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!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Please Donate by Midnight to the Matching Gift Challenge for JBRF!

The Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation is in line to receive a matching $75,000 gift and today is the last day to donate!  Donate at www.jbrf.bbnow.org .  I did, and I hope you do too!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Can I Date?"

The answer, succinctly, is no.  Caroline, much to her credit, approached my husband and I with this serious question today.  She likes a boy she met at the nearby high school while playing wall ball up there.  We are so proud that she asked us to go out for coffee so she could share with us her feelings about this boy and ask permission to date him.  Given her recent lack of truthfulness, this is a very good sign and we will be rewarding her for choosing to be so honest and for honoring us as her parents to come to us first.

But, this is not the time in her life when we feel she can handle the temptations of having a boyfriend.  With her many struggles with self-control, adding that of romance to it all just isn't wise.  She is disappointed and hopefully won't go behind our backs with this.  I pray she will trust us that we know her well enough that our decision is truly in her best interest.  One day a great guy will hopefully come along when she is older (much older ) and wiser and able to handle it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Car, A Party, and a Retreat

We were able to get a car for our oldest this past weekend, a Honda CRV, so that crisis is solved and I no longer have to share a car with my very busy senior in high school.  Yay!  This will indeed make my life a whole lot easier.  Caroline has way too many appointments for me to be without a car.

Another bright spot for this weekend was that Caroline went to the girls lacrosse party on Friday at one of the girl's homes and had a great time.  She didn't spend the night, but neither did the majority of the team, so all was good.  We got the impression the girls behaved themselves and that Caroline didn't do anything to embarrass herself too much.  Whew!  I did catch her in a lie yesterday about where she was going on a walk out of our neighborhood and promptly picked her up in my car after a few minutes later.  I had this overwhelming feeling she wasn't headed where she said she was going and decided to "check" on her as I went to the store.  Sometimes, we just have to go with our gut, don't we?  She wasn't doing anything bad when I found her, she just wasn't supposed to be there.  Sigh.  I just want the truth and nothing but the truth.

I went on a women's retreat with our church from Friday to Saturday.  The time was very challenging as the topic was finding true rest for ourselves in the midst of our busyness.  I must admit I get very little true rest and refreshment during the week.  I guess I would consider Sunday morning to be refreshing and exhausting too.  I am an introvert by nature and being around lots of people in a big room instantly drains me.  I need alone time which I rarely get.  But if I am intentional about it, maybe I could do this, planning out time on Sunday afternoons to just be by myself for an hour or two.  Easier said than done.  Also, why I spend all day cleaning up the kitchen on Sunday is a mystery.  Enough!  Paper plates on Sundays, because I need a break, folks!

I am struggling with intense anxiety this morning about our finances.  I had nightmares all night.  I know that nothing is truly perfectly secure in this life but I sure long for security!  I want to know that we will never go through unemployment again, ever, but God doesn't guarantee that life will go as planned, does He?  I have to trust that all will work out, but maybe not the way I had hoped or dreamed.  I can cling to my plans, and be miserable, or I can cling to God and know peace.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Respite Saturday Courtesy of Our Church!

Our church, as part of its Access ministry to the disabled, is offering parents a respite Saturday on April 9th from 12:30 to 4:00 for special needs kids and their siblings at no cost.  What a fabulous idea!  Volunteers will be trained to care for these kids in a structured environment, with games, crafts, snacks and other activities.  If you live in the Hampton Roads area and want more information, check out www.trinitynorfolk.com and click on Ministries, and then click on Access Ministries to register or for more info.  Caroline is a little old for something like this now at 15, but I am hoping that many other parents can take advantage of this opportunity in our city!  Thank you, Trinity Presbyterian Church and my dear friend Rebecca for heading this up!  I hope many other churches can offer this kind of support ministry for parents with kids who are a little different.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just the Facts Please!

I can never seem to tell if Caroline is lying or telling the truth these days.  My biggest frustration with her right now is feeling like I can't trust her when she swears that I can.  Then the evidence will sometimes show that she was telling the truth, or that she was outright lying, about a 50-50 chance right now.  Argh!  It isn't that our other kids don't ever lie, it is just that deception with Caroline seems to happen a lot and I know this is part of bipolar disorder, but when she is wanting more freedoms, being trustworthy is crucial.  She just received an invitation to a sleep-over for the lacrosse team this Saturday, but we will likely not allow her to sleepover, only to stay late that evening.  Missing sleep for her is a hugely bad idea, always resulting in manic behavior both that night and later.  She will protest, but the risk of her embarrassing herself so early in the season is not one we relish right now, nor should she!

