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!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Might Give Her a Blog of Her Own

Caroline is a very gifted writer, and loves to connect with other kids who have similar struggles, so I may set up a blog for her to share her thoughts and feelings.  She has some great perspective on life and on bipolar disorder.  Be looking for a link soon.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Homeschooling/Sleep Issues Solved

Homeschooling is going really well right now, to which I attribute a couple of things:

 1. She is quite psychiatrically stable.
 2. She loves the history/literature focus on ancient history and
 3. The brain training at Learning RX is making it easier for her to memorize grammar rules, Spanish vocabulary, and Algebraic concepts.

The Learning RX cognitive therapy is probably the biggest game changer.  She has developed so much more confidence and speed in her thinking skills.  She doesn't love Algebra yet, but I think as she continues with the brain training, she will begin to at least get pretty good at it.  I nearly failed Algebra I the first time I took it, but then I re-took it in summer school and got straight As because something clicked the second time and I never looked back and went on to take Calculus in high school and college.  I tell her this to encourage her that not everyone gets it the first time around.

Caroline was joyous in her summation of the book Flames of Rome last night.  She finished it late last night and declared it was her favorite book ever.  But now she has many more wonderful novels ahead of her courtesy of Sonlight Curriculum so I am sure I will hear her state that again about some other classic tome.

We have slowly upped her Lamictal dose with the permission of her psychiatrist as we have introduced the estrogen/progesterone combination pill she is taking for acne.  So now she is taking 550 mg of the ODT which would be a lot, but for the fact the estrogen reduces the Lamictal concentrations in her blood quite a bit.

Also, we have dropped the Rozerem from her night meds after doing some research and asking around and talking with the psych doc.  That med wasn't doing anything to keep her asleep. We have changed her Trileptal dosing as well so that she takes less in the morning and more at night, making her sleepier when she needs to be.  She has not slept through the night for a very long time until we made these recent changes, including moving her Macrobid (prophylactic antibiotic for UTIs) to the morning, and her birth control pill too, because apparently both of those can interfere with sleep.  And we introduced the all natural TravaCor for neurotransmitter support (calming effects) which can be obtained from Professional Nutrients.  This combined with some Melatonin Ultra (containing Valerian root and Taurine and Chamomile) has finally kept her asleep all night, and she is a MUCH happier girl in the morning.  Yay!  It is amazing what this poor child has to take to both fall asleep and stay asleep, but as I understand from my other friends with bp kids, this is typical across the board.

Back to homeschooling, I have mentioned to her the idea of allowing me to homeschool her next year as well to be sure she is fully caught up in all subjects. She actually was OK with it.  I never thought I would want to do this, but something in me has changed.  I think I finally threw myself into the task of homeschooling her with my hand to the plow, not looking back, and it is paying off.  I really had to clear my schedule of all distractions, and this is helping me to be home more and get more stuff done that really needs to get done, like laundry and organizing.  I don't get to see my friends very much, between homeschooling and Learning RX three times a week, and driving everyone here and there, but for now, this is OK.  This kid really needs me and one day she will be in college and my work will be done and then I can do all the things I want to do then.   And not many moms get to invest in their young teens like  I do, so I am thankful for the time I have with her, and with Jane.  Jane and Mae will likely go to school together next year for 7th and 9th grades so I can fully focus on Caroline.

My husband still works diligently pursuing job leads.  If you pray, please do pray for this journey to end.

I am committed to getting myself to the gym frequently to keep those endorphins coming: self-care!  And I have a stack of wonderful books next to my bed that I try to read during my "me" time every night.  I doubt I will ever get through them all but great prose is like water on parched ground to my soul.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just Checking In

My mother in law passed away last week and the funeral was Monday.  She was a wonderful lady who had such a gift of hospitality.  My husband will miss her dearly as will we.  Alzheimer's took her memory, but not her cheerful personality.

Caroline has an uphill climb ahead of her academically until June and thus so do I since I am her teacher.  I wish I could just have the hours from 8 to 3 to give her my undivided attention. Life kind of gets in the way of that with two other kids to manage as well.  Jane kind of homeschools herself with a little help from me, but Caroline needs a lot more direction, and Mae also needs constant reminders to stay on task.  Distractions are the worst, a phone call, a doctor's appointment.  I try not to answer the phone during the school day and I am trying to make all doctor appointments after three in the afternoon, but so often with the specialists, they tell you when they can see you.  But I want to make this work, I really do.  I ordered some more curriculum supplies and I am ready for this second semester.  I hope she is too!

No job yet.  I am trying not to panic, but at night, in the middle of the night, sometimes I jerk awake.  Anxiety makes a poor bedfellow.  I find myself repeating certain verses to myself over and over again, like a mantra of sorts, focusing my attention on God and away from the situation.

