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, March 30, 2012

Mathnasium is the Bomb!

I just have to shout that Caroline got her first 100% on an Algebra lesson!!  Oh how I wish we had known about Mathnasium a long time ago, but I think they are fairly new to our area.  She is now doing Algebra first thing in the morning, eagerly, because she "gets" it.  Money well spent!!  If I lived in a town without one, I would find a way to buy a franchise because the way they tutor really works.  One on one three days a week, using your child's own curriculum.  Perfect.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Really Wish I Had Some Manic Energy Right Now

I would never wish mania upon anyone, adult or teen or child, but when I hear about the things some people accomplish while they are way too "up" I get a little jealous when I seem to have no energy at all.  No amount of caffeine seems to help me these days.  Or exercise.  I think that the task of getting our house ready to put on the market combined with the responsibility of  homeschooling, combined with no time in my house by myself has amounted to more depression for me.  I just want to sit and stare at the walls but of course I can't.

I made myself sort photos today, just sat there on the floor, boxes all around me, trying to purge the pics that the kids took of dead animals or whatever, and to save others from some horrible fate like being stuck together and fading rapidly.  That was all I could get myself to do.  But maybe that is OK.  One corner of the bedroom is filled with photo albums (mostly unfilled) and photos and report cards and picture frames (unfilled) and I have dreaded attacking this project for so long.  Because once you get into it, you can't really stop and it is very messy.  So now my bedroom is really, really messy, more so than it usually is.  So now I hate going in there even more.

Having a special needs child makes life messy.  Complicated. And interesting.  And you can't be "normal" because they are not "normal."  I envy those who have normal struggles.  I envy people whose kids are in school all day, five days a week.  They have clean houses.  And photos all neatly in Creative Memory albums.  And pretty bedrooms.  And time to meet friends for coffee.  One day...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Never Forget to Do This if You Encounter This Med Situation!

If you have a female bp child who is on bc pills for acne (or whatever), and on the mood stabilizer Lamictal, and you accidentally run out of the bc pills and they aren't in her med mix for a few days, DON"T FORGET TO LOWER THE LAMICTAL DOSAGE FOR THOSE DAYS.  I forgot, unfortunately, which meant that the  Lamictal levels in her blood jumped above what they should have been and she began to get blurred vision, headaches and exhibited other signs of being "off" including extreme irritability and no focusing ability at all for school.   I had heard about others having to do this adjustment, but I didn't think it would be so imperative, but it was.  We retrieved the LoLoestrin from the pharmacist and now she is back on schedule, so hopefully the blurred vision and headaches will dissipate shortly.  It is amazing how much of a balancing act this is for these kids between hormones, circadian rhythm changes and meds!!

 I don't know how she is going to manage her meds on her own when she is no longer living with us.  That is a scary thought.  I am so in tune to her subtleties, but she isn't always in tune with subtle changes in her moods that might mean trouble ahead.  I hope she can live near enough to us that we can always have a good feel as to how she is doing, if she taking her meds, if she seeing a good doctor, going to her psychologist on a regular basis, eating well, sleeping enough, etc.  We will have to let her grow up and be an adult and take responsibility for herself in all of these ways, but we hope it will not be a rude awakening, but rather a gentle hand-off.  Lots of prep time between now and then, that is for sure.  I need to test her over the summer to see if she can start taking her meds without us reminding her, asking her if she took them, reminding her again, because she needs to care enough about herself to take them on time, every day, so she can be a functional adult someday.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

March Madness

No, not the college hoopla over brackets, but the time of the year when the meds that seem to have worked all winter suddenly don't seem to be working so well now that spring is upon us.  Caroline's haven't entirely pooped out, thank goodness.  But we do need to up her Seroquel again.  I don't know if it is the extra sunlight or what, but agitation and explosivity start to show their ugly heads.  Doc appointment on Thursday will be helpful.  She was too whacked out today to do school effectively.  We will try again tomorrow.

