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!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This is Looking To Be a Very Long Summer...

I am really hoping for something great to come along for Caroline in the next two months, because I am already being driven crazy by her boredom, which never seems to lead to doing things like helping around the house or cleaning her room.  I am wishing we had some amazing out of town trip planned for the whole summer like my pastor and his family are embarking on for their sabbatical this week.  We once had a two month sabbatical when my husband was on Young Life staff and I still treasure those memories of a wonderful family adventure in Colorado and California.  That was many years ago and now life just feels mundane.  The daily grind would definitely describe life at this point.  Between yesterday and today I have driven my kids and myself to six different doctor and dentist appointments!  And much of that meant driving 20 miles away and, several times.  A dear friend shared in a Bible study last night that she feels like she has no margin in her daily life to just breathe.  We all concurred that this is very much lacking in all of our lives right now.  I think margin has to be created, even if it is only for 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there.  Mine is my new daily morning walk, when I leave my kids and the cell phone behind, and for 30 minutes it is all about taking care of my need to be alone, to exercise, enjoy nature, and talk to God.  And I get my other "margin" at night when I plop into bed, pull out the Bible or some other great book and go to sleep thinking about what I have read, praying for those things to be worked out in my life and the lives of my loved ones, things like greater faith, grace, self-control, love, and leaving idols behind and embracing the truth that sets us free.  I pray for those small moments in your day to grab time for you, to breathe, to think, to pray.

Monday, June 27, 2011

To Text or Not to Text...

The whole phenomenon of teen texting has us in a conundrum.  Ideally, or maybe idealistically, we would like to tell Caroline she absolutely can't have texting for all kinds of reasons, period, end of discussion.  But the big problem with that is that for her this is truly her "lifeline" to the world outside of her home, to friends on her lacrosse teams or the pool, or at whatever classes she might be taking.   Because she has so few social options at this point, her interactions with peers are limited to phone conversations and texting, primarily texting.  She has asked for a Facebook page but I don't know if we are ready to open up that can of worms now.  But then again Facebook allows us to see immediately and quite conveniently what she is posting and what others are posting on her page every day.  Texting is harder for us to follow, as messages can be erased quickly and it is harder for us to get her phone away from her to read everything.  This world of techno savvy teens can't just be ignored.  She will be electronically connected to people but we have to help her figure out how to do that and still maintain integrity and good judgement.  Our oldest daughter, while enormously trustworthy on many fronts, has even had some Facebook postings and pics that prompted our criticism, not always because of what she posted, but because of what other people who had lesser standards posted.   The pitfalls for a bipolar teen are even more abundant.  Sigh.  I wish we lived in a simpler world.  But then again we wouldn't have all of the medical resources we have right now, so I would still take the 21st century over another time.   We do know that we will not allow Caroline to have her cell phone in school next year.  The school is tiny and if there is an emergency, I know we can be reached. We just cannot risk another mania-inspired inappropriate text resulting in her getting the boot.  I am ready for the loud protestations.  Our youngest Mae will be under the same rules if and when she gets a phone.

Concussion, CAT scan, and More...

Caroline suffered a concussion yesterday at lacrosse practice.  Another girl ran into her while her head was down and smacked her to the ground pretty hard.  My husband took her to the ER where the docs determined that she couldn't see clearly (black out spots in her vision) and was having memory problems.  A CAT scan didn't reveal anything too bad, but she won't be playing lacrosse this week, and maybe not next week.  And the real bummer is that this week was one of the only two lacrosse camps happening in our area this summer and I already paid the fee.  Hopefully I can get that back!

And More...

Caroline's standardized testing didn't go so great this year.  She kind of bombed the math portion which didn't surprise us at all given the many fits and starts we had in Algebra all year.  But still, I was consumed with disappointment and guilt for a few days.  She actually scored below grade level and this was a pretty hard fact to swallow.  But hopefully with the algebra tutoring she will have all summer, given for free by a dear friend from church (we are SO grateful) she will catch up by the fall.  The placement test she took at the private school showed the same math weaknesses, so this wasn't a fluke.  The good news is that all of her other scores were above grade level.  Not anywhere as high as her two younger sisters' off the chart scores, but still above average.  Life is hard when you are bipolar, and it seems to affect every aspect  of life, and academics are not an exception.

