experience one year that nearly permanently destroyed Caroline's relationship with her older sister.  I think we all had PTSD from that drive.  I still shudder at the thought of it.

2.   If you are flying, try not to take the earliest flights out.  With the sleep issues our kids have, letting them get a decent nights sleep and flying out mid-morning is better than waking them up at 5 for a 6 or 7 o'clock flight and have a grumpy kid the whole day.   And try to give them the seats behind the bulkhead where no one is sitting in front of them (right behind first class).  Claustrophobia is a big problem for most of these kids and being squished in coach leads to short tempers.

3.  If the first flight you take has your bp kids frazzled and agitated and they seem like they might lose it on the next plane, skip the flight and hang out in the airport long enough to unwind before boarding another flight.  A bp meltdown on a plane mid-air could be very traumatic for everyone and may even end in arrest.

4.  Think less is more.  Less travel, less holiday activities, less noise and over stimulation.  We found that we could not take Caroline to the annual Illumination Parade in our town because the long wait, the noise, the crowds were too much for her.  I used to try to do every Christmas activity available and now I am very selective.

5.  If you are going to be around relatives who don't understand bp disorder in kids and teens, you may want to send them an email or letter explaining what they cannot control and some helpful ways they can make things less stressful for everyone involved.  Like don't take it personally if my kid is having a hard time and they are rude to you.  This isn't personal, it is their brain misfiring.

6.  Don't forget the meds!!!  Sounds basic, but you would be amazed at the stories.  Take extra in case you get stranded in an airport or away at someone's house in a snowstorm.

7.  Limit their carb intake.  They will go sky high and then crash and burn, so set limits on sweets early.

8.  If possible, stay in a hotel instead of with relatives so that your bp kid has a quiet room to which they can retreat in between family gatherings.  For us, that means two hotel rooms, adjoining, with the kids divided up according to who gets along best with whom.

9.  Do something outdoors, like a game of football, ice skating, walking a nature trail to give everyone a time to breathe and relax and get that energy out.

10.  Don't stay at the relatives too long.  I think two or three days is max when you are dealing with a bp kid, or Aspergers, autism or severe ADHD.  Holiday visits can bring lots of stressors, and it is nice to save time for vacation at home too.  We need a vacation from our vacations in a very bad way!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Home From the Hospital, Holiday Musings

Caroline came home today, much better, chipper, and wanting to play football.  No, you can't play football. I am feeling anxiety about her being home again as she always introduces an irritable spirit into the mix.  We still don't know what we are doing for Thanksgiving.  Our plan was to travel up to see family, but we are trying to figure out the sleeping arrangements.  We usually get two hotel rooms for the six of us, but money is very tight right now, so we are trying to figure out a more frugal set-up.  We WILL be taking two cars on the drive:  one car for my husband and Caroline, the other for me and the other three girls.  We learned the hard way a few years ago that it is better to spend the extra gas money than to risk permanent damage to sibling relationships.  Sad, but necessary.  If I could get her her own hotel room I would, with a parent of course.

After a great weekend celebrating Jane's 13th birthday, I am feeling the letdown.  Back to the daily grind.  Bill's sister was here to help and she was amazing.  I am grateful that she could help us manage the weekend.  Now Monday looms and I am not looking forward to it.  Blah!

Christmas decorations are up in every store, and the sale ads are putting the pressure on the American public.  I feel like my hands are tied right now.  No big shopping sprees here.  I bought a few small Christmas gifts, but honestly, there isn't money for much more.  I guess we will deal with that after Thanksgiving.  It is hard when the kids give me their Christmas lists and I have to tell them that they may get just one thing on their lists this year.  I hate the commercialism of Christmas anyway.  I look forward to the day when we can maybe skip giving presents altogether and instead focus on the true meaning of this holiday, and on giving to others outside of ourselves.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Doing Better, Me That Is

I am feeling like I have come out of the black hole.  Much more hopeful and peaceful today and I can think more clearly.  The other day I drove past my daughter's school three times trying to get her there.  I just kept zoning out. I think the change in my outlook is due to lots of prayers and the increase in the Lexapro too.  Thank you everyone.  Now if my dogs would just let me sleep past 5:55 that would be great.

She is Sick and Drugged for Goodness Sake!

Had a problem with the family that was sort of sharing a room with Caroline, divided by two curtains.  Their little girl also had a kidney infection but was not as sick as Caroline.  In fact, she was downright bouncy and very loud.  They were keeping her there to do tests since she apparently gets these infections frequently.  Caroline, being in tremendous pain the other night, biting her lip until it bled, used some colorful language before the morphine kicked in.  Remember what labor was like?  Yes, pretty hard to be civil when you feel like you are dying.  Well, they were upset that a few cuss words came out of her mouth.  Sorry, my daughter isn't in full control of her emotions right now.  You wouldn't have been either.

But after that they were just downright rude to us.  Today, the grandmother stuck her head past the curtain to chew me out that Caroline had left the bathroom a bit untidy.  I didn't know she hadn't cleaned up after herself but give me a break, she is nearly comatose!  I was floored as this lady continued to rant.  Well, I guess my very sick child isn't as perfect as your sick child.  They left this afternoon and I am relieved to say the least!  Caroline was having a hard time with the party going on next door.

Anyway, they did have to reduce her Lithium to introduce the Toredol, so we shall see how it goes.  I am tired of the hospital and the food. We haven't seen if the new antibiotics are working or not.  I think we are waiting on the last lab culture.  We have a lot going on this weekend, but I guess we will all adjust if she isn't home yet.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hospital Day #4

After a CAT scan this morning, following a really bad night of excruciating pain despite the morphine, Caroline's docs concluded she did not have an abscess or kidney stones, but still had a raging infection.  So they switched from Cipro to two other IV antibiotics which they hope will solve this.  Poor kid.  She has been through too much.  She was so drugged today with the morphine and percocet, that she doesn't even remember the CAT scan this morning.  They were talking about taking her off of the Lithium because they wanted to put her on Toredol instead of the morphine but had concerns that the Toredol could increase her Lithium levels to toxic levels.  We really wanted to avoid dropping the Lithiuim, because even missing one dose means instability, and to miss several would probably mean a stay in the psych hospital following discharge.  Not a pretty picture.  We convinced them to just stick with monitoring her Lithium levels and possibly lowering the Lithium not stopping it.  The pdoc was hard to get a hold of today to talk to the doc at the children's hospital.  For real? Come on, this is an emergency!  Be a little more responsive please!

