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.