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, September 4, 2013

College Lacrosse or No?

Such a big decision. Do we allow her to go on the recruiting circuit, with coaches contacting her from around the country, or do we put this dream to rest, as an impractical one.  Being bipolar is hard, very hard.  Life is ten times more challenging.  College will be very challenging.  Playing lacrosse plus college, maybe far too much.  As a junior, life moves very quickly through the end of high school.  She still has the SATs, the ACTS, college visits, applications, and so much more.   Yet her dream of playing college lacrosse has been what has kept her marching on despite everything.  I am not sure what would happen if that dream dies.  Praying for wisdom.


Anonymous said...

I would think the bigger question would be "Will she be able to cope with college--period?" If that's a yes, then ask, "Could she attend a local college and live on campus with us just providing occasional assistance?" If that answer is yes (including totally managing her meds, appts, etc), then ask "Could she cope with college some distance away, with parent physical support provided only on holidays?" If you're still easily answering yes, then ask "Would we be dependent on a scholarship and the HIGH demands such a thing brings?" Remember, college athletes are expected to devote about 30 hours a week to their sport when on a scholarship. They miss a LOT of class when traveling for play. If that answer is no, then ask, "Do you have the means to make this happen?" If the answer is still yes, and her dream is alive and she is doing most of the work to make it happen now, while she is in high school, then you might just have your answer.

Good luck!

Megan said...

Thank you for the advice! Yes, I think that the challenges ahead are numerous. Perhaps we need to do a reality check. Just managing her meds and classes might be enough. Bipolar disorder is so unfair, isn't it? I know she can accomplish a lot in life, but at her own pace, on her own timeline.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I have a 16 yo with Asperger's, ADHD and mood disorder NOS. We are beginning the college process (ACT coming up in 2 weeks). Luckily, my dd realizes she isn't ready to leave home and we have a good university locally, so that is the plan. She is a talented swimmer and could likely get a scholarship but between her motivation and the need for more time for simply getting class stuff done--no way!

Is Lacrosse played as an intramural sport at college? Sometimes the intramural stuff can satisfy the need for competition without all the pressure.

It is terribly unfair. I've been reading about local kids going away to college and finding their ways on FB and it just seems WORLDS away from my world. It's hard to not get depressed or bitter sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I so very much don't want this to come across as insensitive. However,it may,although that is certainly not my intent. I discovered your blog fairly recently and have read the archived material,as well, with great interest. I have wanted to let you know several times that perhaps a check-in as to the tremendous services,support 'Caroline' receives from different types of professionals (including education staff!) and you might be an idea. She is a very lucky young lady! The things you have provided and fought for are far above what lots of Americans can receive. :-(

When you comment that Bipolar Disorder isn't fair,it makes me wonder about a lot of things. First,being Christian,you realize God has a plan and wants us to also use free will,of course. This is a cliche' but life is not fair. I have Bipolar 1Disorder. If the thought,"Why me?" enters my mind,which really happens rarely,reflecting upon it,I am immediately filled with God's influence as I reframe with "Why not me?" This is automatic.

I am an adult. I have multiple comorbid psychiatric dx's. I have been receiving professional help since about age 13. I made my first suicide attempt at 8 or 9 y.o. and didn't tell anyone for a couple of decades. I had very few of the things you advocate and do for and with 'Caroline.' I managed my own meds as of age 13. I did a good job. I struggle today,but have found a unique compromise,for myself. There is the grey area between surviving and thriving. It is striving. Just from what you have shared in the blog,I can see thay concept helping 'Caroline' greatly. It was not okay for me to have such limited assistance,but there could have been far worse circumstances. What if you begin to step back? What about teaching your daughter to self-regulate and self-monitor more while she is still in high school? You will need written records and creativity will help! Trying this more vigorously than you have blogged about will give you the data to decide,with your daughter,what extra activities she can handle.

To be perfectly honest,from your blog,unless a lot improves across a number of areas,I can see a light class load at a local community college while living at home a realistic option. Really,there is nothing at all wrong with that. Many people without mental health challenges go this route for a vast number of reasons. There are typically many althletic options available,as well.

I empathize with your daughter greatly. I also appreciate your dedication and wish it had been available to me. I simply think a large amount of care is being given to your daughter and slowly she must learn that this level of care may not be available. The importance of self-care and self-monitoring being introduced gradually would seem appropriate. Again,I am basing these opinions-and that is all they are-from your blog.

As a final point,I empathize with the physical "crud" that is common with psychiatric disorders. I have fibromyalgia and probably did from childhood. I get sick more often than others in general. I also seem to be the one that sprains that darned ankle or ends up with knee surgery!

Please take good care. I know you will. Bless you and your's.

katie said...

what a huge decision that is! wow. will be praying for your family. i've tried several times to leave comments on your blog over the summer but it was always on my phone and it doesn't seem to want me to do that anymore... :) so glad to see school is going ok for her now and that your summer was ok. 5 years and no hospitaliztions? that is amazing!!! thank you Lord! it's amazing to read through all your earlier posts and see how well she's doing now. :) will be praying for your decisions about her future. God's already got it worked out, and it will be for her best, whatever it is. keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

Hi Megan!