I was sooooo tired this morning and emotionally wrung out.  Hopefully a good nights sleep tonight will help a lot.  Several friends from church brought us meals tonight, for which I was grateful just because I don't have energy to cook right now.   I haven't been working either, which is a mixed blessing seeing as I use that money for the "extras" right now.  Oh well.  God is in control.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Still in the Hospital

Caroline isn't doing so well with this kidney infection.  She has been on IV antibiotics for more than 24 hours but her pain is increasing.  She was writhing in pain and sobbing tonight, even though she was getting morphine every two hours.  They added in Ativan which has helped a little and Zofran for the nausea, but she is throwing up anyway.  Now Percocet is being added in too.  We are questioning the doctors about whether this is more than a kidney infection, maybe a kidney stone or an abscess or something else?  They will do more blood work, urine testing, and maybe a CAT scan tomorrow to see what might be going on.  It can't be all in her head,  I know she is in real pain because the worse the pain gets, the more her heart rate goes up and she breaks out in sweat, just dripping with it.  Watching her makes me go numb because I can't help her.  I hope they figure out what is going on soon because Caroline has suffered enough.

My husband and I are emotionally and physically exhausted.  I had a good heart-to-heart with some girlfriends in the hospital cafe.  I had been feeling very disconnected to them.  I poured it all out, about the isolation I was feeling, the sense of rejection, the loss of hope.  It was good to be understood, and to be challenged,  and to hear about a huge trial one of my friends is going through that is just as traumatic, if not more so.  We agreed that we needed to be intentional about getting together and not assuming that all is well, or that we don't need each other.  I assume a lot.  Maybe we all do.  We think someone is fine because we don't bother to ask the right questions.  Maybe we don't want to hear the answers.  I find it very difficult to reach out and say, "I need (fill in the blank)" because I am proud and do not want to be perceived as needy.

So I am all cried out today.  I anticipate being at the hospital all day tomorrow.  Thankfully the other kids are doing OK without much direction.

Monday, November 15, 2010

One More Thing

Today Caroline had to be admitted to the hospital because of a kidney infection that wasn't responding to oral antibiotics.  Sometimes I worry about her kidneys and liver since lithium has been known to destroy both on occasion.  And Seroquel can do that too.  Sigh.  One day at a time....


I am stuck right now.  Stuck in a dark hole of depression.  I want to get out but I can't seem to find the way.  I know the truth but my heart is so far from feeling it.  I want to "unfeel" the sadness and hopelessness, but it suffocates me.  My husband is probably as depressed as I am.  And it is so beautiful outside.  I drove along a parkway yesterday, drove for hours.  The problem with the problems in our lives is that you can cannot really escape them.  Maybe for a little while you can pretend.   But as soon as I drove back within a few miles of our city, the reality of our life came creeping back again, growing bigger each minute, accompanied by fear and trembling.  We do not have the worst of circumstances by any means but I feel broken.  Half chemical, half circumstantial, and I know that, but I am stuck.  Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Colorado, Here I Come

In my mind for now.  I want to move there bad.  I am so ready for a change.  I keep looking at houses there and school districts.  I want to see beautiful mountain views everyday.  Here I can only see the houses across the street.  I'm tired of the same old city every day, every week, every year, for seventeen years now.  This military brat needs a new location to spread out her wings!  Honey, are you listening?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You Can Vote Three Times a Day in Three Different Ways!

You can text your vote by texting 104174 to Pepsi at 73774, vote through Facebook, or go directly to the website www.refresheverything.com. We are in 5th place out of hundreds of national non-profits!!!

What other fundraisers have you heard of for Childhood Bipolar Disorder!!  I haven't heard of any at all, so let's do this!

The Danger of the Laptop

Having a laptop is a great benefit, but also a great curse.  I don't think any home with a bipolar child should have easy access to a laptop.  Because it is portable, it can be used in locations other than right in front of me or my husband, even if we say she can't have it in her room, etc.  We have passwords but I have found that she can figure them out sometimes.  I probably won't sign her up for online homeschooling classes since that would be too much of a temptation.  We will stick to as much non-computer based curriculum as we can but she still has to learn how to write and edit papers, put together power point presentations, etc.  We live in an age where computers are now a necessity,  but we need to protect our kids all the more!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Day to Myself!

My husband took our three younger kids to visit Grandpa today for the whole day and I got the day to myself!  He is my hero!  Sad, though, that I am excited about a day to clean my house instead of going to get a pedicure, massage, or something like that.  But honestly, clean bathrooms make me very happy.   I love my hubby!  He is the best!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Random Book Recommendation

Random because it has absolutely nothing to do with childhood bipolar disorder.  This book, Catullus, Cicero and a Society of Patrons: The Generation of the Text,  is written by an old friend, Sarah Culpepper Stroup, whom I first met in the 8th grade. She is a Professor of Classics at the University of Washington in Seattle.  Her book was recently published by Cambridge Press, and though I have yet to get my hands on a copy, I know that she is an extremely sharp scholar.  So if you or your older high school or college age child is interested in Ancient Roman history and philosophy, you may want to read this.  You can find it on Amazon.  This tome is a little pricey, but it is a college textbook type of a book.  Caroline just happens to be studying Ancient History right now in her homeschool class so this topic is highly relevant right now.  I love this era of history myself and just bought an Usborne book of Ancient World History for middle schooler full of pictures and illustrations that I absolutely love, definitely kid-appropriate.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One Room Almost Down, Seven More to Go

Bill and I finally got started on our bedroom last night.  I sorted and packed away the spring clothes, organized the bookshelf which had books falling off of it in all directions, set aside many things to giveaway, and cleaned the floors, dusted the tops of the dressers, etc.  It felt so good to go to bed in a cleaned up, picked up room.  We usually just fly in and out of there during the day because neither of us has time to spare even a moment longer usually then the time it takes to get showered and dressed.  Then we collapse exhausted at night with no energy left.  I hope to keep this one room at a time routine up.  After taking a very long drive yesterday, I felt like I was hearing, "Put the oxygen mask on yourself first."  This is not a principle I follow well.  But why do I ignore my need to take the time to do the things that make me feel better, like exercising,  getting together with a friend, or even cleaning up a room in my house?  I usually feel so defeated at the outset that I give up before I start.  But if I don't change the way I think, nothing will change.

Caroline has a kidney infection.  Just another thing.  At least we are having beautiful fall weather and gorgeous changing leaves to enjoy.  I will rejoice in this one thing today.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Scream


Ok, I feel better now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Can You Hear Me Now?"

On Friday I went to visit my therapist and tell her the news about Bill's brain tumor and the messed up military retirement issue.  I arrived full of fear and anger.  During the course of our conversation, we talked about God's presence in our lives, and she said something about God talking to us.  I replied, with a bitter laugh, that He certainly wasn't talking to me!

When I left the therapist's office and got into my car, I saw the pile of mail on the seat that I had grabbed before I left the house.  I saw what looked like a card from a dear friend and decided to open it.  Inside of the card was a check for a very large sum of money, enough to get us by for more than half the month. I was so stunned, and so humbled.  I could hear God chuckling as He prodded, "So I am not talking to you, huh?"  I cried, and as I was crying, sobbing really, and driving, the words of one of my favorite songs popped into my head and spoke directly to me, "This is what it means to be held, and to know the promise was worth everything felt, we'd be held." I felt God was holding me in that moment in a great embrace.  Then that exact song came on the radio at that moment!  Ok, God, I get it, I take it back, you are indeed talking loudly to me, saying that you love my family and will take care of us.