Daylight Savings Time/Seasonal Changes

The change in the seasons always means a change in mood stability for people with bipolar disorder, and if you throw in the DST change, you have got some challenging days.  Caroline went back to bed this morning after she got up and ate breakfast because her sleep is all messed up.  Sigh.  I guess we will homeschool in the afternoon today.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Moving Along with the Move, Trusting God

My sister has been coming over to help me with organizing and pitching things out and laundry . Very grateful for her help.  I couldn't sleep last night.  My anxiety came roaring back like it likes to do sometimes.  I should have gotten out of bed and taken something else to help me sleep but I didn't.  Sometimes I just wonder if all of this is really going to happen: getting our house in order to sell, selling it, actually raising enough support to begin working for MCYM, packing up the house, moving, living off of much less than we had been used to before he lost his Navy job.  So many mountains.  I don't know what I would do without the promises of God, without His grace and forgiveness and forbearance towards me, towards us.  I don't think I have faced bigger obstacles than what is ahead of me in a very, very long time.  A real Red Sea to be parted and to walk through, and then a desert to cross before we hit the promised land so to speak.  God never promises us a life without trial and hardship.  He promises to be with us through them and to use those trials to purify our hearts, and to glorify Himself in our lives, and to give us adventures of which we never dreamed, completely impossible apart from Him.  We can raise a fist and blame Him for our trials,  or humbly say yes to the adventure that sometimes looks like suffering and receive blessing in the midst of pain.  He is our great blessing, our shield, our very great reward.  Genesis 15:1.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sisterly Love

After reading my sad post yesterday, my sisters blessed my day with sweet words of encouragement and a meal brought over and some very needed help with cleaning and organizing.  I don't what I would do without my sisters!  I spent the morning talking to my therapist about all that we are facing and how to handle different things.  She is a very wise older woman who always has fresh perspective for me to take in.  I am letting Mathnasium handle all of Caroline's Algebra and I am going to go ahead and get Rosetta stone Spanish for her too courtesy of a helpful donor so that I can truly focus on getting our house ready and not on the parts of homeschooling that take up so much of my day.  Jane homeschools herself essentially being so motivated, and I am going to have to let Caroline do the same with the right tools.  I just can't be as hands on with her and do all that needs to be done with the move.  I have to trust that God is going to get us through all of this, and Caroline through all of her subjects.  I have held on pretty tightly to her schooling and it isn't that I am letting go completely, but she is old enough to take responsibility for making sure it all gets done.  The schedule and assignments are all laid out for her in the Sonlight curriculum guide, so with the math and Spanish also covered by "tutors" , I think I can relax a bit and do what I need to do.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Prayer Needed Today

I must admit that I am struggling, really struggling, under the weight of the many pressures our family is under right now, from our lack of a paycheck for over a year and a half, to our debts from our spate of unemployment five years ago, to needing to quickly get a house on the market that needs a lot of repairs and paint and having to do it all ourselves, to the tremendous burden and responsiblity of homeschooling a child who has bipolar disorder and major learning disabilities and who needs extra and costly tutoring just to graduate from high school, to strained family relationships over money, to a large tax bill to the IRS for using our 401 K this year that I have no idea how we will pay, to the prospect of living on far less than we did when my husband was employed with the Navy when he does finally start work sometime this summer.  I am overwhelmed and discouraged and feeling hopeless. I know God is in control, that He has a plan, that He will bring good out of all of these trials, but today, I am just weeping. Pray that God will bring me out of the depression I have found myself in.  Depression sucks all the energy and life right out of me and it is a familiar and ugly foe.  I become paralyzed, stuck, unable to do simple things like pick up laundry off of the floor, or wipe down a kitchen table, much less homeschool.  I can't even pick up the phone to call a friend when I feel like this.  I am standing on the Solid Rock, but feeling the hurricane winds blowing against me and bending me over til I feel I might break.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sweet Sixteen is Sad for Caroline

