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, April 29, 2011

Thank You Demi and Catherine!

The most recent People magazine, in case you haven't seen it, features interviews with Demi Levato, the singing teen sensation, and Catherine Zeta Jones, actress, divulging their personal struggles with bipolar disorder.  Finally!  Beautiful, smart, successful women sharing their secret illnesses with the world, to my applause and I am sure yours as well!  I bought the magazine, which I never do, so I could share the articles with Caroline and my other girls.  Hopefully more public figures will step forward and share their own journeys with bipolar disorder.  Thank you!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where are You???

That is what I am wondering right now.  Caroline has left the house and isn't answering her cell phone.  I am sure she is at her friend's house, so I will call there now, or maybe I am not so sure.  She missed her nighttime Lamictal dose the other night and I hope she isn't acting manic right now.  I hate not knowing where she is.  She is the one kid I always worry about and always fear she is up to something bad even when she isn't.  She wants us to trust her more, but I see very few reasons to trust her at all.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Camps for Bipolar Kids and Teens

I have updated some of the resources to the right listing camps that are for bipolar kids or accept bipolar kids.  One of the more interesting ones is not available online at the time and I am trying to find out more information about Camp Opehay in Northern California run by the Juvenile Bipolar Foundation.  When I find out more, I will post it here.  If you know of camps that I am unaware of, please let me know!  Also check out www.mysummercamps.com and click on camps for special needs kids.

Vacation Blues

Well, we are back from our week long vacation at the beach, and all in all it was a very good trip, even though we had seven kids (my nephews and one friend in addition to our four) and only two adults to manage them all.  Now I have piles of laundry and unpacking to do.  This is what I would normally call the vacation blues, the let down after the vacation when you come home from a beautiful place to a house that is a wreck from the crazy days of preparation and then you walk in and dump all of your stuff everywhere and the mail is piled up, and the last the you want to do is cook another meal!

I definitely have all of those emotions post-trip, but I must also confess that this was not a great vacation for me.  The kids had a great time kayaking, boogie boarding, skim boarding, digging sand castles, and bike riding, but I made the huge mistake of trying to decrease my anti-depressant a few weeks ago because I was so tired of the stubborn 20 pounds I have gained since starting them about 10 years ago.  Big mistake!  I was anxious, angry, and felt so detached for no reason at all.  I spent most of the vacation brooding instead of enjoying.   I know the SSRIs have caused my weight gain, because anytime I have gone off of them or really reduced them, I loose weight really fast, but inevitably, every time I decrease the meds, I become depressed really fast too.  I am stupid to think I don't need these drugs, but I am mad that I need them.  I am too vain, I know, and I should care far more about being all there for my husband and my kids then being two sizes bigger than I should be.  I have struggled to be slender my whole life and I have this alarm that goes off in my head when I go above a certain weight, and recently those alarms have been ringing loudly.  I HATE this struggle, of wanting to be thin and being unable to get there through diet and exercise because of the chemicals my brain needs.  I know that my bp daughter has struggled so much with this issue since starting the atypical anti psychotics, which are notorious for causing fast weight gain, and she is remarkably normal-sized because she works out for hours each day in lacrosse.  But the alternative of doing without the AAPs isn't acceptable either: instability leading to social and academic failure or even self-harm.  These meds are a necessary evil it seems.  I wish I didn't need antidepressants but I know I do, and I have increased my dosage again, sheepishly.  I was totally crabby, moody, and unreasonable during the whole vacation and I regret putting my kids through this, and my poor husband too!!  Lesson learned.  So I will just have to accept the fact that a few extra pounds is the price I pay for functionality.  My kids need me, my husband needs me, and I need me too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another Car Accident!

This time it was my own kid, our oldest daughter, in her first fender bender, which, fortunately, resulted in very little damage to her new car.  The other driver was on a motorcycle (!), and was not injured and her bike wasn't damaged really either.  Just a big scare and a ticket for failure to yield for our daughter.  Bummer!  She was trying to cross a very busy road at rush hour without a traffic light to aid her, and even though the traffic on her side of the road had stopped to let her cross, as she pulled out she didn't see the motorcyclist.  This could have been very bad indeed, but thank God it wasn't!  She is shaken up and very upset about getting a ticket one month after getting her license, but the police officer was very gracious to her and encouraging that this wasn't the end of the world.  We have to go to court now, but we will take her grades with us to show that she is a great kid, taking four AP classes right now, and not a "problem" kid or anything.  We are just thankful that this wasn't the very serious accident it could have been!  Just another day in life of our family.  Sigh!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back from Birminghmam

I arrived back from Birmingham late Friday night after spending the week with my sister and her husband and their newly paralyzed son.  This was not a week one easily forgets.  I am glad to be home with my family, but my heart is with Heidi and Michael and their precious son Daniel who is facing a huge paradigm shift as they say, learning all over again how to walk, eat, and get around as a partial quadriplegic at the age of 19. We have great hope for that he will walk again someday. We are so thankful that God spared his life that night as the outcome could have been even more tragic than it already is.