Then a dear friend called me long distance a few minutes later in tears over our situation.  How comforting when a friend walks beside you and cries with you through the valleys!

Right after we hung up my oldest daughter called me from home and reported that someone from an Italian restaurant had called and said that an anonymous friend wanted to give our family dinner there that night.  Yes,  I hear you God, you are shouting at me now.  Forgive me for my hardness of heart, my unbelief, and my self-pity.  Thank you for keeping your promises to your children!

I am better today, having let go of anger, and decided that I really can't control anything but my own thoughts.  I can choose to listen to lies and be fearful, or I can choose to dwell on the truth and relax and be the woman I was made to be.

And an increase in my antidepressant hasn't hurt. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Today I feel tremendous anger over everything I cannot control.  Anger is a destructive emotion.  I wish it would motivate me to induce change, but it only makes me want to steep in it and to find something to be angry at.   Maybe tomorrow I will be able to let it go.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hitting New Lows

I am struggling today.  I don't cry very often about anything.  Usually I feel that I can handle anything that comes my way.  But not today.  Today the warrior is a child.  The way I feel right now reminds me of two other times in my life when I felt about as low as one could.

 Once was when shortly after Mae was born, I got sick with pneumonia and developed bad post-partum depression for the first time.  For the next year or so I was sick with one bronchial infection after another.  We didn't know at the time that the air conditioning in our old house was infiltrated with black mold, which I am highly allergic to.  I was put on several asthma medications and was using a nebulizer a lot.  I felt so sick and so alone because I felt there wasn't anyone who knew how sick I was or how depressed I was.  My mom was 3000 miles away, and Caroline was beginning to really manifest bipolar symptoms.  I have a distinct memory of sitting on the floor in my den, sucking in the albuterol because I couldn't breathe, little kids running around going crazy, and hot tears streaming down my cheeks, feeling sick, helpless and so very needy.  I got through all of that somehow, but it was a truly awful time in my life, trying to care for a six year old, a four year old, a two year old and a baby while so sick.  I had also developed this weird bruising all over so I was going to one specialist after another to rule out a blood disorder.

The other time was when Caroline was about eight or nine I think, and not doing well at all.  She had been hospitalized several times that fall, and still she was not doing great.  Our family was in turmoil, and then Bill's dad, who is also bipolar, had a bad manic episode, so right after Caroline got out of the hospital, Bill had to go up to DC to put his dad in the psych hospital for two weeks.  So he left me with Caroline, who had PTSD from this latest hospitalization, and the other three kids who were traumatized from her behaviors.  I can feel myself sitting in that living room chair, feeling so resentful towards his dad, knowing he couldn't help it, angry silent tears flowing, with that tremendous heart-pain when you can't fix something that is broken.  Again, I felt alone and unable to call anyone to say, "I am hurting.  I need a hug. I need help with my kids."  I become paralyzed when I am really down and I don't tell people how bad things are; it is too much effort to even pick up the phone.

I have friends who are hurting right now in the midst of their own various trials, and I wish I could reach out to them but I can't.  I am stuck right now.

This is how I am feeling today.  Enough is enough.  I am tired.  I want this part of our lives to be over with so we can go back to "normal."

Thanks for just listening.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lamictal/Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Link

I just found out from Caroline's CNP at her psychiatrist's office that you can still get Stevens-Johnson syndrome even after taking it with no problem for quite some time.  This is a very RARE reaction, but I wanted to pass this along.  Early symptoms resemble the flu, followed by skin involvement, usually mucous membranes. I am a huge fan of Lamictal so we are not switching or anything like that, but whenever I learn something new, I try to pass it to you!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

You've Got to Be Kidding!!

That is how we are feeling right now after learning that my husband has a benign brain tumor called a vestibular schwannoma.  He had been having hearing loss, ringing in his ear,  a feeling of pressure behind his ear,  and dizziness the last few months or so.  He finally got an MRI after the military ENT noted the hearing loss last month.  The MRI showed the rare growth, which now has to be dealt with by surgery or radiation.  Because this health issue might take months more to resolve, the Navy might have to call him back to Active Duty.  The Navy officially retired him last month without giving him a retirement physical, which was really stupid and probably illegal.  He didn't know there was such a thing, nobody mentioned it to him, even over at medical where he was spending a lot of time getting his all of his medical stuff wrapped up prior to retirement.   What this means is that his job search is in limbo because we don't know when they might recall him, it could be a few months off since his next ENT appointment to discuss treatment is a month away!  So that means more time unemployed and unable to look for a job wholeheartedly.  How dumb is that?  So frustrating!  So between no paycheck, a brain tumor, and our stupid contractor who messed up our kitchen addition a few years ago leading to rotting walls and floor, we are more than just a little bit stressed out right now.

But compared to a child who wants to die and is without hope, this is nothing.  We have been there and the stress of feeling completely helpless to help your child is far worse.  I will take this over a suicidal child any day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I am the Queen!

I am presently wearing one of my kid's dress up crowns.  I think it is a Disney Princess one.  It was sitting on the kitchen counter left over from Halloween.  I was just sitting there cutting coupons when I noticed it and thought, "Ha!  I am the queen of this household and my kids need to remember that!"  I have been having trouble today in particular with our youngest, Mae, who has copped a diva attitude to the max.  Enough is enough.  I am reigning royalty here.  I think I will wear this crown more often!

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Get Behind Me, Anxiety!"

I say this many times a day now, whenever I feel fear and panic setting in over my husband's job situation.  Right now I am stretched in every direction by homeschooling, working part-time and trying to stay on top of homework for the regular schoolers and their many after school activities.  That would have been enough.  I see my husband appears to be on the edge of panic too.  He is REALLY stressed out.   He has always been such a rock for me but now I am definitely being the rock for him, which is what marriage is about (for better or worse, remember?) Not that he has lost faith or hope completely, but he is very tired right now.  He filed for unemployment and I am astounded by how little it amounts to.  It doesn't come close to paying our mortgage.  I don't know how people without other emergency lifelines can make it through a job loss.  I am most frightened about using up our lifelines before he lands a job.  I know God has a plan, He is just slow to reveal to us!

Help CABF Win $250,000 through Pepsi!!

