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  • Challenges of getting a bipolar diagnosis in children | bpHope - bp Magazine Community
    life around M L CA Have I ever First it s normal kid stuff now ADHD and anger issues over everything it s also bipolar disorder Seven years old and my son is dual diagnosed I need help Las Vegas needs professionals in mental health I m tired of nurses family doctors etc who don t care about emotional or physical health my son is now eight years old and weighs 40 pounds My doctor says he s doing fine but I know I shouldn t be able to see bones N F NV Our child was first thought to be ADHD then depressed and finally bipolar II disorder Before finding a psychiatrist knowledgeable in pediatric bipolar disorder we tried more doctors therapists medications programs interventions and strategies than you can imagine Both our child and our parenting were blamed for her struggles many times and that hurt Now 21 working and living on her own she is a sensitive but determined young woman with a life A G CA My son was diagnosed with depression and ADHD The medications used made him manic with hallucinations and he attempted suicide He was eight years old I read in Time magazine about bipolar disorder and asked the doctors about it Two doctors advised that he may have it but said he s too young to carry that label The third ignored me when I asked if we could try an antimanic medication The fourth doctor finally agreed with me It changed our lives J M WI I first noticed a change when my son Harrison was two years old He no longer smiled as often When he was five he threatened another child I took him to a psychiatrist and even said I think he may be manic depressive He saw many therapists and doctors and was not properly diagnosed until his father was diagnosed and we checked Harrison into a mental hospital at the age of 10 He s almost 14 and taking his third mood stabilizer making progress as he learns to live with the disorder I had to read attend NAMI National Alliance for the Mentally Ill classes get copies of all his doctor s records and connect the dots to help my son be properly diagnosed Don t give up Just remember you re the one who really cares M D OR We were exceptionally lucky I had just read the book The Explosive Child and I called the author Ross Greene PhD since we lived nearby My son was put in a research study and diagnosed and treated B H RI In 75 words No way Try a book I finally received a diagnosis after my daughter was hospitalized last spring Getting help has been a seven year nightmare she is now 17 I do not think the psychiatrists and psychologists have a clue about bipolar disorder in kids Seeing a psychologist once a week can t even begin to cure the chaos in our house

    Original URL path: http://www.bphope.com/kids-children-teens/misdiagnosing-children-parents/ (2016-02-14)
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  • Understanding & Supporting a Bipolar Teenager | bpHope - bp Magazine Community
    How big Kyle s drug experimentation included smoking marijuana laced with PCP and embalming fluid At his friends urging he blew apart one of the toilets in his house with a firecracker Now a 10th grader and back in public high school Kyle spent the first half of the academic year in a private school for emotionally and behaviorally disabled students Prior to that in eighth and ninth grade he was in a partial hospital program that consisted of a half day of academics and a half day of therapy Neither program advanced him academically June says Just as bad they wounded his pride We had those conversations where Kyle would be feeling down on himself because all his friends were at school together doing all these normal high school things like going to dances and football games And here he was going to what he calls a retard school Even with accommodations in place for his disability June is unsure how Kyle will fare at public school after having been away from it for three and a half years On the upside she has absolute confidence in the quality of Kyle s doctors That s because she enrolled him in a study at Philadelphia s Thomas Jefferson University Hospital that gives him access to top shelf psychiatric care and a thorough assessment of his needs For example the researchers conduct an initial interview that lasts four hours time and labor that would never be covered through the June s insurance policy Online support June learned about this study while chatting with another parent in an Internet support group run by the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation a nonprofit organization of more than 5 000 families raising children diagnosed with or at risk for early onset bipolar disorder As parents grapple with the nuances of the disorder they have found such support groups an invaluable resource With a few keystrokes they re connected to up to date information the wisdom of personal experience and much needed encouragement All of us have very similar stories of managing an illness that few others understand says Maureen whose daughter Terri was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 15 Our families are frequently not supportive so this group tends to