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, 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?


Morgan S. said...

New reader of your blog and commented on your Vyvanse + Intuniv post. I was wondering if you still use this combo and if it is still effective? I just started my ADHD Kindergartener (6 yrs) on it after trying and failing with other meds. He's a sweet boy, but just needs to be able to calm down and also not have the aggressive side effects of the "come-down" phase each day on stimulants alone. Any advice you can offer is much appreciated. :-) www.justhadabrightidea.blogspot.com

Megan said...

Hi Morgan. I am sorry that you are having such difficulties with your son and ADHD meds. We aren't using Vvyanse right now but a combination of Intuniv at night and Concerta in the am. and a small dose of Ritalin around 3 because we need her to stay focused until all her homework is done! Intuniv seems to work best at a dose of 2 or 3mg, from what I understand. 1 mg often isn't enough, and 4mg makes kids very sleepy. But it takes a few weeks to titrate up to 3 mg. Hang in there! Let me know how it goes!

Jennifer Schneider said...

I am so glad I was able to find a blog I can relate to! I will be creating my own blog as well to hopefully reach out to other parents who also deal with very similiar issues and journaling my years of frustation and quite frankly "hell" with my son who is now 11 and suffers from ADHD, mood disorder, anxiety disorder and Bi-polar with a couple of diagnoses yet to be discovered. He is currently in a inpatient pediatric pyschological hospital. He needs to become a residential, long term patient with a therapy ranging from 10 months to a year, however, as you know insurances dictate and until I can find financial assistance or state issued insurance for him my BCBS plan that we pay a lot for will not cover for that type of long term care. I am so intrigued by this nurture or nature article. It has always been a question to me as well and has always peeked my curiosity. I truly believe that environmental factors weighs heavily on a lot of our health problems that we deal with on a daily basis and I just wish there was a magic answer that we could abide by on a daily basis that would lead us away from all of these environmental woes but that would also be affordable and easy to adapt to but I have yet to discover that whole package....haha. The genetics thing is such a science that I would love to delve more into; the brain alone is a science that is still yet to be discovered. The doctors know quite a bit about the brain, however, it is such a complex organ that takes on so many different facades, it is the control center for our personality, attributes, attitude, intelligence and physical well being that I feel sometimes it doesn't get enough credit and there are somethings that they just haven't discovered yet. I have been in the medical field for 14 years and worked in obstetrics and perinatology (high risk pregnancy) and so being around a genetics specialist was quite interesting and I have seen different abnormalities that came about in utero but I still am trying to understand most of it. I was a single mom for quite sometime but with my son who is 11 I was with his biological father for about three years and in that time he was physically and mentally abusive. When my 11 year old was 18 months he witnessed the "last straw" and while the "sperm donor" thrashed me around, beat me and left me on the floor my son was trying to push him away from me yelling "my mommy, my mommy" what a troubled scene as you can imagine. I had a normal pregnancy and delivery. I was overdue by about three days and because I have a 14.5 son and had a very hard, overdue and troubled labor and delivery and ended up with a c-section, my doctor and I decided since I was my cervix had decided not to cooperate once again that we would schedule a c-section. So everything was all hunky dory. Since I worked at the hospital that I delivered and knowing everyone, my very good friend who was a midwife was able to bring my son to me right in post-op which we tend not to do and I was able to breastfeed him right away and he latched on like a champ so it was this 18 month old incident that to me caused the downhill effect on the brain and has made the struggles come about in the next few years of his life.

Jennifer Schneider said...

The "sperm donor" has never seen him since that day, he has never paid child support or has been around him in anyway per my request so the "nature" part of this villain is not there. He was married previously and had two girls of whom to this day are perfectly normal older teenagers, who excel in academics and sports with no know psychological or mental travesties that anyone is aware of. He signed off on them many, many years ago so once again the "nature" villain was not involved in their lives either. So it kills me knowing how big of a genetic pre-disposition my son has to this abusive, anger, psychotic tendency. I have been nothing but loving, patient and supportive to my son. I have been his soccer coach for six years now but nothing seems to get through to him. Years of therapy, multitude of different meds and yet have to find the right combonation. It has caused so much heart ache on the family dynamics. Anyway I apologize if I have vented too much haha but I just wanted to say thank you for your blog and your article and I coudn't agree with you more with your sentence of "environmentally related reasons combined with genetic predispositions that might be the cause of the explosion in diagnoses". I wish you all the best!

Megan said...

Jennifer, I am so glad you found this blog and that you could vent here. I am so sorry for the heartache you have gone through. I do understand, though I haven't had to be a single mom. I can only imagine how much harder it is do be doing it alone like this. I will pray that your son gets the long term residential care he needs. We had to do that, and it was worth it, but I know that it is sooo expensive and that many health insurance companies balk. You will find blogging cathartic. Sometimes I feel like I say too much here, but then again, people like you write and share how much it helps them to know they are not alone, and so, I keep writing. Please keep in touch!! I would love to read your blog. Yes, the whole genetic thing is a mystery that I wish they could unravel. I wish they could cure bipolar disorder in the womb, or with stem cell treatments. This is an awful, awful disorder to live with.