Right now, Pepsi is offering a $250,000 grant to the non-profit organization with the most online votes.  You can help the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation win this grant and continue their amazing research and support network for bipolar kids, their parents, siblings and their teachers by clicking on this link:  www.bpkids.org/pepsi and register at Pespi to vote for CABF!  It only takes a few minutes.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


This is what I am feeling right now.  And I know it is what my daughter Caroline is feeling at church.  Today is Sunday and we are regular church attenders. more than regular, our whole married lives.  We are highly involved in many aspects in our church.  Our other three daughters go to Sunday School pretty often (well, the oldest is harder to get there because she had a bad experience with the Sunday School leaders) and our other middle schooler, Jane, is very involved in the youth group.  Caroline has stopped going to church, well at least stopped sitting with us during church.  She will go to church but refuses to sit in the sanctuary.  She stopped going to youth group and Sunday School.  She feels like the other teens there snub her because of her past mistakes.  So youth group and Sunday School are not a safe place for her.  I know they do avoid her because they think she is weird.  The youth leaders, not seeing her on a regular basis, don't reach out to her at all.  I am really disappointed by this, because out of all of the teens in our church, she is the one who needs the MOST encouragement and support.  I am thinking about contacting them to ask them (nicely) to step up to the plate and reach out to her.  Her view of God has been diminished by the lack of concern and friendship from youth leaders and other kids.  As we all know, we feel God's love most deeply for us through the care of other humans.  When a person walks into church, they may have come out of curiosity, but they will stay because someone is reaching out to them and offering them friendship.  The same goes for my daughter.  Why should she go to church if she feels like an outcast?  I don't blame her.

Thus I feel disconnected because she feels disconnected.  I don't feel anger or bitterness towards anyone, just disappointment.  I want her to experience true friendships and acceptance of who she is right now, not rejection for her past indiscretions.  And if she can't see God's love for her at our church, we may need to just find another church so her view of God isn't ruined forever.  We love her more than that.  She needs God with skin on so to speak.  We all do.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trileptal and Estrogen Containing Pills

Apparently Trileptal can render birth control pills much less effective.  So if your daughter is prescribed estrogen-containing medications for any reason other than regulating her cycle or clearing her skin, you need to realize that it will not be an effective method of pregnancy prevention.  Just thought I would share this.  I found this out from another mom who is a moderator for the CABF support group I am a part of.  Always good to know about drug interactions!  Sometimes the psychiatrists are not always aware of these things!  Or the gyns as I discovered!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ahh, So I Needed a Very SMALL Dose...

With frustration mounting in our home over the complete disarray of pretty much everything in it, I decided to try an ADHD stimulant I was prescribed last year one more time, only this time I divided the dose in half.  Voila!  I guess that I didn't need to take the full dose prescribed because it made me irritable, but half the dose has made me focused, calm, and organized (getting there.)  I must be more sensitive to medications or something than I realized.  I know that for Lexapro I only need a small amount to function.  I guess it makes sense that I don't need a lot of a stimulant either.  So this is my new trial.  I sure hope this lasts!  I need some order in my life so desperately, at least concerning the physical objects in our home and a schedule--at least enough to be able to find my underwear!  LOL!

Better Today

Caroline's mood is significantly better today, so either not giving her the pill last night and/or the small increase in the Lamictal has helped.  I am so relieved.  Last night was one of those flashbacks to days when we had to put her in the car all of the time to remove her from the house and her sisters in order to calm her down and prevent further ugly scenes.  Shudder.  She was so much more peaceful today and her homeschool classes went fine. Thank you Lord!  So I guess we will continue to look at topical solutions to her acne and if we can't get it to go away completely, there is always laser treatment later, right?

Forget It!

Well, in the middle of the night I had a complete change of heart about introducing the Loestrin into Caroline's med mix.  Her acne had gotten so bad and nothing topical was making much of a difference, which is why we went the route of putting her on bc pills.  But seeing how quickly she has become depressed with the dampening effect on the Lamictal levels in her blood, and that she is already depressed about how many pills she is taking, and that we don't know how long many weeks it would take to restabilize her with more Lamictal, we are taking her off of the estrogen.  This emotional roller coaster just isn't worth it.  And upon reading even further that during the five days that she would not be taking the pill that her Lamictal levels would shoot up and become possibly quite toxic makes us even more leary.  So we are going back to the dermatologist today to try to figure out another approach.  Accutane is out because it is known to cause psychiatric problems even in teens who are not bipolar.  Lithium can cause bad acne, but we can't take her off of this med since it is a big one in the stability factor for her.  I guess scarred skin is better than a severely depressed, suicidal teen.  I just hate that she has to go through this.  Everything seems unfair for these kids, doesn't it?  She is still beautiful and always will be, but I am sad that she has to endure bad skin on top of everything else.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lamictal Maker Is Right About Estrogen

The makers of Lamictal were right when they said that estrogen containing drugs could cause Lamictal blood plasma levels to be decreased by up to half.  We are suddenly scrambling to increase Caroline's Lamictal dose as fast as we can because she has slid into a bad depression since starting the Loestrin for her skin about a week ago, but we can only go up so much at a time since going up too fast can cause a potentially fatal rash, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.  So we have to go up by 25mg for one week, then another 25mg the second week, working up slowly to possibly 800 mg from her present dose of 400mg.  Of course, we are doing this with the supervision of her psychiatrist.  I guess we should have increased the Lamictal as soon as we introduced Loestrin, as the drug literature suggests.  Oh well.  We live and learn.  So many things to keep track of all of the time!!

My husband is so weary of the job search thing.  He is normally such a rock, a naturally cheerful, upbeat person, but lately he has been irritable, humorless, snapping at the kids and at me, and just plain down.  I guess this is to be expected.  Just doesn't help the general mood around here at all.  I hope this joblessness ends soon.  I want my old hubby back!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Adult ADHD or Just Stress?

I swear I have adult ADHD, from my lack of organizational ability, my forgetfulness, my brain fog, my lack of attention to detail and my difficulty at finishing any task I start.  I have been told by psychologists and psychiatrists that yes I do have adult ADHD, and no I don't, I am just really stressed out, which can have the same effect.  Whatever it is, I have tried taking stimulants but they make me too jumpy and irritable, or my heart races.   I can't stand the fact that once I used to have a place for everything mostly, and now I can't find anything, the laundry is everywhere, paper piles everywhere, I forget doctor appointments a lot even if they are on my ICal and my Blackberry.  Nothing in my house feels or looks organized.  I used to be known for how organized I was when I was in college and in my twenties.  What happened?  And I do stupid things like forget to write down debit charges!!  I have sticky notes plastered everywhere in the kitchen to remind me of different things because if I don't see it in bold letters, I don't see it at all.  I take fish oil, but it doesn't solve the problem.  Maybe it is the antidepressants I have had to take for 10 years.  Or the sleep meds.  I know they can interfere with cognition over time.  But so can depression.  Then you add in middle age and I am toast!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Learning Rx

I am looking into this company called Learning Rx that provides "brain-training" to kids and adults who suffer from ADHD, learning disabilities, autism, and really just about any mental challenge.  They claim to be able to train an individuals brain in the weakest cognitive areas and improve learning skills.  They are not like Sylvan or a homework help, but primarily a therapy center.  Sounds good.  I will look into this for both Caroline and Mae.  I have a link at the right under Great Resources.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Note on Lamictal Interaction with Estriodol

I had forgotten that birth control pills containing Estriodol can reduce blood plasma levels of Lamictal by 40 to 60% in some cases (see Drugs.com for drug interactions with Lamictal.) This means that we may have to increase Caroline's Lamictal in order for it to still be effective while taking hormones to clear up her skin.  She is supposed to get a Lamictal level drawn this week so I guess we will see what it indicates, as well as a Trileptal and Lithium level.  Another mom I know through CABF whose daughter is taking estrogen says that the topical cream interferes less with the Lamictal than the pill form.  Just wanted to share this information with you!

