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!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

When Illness Messes Up Medication Regimens

When your bp child gets sick, and can't hold down their medications, what do you do?  Last night Caroline got a stomach virus and couldn't keep down any of her night time meds, many of which are the mood stabilizers and the sleep inducing drugs (insomnia has been a life long issue.)  So she was up the WHOLE night because she couldn't fall asleep, and in the morning she was high as a kite, manic as I have seen her in ages, laughing uncontrollably, really sassy, feeling way too "good."  That's the problem with mania--it feels really good:  a ton of energy, silliness, an "expanded" mood as they say.  But it is dangerous.  I gave her the morning meds with a little extra added in to counterbalance the lack of meds last night.  Then she acted like she was going to throw them up, but I had put Zofran in the mix.  She turned out to be OK.  Now she is asleep and will likely sleep for hours.  If her stomach virus had continued to be an issue in the morning and throughout the day, resulting in 24 hours without meds, I would have had to take her to the ER for phenergan so we could get it under control enough to restabilize her.  So complicated!  But I know it isn't much different when a diabetic child gets sick and can't eat.  Then they have blood sugar issues with which to deal.  That is no fun at all and can damage their organs if it gets out of control.  I am not enjoying my Saturday thus far.  Going for a workout.  Endorphins are needed.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Nurture or Nature, Genetics or Environmental Impact?

I often wonder about the origin of early-onset bipolar disorder, Aspergers, autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and so on.  In my extended family of four sisters, we have two nephews from two different sisters with Aspergers, another  with Autism and a host of significant physical problems, my own child with early onset bipolar disorder and ADHD and learning disabilities,  and a sensory processing disorder.   My dad was exposed to nuclear radiation in the 1950s as a young Marine when he was assigned to watch nuclear explosions with many other service men in the desert in Nevada before any of his children were conceived.  He died of CML leukemia at the age of 56.  My younger sister and I were likely exposed to toxic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune when in high school, a problem stemming from practices that had been going on for decades before contaminated wells were shut down in the mid to late 1980s.  So I wonder:  were our genes somehow negatively affected by these exposures, or is this all a coincidence having this many brain "issues" within one family?  We shall never know, I guess. And does it make all that much of a difference except that it might cause one to choose organic over pesticide-laden foods, or all-natural cleaners over chemicals, or purified water in stainless steel bottles over BPA contaminated drinking water in plastic?  But the thought is interesting to consider.  With the huge rise in autism in our country, I think there are environmentally related reasons combined with genetic predispositions that might be the cause of the explosion in diagnoses.  Or maybe it is just caused by environmental factors like chemical or radiological exposure.  Just a guess.  What do you think?

Military Community Youth Ministries, Here We Come!

My husband's new job is with Military Community Youth Ministries, an ecumenical ministry to military brats in the US and around the world.  He will be at the home office in Colorado Springs in a leadership role, overseeing others who are serving Christ and kids in the military community in this way.  If you are interested to know more about MCYM and how your child might get involved with this non-profit that provides mentorship and leadership training, please go to:  www.mcym.org.  We hope to move to Colorado by early June to start this new adventure.  If you have some good recommendations on counselors and psychiatrists in Colorado Springs for Caroline, please let me know!  Also, MCYM is tightly related to Young Life, for which we used to work for 12 years.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Just venting:  I can't wait unti my youngest child is completely autonomous with her homework.   That's all.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mathnasium: Fun Math Tutoring for Kids Who Hate Math

I have found a wonderful math tutoring business called Mathnasium.  We have one in our area, of which I was unaware until yesterday, but their sites are found around the country.  Unlike Sylvan, they specialize in math tutoring only and use the same curriculum that your child is using (they will order a book for the tutor at Mathnasium to keep on hand) and use methods that turn your child from a math hater into a math lover.  We may enlist them if we can afford it, because Caroline is just not getting Algebraic concepts.  Learning RX is helping, but we can't let her fall behind in Algebra I if she hopes to move on to Geometry in the fall.  www.mathnasium.com.


Caroline has had two migraines in this last week bad enough to land her in the ER.  Poor kid.  If it isn't one thing, it is another.  We don't think it is medication related, but rather that she has inherited my tendency to get migraines when a low pressure system moves in (cold and rainy) combined with another factor:  forgetting to eat, watching too much TV/Computer time, major stress, not enough sleep, etc.

So they shoot her up with Toredol, Benadryl and Fenergan with IV fluids.  Works everytime.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

He has a JOB and we begin a new life!

My husband has been offered a job in Colorado Springs working for a youth ministry there.  We are SO excited, and Caroline is just thrilled to be able to start over again in a new town, with such natural beauty all around.  We hope to move by the end of the school year, but we need to sell our house,and a few other things need to fall into place.  The salary is about $50,000 less than what he made a few years back, when he had a job, but after all we have been through, I don't care.  And the cost of living is a bit better out there, and we already have a house someone has offered to rent to us for a very reasonable amount.  The kids will go to public school, except for Caroline if we think she still needs to be homeschooled.  I may need to get a part time job to make it all work, but that's ok.  We are just so glad we know now where we are going and what we are doing.  If you do pray, please pray that our house will sell for a decent amount in this struggling economy as we do need the proceeds very badly.

Thank you God, for your faithfulness to us through this whole long journey.  We see His hand in all of this, in the timing and in the waiting.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"Yes, She Really Does Need To Take This Many Meds"

I really hate it when I have to take Caroline to a doctor who isn't a psychiatrist and they look at her list of meds and immediately begin to question me, or interrogate might be a better word, as to why she is on so many meds and at such high doses, who put her on these, who diagnosed her as bipolar, and etc.  I find my self instantly going on the defense, tensing up, putting on my, "I am every bit as intelligent as you are and much more well versed in the latest research in psychiatric conditions and meds and I can go toe to toe with you on any one of these meds" mode.

I had to take Caroline to the ER last night because she had a horrible migraine and couldn't stop throwing up.  The doctor came into the room with many questions about her med mix and I calmly, but firmly, explained that they were all indeed necessary, and she is very much bipolar.  He kind of backed off when he realized I wasn't some uneducated bimbo mom who just wanted to drug up her unruly kid.  I am SO glad for the Balanced Mind Foundation and for the book The Bipolar Child that revolutionized thinking about bipolar disorder in children and for the research that has shown that, unfortunately, a cocktail of meds is usually what brings stability to these kids, not just one or two psych meds.  We ALL wish this weren't the case.  I don't enjoy filling up Caroline's weekly pill dispenser with dozens of pills.  She doesn't enjoy swallowing them and I truly wish she didn't have to take any of them.  I sincerely wish she could take less of them, much less.  We have tried.  It has never worked.  She becomes unstable and she suffers and we all suffer.  So pardon my French, but just shut up about what you really don't know, doc.  If you aren't a psychiatrist, just zip it.  And if you are an uneducated, arrogant psychiatrist (they are plenty out there who still don't believe kids can be bipolar), just shut up. After almost eight years of doing this,  I do believe I am the best judge of what works for my kid, thank you.