My 20 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with bipolar disease. I found this board and have been reading through the posts and have found some that sound identical to my daughter and others that sound nothing like her. She has never been manic in the true sense of the word - I think it manifests itself with her irritation over trival matters. The same with depression - she has never exhibited behaviour that would lead me to worry about her - more of a can't finish anything she starts because she drifts off into a funk. She has always had difficulty making friends - will never make the first move and when she is dating someone she seems to melt into their personality and lose her own identity.
I am looking for help. Can anyone recommend a good book I can read on the subject? And how much of this do I let her handle on her own? She is seeing a therapist for counseling and a pdoc for medication. She is on Lamactil 300mg daily for about 6 months now. She is a junior in college studying dietetics and doing quite well - for now. I appreciate insights and any advice. Thank you.
Welcome to the board. How is your daughter doing on Lamictal? Does she seem fairly stable on it?
I see you live in the Milwaukee area, as do I. I suggest you go online and check out the website for NAMI. ([url]www.nami.org[/url]) This is a national organization that has state and local chapters that provide education, support groups and are also a wonderful resource for referrals and informational programs. On their website click on "find a chapter" and a map of the US will open. Click on your state and a listing will open that shows all the chapters in Wisconsin. There are several active chapters in the area, and they run a program called "Family to Family" that is like basic training for someone who has a family member who is recently diagnosed. The website will also give you lots of factual information on the illness, other types of mood disorders, various medications used in treatments, etc.
I think the best thing you can do is educate yourself about the disorder and all the various treatments, medications, etc. Hopefully your daughter will want to learn right along side you...as she is considered an adult and will need to be the one taking charge of her condition.
The other poster is correct. BP is becoming a catch-all diagnosis, frequently made by a well-meaning family doctor. Only a psychiatrist can make a diagnosis after a thorough evaluation. There are now 6 "categories" of bipolar disorder and only the first one requires the exhibition of a classic mania. More frequently, the patient has "hypomania" which can present as anger, irritability, agitation, uncontrolled rage, sleep problems, etc. Sometimes the individual will experience mania as more energy, ability to get a lot accomplished, etc. and s/he doesn't report it because s/he likes feeling this way.
There are a number of good books out there. One I would particularly recommend to you is called Why am I Still Depressed? Recognizing and Managing the Ups and Downs of Bipolar II and Soft Bipolar Disorder by Jim Phelps, M.D. From your description, it sounds like your daughter may have one of the "soft" bipolar disorders. This is available at one of the online booksellers if you can't find it locally.
Hope this helps a bit. You can find lots of helpful information on this board. Sometimes weekends are slow, but the board is full of terrific people who are generous in sharing their knowledge and experience.
I have a 25 year old who was diagnosed his junior year in college, so I know the anxiety you are feeling right now. Come here and post your questions and try to learn as much as you can. This will help you to help your daughter learn to manage her bipolar disorder.
P.S. Since your daughter is studying dietetics, she should be interested in learning what she can do nutritionally to help to control her symptoms. It is important to avoid caffeine and simple sugars. There is an entire chapter on this in the book I recommended. Also important is regular sleep on a routine schedule, and avoiding alcohol and any kind of "recreational drugs."
Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. This is at best a difficult thng for our entire family to digest. I have already gone out to the public library's website and have reserved the book. And I will also visit the other websites you mentioned. I would really like to connect with other people who have children with this disorder. And although my daughter will not admit it, I think she needs to connect with others who could relate to her.
It's funny you mentioned diet. My daughter told me that she has wanted to ask about it in one of her classes but was afraid of what her classmates would think. The caffeine thing made me chuckle - she works at Starbucks part time and loves caffeine. It is her drug of choice.
The lamactil works well for her - she was at 200mg but was upped to 300mg recently. She has not had any side effects from it.
Thank you again for your reply - it means a lot knowing there are people who are willing to share their experiences and help others.
I'm seventeen and bipolar also. And I'm a caffeine addict in recovery. I seriously was sooooo dependent on caffeine and am relapsing and trying to get back on even footing. :S And I'm on Lamictal also - 400mg. - and it works well for me in combination with Seroquel (currently 200mg.) and two anxiety meds (Klonopin and Ativan). I'm not stable, but I'm getting closer.
