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, May 29, 2011

In The Pressure Cooker/Big Med Change

I am in the pressure cooker right now as I try to:  negotiate all of the many events at the end of my oldest daughter's senior year (honors ceremonies, prom, etc) , get her college administrative stuff straight, make sure Caroline finishes all of her large amount of makeup work and tests for the homeschool co-op classes so she can pass into the 9th grade, nag Mae to finish her five space projects by Monday which were due this past Friday, prepare for a graduation party that has gotten much too big, get ready to go out of town on a 5th grade trip to DC this week, and get Caroline ready for a National Lacrosse League tryout of of town this week also, all while feeling pretty depressed myself.  Oh, AND Caroline seems to need a major med change from Seroquel to something else, which will be a new anti-psychotic med called Saphris.  Great.  I am feeling like I am going crazy.  My house is a horrible mess, the work on our kitchen isn't finished at all, or on the back porch where a hundred people are supposed to be on June 11th.  I am just having trouble breathing.  My husband had to go out of town yesterday for a family obligation and I wanted to kill him.  It isn't his fault, he had to go, but I NEEDED him so badly this weekend to help me with the house.   Add to that we are now waiting word on the results of Caroline's placement test this past Friday at the private school, which took her 3 hours to finish instead of the expected 1 1/2.  I am really struggling with anxiety and anger these days, and wondering why in the world I agreed to have the graduation party here at our place in just two weeks.  Just another example of listening too much to a teenage instead of my own instincts.  I wonder if I can change the location or the day, but the invites have all gone out.  Sometimes I am just stupid and am not very kind to myself.   Caroline is much harder to handle lately and that in itself produces tremendous anxiety in both Bill and I.  She is cussing a lot, which is a huge sign of mania for her, and telling some very hard to believe stories, and not being where she says she is going.  I hope the Saphris works, and I will let you know what happens.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Not So Bad, Maybe

Caroline has been talking on the phone to her friend "Dana" who says that her mom actually didn't ban her from being friends with Caroline, that she had misunderstood what she had said, and that it was really Dana who was in trouble not Caroline.  I am not sure exactly if this is the true story of if the mom is softening up.  Whatever the reason, Caroline seems to be able to talk to her on the phone now and maybe hang out.  I am still skittish though.  I still want to move.

Tomorrow is Caroline's placement test at the private school.  I am quite nervous, as is she.  I will let you know how it goes.

I am so exhausted by all of the end of the year events at everyone's respective schools/homeschool classes/ballet/lacrosse/cross-country/graduation related stuff.  I can't wait until June the 14th when it is all done!  My oldest is graduating from high school and we are having a big party here.  I tried to postpone it, but we another very busy time the following week starting June 20th with lacrosse/vacation Bible school/summer college orientation.  I am tired just thinking about all of that!!  But at least a party here means we have to finish house and yard projects, so bring it on!

To my fellow blogging friends, please know that I read your blogs but don't always have time to comment.  I hope this summer to be a better bloggy friend to all of you!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Friend Trouble

I have such a knot in my stomach right now as I am writing this.  I just had a very difficult and awkward conversation with Caroline's new best friend's mother.  Caroline is still struggling with mania, and on Monday at lacrosse practice she lost it, crying, yelling at girls without cause.  When this friend's mom, who was giving her a ride home, asked why she was so upset, Caroline blurted out a crazy tall tale that alarmed this mother so much that she called me to find out if this tale was true.  Before I could talk to her and have the dreaded "my child is bipolar" conversation, Caroline heard from this friend that someone had told her mm that she was dangerous and had beat people up in the third grade.  Carline called me very distraught that her reputation was being ruined by this gossip, and I tried consoling her, but I was livid myself.  My dear daughter can't easily escape her past behaviors five years ago.  This is a small town.  I want a new neighborhood very badly.  My precious daughter needs a clean slate without her past haunting her all the time.  Anyway, her friend told her that her mother had heard this rumor and was extremely concerned.  Thus,  after much prayer and anxiety, I called her and we talked, pretty awkwardly, abut Carline's illness and the fact that she isn't dangerous, just quirky.  This mother was clueless abut bipolar disorder, I could tell by her questions, and, as fate would have it, she lives near the rumor mill's source, a previous classmate at an academy my eldest daughter attended three years back.  Great.  I was calm as I could be, but I did feel my emotions rising as her responses weren't what I had hoped.  She seemed very guarded and I wouldn't be surprised if she would ban her daughter from being with my daughter. I hate this disorder.  It is unfair and cruel!!  I am just low in my heart and dreading Carline's complete devastation if she loses yet anther best friend before the friendship has even lasted a few months.  I hate bipolar disorder.  I am praying they will find a cure!!!  My daughter is discriminated against because she has a physical, chemical illness and this is just unfair and very hard as her mother watching her endless search after a true friend.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mystery Illness Stressing Me Out

