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  • Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

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    Old 05-12-2006, 10:34 AM   #1
    liz49
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    Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    I have posted before about my 19 year old daughter who is bipolar. She has been doing pretty well, emotionally wise--not manic for some time, though her only other emotion is kind of a flat "nothing" one--you know what I mean. Anyway, she has, during her manic stages, uncontrollable spending sprees, actually, she has no sense of money management at all but it's much worse when she manicky. I talked to her psych dr (she has given permission for me to talk about her treatment with him) and expressed my concern about her spending. She has three credit cards and has spent all 3 to their limits in a matter of months. She is over $2000 in debt, and almost always spends about $150 a week more than she earns (by using these cards). If asked, she'll say "Oh, I'm about $200 in debt to Citibank"---this because she never opens her bills, she just goes online and pays a minimum payment each month.
    I took all her credit card bills and her checking acct statement (all this under the guidance of her psych doc, who told me it was like an intervention) went through each one and highlighted the expenses that were unnecessary--eating out, clothes shopping, theatre, buying gifts for friends for no reason, anything other than gas for her car and school expenses. In the last 2 months she'd spent over $500 on eating out, alone. Shopping accounted for another $500+.
    I have been terrified to talk to her, as she can be very very nasty when confronted and quite honestly, she scares me. I knew she would blow up, and to put it mildly, she did. First she denied that the charges were hers (but of course they were) then she told me opening someone else's mail is a federal offense, then she just screamed and screamed at me for not treating her like an adult, not giving her space, constantly hovering over her, not trusting her, not allowing her any autonomy--you get the idea. She told me she has hated me since she was 13 and she was moving out of the house as soon as possible. It was horrible-far worse than I would have imagined. I had planned to get her some help with learning how to control her finances and control her spending, not to do it myself, but find a class or a financial expert who could talk to her about how she could manage her money better. I wasn't being judgmental,. I truly am worried. But she simply screamed over anything I tried to say and I finally had to ask her to stop....it was so negative and hurtful.
    I guess at this point I don't know what to do....I have helped her out in the past when she was really sick and struggling, but I don't think that's the right thing to do. I don't see why I should be paying for her $6 lattes at Starbucks (oh yeah, over $100 a month for COFFEE??) so I am not going to.
    Anybody got any brilliant ideas of how to handle this? Do I let her just fall deeper and deeper into debt?
    By the way--her dad has liver cancer and is quite sick. He is on a transplant waiting list since Jan. and this of course has been incredibly stressful. She has not been helpful in the least with household chores, etc. when I haven't been able to get to them due to his drs appts or his just not being well. Oh, and also, her sister is getting married in 3 weeks, so I guess when it rains it pours. I am so worried about this kid right now any info would be helpful.
    She isn't speaking to me, currently, but she might read a letter.

     
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    Old 05-12-2006, 11:58 AM   #2
    littletimebomb
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    Re: Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    Liz49,
    I'm so sorry you're both going through this. I know how hard it must be for you and I'm bipolar, so I very deeply understand her pain.
    I think the money thing is a common issue. It's another thing that makes us feel good when we don't feel good. That Latte in the morning is something she is using as a coping skill. Stimulants of any type worsen the symptoms, so that's probably contributing.
    Look at it this way. Spending money becomes a life line. Not having to worry about everything is a deep need I certainly feel and I'm sure she does too. I'm 39, mediacted, pretty stable and I still have a problem with money. And I always have. I also hate dishes.
    My point is that this spending she is doing is the thing she turns to to keep her happy.
    As far as what you should do, I know it's hard. Try to be patient and loving (as I see you have been) and get some help for yourself. Not just your daughter's psych but someone you can talk about your own emotional state.
    You may have to have an all out intervention. You can organize all the people who love her and tell her that you will not support her lifestyle anymore and if she wants to remain in your house, then she will need to get serious treatment. There are profesionals who can help you with this and discuss your options.
    My heart breaks when I read your pain at your daughters anger. She doesn't hate you. She's terrified and confused and caught in the illness. I feel so sorry for every time I lashed out at my mother. Bipolars are smart and can have wicked insight, so they are usually very good at hurting the people they love. It's unfortunate, but remember when you're fighting with her, you're fighting the symptoms of the illness. She still loves and needs you.
    Hang in there!
    littletimebomb

     
    Old 05-12-2006, 01:09 PM   #3
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    Re: Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    Sorry but I have to side with your daughter. Opening an adults mail without permission does not seem like a very appropriate intervention. Yes your daughter has a mental illness but she is also a teenager/adult and her overspending would not only be an action taken during mania, but is also a common action a "normal" teenage/adult girl would take. I understand your concern and how difficult this situation may be for you, but unless her condition becomes so serious she is certified and hospitalized, she an adult and should be treated as such.