Your daughter might be interested in a magazine article that appeared in the May 2005 issue of Discover magazine that you can find online. It features a nutritional approach to dealing with BP. I thought it sounded interesting, but it took my son such a long time to find the right meds that worked well for him with the fewest side effects that he wasn't interested in trying it and possibly screwing up his stability. It took my son a number of years to find the right meds.
There are some other moms on the board that have kids in their late teens and one or two with kids in their early 20s. I'll point them in your direction if they don't happen to see your post.
Bear in mind that the newer research is calling BP a spectrum (rather than 2 poles) so you will read and hear about a whole variety of symptoms. It is becoming less important to label someone as being bipolar 1 or bipolar II or bipolar NOS. They now talk about it being a broad spectrum as you will read in that book. I'm so glad you found it!!
Welcome to the board! I have a soon-to-be 17 year old son who was diagnosed a few years ago.
Could you tell us a little more about what led to your daughter's diagnosis and how she is feeling about it? I know it took my son a long time to adjust to the concept of BP and has only recently been 100% compliant on his meds. We've had a difficult journey with alot of med changes but, thankfully, he is in a good place right now. (There were times I never thought I'd be able to say that!)
There are alot of good, supportive people on this board. You will be glad you joined.
My daughter has always had difficulty concentrating on things and finishing what she starts. She had a hard time making friends and would get upset over trivial things. She did well in high school mostly because we kept after her to get her work done. Her first year in college was ok - she carried a 3.4 average but was pretty disinterested in the whole thing because the gen eds are just a repeat of what she did in high school. Last year right about this time both her grandparents died as did her 16 year old dog. Plus she had begun to date just a horrid young man who treated her like he was doing her a favor by being with her. She just up and quit school and her job one day, rang up her charge card and began seeing this horrid man on a daily basis and pretty much drained her bank account to buy him anything he wanted (he did not work). We sent her off to a therapist who she saw for about 3 months before she sent her on to a psychiatrist. She saw the psychiatrist weekly for a month and then I also met with her after I found my daughter sending inappropriate pictures of herself to strange men on the internet. The doctor at this point put her on a small dose of lamictal with an increase in dosage every week or so until she was up to 200mg a day. After one depressive episode when my daughter refused to get out of bed, the dose was upped to 300mg and there it has stayed.
This has been a very difficult adjustment for my daughter and for the first 3 months we practically had to hold her down and stuff the pills down her throat. Finally, I got her a couple books on bipolar disorder, she broke up with the horrid boyfriend and found a fulltime job in summer to save money for college. Other than one temper flair that got her suspended from work for 2 weeks, she has been much better. She decided she wants to be a dietician, found a college, took advanced placement tests and is now in her junior year and pulling straight A's. She paid her entire tuition bill herself with her summer job money. She works 2 days a week in addition to going to school. She takes her medication regularly without prompting. But I know she is not happy because she feels this disorder defines who she is. She has become a bit isolated and it breaks my heart to see her so afraid of what people will think if they find out. She is so much more than all this.
So that is our story in a way too long post. Thank you all for taking the time to read it and caring enough to answer my original post.
It is interesting how often a loss in the family will trigger the beginning of a bipolar episode. It sounds like she is doing pretty well, all things considered. We've all had our share of drama and are working on getting our kids stabilized. Mine is a bit further down the road but still doesn't quite have his life back to the way it was prior to when he was diagnosed...but he's getting there.
You're lucky that lamictal worked well for her. My son went through 4 pdocs and just about every med in the book before latching on to the meds that work best for him with the fewest side effects.
There is a period of mourning that an individual goes through when first diagnosed. But your daughter will eventually realize that being bipolar does not define her...that it is just one part of her, just as it would be if she had diabetes or another situation that required daily monitoring and medication. It's a pain but in the end it is managable.
Learn as much as you can. Hopefully your daughter will want to learn more too as time goes by.
Post with any questions or concerns you have. We're all happy to chime in with our opinions!!