fill that gap I was amazed awed and relieved to find that these parents truly understood my often erratic life and that I was not alone Before Terri entered ninth grade Maureen started drafting the learning modifications she thought her daughter would require in high school known as an Individualized Education Program IEP For help with the IEP she turned to her online support group When we send a question out to the general group we usually get a response that same day she notes We don t have to wait six weeks until our next doctor s appointment With her daughter s psychiatrist more than 100 miles away Mary also appreciates the immediacy of her online group Only when she started chatting with other parents did Mary discover that Paige s drug regimen was instigating her manic episodes At the same time Mary was watching her 15 year old daughter s hypersexuality manifest itself as a kind of virtual promiscuity Like her mother Paige was using the Internet to reach out to others but in her case it was young men she d engaged in graphic online conversations We talk a lot about behaviors and how to tell the difference between normal teen behavior and bp behavior Mary notices We learn so much from sharing our experiences with each other It s a group where I don t feel judged and where I feel completely accepted no matter what I say or what my daughter has done Behavior and boundary battles With a few exceptions Mary doesn t get the impression that many people in her rural California town understand or want to understand Paige s disorder Ignorant is how she sums up the prevailing attitude According to experts that s not necessarily a function of geography Just ask Sam Based outside Seattle the author and licensed mental health counselor began helping children with neuropsychological issues in 1991 after learning that his youngest child had Tourette syndrome Later Mike was correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder Sam has since met dozens of parents who ve been told their youngster s condition is nothing more than a byproduct of inferior childrearing I have heard of parents being accused of being abusive and bad parents and I knew this was not the deal says Sam I thought to myself I have two older daughters who turned out OK so I must not be a bad dad Through the ups and downs of rearing Mike Sam has learned to achieve a meaningful rapport with the youngsters he counsels Parents can do the same he says by listening with respect asserting limits on excessive behavior and trying to appreciate everything their child endures from social ostracism to prescription side effects Parents often only see their kids as a bundle of symptoms he notes They ll talk about their child in front of me and I get uncomfortable with that They try to be empathetic but if you ve never taken an antipsychotic or a mood stabilizer you don t realize how that can mess you up in many ways In that regard Sam has personal experience He sampled an atypical antipsychotic for a few days to better understand what it was doing to his son Boundaries have to be established Sam stresses because children with bipolar disorder don t have those wired into them the way neurotypical kids do They have told me Somebody better control me or I m gonna take the place apart Dr Papolos echoes that recommendation These children are basically from a very early age thrown into a behavioral repertoire that involves both defensive anger and severe anxiety Their behavior is basically reflecting those two dimensions and they are very easily prone to be

    Original URL path: http://www.bphope.com/kids-children-teens/supporting-bipolar-teen-family/ (2016-02-14)
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  • Bipolar & Parenting: Our faith, hope & family | bpHope - bp Magazine Community
    we ll be joking around and you ll say a joke to Cody and he ll start crying Five seconds ago you were laughing at that and now you are crying We just try and calm him down comfort him he ll go to his room come back in five minutes and do the same thing Cody describes his disorder as being like thinking two things at the same time which frustrates him Anna says that Cody will shut himself in his room to separate himself from his family It allows him time to cope with the typhoon of images that bombard him she says Their youngest seeks help from his mother and expresses his thoughts and fears Anna tries to help him break out of negative thought patterns by giving him something else to focus on such as building models Tom also works with Cody He takes time to help him wind down play sports make models Anna says of her husband It helps Cody feel OK At times it is especially difficult on the normal children in the family Anna says Joseph 18 and Hailey are the only two who don t suffer from bipolar They get frustrated because the other kids get more attention or things go awry because of their mood swings their mother says If we are planning to go to a picnic and someone goes into a rage we don t go Sometimes the rages are really stressful It disrupts the peace in the family Hailey and Joseph get a sort of perverse relief from observing the drama at home We ll sit there and talk a lot and make fun about how crazy