     
    Old 05-12-2006, 01:25 PM   #4
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    Re: Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    Thanks for both of your comments. Yes, I do know that when she lashes out it's the illness....but it hurts, nevertheless. Along with all else that is going on here having her hostility is just too much. I agree that opening her mail was wrong & not my first choice, but we had had an understanding prior to this that I was to be monitoring her finances-for a long time I held her credit cards and was not supposed to let her use them (her choice) However, she decided she could handle them again and took them back (she is an adult) and here we are, two months later with the same prob we had a few months ago.
    I will not be the one to help her monitor her finances or help her to figure them out in any way--her brother and bro-in law both have finance degrees. This whole thing has them frantic with frustration. She desperately wants to move out, but has no where to go and no money and no options. All her sibs are married but none of them will put up with her attitude. Plus she's so messy and disorganzed....she saw a counselor for a long time and I did not see one iota of improvement, unless you think becoming an atheist is an "improvement". Finding a counselor who would meld well with her and is covered by insurance is nigh unto impossible (I do think I mentioned her dad's impending liver transplant? It's going to cost us $60K out of pocket, minimum) so I don't have the financial luxury of shopping for another psychologist.
    Thanks for letting me rant!

     
    Old 05-12-2006, 04:59 PM   #5
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    Re: Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    Liz49
    I think, since money is an issue you should seek out some of the free services in your area. She needs to meet more people with BPD and learn to find out what actions are part of her cycling. There are also research projects that involve the subject getting paid for treatment. I think this might be very helpful for you. NAMI has a chapter in almost every larger city and they can be a great help in finding services on a budget. A lot of psychologists also have a sliding scale.
    Get David Burns' The Feeling Good Handbook. He basically came up with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and they have done research that proves that bibliotherapy with this book is often more effective than drugs or treatment alone. There are exercises and lots of good tools there. And if she actually reads it and does the exercises, she can teach her brain how to avoid the downward spirals that lead to mania or depression.
    Good luck, I can see that you are at the end of your rope. Remember that you can't help her unless she helps herself. You love her, but sometimes it takes rock bottom before people realize how serious this illness is.
    My prayers are with you
    littletimebomb
    P.S. Don't worry about the athiest thing. She's just searching for meaning in life and not finding any right now. When she learns to manage her illness, she'll start to find meaning in life again.

     
    Old 05-13-2006, 09:25 AM   #6
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    Re: Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    Thanks, littletimebomb--best help I've receieved from anyone anywhere. I do understand that SHE is the one who has to make the changes and I knwo she can....sounds like you have been through it all and back and you really know what you're talking about. Again...thanks.

     
    Old 05-13-2006, 10:31 AM   #7
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    Re: Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    Your daughter is acutally very fortunate. Her early diagnosois is a great advantage over many of us who basically had to go it alone, thinking they were bad people for not being in control of their emotions like everyone else.
    Please understand that she feels more pain than she could possibly give anyone else. And you're in a lot of pain, so she must be dying inside. When you're BP and you lash out and lose control, the emotional toil it takes can be devastating. You have the pain you feel, the pain you casued the people you love, the painful reaction of your loved ones and the guilt from hurting them again and again. It is a humiliating and horrifying experience.
    But there is hope. There is hope.
    If you can, when she has outbursts, don't let it hurt you. (yeah, right!) If you can step back, you may be able to give her what she needs; a feeling that she is loved and accepted unconditionally. She clearly already has this from you, but it's not getting through her illness. I know that when I'm upset and people steer clear of me, it makes me feel unloved and abandoned. But it is a natural defense for you. What she really wants she can't ask for. Tell you love her and you'll get through this together. Tell her you'll always be there no matter what. Tell her you forgive her for the things she's saying and that later when she realizes how she has hurt you, you will be there to comfort her. Don't argue with her symptoms. She has no rational control when she's like that, so logic won't work. And I'm sure you've seen what fighting and anger does to both of you.
    Don't keep bailing her out financially. You can't support her, all of the money she gets will be spent no matter how much it is. You may have to get her out of work and keep her life structured with exercise, therapy of all kinds (ride a horse, meditate, pick flowers, play with a kitten) and of course close monitoring of her moods and meds. If she has a special skill, as BP's usually do, get her to start focusing herself on that. Get her in classes or groups that do that thing and get her friends who do that thing to support her. If she has a craft, skill, talent that she can focus on, her life will start to gain more meaning and she will always have consistency. I've always been a writer and it saved me. It is the only thing I have been all my life. It is a guage for my moods and it is like the old friend I turn to for support when I need it.
    Address the illness with her and not the symptoms. For instance, the discussions and rehab regarding money will be useless until she gets to the source, her cycles. Ignore the details and see the illness.
    I'm so glad I could help. I feel great that I can help other young people who are going through this nightmare. And helping you feels like a debt I'm repaying to my own mother.
    hugs
    littletimebomb

     
    Old 05-13-2006, 11:44 AM   #8
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    Re: Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    Is your daughter on meds? I didn't see any mentioned in your post...
    Did you say she is bipolar (BP) or borderline personality disorder (BPD)?