We have completed the private school application for this university model school for the fall, but I am very doubtful they will accept her, especially since they do ask about previous school dismissals (in the fourth grade) and also make you sign a waiver stating that your child has no learning disabilities, past or present IEPs, etc.   Well, that kind of takes her out of the running right there, but my husband seems to be optimistic still.  I say we come up with Plan B for the fall starting now.   She has been so resistant to our direction all year that homeschooling her may just not work for her as much as we want it to.  I am worried that without the rigors of a classroom she may not be able to handle college.  Most homeschooled kids do great in college, but she is just such an under-achiever academically.   She is super smart but doesn't put out the level of work that she could.  Again, for other teachers, she will rise above, still not a straight A student or anything like that, but for us, she gives us the bare minimum required.

And then what to do about Jane and Mae.  Jane wants to continue to be homeschooled, which is fine as she is my over-achiever, but Mae, who also wants to be homeschooled, not so much.  I hate all of this indecision!  Blah!  Blah! And the weather isn't cooperating either, cold, rainy, and I am truly longing for warm sunshine right now to chase away the winter blues!

We are also trying to obtain a car for our oldest daughter, despite eight months of unemployment and dwindling savings.  She needs a car, that all there is to it, and so my husband has been looking at used reliable cars.  His three month job starts at the end of April so this will help our finances, but April 25th seems like a long way off.  We find ourselves arguing about money a lot more than we ever have.  The decline in housing prices isn't helping our outlook either, as a house in our neighborhood very similar to ours just went on the market for about $40,000 less than what we were hoping to sell ours for if we were to move this summer or fall.  Bummer!  We would still make a profit, but not a very big one now.

God is in control.  But life is very, very challenging for us right now.  I want to be on the other side of all of this, where my husband has a "permanent" job (nothing is permanent now anymore) and my daughter has her own car, our  kitchen is fixed from the stupid water damage, we are finally able to save for the future again rather than chunking down our IRAs, and where we are living in a place we would feel comfortable sending our kids to the public schools instead of doing the private school dance every spring.   So much I am waiting for, it is easy to be impatient and mad.   "Let us run the race with endurance..." Hebrews 12:1.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Truly Great and Free Math Tutorial Website!

Try Khan Academy for great video tutorials explaining everything from changing improper fractions into proper to calculus problems.  We have started using this site with great results!

Mild Mania

We have decided, with the doc's permission of course, to decrease Caroline's Lamictal by 25mg in the morning because the mania we saw creeping in is actually still present.  She just seems way to much "on the go" like she is on speed or something.  The Lamictal acts not only as a mood stabilizer but an anti-depressant, so with the sunnier weather and longer days, she may not need as much now.   I am so thankful that our doc trusts our instincts and usually goes with our suggestions!  We know our daughter better than anyone else and so when we see early signs of depression or mania, we try to stay one step ahead as best as we can.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Friends?!?

Caroline has made some new friends through one of the lacrosse teams she is on, and a few of them live right near us, and one of them is homeschooled too!  Caroline and this new friend "Delia" got together yesterday to play some lacrosse and then Caroline hung out at her house.  That hasn't happened in years for Caroline! This past weekend Caroline spent the entire day at another girl's house doing the same.  I really hope that Caroline can keep it together so these friendships can continue to grow.  These are some very nice girls from good homes, so I am praying hard that she stays stable and doesn't tell too many tall tales that will turn them off prematurely.  She is not acting manic anymore either after the reintroduction of the Amantadine, so that is a big relief.  We have lined up a math tutor once my husband starts working at his three months of active duty with the Navy coming up in late April so we can at least get the Algebra jump- started again.  She will likely do Algebra all summer so we can get her caught up.

Watching our 401ks getting rapidly depleted now that we are using them is disconcerting, but I know God is in control.  We will just have to save harder once he gets a permanent job!  Thank goodness that we will still have his Navy retirement in about six years!!  Life is hard for us right now, but the Japanese have it so much worse.  I lived in Japan as a child when my Marine dad was stationed there and so the pictures are especially heart-wrenching knowing the beauty of the island and the people.  Our church was already sending a short term missions team there this summer to work with the missions team that is there full-time, and now our long term missionaries are heavily involved in the relief efforts in Chiba.  I wish I could go this summer, but I just don't feel I can leave my kids that long that far away.  Another time in the future when Caroline needs me less and Bill can take off work for the other ones!