they are We sit and talk about everything says Hailey We laugh about it so we don t go crazy Anna says she believes that while the family s trials are difficult the situation will help make Joseph and Hailey better more empathetic people It will help them to be more compassionate and more understanding of other people s problems Anna says They see we are not doing this exhibiting signs of illness purposely Anna however believes her husband Tom thinks she has considerably more control over her mood swings than she actually does My husband is an engineer and he is very logical says Anna When he makes a decision it lasts for the rest of his life When I do it lasts a few minutes He s had to learn how to bend and it s been really hard Anna sympathizes with her husband though because he s the one who has to pick up the pieces when she can t She knows he doesn t fully understand the disorder but that he does his best to support her and his family I think that it s evolved for him she says At first it was really difficult for him to understand what was going on But he has mellowed out a bit and now he doesn t expect me to be like other wives For her part Anna often feels unable to cope with stress which can set off cycles of deep depression in which she sleeps 16 hours a day and gets up only to cook and do laundry If I m really severely depressed I don t feel anything she says I just feel empty I would cook dinner just to let go of some of the guilt and keep everyone off my back At these moments Anna says faith and the love of her family provide the strength she needs to pull through I know that my belief in God and the afterlife saved me from suicide she says Church teachings dictate that after death a person s spirit leaves their body and moves on to the spirit world a place of learning and preparation After a time a person s body and spirit are reunited and never again separated Anna believes that it is a gift to every person who ever lived Anna says faith and the love of her family provide the strength she needs to pull through No matter how bad things got I knew in my heart that I couldn t kill myself she says I pushed myself harder for my children I think they gave me a reason to go on And those little hugs and kisses don t hurt Also says Anna she is cycling less rapidly than in the past Five years ago she found a doctor who introduced her to new medication that has helped stabilize her mood swings She feels this was a turning point in her life allowing her to parent with more alertness compassion and understanding Anna and Tom make sure that one night a week is devoted strictly to the family whether it be a movie night or a sit down evening at home during which they talk about scriptures and the current happenings in their lives These evenings are some of the best nights of her life Anna says and it helps the family communicate their feelings about coping with bipolar disorder At night when we read scriptures sometimes we just start talking she says We start telling jokes we are laughing and everyone is just happy No moodiness no nothing just happy Anna plans to go back to college for an advanced degree in psychology that will allow her to teach others how to deal with bipolar disorder and help other families cope with their loved ones who have it Anna believes that faith and respect for the family that she and her husband share has held them together through the toughest times The big picture she says is that I want my family to be happy and to be a family unit forever I know if I raise good kids they will go out and change the world They will make the world a better place Anna s tips for parenting children with bipolar Keep a regular bedtime Everyone

    Original URL path: http://www.bphope.com/kids-children-teens/bipolar-parenting-our-faith-hope-family/ (2016-02-14)
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  • A Mom’s Story: Advocating for two sons with bipolar | bpHope - bp Magazine Community
    to get up in the middle of the night and think he needed to escape At age 5 a physician diagnosed Sean with ADHD A doctor prescribed a central nervous system stimulant which had the same negative effect on Sean as it had on Sebastian The couple took their son to the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute in Los Angeles where Sean told clinicians that he could see evil rising out of the floor Specialists diagnosed him with an unspecified psychotic disorder and prescribed an antipsychotic For a couple years Sean did better but Jessica wasn t convinced that doctors had arrived at the correct diagnosis When Sean was 7 they took him to a new psychiatrist who sent Sean to the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach California for a brain scan Thermal imaging showed marked activity in a large ring shaped section of Sean s brain a result that is closely associated with mood disorders and dyslexia Following additional medical tests and observation Sean s psychiatrist determined that the boy suffered from bipolar disorder and learning disabilities including dyslexia and phonological disorder when a child does not develop the ability to pronounce some or all sounds necessary for speech Sean is a beautiful child with green