    A mood stabilizer would help immensely with the symptoms of bipolar disorder - the spending, etc.
    And, by the way - discussing her spending problems while she is manic is like talking to a diabetic about their blood sugar while they are eating a bag of candy bars.
    The spending is symptom, not something that she can just "snap out of"...

     
    Old 05-13-2006, 12:10 PM   #9
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    Re: Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    Hi, Im bipolar and have a 22yr old bipolar duaghter. I can truely sympathize with you. Weve had some pretty ugly agrugments. Although she said she was taking her med her actions spoke louder than her words. It wasnt until she started to halucinate from being manic that it scared her into taking her meds, mainly because she watched me go into the hospital twice due to physchosis halucinations. I only tell you that so you can know others have been where you are and it will get better when it's meant to.
    As far as her spending, dont worry about it she is an adult you couldnt legally stop her unless you commited her (first you would have to prove she's incompitent) and that would only push her further away. My duaghter finally started taking her meds and started slowly accepting reality. She finally went back to work, taking her meds and is saving for money to pay for her bankruptcy. Yes Bankrupcy, not only is she facing her own consequences but she wont be allow a credit card for many years. Let you daugther make her own choices even though you know they are wrong and will hurt her, as long as they are not life threatening let her fall and get back up on her own. Im almost 50 yrs old and still struggle with bipolar issues and recently came across a site with some excellent advise. THINGS TO SAY AND ~ NOT TO SAY A BIPOLAR (Its actually helped my relationship with my husband) Of course use as they apply, and even if non apply give thought to the general idea and retructure them so you own situation. The bottom line is dont judge how someone is living their life it only pushes them away. Accept them, love them unconditionally. Tough to do Im one of the worse offender as I have done some of the same thing you have. Just remember when it's meant to be the table will slowly turn around no matter what belief or faith you have as I also lost my faith in God several years ago but I still have faith, still Love, still care and still hope. Saying that I Hope this helps and focus on your husband, this may be a path your duaghter has to follow for some learning purpose. Just be there for her when she's ready.

    WORST THINGS TO SAY TO A BIPOLAR
    ...to a person with bipolar disorder
    Some people trivialize depression (often unintentionally) by dropping a platitude on a depressed person as if that is the one thing they needed to hear. While some of these thoughts have been helpful to some people (for example, some people find that praying is very helpful), the context in which they are often said mitigates any intended benefit to the hearer. Platitudes don't cure depression.

    "What's your problem?"
    Will you stop that constant whining?"
    What makes you think that anyone cares?"
    "Have you gotten tired yet of all this me-me-me stuff?"
    "You just need to give yourself a kick in the rear"
    "But it's all in your mind"
    "I thought you were stronger than that"
    "No one ever said life was fair"
    "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps"
    "Why don't you just grow up?"
    "Stop feeling sorry for yourself"
    "There are a lot of people worse off than you"
    "You have it so good - why aren't you happy?"
    "What do you have to be depressed about?"
    "You think you've got problems..."
    "Well at least it's not that bad"
    "Lighten up"
    "You should get off all those pills"
    "You are what you think"
    "Cheer up"
    "You're always feeling sorry for yourself"
    "Why can't you just be normal?"
    "You need to get out more"
    "Get a grip"
    "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be"
    "Get a job"
    "You don't 'look' depressed"
    "You're just looking for attention"
    "Everybody has a bad day now and then"
    "Why don't you smile more?"
    "A person your age should be having the time of their life"
    "The only one you're hurting is yourself"
    "You can do anything you want if you just set your mind to it"
    "Depression is a symptom of your sin against God"
    "You brought this on yourself"
    "Get off your rear and do something"
    "Snap out of it"
    "You're always worried about your problems"
    "Just don't think about it"
    "Go out and have some fun"
    "Just try a little harder"
    "I know how you feel - I was depressed once for several days"
    "You'd feel better if you went to church"
    "**** or get off the pot"
    "What you need is some real tragedy in your life to give you perspective"
    "This too shall pass"
    "Go out and get some fresh air"
    "We all have our cross to bear"
    "You don't like feeling that way? So change it"
    "You're a real downer to be around"
    "You are embarrassing me"
    "You'd feel better if you lost some weight"
    "You're too hard on yourself. Quit being such a perfectionist"
    "Don't take it out on everyone else around you"
    "You are going to lose a lot of friends if you don't snap out of this"
    "You're dragging me down with you"
    "You're just being immature"
    "You are your own worst enemy"
    "That is life - get used to it"
    "My life isn't fun either"
    "You don't care about the rest of us - you're so self-absorbed"


    BEST THING TO SAY TO A BIPOLAR
    Best Things to Say
    ...to a person with bipolar disorder
    Clichés and platitudes usually aren't much help to someone who is depressed. Being depressed is not the same thing as just being sad about something. This list, compiled from a Usenet group, offers some useful statements you can make to a friend or loved one who is depressed.