Pill Fatigue

Caroline has declared that she takes way too many pills a day and doesn't want to take anything other than the necessary ones.  Ok, fine, I can see why 21 pills a day would get very old.  She has been such a trooper for seven years now, with very little resistance to taking her medication.  Usually she brags about how many pills she can take at once ("Don't choke please!" I am always admonishing her).  But today she was visibly upset at the thought of swallowing all of the pills in her hand.  So I bargained with her that she wouldn't have to take the krill oil, the Vit D, or any of the other supplements, except for the B-complex vitamin, which is necessary since she is taking Lamictal and Seroquel.  That only eliminates 4 or 5 pills but it is a start.  I feel badly for her.  I try to take as many supplements as I can morning and night so she sees that I "have to" take a lot of pills too, but I know she knows the difference.  And just how are our kids so different from kids with chronic illnesses (cystic fibrosis, cancer, diabetes, muscular dystrophy) who have to put up with tons of pills, blood draws, and endless doctor appointments?  And they suffer more because no one is rallying around them on a daily basis, holding numerous fundraisers all of the time for treatment and research and the like.  I want to support all of my friends with children who have these serious illnesses, but I just wish that early-onset bipolar disorder got more attention!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I Want to Live on a Farm

Sometimes I really do.  I wish I could whisk the whole family away from our lives right here and go live on a rolling farm somewhere, homeschool all of them, and just be content with living off of the land and being together as a family, Little House on the Prairie style.  No TV, no Facebook, no Entertainment magazine. Sounds like a fantasy, but I wish my kids could grow up and just be who they were meant to be and not who the world says they should be.  Between the influences of the media and their peers in school or wherever, my children are told over and over again that they are valued for their looks, their achievements, their economic status, the neighborhood they live in, the friends they keep, the clothes they wear, and so on.  God gave us the life we are living, but I long for something more peaceful, less frantic, less dictated by the pressures of our society in this time and day.

OK, back to reality.  Maybe.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hormonal Issues

It is bad enough being bipolar, but if you have a young teenage girl, add in the emotional roller coaster of her monthly cycle, and watch out!  As Caroline says, it is like PMS on steroids!  Today I took her to a female gyn who specializes in balancing hormones in women using both all natural supplements as well as prescription medications.  Caroline seems to be estrogen-dominant, maybe having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, exhibiting many of the symptoms, including a burst ovarian cyst at the age of 11 which required surgery!  Poor girl.  She has been suffering from terrible acne which, no matter what the dermatologist prescribed, wouldn't go away.  So we got a prescription today for Loestrin 24 Fe, birth control essentially, but with the sole purpose of lightening up her cycles, making them more regular, and improving her skin.  This med includes five tablets of iron to take during her period.  Great idea!  Except that iron can interfere with the absorption of some of her meds.  So maybe we will skip those.

By the way, Depakote has been linked to developing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  Caroline was taking Depakote before she suffered from the cyst.  Coincidence, maybe, but still very suspicious.

The Rozerem didn't work that well last night.  Dr. Parker says that if a female is estrogen-dominant, her sleep can be affected.  Maybe if her hormones get straightened out, she will sleep better.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


We are adding Rozerem to Caroline's nighttime mix since she is still having trouble staying asleep.  So we are swapping out the Melatonin, and the Clonidine, and hoping that Rozerem will do the trick.  Bipolar disorder is frequently accompanied by sleep issues, so taking a sleep aid is common, and she has been on Rozerem before a few years back.  She couldn't go to her homeschool classes again yesterday because her sleep was all messed up.  Bummer.  I hope she can still pass these classes!  Since they only meet once a week, if you miss, you miss a lot.

Thank You

Thank you for all of the encouraging words you have been sending.  I need them this week.  I know many of you out there are also experiencing rough times with the change of seasons.  I am praying for you as well.  We all need each other as we walk through the valley.  Sometimes it really does feel like death.  There is light at the end of the tunnel, or at the end of the valley, but sometimes it is clouded over and very hard to see.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Blues

We've got them.  Bill and I are really down right now over the whole job thing.  Add to that the stress of college coming up for our oldest next year, Caroline not doing that great at the moment, and the constant frustration of not being able to get anything done ever it seems, and you have the blues.  I hate the month of October as pretty as it is.  Historically, bad things have happened in October in my life.  I always look forward to November.  Except this year Christmas will be very tight.  Uugh, stupid economy!!   Oh well, maybe we will just focus more on the reason for the season.   Sounds good.  But it is always the working out of great ideas that tests your best desires.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bad Night

Big explosion tonight.  I think Caroline is stressed out about many, many things.  So is my husband.  Bad combination tonight, pretty volatile.  Lot's of cooling off to do for both parties.  Sigh. I hope the job materializes very soon so we can all feel a little more normal.  Good night.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Learning to De-Stress

And it's about time, at 43, that I embrace the discipline of relaxing.  Yes, discipline, because for most of us the tendency to freak out, stress out, hold our breath, pull our hair out, is the natural inclination rather than taking a deep breath, viewing the crisis in perspective, unwrinkling our brows, relaxing our shoulders, and in general simply refusing to allow someone else's mess to determine our own emotional state.  Easier said than done, but I am tired of being stressed out over what others think of me, my house, my clothes, my kids, my husband, my math skills (no cash register at work!), my homework-helper skills, and so on.  Life is too short to take on someone else's opinions, worries, bitterness, and anger.  Why do I say no to my own needs and yes to everyone else's wants?  Why do I make excuses for not doing the important because the trivial gets in the way?

We all have our flaws and our struggles, but if we lived our lives with the perspective that people are more important than stuff, schedules, money, and careers, than we would all slow down and have far more quality in our lives.  I am all for it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Letter to My Oldest

I know you read this blog.  So I just wanted you to know how much I love you and that even though it seems like all the attention goes to Caroline, you are the apple of our eye, our much loved firstborn daughter!  We delight in you and in all of your funny ways.  You bring joy to us in so many regards.  You are a great kid!  We love each of our daughters equally, even if one seems to require more of our time.   I am sorry life has been so hard sometimes in our home.  We wish it could have been so different, but God gave us a special challenge.  We look forward to the years ahead when you will have more freedoms and more time to develop who you were meant to be, away from what feels like chaos so often.  You have been a trooper and we are so proud of you and your many accomplishments.  We know that you will go far in life, and that you will use your many gifts to glorify God and serve others!  Much love, Mom (let's go to the gym!)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wrightslaw.com: Educational Law and Your Child's Rights

www.wrightslaw.com. Check out this great website that will walk you through how to get your child's school to comply with state and federal laws for children with special needs.  They have a ton of resources listed, and articles.  I have posted a link to the right on this blog under Resources.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Automatic Pill Dispenser a Go!

