About our Daughter

I am mother to four wonderful daughters, ages 17, 19, 21, and 23, and wife to the greatest husband on earth. God has given us a special child to raise one who was diagnosed with early-onset bipolar disorder at the age of seven, though she showed signs of it from the age of fifteen months. She also has ADHD, Sensory Integration Disorder (sensory seeking), Dyslexia, and Non-Verbal Learning Disorder-NOS, all typical comorbidities for a bipolar child. In spite of the trials, she enjoys lacrosse, running (finished her first marathon in October of 2014!), and reading and writing her own books. I will share with you the many joys and sorrows we have faced and will face in the future with the hope that you may find better understanding about this mental illness caused by both chemical and structural abnormalities in the brain. I desire that you will be encouraged by this blog if you are also dealing with a bipolar child. Thank you for reading and sharing in our journey.

How Did You Know She Was Bipolar So Young?

I wrote a long explanation of how we came to this bipolar diagnosis in a child so young under my post of March 19th of 2009. If your child or a child you know bears similarities, please seek out a good psychiatrist and don't wait for "things to get better." Often they will simply get worse, and the longer a child is unmedicated, the more damage their brain can accrue. Early diagnoses and treatment are key to providing these children with a chance at a successful life later as a teen and an adult.
Never change, start or stop a medication without the approval of your child's physician!

Sunday, 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!)