My oldest daughter Elizabeth has been suffering almost two months from a mystery illness that is causing her to miss school more than all of us would like.  She has had nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weight loss, almost 20 pounds, since March.  She seems to have trouble keeping food down increasingly and now has chest pain.  Her pediatrician hasn't been able to figure it out, so now we are going to a gastroenterologist and we were able to get an appointment on Wednesday.  She has her last AP exam coming up this week, prom in two weeks, and of course graduation next month.  I know it isn't bulimia because she feels horrible most of the time now, not just throwing up.  We bought her prom dress last week and now we may have to have it altered so it doesn't fall off of her.  We are hoping for answers very soon so she can enjoy the end of high school and go off to college without problems.  I am struggling with a lot of anxiety over this and many other things today.  "Breathe!"  I keep reminding myself.  I can't wait til the end of school for everyone.  And Caroline was acting very manic again yesterday, so we are back to the doc tomorrow.  She will miss her classes again today which is stressing me out as well since these classes only go to the end of May.  Lord, give me peace!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers' Day to the Best Moms in the World!

You probably don't feel like you are one of the best moms in the world, but you are amazing because you care for your child who may show very little love in return.  You have stuck it out when everyone else said to give up.  You have prayed, cried, pleaded with your child to take their meds, do their school work, follow instructions and just to hang in there when they want to give up everything.  You are the best mom for your child, even when you think God must have made a huge mistake.  I know all of those feelings.  But the truth is that you are very special to be given a child with bipolar disorder.  You will grow through this struggle in ways you never imagined.  I am a different person because of Caroline, a better person, someone who sees her weaknesses and has developed strengths I certainly wouldn't have otherwise.  Keep believing, praying, pushing through and hoping that one day it will get better for your child! And do things that are just for you, whether it is a daily walk around the block, a pedicure, a cup of coffee with a non-judgemental friend.  You need to take care of you so you can take care of your  child without so much resentment.  The little things do matter!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Biting My Nails

I am biting my nails right now over whether Caroline (who is not manic right now by the way thanks to an increase in her Seroquel) will be accepted into the private school where her application is pending.  They are requiring a grade placement test for her, and a math placement test, which makes me nervous, because, being homeschooled, she doesn't have as many clear indicators of present grade level as a kid in a regular school would have.  I think she will be fine on the language arts, science, and history part of the test, but I am concerned about her math skills this year with the false starts we have had with Algebra I.  Please pray she will place in her grade level so we can move ahead and not have to start all over again with the school search which would be very stressful as the end of the school year is upon us.  Her younger sister Mae has been accepted to this same private school but we won't tell her or Caroline about this until we know for sure if Caroline is going to get in.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mania in May

Well, it's official: Caroline is really, really manic.  She seemed fine a few days ago, but today was a blast from the past so to speak.  She was agitated, angry, anxious, explosive, told tall tales to the extreme, was completely unable to do school, and possessed a huge amount of physical energy, which she tried to expend through running, but it helped only temporarily.  I had to give her a Klonipin today which is something I haven't done in probably two years.  Tonight she was scaring us so badly with her wild stater that we gave her an extra 100 mg of Seroquel with her bedtime meds, which is used to quickly bring down mania.  We will call her doc first thing in the morning to get an appointment.  Might be time to up a mood stabilizer like the Trileptal or Lamictal or the Seroquel.  Ugh!  Just when things are going relatively well, bipolar disorder strikes again with a big mood swing!!  Her homeschool coop classes are tomorrow but I think we will not be sending her.  I am glad we kept her home from lacrosse practice.  The most embarrassing things have occurred while she has been manic historically so it is best to just keep her home and ride out the storm.  Sigh!!  I know you know what this is like.  We just hope this doesn't lead to a need for hospitalization, something we have avoided for two whole years, a real record! And my mom is coming into town this week from the West Coast and we haven't seen her in two years!  Always something...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Yes, She Showed Up

Yes, Caroline did show up eventually, and she had been at her friend's house, I think.  I am not feeling a lot of warm fuzzy feelings towards her right now.  I love her, I am crazy about her, but I am not liking her right now if you know what I mean.  I am just weary of the constant vigilance over her whereabouts and her school work.  Just tired.  Looking forward to the summer and the end of school, but not looking forward to even less of a regular weekly schedule.  Wish we could afford to put her in camp all summer, but that isn't possible.  Sometimes you just wish they were someone else's responsibility for a while, even though they are always ours on some level. This morning we had a big battle over the length of her shorts for church.  I don't mind longer shorts for church (we live in a beachy community) but I do mind short-shorts and she proclaimed she had absolutely nothing else to wear except said short shorts that were beach attire only.  Arrggh!! So we went shopping for appropriate shorts this morning instead of going to church.  Why?  Because after this morning I would have forgotten about this issue again until next Sunday an hour before church and we would be right back here again.  So I said, forget it, I am doing this now and I don't want to here any more excuses for not going to church!! Enough said!

 My mom is coming into town this week and I haven't seen her face to face in two whole years.  I hope that her visit will be a good one and that my kids will put their best foot forward, help clean up the house, be polite to Grammy, and that we will just make good memories.  Too much to ask?