eyes and blond hair He looks like an angel but his symptoms can really be tough to deal with Jessica says then jokes We figure God made him so cute so we wouldn t strangle him Challenges in school The next big challenge Jessica faced was finding the appropriate school setting for Sean A successful school environment can mean the difference between a self sufficient well adjusted child with self esteem she says or a child who suffers from low self esteem who is unmotivated and lacks the skills needed to survive in the world we live in Jessica knew this firsthand from the experiences of her older sons Sebastian and Brett Both boys had struggled in school She agreed to place them in special education classes although they were both highly intelligent Part of the problem Jessica contends is that she didn t have enough confidence in her own abilities to advocate for the specialized care they needed I am a high school graduate and the school officials all had fancy titles she says I didn t think they would take anything I said seriously Jessica says she now considers that a major mistake If I m not here to coordinate care for my sons she says who will be Sean attended Montessori school until age 8 when Jessica and Chase moved him to the public school system so that he could benefit from the federal No Child Left Behind Act which among other provisions guarantees special services to students with disabilities According to Jessica it was a complete utter and total disaster Within eight weeks Sean destabilized on his medications Despite a long period of wellness he began having meltdowns and threatened to run away Chase says it was painful to watch Sean struggle socially and in school When he joined Cub Scouts everyone had to stand up and read aloud Chase says Sean couldn t It was a very emotional and embarrassing moment for him And it was hard for me because I felt his pain Meanwhile Jessica searched for an alternative and found the Mardan Center of Educational Therapy a private nonprofit state certified special education day school in Irvine California near where she and her husband work The school provides an alternative educational setting designed to meet the academic social and emotional needs of bright children from preschool through 12 th grade who have learning disabilities or social and emotional issues The school is expensive but Sean qualified for a partial scholarship Though Sean did not learn the letters of the alphabet until age 9 he is now learning at his grade level Sean is having an entirely different school experience since I got involved she says With my older boys I entrusted them to the system and ended up with two kids who can barely function in society The third time I said No This kid is going to have what I think he should have and nobody is going to stop me I am a high school graduate and the school officials all had fancy titles I didn t think they would take anything I said seriously Sean says he appreciates and understands all that his parents have done to help him When I took my old pills I went psycho he says I had bad dreams and saw things that really weren t there Now I see normal and it s pretty much because my mom made sure I had the right doctor and the right pills Life goes on Sebastian now 30 lives independently in Texas in the oil industry He never completed college and still struggles with his bipolar disorder He hasn t quite decided what he really wants to do with himself says his mother He s learned how to deal with his illness When he feels like he s going into a depression he calls me and talks to me about it Robert 26 who is dyslexic has overcome his learning disability by depending on auditory tools such as books on tape He will soon graduate with a bachelor s degree in history from California State University Long Beach and plans to become a teacher Devin 32 teaches advanced placement physics at Canyon High School in Southern California Jessica says that since Sean has stabilized the family has begun to fill their lives with normal everyday activities On weekends the O Leary take their youngest children Sean and adopted daughter Kaitlan Amelia Lia O Leary to the beach which is one and a half blocks from their home They also regularly hit Southern California attractions such as Legoland and Disneyland Jessica says that while there are some things parents can control they also must learn what is beyond their control I wish more

    Original URL path: http://www.bphope.com/kids-children-teens/parental-advocacy-early-onset-bipolar/ (2016-02-14)
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  • A parents story: Social isolation and bipolar | bpHope - bp Magazine Community