Our precious Caroline turns 16 in a few days, but has no friends whom to invite to a party.  She has been very sad these last few days about how her sisters all have friends and things to do and places to go with them, but she sits at home, with no one to go to the mall with her , or to a movie, or anything.  Her pain is our pain.  Taking her out of the school after the first quarter was necessary as she was failing English, her best subject, because she couldn't remember grammar to save her life and the grammar was heavily weighted led to friendlessness all over again.  She was so discouraged to be failing when she should have been a straight A student that her emotions were affecting everything else.  Her concussions compromised her memory too much for her to succeed in this school.  We don't doubt our decision to subsequently homeschool her, but the ramifications are that she is friendless again.  When you are a 16 year old girl, with nothing to do outside of schooling at home because you can't play your favorite sport after an injury has sidelined you for the season, life is quite unbearable.  I wish we could do something to ease the pain of her loneliness.  Moving will help, as she can make a fresh start and make new friends, and hopefully will be able to stay in school for a whole year at a time.  I really can't wait to get to CO.  We need change.   Caroline needs new opportunities for school, church, and friends.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Text Anxiety Led to Skewed Results

Ugh.  I am kind of frustrated right now.  Caroline suffers from math test anxiety and has for years.  I remember when she was in the sixth grade and she was taking a homeschool math co-op class and the teacher said it was too easy for her and she needed to be in pre-Algebra.  So the pre-Algebra teacher attempted to give her the placement test and SHE COULD NOT TAKE THE TEST. She knew the material and completely froze up and blanked and couldn't prove she was ready for pre-Algebra!! So she went back to the class that she was bored in.  All because she couldn't take a test without freaking out.

Well, the Mathnasium assessment she did that we were able to take home with us showed many,  many problems that she had just skipped, easy ones.  Today when we were homeschooling I went back to my Saxon speed drill books and did some of the drills that were similar to the problems she said she couldn't do at Mathnasium, and SHE DID THEM JUST FINE!!! So I asked her what the problem was (the math tester was really shocked about how "little" she could do) and she said she blanked and froze up and just didn't want to try because she freaked out.  Great, so she may actually be much farther along than she tested.  So frustrating!!!!!  I thought she was past the major fear factor, but I guess she isn't.   I will of course explain this phenomenon to the math tutor on Wednesday and show her the work she did with me.

I am happy that she actually does remember lots of her pre-Algebra skills, but unhappy that she couldn't show it when it counted.  :(  Oh well, we just have to keep moving ahead.

We went through a major financial crisis today.  Not fun.  Being unemployed sucks, pardon my French.  The new job doesn't start until early in the summer and so we don't get paid until sometime in June, so we are still hanging on by a thread.  I thought I was going throw up today I was so stressed out.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mathnasium Testing and Verdict

Caroline had a math assessment done at Mathnasium yesterday, and let's just say that she shouldn't be taking Algebra I right now.  Sigh.  Her math learning disability evidenced itself in every problem.  She can't remember any of her pre-Algebra skills!!! And she has had two years of pre-Algebra!!!  She could do the basic algebra equations because that is what she is working on right now.  But she can't remember how to turn decimals into percentages and her word problem skills were dismal!  So this means that we have to go back to a seventh grade math level again in tutoring.  Knowing how poor her long term memory was when Learning RX tested her in October, we aren't surprised, just saddened.  Algebra may not be something she will finish this year before school starts in the fall.  In which case she may be doing some summer school in high school so she can get the four years of math that she needs to go to college.  And it is quite obvious now that she can never take a break from math in the summer.  She will need the constant reinforcement to not lose any ground she has made.  The hard part is that her 14 year old 8th grade younger sister is flying through Algebra this year, and Caroline is in the 9th grade and is turning 16 next week and can't get beyond pre-Algebra.  :(