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Old 09-05-2008, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 14.5 yo DS was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and an explosive mood/rage disorder. Yeah it's a lot but it sums up what he goes through. Things have gotten progressively worse over the past 5 years and it was not until the proverbial crapola hit the fan that anyone "heard" me.

He has been in 2 psychiatric facilities and we've gotten some really great resources out of that. Since May, he is doing well as long as he takes his medication and stays away drama with his friends. This week he missed THREE doses and things went to you-know-where in a handbasket very quickly. We are trying hard to keep things calm minute by minute and hope he'll make it through the weekend at home.

His main problems are high/severe fire setting risk and substance abuse. He is clean/sober for now, as he is being randomly drug testing and is on probation until his trial (assault which under the influence). I, and everyone else, feel that when the drug testing (accountibility) goes away, he will go back to using. He uses drugs and fire as a coping tool, it seems, and had a Fire Psych Eval intervention. Right now, their recommendation is for DS to move to a residential facility (not lockdown) where he can attend "school", maintain regular in patient therapy and get some appropriate coping skills. We've got a few more puzzle pieces to fit in before we decide about this.

But anyway, life is hard. Very, very hard for all of us. I am terrified pretty much every single day about what life is going to bring. I visualize the brother from "I Know This Much Is True" (Wally Lamb) because that seems to be the projected outcome people see.

Anyone else here living with a mentally ill child or teen? I'm feeling pretty alone.
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Old 09-05-2008, 10:58 PM
 
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I have been skating around the mental illness issue with a six year old who is probably bipolar. I have had a very little glimpse of how difficult your life has been, and is today. I just wanted to offer you good thoughts and support. I know it must be isolating, and heartrending, and a huge struggle. I wish for stability for your son, and for you and your family. I highly recommend CABF (Child and Adolescent Bipolar) as a place of support for the types of things you are going through. Good luck.
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Old 09-06-2008, 12:04 AM
 
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I couldn't read and not respond. My younger sister is bipolar and also was a substance abuser. although i was not the parent, i do probably have an idea of what your life is (and has been) like. my sister is leading as normal as life as possible for her now. she is 22 and has been drug and incident free for 5 years. the last 'event' was at 17 yrs old and landed her in juvie where they quickly realized she was more than they could handle and she was sent to a state run pysch hospital where she lived for 6? months, she came out determined to live a better life. she is obviously still on meds, and weekly doc appts. she still lives with my parents but is a part time college student, set to graduate in a year, hopefully to do some sort of social work. She pretty much stopped attending school at 15.5 and formally dropped out at 16, she got her GED at 19, and honestly i, and my parents, believe she would not be where she is today if she had returned to school, it was not a good environment for her at all.
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Old 09-06-2008, 01:37 AM
 
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I have a 15 year old who is bipolar. As long as he takes his meds every day, he does well. When he doesn't, life is a very different thing. He spent 11 days in an inpatient psychiatric hospital in May due to suicidal thoughts and threats. He really started making great progress in late July.

What makes me sad/scared is seeing how different is he with meds. And you know what he tells me? That he doesn't see any difference in himself. : That scares me - because then what motivates him to continue taking the meds when he doesn't have our outside motivation applied to him? KWIM? I know so many people with bipolar that don't take their meds because they don't think they need it.

This is a kid that was failing last year and has high As in every class so far this year. He also has a much better attitude. His meds are letting the real him shine through.

I offer you support. You can contact me anytime to talk if you want to.
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Old 09-06-2008, 02:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks, mamas. it's good just to know there are others out there....really.

Your observation about medication is very spot on. My DS also says he doesn't notice but when pressed he'll admit "maybe a little calmer", etc. So I think sometimes it's a matter of not wanting to say, "yeah, I need this medication to make me normal" for him.

As for not returning to school I also understand that, DandeCobb! He is taking a year off (9th grade). I homeschool the other 2 and he's home with us this year. I cant imagine a worse place for him than our local high school right now...ooof. I'm not really concerned about a diploma or GED or life plans...I want him to get through each day at a time and feel good about it. Our goals are static and short term right now.

We are in Massachusetts and were referred to a program called CAP which is an assessment organization. They come in and do a very comprehensive assessment of his life and environment for about 8 weeks, then they decide to give our case to Dept of Mental health or Dept of Social Services. CAP also hooks us up with lots of social programs paid for by the state such as: the Fire Psych Eval, Key tracking program, mentoring, family counseling, a crisis management team, etc. THAT has all be 100% key in keeping us on the path of sanity...Im telling you. "It takes a village" doesn't even begin to cover it.

I joined a Yahoo group for parents of bipolar teens and adolescents but it's very, very active and I cant keep up., My messages are always lost in the shuffle of the 100 some-odd messages posted each day.

I'd like to find a support group locally. I have to call our health insurance and see about that.

One thing I know helps DS is family time. It is critical to keep encouraging (and bribing!) him to participate in our weekly game or movie nights, go on family outings, etc. He needs the input and support of his family but does not know how to ask for it, you know?

bah. It's all so tough!