Caroline laments quite often over how unfair her life is, how few friends she has, how many schools she has been shuffled between, how many meds she must take, but honestly, compared to being confined to a wheelchair, having others bathe you, dress you, feed you, and speak for you, she has very little to complain about.  I hope she really sees this, that as challenging as her life is, she can run, and play lacrosse, and go to college on time if she works hard.  She has so much to be thankful for even when things are really difficult!!

I am doing fine myself.  I think I have this weird ability to compartmentalize my thinking when shocking things happen.  I sort of detach emotionally and go into action mode.  I have been doing this since I was in college, and maybe it is a mild form of dissociative disorder or maybe it is just a God-given way of protecting myself emotionally when the world collapses around me.  I don't feel much of anything when others around me are feeling so much that they are falling apart.  I just go into thinking mode.  Maybe later, at other times, I allow myself to feel and to cry.  But in the moment of crisis, I become a machine and just do. This is quite helpful at times when needed and I have used this a lot when Caroline has been in crisis time and again.

Caroline continues to develop friendships on the lacrosse team, and one in particular shows great promise, the other homeschooled girl I mentioned before.  An opportunity arose for Caroline to go on the retreat with our church's youth group and she showed interest in going, but unfortunately she has two back to back games on Saturday.  She could have missed one of them, but missing both would have been very unsupportive of her team and this is the second to the last weekend of games.  So she decided to stay and play in the games, which was a very hard decision.  We would have encourage her to skip the game if she had only one.  Oh well, at least she is showing an interest int the Youth Group again, which she did go to last night even though she was afraid.  We will just continue to encourage her to go on Sunday nights.

We leave for a week at the beach soon, for our last "family" vacation with Elizabeth before she goes to college.  We debated about spending this kind of money while my husband is unemployed, but there are somethings you can't put a price tag on, like making memories with your kids before they fly the nest. Thank you for the tax refund, Uncle Sam!

I hope you are all well, though I know many of you and your kids are not, facing hospitalizations and school issues and health insurance nightmares.  Thank you for all of the messages of support and prayer for Daniel and his parents.  They appreciate them sooooo much, really!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Update on Daniel

My nephew Daniel has developed pneumonia from being on the ventilator or perhaps from aspirating something before the EMTs found the car wreck.  They were upside down in water or something like that I hear, so he may have ingested creek water.   He was the only one injured at all.  At this time they are calling him a partial quadriplegic, meaning he has limited use of his upper body.  The swelling around his spinal cord needs to come down before we know for sure what mobility he has retained in his arms.  He can feel some sensation in his legs, but can't move them, which is apparently typical.  Right now we are communicating with him using a letter board to which we point and he nods to signal as we spell out words.  Very tedious and frustrating for him and for us.  My sister and her husband are so exhausted.  Watching the agony on their faces when waves of grief overcome them is truly heartrending.  No parent should ever have to go through this.  We know that God has Daniel in His hands and has a great purpose for his life, however changed his future seems.  My own family been through so much with Caroline, but this is a whole different level of suffering.  I am thankful I can be here with them until Friday.  They will need all the support and prayer that we can give! Thank you for praying.  We of course want a miracle that he will walk again, and we pray for a miracle, knowing that this may not be God's plan, but trusting in His goodness nonetheless.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Please Pray for Daniel

My 19 year old nephew Daniel was in a serious car accident last night and was airlifted to the University of Alabama Medical Center with a spinal cord injury.  Please pray for him, for healing, and for my sister Heidi and her husband Michael who are overwhelmed at this horrible news.  I am flying out tomorrow to be with them.  He had surgery today on his broken neck vertebrae but the prognosis for regaining the use of his legs isn't great.  He is a very active, athletic young man with dreams of college ahead of him.   God is big and can do big miracles, but miracles aren't always His plan, but we do pray for complete recovery.  Thank you for praying!