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  • Stepmother dealing with a bipolar teen. I'm clueless!

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    Old 02-09-2007, 12:03 PM   #1
    lsouder's Avatar
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    Stepmother dealing with a bipolar teen. I'm clueless!

    My 14yr old stepdaughter has been living on and off with me and my husband for the past year. So far I know that she has bipolar an ADHD. When she has an episode, I really don't know how I should handle it. At times, I feel like I should stay out of it because she is not my child, and I don't want to cross that boundary. However, at times I'm forced to because she feels that she doesn't have to respect her father. So, I step in to try and keep the peace. She is very abusive towards her parents during her episodes both physically and verbally. Lately, she's been having problems b/c she wants to go back to living with her mother. Her mother doesn't want her living there and has told us this. However my sd thinks all of this is my husband's doing. She is acting up here hoping her mother will let her come home. I really don't know what to do. I know eventually I will have to deal with her lashing out on me b/c I can't let her do whatever she wants. How can I deal with her without losing my sanity?

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    Old 02-10-2007, 09:26 AM   #2
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    Re: Stepmother dealing with a bipolar teen. I'm clueless!

    What a problem! I would seek help for myself. Having a blended fam is bad enough. When you add BP into the mix. I guess it could get hairy in a hurry.
    God Bless


    Old 02-10-2007, 12:21 PM   #3
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    Re: Stepmother dealing with a bipolar teen. I'm clueless!

    You did'nt mention if your stepdaughter was on medication for BP. Is she? That is the first thing I would suggest that you have you,and your Husband look into. Without meds your stepdaughter will down spiral until she is out of control, seeking drugs, sex, alcohol. Also, try to remember when dealing with her during a episode that you are not going to be able to reason with her, you will not "win" the arguement. Try to stay calm and talk to her in a normal voice. I know its very hard to stay calm and keep your cool. But until your s. daughter is on medication, you won't see a change, and communication within the family will not change.
    My Daughter was diaginosed with Bi-polar when she was 12 yrs old. She is now 18yrs and takes Abilfy and Topamax. I want you to know that before my daughter started her meds,she would cry after having a episode. After tearing her room apart and screaming at the top of her lungs. She would cry and I would just hold her, and she said "why, do I do this?, I don't like how I feel, I'm bad". I could only hold her and reassure her that she was not bad,and that we would get help. Please if you have'nt already suggest taking your s.daughter to a Psychiatrist. We made the mistake of taking our daughter to her reg doctor,and the doctor put her on paxcil,and my daughter flipped out that. Good luck to you.

    Old 02-10-2007, 02:37 PM   #4
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    Re: Stepmother dealing with a bipolar teen. I'm clueless!

    Oceanair, you are right on And a BIG welcome to both you and Lsouder!!!

    First of all, Lsouder, I commend you for wanting to help your SD through all of this. She is really lucky to have somebody who wants to support her in the way that you seem to want to.

    My advice would be to get as many books as you can get your hands on at your local library. There are so many out there but one that I have found to be a good resource is called, " The Bipolar Child" written by authors Demitri and Janice Papolos. Another is called, "The Bipolar Disoder Survival Guide". There are so many out there to choose from but the more you read and educate yourself the better equipped you will be to support your husband and SD through all of this.

    It sounds as if our SD is in "mission mode", that is, she wants to go back to living with her mom and will go to any means to get what she wants. Bipolar teens are quite manipulative and will plow down anyone or anything that stands in the way of getting what they want or need at the time. Oceanair couldn't be more right when she says that an unmedicated Bipolar teen cannot be reasoned with...there is no rationalizing with their minds...for in their mind what they are thinking at any given time is the way it is and nobody can prove otherwise. The key to all of this is consistency, consistency, consistency. If you and your husband are not on the same page it will be disasterous for all and your lives will be turned upside down....beleive me my husband and I learned this and how I wish we knew this long ago. It wasn't until we became a unified force that could not be penetrated that things improved within our home. Before that it was as if a cyclone had taken over and a force that weakened us beyond anything that we have ever experienced. Once we educated ourselves and learned to be a united front things were so much more manageable.

    Also, a child who is Bipolar will take it out on the ones they love the most. For the most part they hold it together during the day in school with their peers and teachers where they need to fit in and not be seen as abnormal or different. And then once they walk in the door at the end of the day after doing so it's as if they sudeenly unleash all that they have harbored within. You will see so much anger, irritability, argumentiveness that leads to such pain amongst family members. In the privacy of their rooms they feel such remorse and sorrow for what they say and do and this leaves them feeling even more down on themselves. Bipolar is a chemical imbalance within the brain often affecting the emotional and thought centers of the brain. If left untreated it can lead to years of turmoil within the teen's life of anger and pain, depression and impulsivity that could lead to dangerous decisions on their part. That is why as strong as the meds are I was comforted by the words of a wise psychiatrist who told me that an unmedicated Bipolar child is far more dangerous than any med they can be on. Often enough, bipolar left untreated will lead to suicide and dangerous impulsive acts that will lead to alcohol and drug use, acts which lead to juvenile incarceration and delinquincy that will lead to a not so productive future. However, with the proper diagnosis and treatment there is much hope that the same teen will have a successful future in which he/she has a better overall utlook on his/her life.

    I sure hope that you do not refrain from doing everything and anything you can do to educate yourself so that your SD will have that wonderful future ahead. My daughter started having problems when she was 12 which significantly increased when she was 14 to the point that she was hospitalized 5 times, had 2 attempted suicides, had run away twice, was arrested for shoplifting, and having sex with a boy she barely knew. She was an honor student, sensitive, loving and gentle. When things went undiagnosed she became angry enough to say the most hurtful things and even went as far as calling in CPS fabricating stories so that she could be removed from our home. It wasn't until she was finally properly diagnosed and put on the right meds that things improved. Now what we see is pretty much normal teenage behavior and what a relief that is as compared to the past few years....all I can describe that as is a living nightmare in which our entire lives were as if walking on eggshells, not knowing who or what would be walking into our home at the end of the day OR when the next shoe was going to drop.

    Anybody who is a parent of a Bipolar Child ofter refers to it as a neverending rollercoaster ride. The good thing is that once the child is on the right meds there is time to catch your breath between the next ride. That seems to be the place that we are with my daughter and it is so much better walking through the amusement park and having a chance to enjoy it without fearing that scary ride anymore.

    There are alot of parents here of teens who have been recently diagnosed. I have found this place to be of such comfort and support during the tough times of when we were first being diagnosed of finding the right meds and working through the most difficult moments. They also have been there to celebrate the joy that comes in the good times once we got closer to finding the stability that our daughter needs. And for that I am so grateful. I am sure that you will find the same wealth of support as I have found since coming here.

    (((HUGS))) ~ Goody

    Old 02-11-2007, 09:07 AM   #5
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    Re: Stepmother dealing with a bipolar teen. I'm clueless!

    Hi Lsouder,

    I just wanted to mention that when you originally posted, the thread came up twice and some people have responded to the other one. (myself included) Since this one is the one that seems to be more current, you may want to check that one as well.


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