    It is most tempting, when you find out someone is depressed, to attempt to immediately fix the problem. However, until the depressed person has given you permission to be their therapist, (as a friend or professional), the following responses are more likely to help. Acknowledge the depression for what it is, and give permission for them to feel depressed.

    "I love you"

    "I care"

    "You're not alone in this"

    "I'm not going to leave/abandon you"

    "Do you want a hug?"

    "You are important to me"

    "If you need a friend..."

    "It will pass, we can ride it out together"

    "When all this is over, I'll still be here"

    "You have so many extraordinary gifts - how can you expect to live an ordinary life?"

    "I'm sorry you're in so much pain. I am not going to leave you. I am going to take care of myself so you don't need to worry that your pain might hurt me"

    "I listen to you talk about it, and I can't imagine what it's like for you. I just can't imagine how hard it must be"
    "I can't really fully understand what you are feeling, but I can offer my compassion"

    "I'm sorry you're having to go through this. I care about you and care that you are hurting"

    "I'll be your friend no matter what"

    "I cannot understand the pain you're in, I cannot feel it. But hold onto my hand while you walk through this storm, and I'll do my very best to keep you from slipping away"

    "I'm never going to say, 'I know how you feel' unless I truly do, but if I can do anything to help, I will"

    EITHER LIST IT'S ALL ABOUT ENCOURAGEMENT, POSITIVE BEHAVIOR, CARING, LOVING, ACCEPTING ETC. THINGS WILL GET BETTER

     
    Old 05-14-2006, 12:57 AM   #10
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    Re: Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    kiehn
    That is a great list. Everyone who lives with a BPD should see that! I read the 'what to say' list and fantasized about someone who would be like that with me. THAT would be the man for me.
    Thank you for the hope. I was beginning to wonder if there was ever hope for me finding a man who could live with me. But that gives me a really good idea what I want at least.
    Thanks
    littletimebomb

     
    Old 05-14-2006, 10:23 PM   #11
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    Re: Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    Wow--thanks kiehn & LTB...I actually went thru a severe depresive episode about ten years ago and heard everyone of those platitudes until I wanted to scream..so I knew not to use them on my daughter...I do let her know she is unconditionally loved, daily, no matter what, that has never been as issue. The hate and anger is all on her side and I know enough to know it's her illness speaking. Ruth, she is on meds, has only been on Lamictal for about 6 months, and just barely was taken off her antidepressant as her psych doc felt that it was not necessary and she was too medicated. She is feeling a little "buzzy" but better each day. After this big blowup about money, I truly did not know what to do. I told her I loved her, I was not angry at her but was concerned with what could happen but let her know that the choice was hers...we were not going to bail her out. (Finanacially, due to my hubby's impending liver transplant, we simply cannot). Amazingly, the next day, I found an envelope in my room and she had voluntarily cut up all her credit cards and given them to me as a sign that she was ready to start taking charge (no pun intended) of her life. I am going to buy he that book that LTB recommended tomorrow and get her started...she is a super smart girl and I know she is motivated and more than a little scared. She also has asked if she can live at home a little longer until she is debt free and more in control. I know this took a lot of humility on her part, Of course I said she could and she apologized and we talked a little and I let her know (again, for like the hundredth time) that I UNDERSTAND that mental illness makes you feel and think in ways you cannot always control....it's darn hard! I always liken it to diabetes--you would not tell a diabetic to stop being diabetic, why do people always equate mental illmess with some kind of weakness? Makes me so frustrated! I will also help her to find a good counselor as she is feeling that some talk therapy woould be useful. Luckily for her, as hard as this all is she is deeply loved by a large and passionate family and we will NOT forsake her, no matter how she treats us.
    Thanks for all of your help...it's been a tough week or so for me..on top of all of this we got what we thought was "the call" for the liver transplant for my husband and it turned out he was the backup recipient, so all that drama and nervousness was for nothing...just went home to wait for the next call. He has cancer so we don't have lot of time.....never say life is boring, something like this happens!

     
    Old 05-15-2006, 12:35 AM   #12
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    Re: Help! Confrontation w/ bipolar daughter

    Hope, dreams, thats something no one can take from us. How ironic you would mention a man as that's exactly what the list was for. I accidently came across those lists in my effort to help my husband understand because he asked. Surprisely
    he has much more understanding since reading them. Kinda scarey, lol. To those I havent talked within a while hope all is going well. K

     
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