    out to enjoy myself I started offering regrets and staying home instead Sometimes we would have family board game nights It became so difficult for me to listen to other moms lament about how their child s grades were dropping or how they did not pick their clothes off of the floor Sometimes I would just laugh out loud though I felt more like screaming Really That is what you have to complain about My husband and I are taking classes to safely learn how to restrain our daughter I could not say any of that I never want anyone viewing my daughter in a negative way My friends know that my daughter has bipolar but some of what happens because of her mood disorder is hard to share They just can t relate Soon my husband and I were cocooning ourselves We turned to each other for comfort and support because no one else in our social circle could understand what we were going through I guess retreating to our island was for our sake as much as for my daughter It kept us all safe and it was what we needed at the time to get through the days My daughter is 18 years old now She has been battling bipolar disorder for most of her life She is the most courageous person I know Three times over the years she has had to go into treatment centers because of her depression and suicidal actions Each time she learned more strategies to help her regulate her emotions Step by step she is learning to be an independent adult My husband says it is my turn now I need to jump off the island into my life and go have dinner with my friends Code bphopekids Printed as On my mind Family retreat Winter 2013 Tagged with bphopekids friends Husband isolation mom Mother socialization stigma support Winter 2013 About the author Felice M Has 1 Article LEAVE YOUR COMMENT Cancel reply Your email address will not be published Required fields are marked Message First Name or Nickname Do not use full name Email RELATED ARTICLES Radio Show Start Talking Speak Up About Mental Health Listen Live Here February 10 2016 12 01 am When families learn someone they love suffers from a mental illness it can be an agonizing wake up call That s because most illnesses do not come Diabetes II Versus Bipolar II The Power of Stigma February 5 2016 3 49 pm When my husband was diagnosed with diabetes II doctors nutritionists nurses friends family members coworkers everyone was terribly concerned No one doubted his diagnosis Skewed perception and my son January 11 2016 9 08 am Recently my son and I were having a conversations about apologies He told me that I have only apologized to him twice in his life Creating healthy lifestyles for children with bipolar January 5 2016 9 06 am Good sleep a healthy diet and regular exercise can help stabilize

    Original URL path: http://www.bphope.com/kids-children-teens/a-parents-story-social-isolation-and-bipolar/ (2016-02-14)
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  • Me, My Son and OUR Bipolar Disorder: Coping as a Team | bpHope - bp Magazine Community
    take time out for myself and make lists to prioritize my tasks Family or friends watched Jimmie when I needed a break Usually he would return much calmer allowing me to remove obstacles that could cause another problem The structure of a daily routine was key to my own survival Just getting up and doing anything was uplifting Hey I can do this I told myself That was often enough I reached out to family and friends I would have a conversation even if it meant just listening to what was going on in someone else s life Lunch dates were crucial And my friends and I still call each other during American Idol We can t sing a note but that doesn t stop us from being our own panel of judges It took a year but I found a medicine combination that worked Pulling myself out of depressive episodes became easier I could control my angry outbursts over Jimmie s behavior Jimmie s recovery has followed mine When he was almost 6 he discovered soccer To both our surprise and delight he earned a spot with an older age group and on the travel team Jimmie had found a real talent It boosted his confidence tremendously and soccer has become an avenue to making friends There s a payoff for me too Every time he plays I meet other parents in town Instead of watching TV we re outside sharing stories and advice Jimmie now 8 has also become an avid cub scout proudly wearing his tiger bobcat and wolf badges he s especially proud of his pinewood derby car Helping him earn his scouting requirements has bonded us He likes the attention and I feel good spending time with him Through our ups and downs Jimmie and I have found ways to break the trigger cycle We separate when we clash He goes to his room and watches Nickelodeon I read a book or journal on the computer I m no longer horrified to hear the words I hate you You re the worst mother in the world I know he ll come back an hour later with an apology followed by hugs and kisses What better way to make up and work through issues Code bphopekids Printed as Coping as a team Winter 2008 Tagged with bipolar coping skills bphopekids divorce early onset friends genetics hypersensitivity mom son team Winter 2008 About the author Maria G Has 1 Article Maria G not her real name is a freelance writer and a photographer who does work for several New Jersey newspapers LEAVE YOUR COMMENT Cancel reply Your email address will not be published Required fields are marked Message First Name or Nickname Do not use full name Email RELATED ARTICLES Hope and Harmony Headlines WINTER BLAHS January 27 2016 12 32 pm Winter blues winter blahs seasonal affective disorder call it what you want but for many of us the darker months of the year usher Bipolar

    Original URL path: http://www.bphope.com/kids-children-teens/my-son-me-coping-as-a-team/ (2016-02-14)