I have a strong family history of mental illness. Bipolar and schitzophrenia, to be specific. So at least I am not brand new to it all, but it's devastating to a family. When they handed me this tiny, pink, squirmy bundle of love and told me to take care of him I NEVER EVER EVER dreamed life would be this way, 14 years later. I know my baby is in there...I see glimpses of him sometimes. We jsut have to keep coaxing him out, I guess.

thanks for listening to me and sharing your stories. I hope we all can support each other a little.
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Old 09-06-2008, 02:46 AM
 
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For me personally the people I love that are bipolar are older 20s and 30s, but prob were as teens or at least beginning that cycle then. For one we helped him get diagnosed at 21 after years of substance abuse and finally rehab. He is doing so much better now; the other had a "newer" form (bipolar 2 depressive) so was tougher to get diagnosed, took years and almost my sanity. But please take it from me I have never seen such a change. The right meds (and that can take a while) in the right dose and, you get them back, so to say.

This issue is so close to my heart. Thank you from a momma who wishes those I love with the diagnosis had a momma who did what you did... who got help. They are so trapped in their chemical imbalance and can lose hope.

Are you seeking routine counseling as well? That has been darn near as important as the meds, I must admit. Alot of it is hereditary, but alot of the triggers appear environmental so therapy can help with that side while the meds help with the chemical stuff.

Stay on top of his meds. What may work initially may need to be reduced, upped, or removed from the mix all together. I think too when he begins to feel the positive changes, not just know you see changes, he will feel better about taking the meds regularly...sort of like kids who are diabetic or asthmatic.

Feel free to PM me as well if you need an ear or have any questions. My BFF is a therapist at our local mental hospital and was a key in getting the ones I love diagnosed. I can field alot of questions through her if you'd like. She was a life saver for me, I know that! Good luck momma... hang in there.
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Old 09-06-2008, 03:40 AM
 
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As I was reading, I thought dang, that sounds just like my ds. Except the drug use. I am so confused on all the diagnosis' that I am really not sure what to think about my ds.
My heart goes out to you. I am so sorry you are going thru this. I know how you feel. My son had a major explosion today. We were in the pool and all I could think of was don't drown the kid, it will get better. Sorry, just kidding.
But honestly it is very hard. I just posted about my son and the meds he is on.
I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.
{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}
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Old 09-07-2008, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Are you seeking routine counseling as well? That has been darn near as important as the meds, I must admit. Alot of it is hereditary, but alot of the triggers appear environmental so therapy can help with that side while the meds help with the chemical stuff.
Do you mean for him or myself? DS sees a therapist weekly that he likes very much (although he disappeared 4 weeks ago and we have been unable to reach him...whole 'nother story). And he also is followed by a great psychiatrist who manages his medications and talks about side effects and such with him.

DS also is followed by a Key program, which tracks his whereabouts every minute of the day and offers him peer relationships with healthy people. They go on "recreation" which is outings of his choosing either weith a group or just with the mentors from the program (they see a movie, go golfing, bowling, whatever the kid wants to do). This is in addition to the CAP program. So he does have a great system of support.

As for myself, I do need counseling. I think family therapy for all of us (without DS) is necessary but it's been impossible to schedule in and pay for at the moment. ironically, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder recently and while that was a huge "aha!" moment for my family and myself, I have had to sort of shuffle it to the back burner while I deal with DS and his issues. It's a catch-22: getting treatment myself will likely mean I'll be stronger as a supporter and parent in the long run but to do that I'd need to sort of sit back and re-experience things I don't feel I can handle right now. Time is critical at the moment and my son is sort of hanging on the edge of a cliff...he needs me to be there and be his mom right now. I just cant move my focus away from that to deal with my own crap, you know?

Rivermom, are you seeking help for your DS? Mine was in counseling for years with various diagnosis of depression, anxiety, etc but it was not until he had a true breakdown and had to go into emergency psych treatment that we got down to the REAL business of what was happening. I hope other parents can avoid having to go about it that way If he is with a therapist you trust, be honest with your fears and ask for help.
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Old 09-09-2008, 04:59 PM
 
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My DD15 was just diagnosed last month. I've been trying to find a good support forum. Anyone here belong to one? She was first diagnosed with panic disorder and anxiety at 10 yrs, we just weaned her from the zoloft and started her on meds for bipolar but she's been somewhat manic lately and I'm looking for parents that can relate to this to talk to.
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:38 PM
 
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Sweet Pea has Multi-complex Developmental Disorder, which means she is on both the Autistic and Schizophrenic spectrums. She is sixteen years old.

Snapdragon, my 13 year old, has been diagnosed with Aspergers, NVLD, and ODD. Emotionally, he is perhaps five-six years old.