I have the most amazing husband.  I want the world to know how amazing he is.  I want to see him relaxed again, laughing, smiling.  Soon.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Disaster Prone

I really hate the feeling that our family is disaster prone.   I mean, we don't go looking for trials or attention by any means.  But it seems like if it isn't one thing, it is another for us.  Everyone has problems to deal with, whether it is within their family or at work, or whatever.  But I would love to get to a place where we had some smooth sailing:  a steady job (and income), a stable school situation for Caroline, and a stable bipolar child.  It would seem that we never get all three at once.  Caroline has been stable for over two years with no hospitalizations, but during this time we have been essentially jobless for over 12 months, and she has not been able to stay at one school longer than a year,  but for one during the 7th grade that turned out to be a very poorly run school resulting in a very bad experience for all.   Sigh.  I have so much to be thankful for, I really do, but sometimes I just want easier problems with which to deal.   Like what color to paint the downstairs bathroom, or which mutual fund to choose, or what vacation we will taken this year.  But the reality is, trial builds character.  I guess we have a lot of character, if not a lot of money in our retirement funds right now, or kids that don't need a whole lot of help.  My faith has been stretched to the breaking point at times.  But like a three cord strand that isn't easily broken, God holds us together,  our marriage, our sanity, our testimony to His goodness.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Synergy: Hormone Replacement Therapy Before Menopause

Yes, there is such a thing.  If you feel like something just isn't right, even if you are in your 30s and 40s, and your regular doctors aren't finding out why you have no energy, your hair is falling out, or your PMS is so bad, don't hesitate to find docs that specialize in hormone replacment therapy and holistic medicine.  I had my thyroid checked numerous times over the last ten years and the docs kept telling me I was in the "normal" range even though I had bad hair loss, depression, was always cold when everyone else felt fine, couldn't lose weight no matter how much I exercise and had terrible PMS.  Finally I went to a place called Synergy, but I know that many of these places are popping up, usually staffed by gyns.  They did a ton of blood work and found that although I was in the "normal" range for my thryoid, taking into consideration  all my symptoms and the fact that I was at the very bottom of the "normal" range, the doc decided to put me on a low dose of thyroid medication.  And my progesterone was low, so I restarted combination pills to balance me out and solve the PMS issues.  She also found that my DHEA was very low, which indicated adrenal burn out, which isn't surprising seeing how much cortisol my body must have been putting out with all of the stress I have been under raising a bipolar child and my husband's long unemployment.  So I am taking a DHEA supplement now, and she increased my krill oil supplement too since my HDL cholesterol was a little low.

 I am SO GLAD I took the plunge and finally got real answers and real help.  I go back in six weeks for more blood tests to see how my numbers change.   Hope this info helps someone out there!  I just want to feel better and know that I am on the right track now.


Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, Fresh Start, Change

I am really hoping for so many things to change in the New Year.  Of course, the biggest wish being that my husband lands a job soon.  He has a job interview tomorrow, but the job involves a lot of travel.  I am not sure if that is a deal breaker or not.  Having him gone a lot would be very hard on me, dealing with a bipolar teen and two others by myself.  And driving them all to their sports and dance activities, and school stuff.  But part of me just wants him to take the first offer, regardless of salary, benefits, travel.  When you have been dealing with unemployment this long, you really start to throw out "non-negotiables."  Could we live off of half of what he made?  I don't know.  Could we financially afford a health insurance plan that required us to pay much, much more each month for Caroline's medications?  I don't know.  I would have to go to work in some capacity if that happens.  Lots of people do this all the time, but with Caroline's many doctor appointments and her uncanny ability to suddenly not be able to stay in a school this is not something that would be easy in the least.

And we are leaning against putting her back into the school she started at this fall.  Honestly, we think she needs to finish the year out homeschooling.  I just ordered the rest of a World History curriculum from Sonlight.  We want her to have the full benefit of the Learning RX brain training program for the rest of the year without having to deal with homework on top of that.  Are we crazy? Maybe.  Nothing is easy with these kids, and as we have absolutely ruled out public high school for now (we would lose her to the wrong crowd in a heartbeat,) we have to find ways of educating her that work for her and for us.

Oh, and now we have introduced the Pill to clear up her skin, which is the worst it has ever been.  We took her back to the gyn, the dermatologist and psychiatrist to discuss this option as the estrogen based pills will reduce her Lamictal levels in her blood.  But now they have come out with a super low dose bc pill called Lo Loestrin, only 10 mg of estrogen.  So the hope is it will clear up her acne but not affect her Lamictal levels too much.  As a precaution we have slowly increased the Lamictal by a small amount.  The Lamictal is basically her anti-depressant as she has never been able to take any anti-depressant without mania as a side effect.   So far all is good.  Her skin hasn't shown big improvement yet, but it will take a few months before we truly know if this is working.

I hope your New Year brings peace for you and your bp child.

God Bless You.