Hello. This is the first time I've posted on this board. Recently(6 weeks ago) we've had a young man, a friend of my sons, come to live with us because his mom kicked him out. She signed him over basically and is in the process of losing her two younger kids through social services.
My son had told me a long time ago this boy has bipolar disorder and had been on abilify but wasn't on it any longer. We never really discussed it further. This boy has been coming to our home for 2 yrs and I had never noticed any of the symptoms mentioned here. Well, last night my son came downstairs and said his friend was crying and he didn't know what to do. I mean this kid was sobbing very loudly and it lasted about 20-30 minutes. Afterwards my husband talked with him alone and he said he was just feeling so much stress about his mom and siblings and feeling he had grown up too fast and missed a lot of stuff because his mom was/is very abusive and neglectful. He has missed so much school that now being 17 the school has asked a judge to order him to just get his GED. He only has 3 credits so he'd be in high school for 3-4 more yrs. This all has to do with his mother, it isn't his fault, he is a child. I have NEVER seen any other bipolar symptoms, nothing, only the incident last night. I think that was stress related. Overall he is a bright and happy kid, very social and never been in trouble. I just don't see the bipolar???? Could he have been misdiagnosed? He said he used to get really angry with his mom because of the problems in the home and would yell and things like that and that's when a doctor told him he was bipolar. Wouldn't I notice something? I swear this is the only thing out of the ordinary since I've known him and since he's been living here - never angry, never yells, etc., never sad, or manic - nothing. Should I take him to a doctor after this incident? He also has some problems sleeping at night but I think it is because his schedule is messed up. He worked nights for a long time when his mom pulled him out of school.
Welcome and bless you for being an angel to this boy. I'm sure others will post soon with some helpful suggestions for you. I think you are right to question the "diagnosis." Unfortunately it has become one of those labels that is thrown around lately and is attached to many behaviors that really are something other than bipolar disorder. After what he's been through I would think some therapy would be in order regardless of whether he is bipolar or not. He needs some help in understanding that what has happened to him in his short life is not his fault and that he is not to blame. He probably also has feelings of grief for the "loss" of his family, as he knew it.
I would think you would definitely see some signs. Perhaps as you live with him around the clock you will see things that you didn't know about previously. I think lots of kids first show the depressive symptoms and signs of mania can develop later. My son had signs of depression from about 7th grade on, the most obvious one was cutting, which he did briefly. When he showed signs of mania it was during his senior year, where he barely slept. All this was fairly subtle though and I just thought it was more-or-less "normal" teen-age behavior. He was a high achiever in school, played sports at an elite level, etc. He talked very fast, but he always had; he did not have wild mood swings, did not have a bad temper or bursts of anger...to the outsider looking in, he appeared to be an outstanding student and very well-adjusted individual. I lived with him and thought the same thing!! I didn't find out he was bipolar until junior year of college. I tell you this by way of saying that not everyone has all the outward behavior that is frequently connected to bipolar disorder.
I would suggest that you look at the NAMI (National Association for the Mentally Ill) website. They have support groups all around the country and are a good resource for information. There are several good books out that would give you good information about Bipolar disorder. Also, keep posting with your questions. There are lots of people here who will probably have suggestions or know the answers....good luck to you and again, you have my utmost admiration for taking in this young man. regards, Tsohl
Welcome, Tori I commend you for opening your heart and your home to this boy....he is lucky to have you. I agree with all that Tsohl had to say and want to point out that you are still in what I would like to refer to as "the honeymoon phase" of this young man being able to show you exactly what behaviors are truly a part of him...we must remember that he has already lost his family and is going to do his best to be on his "best" behavior so that he doesn't end up losing out on being a part of another one.
It is documented that people with bipolar, particularly kids and adolescents, are masters of being able to control their behavior for long periods of time during the day so as to appear "normal". For teens this is even more important because they are trying so hard to fit in as it is. That is why it is not uncommon for friends, teachers, coaches and other people who interact with a teen who is Bipolar to tell the parents how great a kid they are and how they wished they had a kid like "Johnny", meanwhile Johnny's parents are seeing the other side.....the side that is tormented and able to let loose knowing that he is amongst those who love him the most and will be able to tolerate the outbursts and behavior that he has tried so much to control amongst his friends and teachers at school. Eventually as the disorder worstens it becomes much more difficult for the person to control the behavior without the help of meds. By this time the person has or is in trouble whether it be in terms of grades, risky behaviors done on impulse, or self destructive behavior such as self injury or suidical attempts. If this boy is crying and depressed this needs to be taken seriously especially since you have not lived with him long enough to know how serious it is and how long he has been dealing with it. Bipolar is also triggered by some type of loss or severe change in one's life which clearly this boy has. If there is alcoholism or a family history of depression his risk of having the same or Bipolar is greatly increased.
I think an evaluation will definitely help out in terms of identlfying what is going on and/or the type of treatment this young boy may need. Clearly some therapy will help assist him in feeling better abouot himself and allow him to also find the coping skills he will need to deal with all the stress and pain that he is having to deal with at this time in his life.
Good luck and pleas know that there are many of us here who are more tham willing to answer any questions you may have.
BTW...I have a 15 year old daughter who was recently diagnosed with bipolar.
i had just told my friend that I'm bp and a couple of days ago she said the only thing i notice different about you that others is that some times you don't want to leave your house and i thought oh my gosh i was ready to admit myself into the hospital like 40min before she came and got me just thought id share that Gods blessings to your home shelb
My hat is OFF to you to care SO MUCH about this young man. My heart just sank reading your post!
First of all, my son is bipolar & 14 years old. He's been diagnosed with BP for several years now.
He began spending ALOT of time with another family about 1 1/2 years ago. I mean going for the weekend (during the summer) and not coming home until Tuesday or Wednesday of the next week. This family (I work with the mother who is a nurse & have known her for 10 years now) basically is his second home...he LOVES being there!
After a year or so of my son visiting quite often, the mother stated she has NEVER seen BP tendencies in my son. I'm thinking...that is GREAT, his meds are working.
This has since changed. My son in the last several months has gone through a TREMENDOUS growth spurt, and guess what? His meds are not working as they once did. Just yesterday, we went to the pdoc for a change in meds once again. My son is cycling within a day's time, filled with agression & extreme irritability. I took him by work before his appt. yesterday, and he didn't even want to get out of the car to say hello to my nurse friend at work~which is TOTALLY NOT like him for he loves her like a second momma!
Although this young man is on no meds right now, his symptoms could very likely appear especially right now during this stressful time.
In my opinion, I would be listening up for any verbalization of him hurting himself and watch for signs of suicide~just in case. I would also alert your children to let you know if they hear or see anything as well.
My heart breaks for this young man! He is one lucky guy to have you in his life!