We have not had to use psychiatric facilities yet, although we have come close for Sweet Pea, and it's something we keep our eyes on but pray we never need.
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Old 09-10-2008, 01:40 AM
 
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i dont have experience parenting a child w/those problems but i have had friends..i hope he has a good friend to help him through for his sake and yours! (((HUGS)))

Stacy: Mommy 2: S, N, F, and : edd 1/12/11 praying for : or maybe : if DH will come around!
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Old 09-22-2008, 06:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh things are not going well. It seems like everything is great but then we find evidence in his room that he is lighting fires up there (NUMBER ONE, non negotiable rule in this house!!). We went through 2 weekends of hell with that, confronting him, trying to institute consequences, etc. Fact is, he is violating probation and breaking the "contract" we made when he last came home from the hospital.

The fire psych evaluator feels he needs long term, residential placement and we (family) tend to agree, which is heartbreaking. The problem is, of course, MONEY. DMH, the school dept, health insurance are all fighting about who foots the bill and have all hired their OWN investigators so we have to do this whole process again....3 more times! Meanwhile, I think we are in danger. The police are unlikely to get involved because he is not actively "burning the walls down" (their words) and is not combative or violent. They say, "call the therapist". The therapist says, "call the caseworker". The caseworker says, "call the police".

What the heck? How did we get to this place?!? I am dangling off a ledge here with no hope of a soft landing. I have NO IDEA what to do.
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Old 09-23-2008, 06:25 AM
 
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Stinkerbell,
My heart goes out to you. I so know how you feel. I am going thru the same thing with my son. He is 15, and is having almost identical problems. Thank God we are not having the issue of drug use. But the fire starting, the no one wanting to help us, the moods, the constant problems.
So far my son has so many dx's that there is no way I can remember them all. And I keep telling the drs all the dx's in the world don't help, we need to have help with him.
I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
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Old 09-23-2008, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, Rivermom. ironically, my DS's pagan name is River.

More stuff happened yesterday and all involved (DMH, case worker, crisis team, etc) all feel strongly that he needs to go into crisis now. Today.

Im actually relieved, as he is clearly a danger to himself. But its so scary to go through this again.
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Old 09-23-2008, 12:33 PM
 
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That is ironic about your son's pagan name,
Good luck today. We take my son in on Thursday, and they are admitting him, hopefully they can help him.
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Old 09-23-2008, 12:49 PM
 
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My now 18 year old son is Bipolar,ADHD,FAS,anxiety/mood disorders,Exsplosive disorder and a host of others...

As bad as yours..I was a single working mom and he wouldn't take his meds and the trouble was bad..Assault on teachers,ect...I barely made it until he was 18..It seemed like until he got into the real bad trouble I couldn't get any help..The authorities all acted like I was just tierd of being a "mom" and wanted to dump my problems on the system..But once the courts got involved it was awhole different story..He had mandated anger mangt.classes which he had already been taking for a year..

He wouldn't go to school..didn't matter if he did anyway cause they would just call me to let me know they called the police cause he was raging again..He was getting specialty services thru the school and thru lifeskills,counceling,anger classes ect..it was a terrible time for me..Holes in my walls,nights of wondering where he was...The raging..God it was awful...

I sent him away with the support of his therapist to a facility for a couple weeks to let him know I wasn't going tolerate this stuff..He did try a bit after that..Cause he was told his next stop was across the state to a teen lockdown facilitly across the state and his stay there would be a minimum of 6-8 months..I finally just signed him out of school..It was torture for them and me and didn't do any good to make him go..I told him the door was locked at 10:00 and if he wasn't home by then he had to sleep on the porch..two nights of it and he was in by his curfew..The first night of him sleeping outside(it was warm)I stayed awake on the couch most of the night listening to him move around on the patio furniture and occasionally knocking to be let in..It was hard..But I knew I had to stand my ground..(and anyone can flame me all they want but you dont know what it is like living like this until you have a child like this)..Like I said a couple nights of it and he got home on time..He is now living in an assisted type HUD apartment with his equally challenged girlfreind..I help in the way of taking them to get their groceried,pay their bills ect..Take them too their therapist appointments when they are willing to go(which they never do)..I also have sole permanant custody of their 1 year old daughter and will have custody of any future kiddos as well..(hopefully there won't be)..They cannot parent at all.We(the docs,therapists ect..are doing all we can to councel them about this)..

That said my son and I get along better than we have in years now that he is in his own space and can live in filth and come and go as he pleases..he can smoke and do his substance abuse ect...without my interference..The baby isn't allowed over there and they have supervised visitation in my home..They are never allowed out of my sight with her.They pop in about once a month...So....

I will tell you the same advice my/and my son's therapist told me..at some point you have to let go..Sometimes it is in their best interest to let others help them..And since your son is still a young teen you may be reluctant to send him to the facility but I encourage you to think about it..Cause it isn't going to go away..It will only get worse..He needs more help than you can give him at home..Let him get it..I so feel you pain..I have been there.

Feel free to ignore me or post mail me if you want to talk..It is so hard...I know...
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Old 09-29-2008, 06:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, Mylie, for your honesty. I pray that things wont get to that point but at least I know we can live through it if it does. ooof.

he did not end up in crisis. Long story short: I knew he was not actively in crisis at that moment and if the crisis worker decided to send him home, that report would be harmful in our attempts to get him long term help.

bah. Rough days.
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