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  • Our Family & Bipolar: Bound by Love, Determined to Help | bpHope - bp Magazine Community
    seemed able to find the right medication mix for his symptoms In January 2000 when Cameron was 6 he was admitted to the hospital after he had a psychotic episode We just wanted somewhere safe for him Kelly remembers But it was a terrifying experience It was late at night when he was admitted They took him back and put him in the hallway It was hard to leave him there He was so upset He was crying just beside himself Cameron was released a few days later But he still wasn t stable The family had trouble finding skilled child psychiatrists in their relatively small city One mental health professional tried for months to stabilize Cameron One psychiatrist kept piling meds on and it didn t make a difference Kelly says We went in one day and this psychiatrist told me Mom this is as good as it gets She told me to get a therapist because this was how it was always going to be with Cameron The family refused to believe it Instead they took Cameron to a new psychiatrist in Indianapolis a two hour drive from their home The doctor there was able to find a good medication mix and for a while Cameron did better He still had a lot of potholes but he was very manageable Kelly says He seemed happier He said he was happier He was still impulsive but not dangerously impulsive When puberty hit that progress began to slip away Cameron had developed a facial tic His doctor took him off all of his medications in an effort to get a proper neurological workup After the test Cameron resumed taking his pills But they never worked the same again We never got that efficacy back Kelly says A gifted student and voracious reader Cameron continued to excel academically at the private Lutheran school he attends But his behavior on the playground and at home with his siblings was something else altogether By the end of the summer of 2004 he was back doing really dangerous things Kelly recalls Running out in front of traffic running away During the summer of 2006 when Cameron was 12 things got worse than they d ever been One day Kelly left all six children at home together while she taught class I started getting these frantic phone calls she recalls I ignored the first several I finally took one Timmy the oldest child was hysterical on the phone I told him to call the police I dismissed my class and drove home as fast as I could His siblings had locked Cameron out of the house because he d been belligerent and they were afraid says Kelly He was taunting them screaming at them They were just beside themselves Cameron was hospitalized again During the summer of 2007 official battery charges were filed against Cameron when Kelly reluctantly agreed to sign a complaint against her son after he attacked her I only did it to get him help after our insurance company refused to pay for the residential treatment his doctor said he needs she says We were hoping a judge would order it and our insurance or the state would be forced to pay for it In March Cameron was arrested again for scratching one of his little sisters Although the infraction was relatively minor he was placed in juvenile lock up for several weeks But to his parents dismay the judge assigned to his case did not order him to residential care Instead he was sent back home on the condition that the family undergoes counseling Cameron has little insight into his problems his mother says but is remorseful over some of his behavior Asked how his illness impacts his family Cameron replies I feel bad because of some of the things that have happened I used to not feel bad Now I do and I try to stop and I tell them sorry and stuff His anger he acknowledges is hard to control I get really mad sometimes so mad I can t stop and think through what I m doing Sometimes I feel bad about it after it happens But then it s too late to change it For his siblings the pain of Cameron s actions lingers His little sisters idealize him and missed him desperately while he was in detention But his brothers more often the subject of Cameron s rage have had a more difficult time coming to terms with their brother s illness Timmy 16 says he tries to remember that his brother can t always help what he does but that the situation causes him so much stress he tries to stay out of the house keeping busy with sports He struggles to accept a paradox Sometimes I hate him but I love him too He scares me sometimes says 12 year old Hayden My mom and grandma sat me down and said sometimes he can t help it I said sometimes I love him A lot of the time I get mad The family is determined to continue searching and fighting for resources to help Cameron I have a strong faith in God Kelly says I just hope there s a purpose to all this and that we will one day find out what it is Our Family Tips Pick your battles If your child wants to wear sandals in the snow who cares Save your energy and bargaining power for issues that directly impact safety Doc shop Don t be afraid to look for someone who will meet your specific needs You want someone who will listen to you and treat you like a partner in the illness Educate yourself You don t want it to take over your life but there s so much valuable information out there Recommended George T Lynn s Survival Strategies for Parenting Children With Bipolar Disorder Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2000 Don t let others tell you you re

