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!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to Know When You Need to Find a New Psychiatrist

On the CABF online support group for parents of bp teens, a woman asked what we thought about her psychiatrist suggesting that her son, age 16, who was finally doing well on his present med mix, could go off of his meds because he had probably "outgrown" the "bad behaviors" he had first exhibited nine years earlier when he was first diagnosed. What?!?! We were all appalled. Obviously this doctor is unaware that bipolar disorder is not a conglomeration of "bad behaviors" that kids can grow out of eventually. Don't we wish! Rather bipolar disorder, like Aspergers or schizophrenia is an organic, genetically influenced, biological, and chemical disorder! We emphatically suggested that she find a new psychiatrist fast. To experiment with "what happens if we just stop all of the meds" when her child is finally functional is downright cruel. Tapering one med at a time I can see. But to stop cold-turkey to see if he miraculously improves doesn't make any sense at all. Some doctors just don't get it. We have been firm with our doc, as much as we believe that he is brilliant and on the cutting edge of psychiatry, that we are unwilling to change Caroline's present med mix prescribed while at Meridell except to try tapering later because she too is the most stable she has ever been. Don't fix what isn't broken, right?


Lauren said...

I was encouraged to find your blog last week. My 6 year old first born (I have four precious blessings) was recently diagnosed with early onset bipolar. It has been such a heartbreaking journey over the past several years as we have tried to figure out what was going on with him and none of the normal parenting books seemed to have any answers. I know that this disorder is a severe mercy for my family and I am thankful that I have a lot of support from friends and family nearby, but trying to parent this son, whom I dearly love,is the hardest thing I have ever done. Thanks for your blog and encouragement.

Megan said...

Hi Lauren! I am so glad you found me too! This is a heartbreaking disorder, that is so true! I have been in your shoes with four little ones, all close together in age, and one out of control, making you wonder if you are a really bad parent. To get a diagnosis is a blessing, relieving the guilt and shame. I look forward to getting to know you as we walk this journey of faith together.

Hartley said...

Hi Megan,

I have a very good friend, who has a very good doctor, who never labeled her teenager as 'bipolar' (Mood disorder NOS), and they only tired tapering the meds after TWO FULL YEARS without a medicine change (or tweak). That seems sane to me.

And to Lauren (if she is reading this), I have three boys, my oldest is 8 has Bipolar, and I HEAR what you are saying about how hard this is -- how scary -- and how it takes so long to realy know what is going on! Know you are not alone. :)

Thanks Ladies,

Lauren said...

Our psychiatrist is actually calling it "baby" bipolar since he is so young and there is a chance he could outgrow it. Only time will tell. The biggest thing I am struggling with right now (besides the physical challenges of dealing with 1-2 hour explosions of anger and defiance while keeping up with a nursing baby, a busy toddler and an asthmatic 4 year old) is how/if/when to discipline for his rages. My husband and I appreciate the work of Tedd Tripp and Lou Priolor, and both of us grew up in strong loving homes where a lot of that was practiced, but we are trying to figure out how to adapt it to our son's disorder. Any suggestions or recommended reading?

Barbara said...

Wow, I would dump that doctor so fast her head would spin. Its scary! My son is older, 19. I am glad to have found your blog.

Megan said...

Lauren, we too read Shepherding a Child's Heart and we tried all of the different techniques for discipline we knew. With a bipolar child, you must remember that their ability to have self-control is a very small percentage of what a normal child has. Their behaviors won't be properly addressed without the right medications on board to facilitate the thinking parts of their brains. They will get stuck in a seizure of emotion they cannot control. We found that the best discipline was loss of privilege, but also that we needed to think differently about this child than our others, which seems unfair, but they are truly handicapped. Have you read "How Children Raise Parents" by Dan Allender? This is a must-read for those who feel like parental failures or who place too much stock in what THEY do rather than in prayer and in what God can do. What you do does matter, but you can do everything "right" and it can still hit the fan, so to speak. More and more I just want to pass on a vital relationship with Christ, rather than moralisms and good "behavior." The foundation is built on a relationship with God and all else will follow.

Megan said...

Barbara, I am glad you found me and I look forward to getting to know your story as you walk this difficult journey.

Lauren said...

Thank you Megan! I think God has used our struggles with Titus to teach me over and over that "it's not about me" and that parenting is far more about modeling repentance and a growing love, dependence, and worship of Christ than perfecting some kind of technique. I just added "How Children Raise Parents" to my amazon wish cart :) But how do you deal with a child that is harming others in his rages? Titus has been doing better since being on Intuniv for the past three weeks, but had an episode last week of throwing rocks at me and biting and scratching me and threatening to harm the baby. I wasn't sure how to address it when it was all over. He can be such a sweetheart when he is sane. Sorry, I am new to this journey and bursting with questions.

Camille said...

Lauren... I feel your pain. My daughter had severe tantrums as a toddler, which only got worse. She's now 15. I've been through the physical attacks and her destroying anything and everything she can get her hands on. She's been on Abilify for about 2 months, and it has really helped the mania & rages. We had to increase the dose after about 3 weeks. She's also on Depakote, and Adderoll for ADHD. Discipline has always been a huge challenge. Like Megan, I tried everything under the sun. And she's right, it's very hard/impossible to discipline when the child is irrational, unreasonable, and not in their right mind. Medication has helped with that. I've spent my entire parenting life feeling like a complete failure. I do feel like we finally have a handle on this ugly disorder. We're on our 3rd psychiatrist. I'm so blessed to have found Megan's blog... and I know it wasn't by accident that I stumbled upon it.

Lauren said...

Camille...I am so glad that you and your daughter are finally having some relief. It is so exasperating and heart wrenching to try to walk a child through the ugliness when you know it is not really their fault. My son once asked me when his little brother was going to the psychiatrist "to talk about how bad he is." Another time he hung his head and said he wished he didn't act that way. After I told him that I and all his family loved him no matter what, we hugged and cried, and then fifteen minutes later he was smashing toys against the house in another screaming rage. It is also hard because there seems to be so little awareness of the disorder (I didn't know much about it until two months ago), and people often assume there must be something wrong with your parenting. So it is wonderful to come across blogs like this!