I am reading a great book right now by Jerry Bridges called "Trusting God."  Greatly encouraging when life is falling apart.  I have been freaking out a lot lately about the near future and beyond, how are we going to pay for private school, what is next for my husband's brain tumor treatment, is Caroline going to do well at this new school,  will we be able to pay for the college expenses for our oldest daughter that the GI bill doesn't cover, should we sell our house and move to another school district this fall, what job will be next when my husband's job ends in late July?  All of this had me trembling and frankly depressed and scared to death.  But I had forgotten where my gaze should be, all day long, every moment, not at the giants I am facing, but at the God who has everything in His hands and who isn't surprised by anything, who never wrings His hands in worry, but has it all in His control.  I have shifted my gaze and am doing much better.

May you find peace and hope today in the midst of the storms!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I'm Back--Long Update

Sort of.  I am working out of a kitchen and home office that has had everything moved out of it in order for the hardwood floors that were damaged from the roof leak to be refinished.  The floors look great but I haven't been able to cook in over a week.  Hopefully we can move everything back in this coming week and we can get back to normal.

Much has transpired in the last two weeks:  my fifth grader graduated from her elementary school, Elizabeth graduated from high school and we had a hundred people over for a big cook out, one of our dogs got sick with cancer and we had to put him to sleep, my kitchen got repaired and we spent a week eating out ($$$!!) while workers traipsed in and out of the house.  Bill and I are pretty tired.  Today is our 19th anniversary and we hope to go out to dinner tonight and just enjoy each other.

I learned this morning that Caroline was ACCEPTED into the university model private school. Yay!  I was really thinking the answer was no after two weeks had gone by and we had not heard from them.  Mae our rising sixth grader will also go to this school, which leaves just Jane for me to homeschool next year.  I am relieved, yet, as always, filled with new anxiety over trying yet another school for Caroline.  And how we are going to pay for it is a concern as Bills job is up again at the end of July.  He had another MRI last week, for which we are still awaiting results, to determine if his benign brain tumor has grown since November, which would determine the next step of his treatment and whether he needs to pursue more Active duty with the Navy after this assignment is over July 30th.  So complicated!! I will be glad to an end to this craziness.

Jane's end of the year standardized testing for homeschooling took place this past week and she passed with amazing scores, post college on most of it, and she is only going into the 8th grade!  Hats off to her since she basically homeschooled herself this year. Caroline has her testing this week so we are praying for good scores as well that we will then submit to the state for approval.  She is being tutored in math all summer which has already begun and that will help I am sure.

I will be glad when all will be set for next year after I sign the contract with the school on Thursday.  This has been a truly long year of school for Caroline, trying to get her finished up.  She was still finishing final exams last week for her homeschool co op classes.

We never started Saphris in place of Seroquel.  I chickened out on the med change before Elizabeth's end of the year events surrounding her graduation and honestly Caroline is holding steady at 700mg of the ER Seroquel, so we may not switch all this summer if we don't see the need.  Our favorite CNP at the psychiatrist's office has switched to another practice and we are SO bummed, she was amazing, always called us back the same day, and really, really cared about Caroline and our family.  We may follow her to another psychiatrist.  When you find someone like that, you stick with them!!

I will attempt to answer all the reader questions from the last few weeks tomorrow, after I clean out the fridge, from which is emanating a very foul odor!  Too many weeks have gone by and too many containers are begging to be thrown out!

Lacrosse camps are in full swing the next few weeks, and then we are going to be looking for stuff for Caroline to do.   Maybe volunteering at the SPCA again would be a good idea.  A bored bp kid is never a good thing, ever!  And maybe she will get back into reading some good novels.

Thank you for your patience!  You are important to me, my bloggy friends!  I have missed you!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Updates and Apologies

I am in the middle of craziness right now and it won't be over until June 13th, so bear with me and my lack of response until then to your questions and comments.  I promise I will answer!  We are down to the count with both my oldest's high school graduation and my fifth grader's graduation, and many other events.  We decided not to switch to Saphris until after all of this is over because it was too much to take on.  So far Caroline is hanging in there pretty well.  Talk you all of you soon!