Spring has sprung here and I am grateful for the beauty of the forsythia, bradford pear trees, and daffodils that are coloring my world right now!  Nothing like a beautiful landscape to lift one's spirits!  Have a great day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mania out of Nowhere

Great.  Caroline is high as a kite tonight with mania.  Don't know if it is the result of the weekend Amantadine holiday or not, or if she needs less Lamictal now that spring is here.  But she is talking absolutely non-stop, agitated, restless, obnoxious, unbearable really.  I hope that reintroducing the Amantadine tomorrow will reverse this crazy state.  She was out in the sun all day today playing lacrosse, and I don't know if that extra Vitamin D would induce this.  Who knows.  If it isn't one thing, it is another, isn't it?

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Curse of Endless Appointments

Actually, having had great health insurance for a very long time and great doctors, I should be thankful that we can go to so many appointments each week.  But, honestly, between the four kids and I, and most of the appointments related to Caroline's bipolar disorder, I spend an inordinate amount of time driving, leaving the house several times a day.  Recently we have had physical therapy appointments for two of us, psychology, psychiatry, pediatric, ultrasound on Caroline's kidneys, and other appointments as well.  No wonder I get nothing done, ever!  I am never home for more than an hour at a time it seems.  I have decided to block off one week per month where I keep the calendar free of all appointments, even the regular counseling that Caroline and I go to.  I just need time at home in bigger chunks.  Thank goodness Jane is so faithful with her homeschooling assignments and does them even if I have to step away.  Caroline on the other hand needs constant supervision.   So all of these appointments definitely interfere with her day.  She does a lot at night to make up for it.  And 17 year old Elizabeth needs a car so I don't have to leave the house to take her to all of her activities!!  Ugh! I long for the simpler days of the past when I was home pretty much all day except for maybe a trip to the grocery store or Target.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Once again the trust issue has arisen with Caroline.  She wants us to trust her when she goes up to the local high school to play wall ball.  I am beyond nervous about who she is befriending, what she is doing, the topics of conversation.  How much control should we have over her where and when are always a hot topic of heated discussion.  She wants more freedoms, we feel she can't handle them, at least on too long of a leash.  She won't ever have the privileges and freedoms of a non-bipolar teen, which is hard to swallow.  But our job is to protect her now so she can achieve her dreams later.   But letting go of her will be so hard as she gets older.  I check her text messages to be sure she is not texting inappropriately.  We would just get rid of texting altogether but this is THE primary form of communication for teenagers, even us with them!  Of course if we feel she is acting dangerously, we would just confiscate the phone, but then our fear is she might leave and we wouldn't be able to get a hold of her.

The summer looms large and the whole summer question rolls around again, "How do we keep Caroline busy and out of trouble?"  We can't afford most camps this summer with the unemployment thing going on.    My husband has obtained a three month set of active duty orders starting the end of April, but it is just temporary.  He is still pursuing a long term more permanent solution.  We will likely have to purchase our own health insurance for the short term, oh joy.

I am depressed today.  The skies have been grey and rainy for two days.  I lost it at our youngest this morning when she fussed at me about touching her "stuff." Her "stuff" ended up in the trash as a result.  I had had enough.  I wasn't very self-controlled I must say.  Bad day.  Tomorrow I hope to start fresh!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Last Day to Vote!

Please vote again today for the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation to win the Best Special Needs Online Community using the voting app to the right!  We are two percentage points away!  Thank you!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Help CABF Win This Grant, Only Two More Days!!

Please vote using the app to the right for CABF to win the About.com Readers Choice Award for Best Special Needs Parenting Blog!

15 Today!

And we are so proud of her!  Caroline is doing so well this year in spite of everything.  You go girl!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Please Vote for CABF to Win the Readers Choice Award! We are slipping!

Vote today and every day using the voting app to the right.  We need this grant!  Thank you!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I am so frustrated with Caroline's stubbornness today over schoolwork, particularly math.  I am just venting but I am so tired of fighting with her over her assignments and how slowly she does them.  She is the biggest procrastinator, completely self-distracting!!  I wish she could take an ADHD med but since stimulants are out we will just have to deal with this in other ways, which I am not sure what they are right now!  Arrgh!!! I can't wait for this school year to be over!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Off Topic: College Scholarships for Military Kids

Check out www.militaryscholar.org. for more information.  I wish I had known about this earlier!  The application was due February 22nd for next year.  We will try again next fall!