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!

Monday, July 5, 2010

I Am Very, Very Imperfect, Trying to Love Imperfect People

A reader just commented that I need to be careful in how I am describing our daughter Caroline, not to pin her with the label "bipolar" but rather to state that she is a young teen who struggles with bipolar disorder. It doesn't have to define her. I agree completely, and agree that I can be too negative at times about how her disease impacts our family. I appreciate constructive criticism, and there is always room to grow. I don't parent perfectly, I don't treat my husband the way I should each day, I don't love my friends the way that I want to, and I don't call my mom as often as I should. I fall down every day in the job loving and disciplining my kids and have to apologize to them regularly. In fact, I would probably think I was doing a pretty bad job as a parent knowing all of my failures if it weren't for the fact that all of them tell me how much they love me, appreciate me, tell me I am the best mom ever, including Caroline though not every day, especially now that she has hit the throes of the teen years. But she has told us time and again that she is incredibly grateful that she has such supportive, loving parents compared to so many of the bipolar kids she has met in psych hospitals and the residential treatment center. She has seen a lot of them already on drugs and alcohol because their parents didn't recognize that they had bipolar disorder early enough and they were self-medicating. Or they come from homes where they are abused physically and emotionally.

She is a great kid, amazing really. To have endured what she has endured, and to still be marching along in school, in sports, in life is a testimony to her God-given tenacity and the faith He has given her, though tossed by storms. We have it easy compared to many situations out there: we have health insurance that pays for almost everything; a loving, faithful husband, who has a job; my kids are doing pretty well considering the chaos that has visited our family, I have three wonderful sisters, a supportive mom, great psychologists, a great psychiatrist, and a great church that cares deeply for our family, and God carries us all along. It could be so much worse.

And it could get worse; I am not naive to think that Caroline will get through high school completely unscathed. We will pray and try our best guide her and provide all that she needs to be successful in life, to that we are fully committed. I apologize if I have given the impression that we are primarily victims of her disorder, or of her in fact, when we are actually all in this together and all of us have our issues. I have a ton, so I truly can relate to her struggles. I was hell on wheels in high school myself, been there, done that when it comes to anything really, so I do share with her when I really messed up as a teen so that she understands that messing up here and there doesn't disqualify you from a great future in the least if you keep going back to God's abundant grace.

So please feel free to share constructive comments. I am open. Really.


Mama Bear said...

hmmm... I kinda feel like you don't have to explain. It's clear to me that you love your child dearly and I imagine in day-to-day life it isn't always about "having a bipolar" daughter. But that is the purpose of this blog, to process all you're going through in this one area of your life. Please don't feel like you have to prove that you aren't a victim, if you didn't tell it like it is then we wouldn't be reading, and a lot of us are reading because we share the same struggles and feelings.

I appreciate your honesty and ability to share your life regarding your journey as a mom raising a daughter with bipolar disease, parents like myself need to know that we aren't alone and I hope you can always feel safe in "telling it like it is" without having to worry if we doubt your love for your daughter and that we may think you are playing a victim in all of this. Raising a child with a mental illness does in fact cause a lot of pain to our children, our marriages and our own selves.

I guess what I'm saying is that I respect the prior post, but I also think you as a mom need a safe place to process all this, I think it can help make you a better Mom when your "in the game" if you can dump out all the negative thoughts on your blog.

Accidental Expert said...

My only comment...you're one amazing mom. Some days I feel like a total failure, others a victim, and others a strong advocate for my kids.

When people ask how I do all that needs to be done my answer is usually, "Not gracefully." But no matter what, we muddle through and we love our kids, no matter what challenges come our way.

Meg said...

I think people get too caught up in semantics. I say bipolar all over my blog and we almost never even say the word in real life. I doubt you go out to watch her play lacrosse and say, "Hey, that's my bipolar daughter Caroline out there!" Or introduce her at parties as your 'bipolar daughter Caroline'. Sheesh. You are doing a great job.

Debbie said...

trying to comment...

E squared said...

Oh Megan -

I'm so sorry you feel like you need to defend yourself. I don't feel like that's fair.

Before my last blog post, I actually thought to myself, "by the sound of my posts, readers are going to think I hate my own child. that i never say anything nice about her. that i think she's a horrible child. they are going to think I'm a horrible person!!"

BUT then i realized that my blog is MY blog. it is ME, venting MY thoughts, MY opinions, MY feelings. NO ONE can tell me my feelings are wrong. And for the love of pete - I have just flat out said I hated my child!!! WHEN she is raging. Tell me I'm horrible, tell me I'm going to hell, tell me whatever you'd like - I don't care. I beg to differ.

There are those of us out here, supporting you, every feeling and every thought and word that comes from you - unconditionally supporting you because we GET it. We GET you. There will be those that don't. And that's ok. But just know that you are an amazing woman, an amazing mama, and amazing writer and you there is no need to defend that. Ever.

Much love,

CC said...

I, too, appreciate your honesty in your posts. I can so relate to your experiences and I don't feel so alone. Thank you.

Tonya said...

Wow, everything you said in that blog is me/us. I do make us out to be victims of my 10 yr olds illness. You totally put that into perspective for me. Thank you. So glad I found this blog :)

Megan said...

Hi Tonya! Glad you found me too. I always enjoy getting to know the parents who post here.