We are loving the automatic pill dispenser we ordered off of Amazon.  The product is by Med-E-Lert and was $79.00.  So far it works great, only dispensing the right pills at the right time, signaled by a buzzer that doesn't go off until the pills are taken out.  Why we didn't try to find something like this years ago, I don't know, but we didn't know they existed until recently.  Technology certainly makes our lives easier, most of the time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Remember...

The day I was walking with then four-year old Caroline, who was already active to the extreme.  She would throw herself around the living room, or off of the jungle gym, and loved to wrestle her daddy.  Looking up at me with those big brown doe-eyes, she asked me with great seriousness how I thought God might use her gift of tackling some day.  Tackling?  As in sacking people?   I laughed and said I didn't know, maybe she would be a policewoman, or an FBI agent, or something like that.

Not much has changed.  She still craves physical activity to the extreme, which is probably due to her Sensory Disorder combined with the bp energy.  Thankfully, she has turned into an athlete instead of a gangster!  Hopefully she will continue sacking people in games and not in real life situations.  I was looking at a list of famous people with bipolar disorder, and so many of them are the composers, artists, actors, singers, and yes even some athletes, whom we would call the greatest achievers in their specialties.  There are some real advantages to being a deep feeler.  What would we do without Beethoven's symphonies or Van Gogh's art, or Rosemary Clooney's "White Christmas?"  I have great hope that Caroline's name will be among top achievers some day, in her own time.

Monday, September 27, 2010

6 Advantages to Homeschooling Your Bipolar Middle Schooler

First, let me say that homeschooling is not for every child or every parent.  You know your own situation better than anyone else and the needs of your child, so please don't make a decision to homeschool if all signs point out that you should not be doing it.  I am a firm believer in freedom of choice when it comes to schooling, so if your present schooling situation is working just fine, stick with it!  I am only listing these advantages because I felt like it, and perhaps there are some who might consider this option if school is presently a nightmare for everyone.

So here it goes:

Six Great Reasons to Homeschool Your BP Middle Schooler (or High Schooler, Grade Schooler, etc):

1.  Your young teen can sleep later and start work when their brain is actually awake.  We have heard of the scientific studies that concluded that teens actually do need more sleep than younger kids and that their naturally changing body clocks make it almost impossible to go to sleep before 11:00.  With sleep being such an issue for bpkids, this is a very nice thing indeed.

2.  Your child will be limited in their exposure to unwanted influences, which abound in middle and high school.  No, we can't protect them from everything, and they do need to learn to handle temptation, but at the same time, aren't these kids challenged enough already?  The kids your child might interact with will be easier for you to handle in most cases (sports, church/synagogue groups, homeschool classes, music classes, volunteer work, etc).

3.  You can be sure they get that mid-day dose of their meds!

4.  They can study their subjects at their own pace, moving faster if they want to on subjects that come easily to them, or more slowly for subjects that they find challenging.  With the very low tolerance for frustration bp kids have, the relaxed mood of school at home can benefit their ability to think things through calmly.

5.  NO HOMEWORK AT NIGHT!! I don't know about you, but I HATE the homework routine in the afternoons and evenings.  Take a tired kid who has been at school all day, using up what little self-control they have to make it through their classes, then they come home, grumpy, meds start to wear off in the late afternoon/early evening but if you give them their evening meds too soon they are too sleepy for homework, and what you end up with is a dreaded daily battle.  Add in sports or other activities, and the problem is compounded.  Caroline can do lacrosse all afternoon, and our home is much more peaceful.

6.  They can do most of their work on their own, using online academies, or if they can handle it, simply following your instructions using a company-written curriculum.  There are SO many great curriculums out there, and they are not all Christian-based, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

So those are just my thoughts, and I know that many out there will think that homeschooling is just a bad idea in general.  That's OK, I have seen amazing results in my sister's kids, and in many friends' kids as well, producing honor students at great colleges who are extremely well prepared for life in general.  I don't know how long I will homeschool Caroline because we all know how unpredictable life with a bp child can be, but for now, it is good.

P.S.  If your child isn't stable at all, not only will homeschooling be close to impossible, but any school situation will likely prove untenable.  Stability allows these kids to think, learn, focus, and gain academic confidence.  Seek stability first, then decide on schooling.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Off Topic: A Cure for Eczema and Psoriasis?

Caroline has suffered from both severe eczema and psoriasis for the last several years, mainly affecting her scalp.  We took her to the dermatologist several times and got prescription creams, gels, shampoos but nothing would solve the problem.  If she missed one application of anything, the inflammation would come right back in a day.  A few weeks ago, I introduced a Hair/Skin and Nails supplement, thinking it might help her acne.  Well, it hasn't had any effect on her acne, but her eczema and psoriasis have disappeared completely!  This supplement, found at most drugstores, contains high levels of B vitamins as well as Biotin and other things not found in a daily vitamin.  Whatever it is, one or more of the ingredients has had the dramatic effect of healing her skin.  Just passing this along to anyone who might be interested.

I Remember...

When Caroline was in the first grade, she had spelling words to write out for homework.  One night she was very intent on this assignment, head bowed, tongue sticking out, focused on every letter.  When she was done she showed me her work.  Well, it was pretty amazing, because she had written all of the words upside down and backwards on purpose just to see if she could.  We were impressed with her creativity, but I am sure her teacher wasn't so impressed.  Just one of the many quirks of our out-of-the-box thinker like so many bp kids are!  Creativity tends to accompany mood disorders.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Undiagnosed Diseases Program at NIH

If you have a child whom the docs are struggling to correctly diagnose, who seems to have not only psychiatric but severe neurological problems, and isn't responding to any medications at all, you might be interested in this program. They only accept referrals from other doctors who are baffled by a mystery case. Usually bipolar disorder in children is pretty recognizable, so this would be for a child who has neurological issues that your own pediatric neurologist(s) can't figure out after many tests. Sometimes bipolar- symptoms can be caused by other brain abnormalities. Looking back on our own experience, I think that any psychiatrist who has a child brought to them with bipolar symptoms should ask for a neurological work up before concluding they have a mental illness. You would just hate to miss something like that! Just thought I would pass this on.

Trying Krill Oil from Mega-Red

I am switching my kids to krill oil to see if 1. they will take it more often since it is in a much smaller tablet and 2. they can take fewer pills because the krill oil is more highly concentrated than regular fish oil. I bought some at Walgreens today because they had a special of buy one, get one free and an in-store coupon for $4.00 off, so I paid about $18.00 for two bottles of 60 pills each. I am supposed to start out with just two or three pills a day for two weeks, and then back down to just two a day. I will let you know how this goes. I am especially interested in seeing if this has an effect on my youngest daughter and her severe ADHD.

Can You Say "Automatic Pill Dispenser?"

I ordered one last night off of Amazon for $70, complete with unlimited alarms, buzzers, dosing options galore, and locking mechanism. I will let you know if it is worth the money!