I wrote the above email (prior to Katie's). I wanted to offer the page P.R.O.W.D. in case you wanted to check it out. I could see it providing some company to you and I think you could be of tremendous service to the group! Many Blessings!!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I know it's hard to maintain any daily or long-term activities being bipolar, but people with mental disorders can also study and work and have a "normal" life. I have borderline personality disorder. I've noticed that bipolar disorder and BPD have a few symptoms in common. I can't keep a job for more than a year or a few months, but treatment works. I know it's cliché, but the most important things to help us function is understanding, love and support.

I wish you the best :)

Anonymous said...

Veronica,Hi! BPD is not the same as Bipolar Disorder. There are similarities as you pointed out. Thing is,whatever the diagnosis may be,lots of parents and patients will not consider keeping a job a few monthes to a year or so,an acceptable way to live. Lots of people don't consider this to be functioning normally. You make a wonderful point about understanding,support and love! Gosh,if only we all had more of that,huh?

Megan said...

Hi Anonymous! I have not been monitoring my blog for the last couple of weeks, but I wanted to respond. Thank you so much for your input. I always appreciate hearing from other's perspectives, I really do.

I always tell my kids that life was never supposed to be "fair." I absolutely believe that God is sovereign, and so what happens to us is all part of a bigger plan. When I said that bipolar disorder isn't "fair," I should have put that in the context that suffering never seems "fair," but it is all used by God to shape our character, even the most difficult of trials.

I liked the term you used "striving" between surviving and thriving. We are no longer just surviving here, perhaps not totally thriving, but definitely working out the kinks. I think thriving for Caroline looks different than for a teen without bp disorder. We will take striving.

Yes, she needs to become more independent in terms of self-care. She has taken much bigger responsibility for taking her meds, though she still forgets now and then. I am actually not checking her grades very much in the online high school because I want her to take responsibility there, which she is. She knows she has to get a certain GPA to get into the college she wants, which, fortunately, isn't unattainable. I wish she would decide she just wants to live at home and go to community college or the local university. I am not sure yet if this is something we need to really push. We will if we think this is absolutely what needs to happen. I think we will decide next summer. She is so determined. Sometimes determination is the key to achieving something great. So hard to stand in the way of such drive.

I think I am actually more concerned about how she will operate in the working world than in college. She hasn't even held a job, and I think she needs to do this before she goes to college. There is a lot to a job like showing up, following directions, honesty, work ethic, etc, that I think she needs to exhibit. Of course, I don't know what kind of job would be best. She isn't that great with math, so a cashier is out. Maybe something sports related.

Megan said...

Veronica, I do understand what Borderline Personlality Disorder looks like, as a dear friend has it, as well as BP disorder. She really struggles to keep a job. She went through tremendous sexual abuse when she was younger. i feel that if she hadn't, she likely would just have the Bipolar diagnosis and she would be much more successful in her profession. I hope that Caroline will be able to keep a job, but at this point, we just don't know how well she will manage her illness without us there to make sure she takes her meds, goes to the psychiatrist, etc. She knows she needs to stay on top of things, but we shall see.

Megan said...

Katie, thanks for the encouragement! Hope you are doing well also!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Megan!
I am "Anonymous!" Thank you so very much for taking the time to respond. My name is Bridget and I really relate to your family,including Caroline. I can look back and see the impact the disorder had on my family. This is tough. I would guess Caroline may go through this.

I think it's great that you are giving Caroline the gift of getting to know herself with you still being able to intervene and advocate.

Could I email with you?

God Bless,

Megan said...

Hi Bridget! I would love to email! meganbstack@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am a BP/ADD adult with a BP/ADHD child who was diagnosed in junior HS. I was diagnosed shortly after. Always knew something wasn't quite right after traumatic events I lived through and mental health genetic links, but I digress. BP IS terribly unfair and also our fate, which I accept. I spent thousands of dollars to get my son an educational advocate to hold the HS up to the requirements for learning disabled children so he could pass HS. Going away to school? Holding a job in HS? For him.... Too much stress. He lives at home and attends a junior college while working part time. Unfortunately his goals were far too big after HS. Rather than tell him 'no' we took him down the path. Just the process of visiting schools, looking at dorms, etc caused him stress and anxiety. He still needed us. The benefit to being BP (sounds crazy) is how gifted we are in the artistic fields. My son is a tenor and studies Sound Engineering. He is at the top of his class and has finished the work for the rest of his semester in the first 4 weeks. He was recognized for his talent all thru HS unlike his academics. My son had learning disabilities while I was very high functioning, another unfair aspect for him to live with.. I had to build up his feelings of success because of his low self-esteem and academic struggles. A lot of baby-steps, acknowledgment, bumps, and wins. I'm sorry not all kids get what he got. Many slip through the cracks. Then again, it's all about fate and why we are here. Just wish I was a tall thin blonde.instead of BP. good luck with your daughter!

Anonymous said...

See how your girl's junior year goes -- academically while playing varsity lacrosse -- and reevaluate towards the end of the year. It sounds like she's been very stable for 1+ year, so there's a good chance she might be in a position to play in college.

I'm nearly thirty and am bipolar (had an alphabet soup of diagnoses as a kid, but was ill enough to have required a psychiatrist, mess and the odd in-patient stay as a grad schooler). I also went away to college on a full academic scholarship -- and graduated with honors.