Caroline is missing her homeschool supplementary today because she slept poorly again last night. Arggh again!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Messed Up

Caroline is simply that right now: messed up. Since she missed that morning dose a few days ago, her sleep has been affected, and today she AGAIN missed her morning dose because she felt sick when she woke up, so she went back to bed. I didn't catch her in time to give her the meds. Then she came back downstairs a few hours later, still feeling bad, laid down, said she felt nauseated, so I gave her imodium, told her to rest before she took her meds since she said she thought she would throw them up. This was around noon. I had to run out to the grocery store but I called her a little while later to ask her to please take the meds now. I come home an hour later to find her gone on a walk with the dog and her morning meds in the bowl. What!!?? Oh, I was piping hot mad. When she got back, I lit into her about not taking them and that it was almost 2 o'clock now. She finally took them, but the rest of the day she was really "off" meaning belligerent, spiteful, reactive, and defiant about everything. She even snuck away to play wall-ball when I went to work, after I told her she couldn't, ignoring the school work that was due tomorrow. Arrggh!!! I sent her to bed early to get up and finish everything in the morning.

I hate days like this. And I won't even go into the machinations I went through to get my youngest to do her homework before ballet, and it still didn't get done.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Something You Need to Know...

If your child has been hospitalized several times in one year, and he or she can't seem to achieve stability for any length of time, you might need to consider a residential treatment center for a period of time where the docs can safely experiment to find a med combination that really works, and where your child receive intensive behavioral counseling as well. But do your research! Don't send them anywhere that isn't highly rated by other parents and known for their results. And no, you won't be harming your child irreparably by sending them away to get better, if it is a top-notch facility that is run like a center for sick kids and not like some boot camp. Meridell is tops on my list, but there are some other good ones all across the country. Check out the list to the right for RTCs.

Preemptive Dosing

With the approach of the end of September, I can tell that Caroline is beginning to swing up little by little. She is much too focused right now on her book and on practicing wall-ball for hours every day. So we have increased her Seroquel (with the doc's permission of course) by 50 mg again, up to 500mg. Already she is acting more "normal." I want to do everything I can to stay several steps ahead of the fall swing. She is doing so well with homeschooling right now, and with the supplementary classes she is taking, which are World History, Writing, and Spanish II.

I am pretty stressed out today. Working part time in the afternoons and early evenings several days a week after homeschooling in the morning is stretching me thin. My house keeps getting dirtier. As soon as my husband gets a job, I hope to scale back my hours to one or two days a week for a couple of hours. My house needs me and so do my kids! I don't know how you working moms and single moms do it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Off Topic: Left-Handed Writing

I don't know how many of you out there are lefties, or have a child who is, but I have just discovered something that has helped me tremendously. We lefties often have messy handwriting because we are holding the pen or pencil at weird angle, and pushing it across the paper instead of drawing it across the paper fluidly. I just started a new job, and I have to write much more legibly than I have been doing at home. So, knowing that I write beautifully with a calligraphy marker for some reason, I decided to buy myself a more expensive ball point pen specifically labeled "smooth writer."

Well, what a difference! I can write so much more neatly and easily with a pen that flows easily. My husband couldn't believe the difference either. I usually just use whatever Bic pen is around, the cheap kind that come in a 10 pack, but I guess I need to invest more money in good writing instruments. I am so happy that I don't have to struggle with handwriting anymore. Only took me nearly forty years to figure that one out!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Remember....

Sitting in the parking lot of a grocery store, about 18 months ago, sobbing so loudly that a man walked up to my car and asked if he could help me. I could barely talk, I was crying so hard. I had had a particularly difficult time with Caroline (this was prior to her going to the RTC) and I had lost it at her, screamed at her, drove off to the store, and then sat there, feeling the dam break. Wracked with sobs, I was in complete despair over having a bipolar daughter to raise. I hated my inability to stay calm that day, and felt like I hated her. He asked me what was wrong, and I am sure he thought I was a war widow or something, since this was on a military base. I replied emphatically, "I hate being a mom!" I don't think he knew what to say to that, but I think he offered some words of encouragement. Poor guy. I was crying so hard that I am sure I freaked him out. I was touched that he would stop and try to comfort me, but nothing would console me that day. Thankfully we all got a break about a month later when she went to Meridell for four months.

Now, I enjoy her mostly. But there was a time...

Anti-Convulsants Deplete Vitamin B Link to Page

I posted the link to the article to the right under Resources. I hope this helps!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Anti-Convulsants Deplete Vitamin B

Another mom on the CABF support group shared this bit of info with us. I have Caroline on a B-complex vitamin every day, and now I am very glad we have been doing this for years. I didn't know about the effect of drugs like Trileptal, Topomax, and Lamictal. I found a University of Michigan Health System article detailing which drugs can deplete which nutrients. This article is found under Health Topics Knowledge Base. B-6 is the vitamin most affected by these anti-convulsants. I would think it wise for any child on these medications to take vitamin and calcium supplements, as well as the Omegas just as a precaution.

How Can We Fix This Problem? And a Weird Dream...

The forgetting-to-take-her-meds problem? She forgot to take her meds yesterday morning, which was not discovered until the evening, because I was at work, and Bill was juggling taxi rides for Mae, Jane, and Elizabeth all day for their various activities. She was high as a kite by this morning. I even gave her half-doses last night of the meds she missed on top of her night meds, and she was up half the night. This morning she was belligerent, sassy, laughed when she shouldn't have (at her own meanness), and Bill and I were freaked out because this was the worst we have seen her in a very long time. She had been so stable, and then wham, she is out of control. She took her morning meds this morning, again with a little more thrown in, and she came back down this afternoon. I am just worried that this may carry over into Tuesday and she will have to miss her homeschool classes. I do not want a repeat of last year when she went manic in October and was kicked out of the classes she had just started at another co-op.

We have her meds all laid out in a big pill box, quite visible. She knows when she is supposed to take them, and I have a timer on my Ical and on my Blackberry. I just bought her another watch so she could have her personal alarm, but she promptly lost it like she lost the previous two. I was in a hurry to get out the door yesterday morning, so I put the box in front of her, and told her to take her meds before she left the table. She didn't. I guess I should have called her to double-check, but it seemed so obvious. I think that is part of the disorder, is the disorderliness of their thinking processes. She is very forgetful.

Anyway, hopefully all will settle down quickly, and we can get on with business.

Husband still doesn't have a job. I am more than a little nervous, as his last paycheck is this Wednesday. He is looking into unemployment benefits, and we may eventually have to tap our Roth IRAs and 401ks, which is a last resort. He is kind of down these days, feeling a little lost in this whole process.

I had a really bad, vivid dream last night night about a mad scientist type of guy who was trying to kill my kids, one by one, as I did all I could to outwit him, defend them, hide them, fortify our house, etc. I was winning, but exhausted. Does this sound like an analogy?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


So far, so good. I am enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere in our home without worrying about Caroline's behavior in school. She is a little freaked out by her Algebra I class at the homeschool co-op. I don't like the text at all, and I can see why she is stressed out. There are so many other truly wonderful and easy to understand math texts out there, so why the teacher chose this one, I don't know. The book is jammed packed with superfluous information, in my opinion. I may pull her out and allow her to just do the math on the computer using Teaching Textbooks. The class is a two hour session once a week covering five lessons at a time, so the pace is quite challenging. Maybe she just needs to work at her own speed. There is a lab science at the same time as the math class so I could switch her over.

I am trying to balance working Monday, Wednesdays, and Friday afternoons, and Saturdays at the ballet shop at Mae's studio with all of my responsibilities at home. The small paycheck is very helpful right now with my husband out of work. This has been such an expensive few weeks with all of the school supplies, back to school shoes and clothes (considerably less than what we would normally buy) and start up costs for various classes and sports.

My husband is still looking hard for a job that will meet our needs both financially and lifestyle-wise. He doesn't want to travel away from us for long periods of time or commute a long distance. I hate the not-knowing.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Breathing Easier, School Options

With my oldest daughter starting her senior year on Tuesday, and my youngest daughter already in school, I am breathing easier these days. I am really looking forward to homeschooling Caroline and her younger sister Jane together this fall. I actually really like the control I have over what my kids are learning, being sure that they are reading classic books, moving ahead in math more quickly, and helping them to learn at their own pace. I love history and science and I find that when they learn without all the stressors of being in "school" they are more relaxed and enjoy learning about the world a lot more. I think that is why my kids do things like write their own books and the like because they equate reading and writing with fun instead of drudgery. Homeschooling is not for every mom or every kid, but if it works, it is wonderful. I will be sad when I will finally put away my "teacher" hat someday. Time flies by so quickly, as evidenced by the fact that our oldest will be off to college next year. Wasn't she just five, creating her own "computer" out of a cardboard box? Playing dress up on a daily basis? Begging me to read to her one more toddler book for the hundredth time?

An important note: if you wish to homeschool your bp child, just know that unless they are mostly stable, this may not work well. Find the right med mix first before you try this unless you have no other good options, and then I would say to enlist the help of another "teacher" in the form of a tutor for certain subjects, or enrolling in an online school so you can keep on task as much as possible. And you can stretch school into the summer if you lose a lot of time during the more unstable periods of the fall and spring.

Monday, August 30, 2010

CNN Story on Pediatric Bipolar Disorder

Check out CNN online and you will see a very good article about a girl's struggle with early onset bipolar disorder.

One Down, One to Go

Our youngest daughter started school today, half-days all week. I breathed a sigh of relief. She tends to be the squeaky wheel. Now one more week until my oldest starts public school, and then I can focus on homeschooling Caroline and Jane together. Caroline will have all day classes on Tuesdays at a homeschool co-op and Jane will have them on Thursdays, so they will get a break from each other too. Caroline is VERY happy about being homeschooled and wrote me a thank you note. I posted it up on the bulletin board so I can refer to it later when she is hating it. Hopefully she won't, but you never know. I am using the Alpha Omega online homeschooling program called Monarch (it grades most of the work for you and prints out report cards too) combined with Sonlight readers and math. I think they will be quite busy between homework for their coop classes and all of the work I will be assigning to them. I pray for a good year!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's a New Day

I am reminded this morning of God's faithfulness, His love for me, and His closeness to those who mourn. It is well with my soul. Matthew 5:4.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Loneliness Can Be Profound

I feel like I don't have any true friends except through this blog. I have three wonderful sisters and a caring mom, but I have this deep sense of loneliness that is very noticeable when I am alone, like this weekend. I have a great church with many "friends," but no one ever calls me, asks me to go out for coffee, or for glass of wine, or just to see how I am doing. I am always the one calling other people, or the people who call me are people who need something from me, whether counsel or encouragement. In other words, I am giving, but not receiving, as far as friendships go. I don't know if this is a direct result of having a bipolar daughter, which wouldn't surprise me. Just like the invitations to get together with other families dried up after she was diagnosed, I feel like many of my friends stopped calling. I know I have stopped calling certain people because they don't call me back, and I am tired of feeling like the third wheel. I feel that I have a lot to offer others in terms of friendship, and I am used to having very close relationships with other women. There really isn't one person in my local area outside of my immediate family that I feel like I could comfortably call if I am down. It is painful the way that mental illness isolates. I need a fresh start too. Moving to another place seems very attractive right now.

A Weekend to Myself!

At last the annual crabfeast has arrived, and my wonderful hubby takes the four kids to the big event, and I stay behind and get the house to myself! I always struggle with feelings of guilt for not attending this extended family fest (his side) but at the same time, this is my ONLY weekend during the whole year when I get to organize, work on small projects, and regroup before the school year starts. I miss them by day 2, but I need the break very badly. This past week was a hard one for all of us, with the reality of no job setting in, the younger two kids completely sick of each other, everyone tired of the pool, and nothing to do. I was pulling my hair out! Hopefully I won't spend the weekend napping because I haven't been sleeping well at all.

Friday, August 27, 2010

August is Two Weeks Too Long

That's all. My kids all should have gone back to school two weeks ago. I am envious of my friends whose kids' private schools started much earlier. Just too much time and too little to do! Next year I think we need to take a vacation the last part of August, if we can afford it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What is it about sunshine?

When it is sunny, we are happy. When it is cloudy, watch out! I am talking about myself here, as well as Caroline. I am finding that cloudy days make me feel so depressed that I am not functional on those days. Really. I get panic attacks, and feel so low I want to crawl into bed and stay there all day. Not good when you don't live in California or Arizona. I am increasing my Vit D3 to 10,000 mg on those days. A prescription dose can be as much as 20,000mg. I remember that last year at this time I began really struggling with SAD, as the day light decreased into the fall. On my ICal I put a reminder to increase my antidepressant in late August. I was right! It is amazing how the change in seasons and in the weather affect some people, including myself!

A Reader Question About Intuniv

Someone just asked me if Intuniv is still working for our ADHD daughter. I can't find their post, but I wanted to reply and say that 4mg was too much, and 2mg was too little. 3mg seems to be the right dose, but we felt that while it helped with her outbursts it didn't do as much for the focusing part, so we did add Vyvanse to the mix, at a very low dose. I am told by our psychiatrist that this has been a common finding among parents, that Intuniv doesn't help with the inattention as much as the explosivity.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lamictal is Implicated in Meningitis?

Apparently, the FDA is now warning that there is a very small chance of developing aseptic meningitis among people who are taking Lamictal, but it usually shows up at the start of treatment. Our daughter has not experienced this at all, but I am putting this out there for anyone who might just be starting treatment. The article is at www.aafp.org on the front page.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meridell Achievement Center Gets Excellent Results

In our book, at least! Today we received the quarterly questionnaire from Meridell asking about aggressive incidents both verbal and physical, and hospitalizations or jail time. Well, thank the Lord, no jail time, not even one hospitalization since she came home last August! No physical aggression either, and only a few instances of verbal aggression, nothing scary. I was very happy to fill out the form with a little triumph and gratefulness too for Meridell's existence.