    Original URL path: http://www.bphope.com/kids-children-teens/our-family-bipolar-bound-by-love-determined-to-help/ (2016-02-14)
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  • One Family, Four Bipolar Diagnoses | bpHope - bp Magazine Community
    Tina was cutting herself Cara says Tina had confided in her friend Her friend confided in her mother A gifted pianist and musician Tina auditioned and was accepted to the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts shortly before Jacob s diagnosis She began her freshman year with gusto Before long however she was exhausted by the long commute which had her rising at 5 a m and not getting home until early evening She quickly became exhausted and fell behind in her studies A psychiatrist diagnosed Tina with bipolar disorder Cara and Tom didn t know how they were going to handle two children with the diagnosis Then they received a frightening late night call from the boyfriend of their oldest daughter Diana Diana had long suffered from anxiety attacks Now as a freshman in college her behavior seemed far more serious She d been picking fights with her boyfriend who d called Cara in tears You ve got to talk to her Cara remembers him saying She s out of her mind Cara went to Diana s apartment calmed her down and returned home The next morning the Gs took Diana to a psychiatrist who placed her in the hospital on a 72 hour psychiatric hold She was also diagnosed with bipolar Cara and Tom quickly learned all they could to help their children They stayed up late reading information on the Web They bought books They interviewed psychiatrists They made sure their children took medication and attended weekly individual and family therapy sessions As they struggled to help all three children stabilize on medications they also had to scramble to find new schools for Jacob and Tina Cara and Tom had decided to pull Jacob from his elementary school because he d had so many suspensions for bad behavior that it wasn t fair to them or him to keep him there Everyone needed a fresh start The couple had also taken Tina out of the arts high school concerned she was so far behind she d never catch up For months a tutor taught both of her younger children at home pending a private school placement It was a very dark time in our lives says Cara referring to last summer when everything had culminated And it still wasn t over Taking things day by day Dealing with her children s problems led Cara to confront her own turbulent childhood I spent years in therapy just trying to figure out why my family was so out of control she says But it wasn t until my children got sick that I began to really examine my own behaviors Cara realized that she had signs of bipolar including manic shopping excursions Once during a trip to New York City she bought a 2 500 purse and wallet on a whim She also recalls being overly aggressive and offending fellow players in her adult tennis association I started to see a lot of places in my life where I d made mistakes and people I might have hurt Cara says Soon after she d had these revelations her psychiatrist diagnosed her with bipolar disorder These days with the help of mood stabilizers Cara s moods have leveled and she feels much more in control of her emotions She s enjoying a new her thanks to the medication and therapy Although she hasn t abandoned her shopping sprees a sign of hypomania and mania she says she s doing a lot better I used to feel for years that I was bad and that there was something wrong with me that I wasn t nice I m happy that now at 45 I know that I m not a bad person I just have an illness that runs in my family Like Cara the rest of the Gs are taking things day by day There are numerous therapy appointments to attend They re learning basic coping strategies individually and as a family They realize that there is no way to predict what each day will bring We go through good periods where everything is quiet for a while says Cara but we always feel like another shoe will drop Then it does You never know what s going to set it off or when For the most part her three children are stable on medications But Cara warns that they re only a small part of the wellness equation She says that talk therapy is not something that can be skipped As a couple Cara and her husband have had to adjust but not abandon their dreams for their children I do feel burdened and fearful for their futures she says But I also know that my husband and I are going to be here to help them get through the rough stuff Now our hope for them is to be the best at whatever they choose to be In December the family went to Hawaii their first vacation in many months We felt normal Cara says There were a few flare ups But we re all learning how to cope with our own illnesses and each others We ve come a long way she adds We ve still got a ways to go But with the love and support of each other I know we can get through this Our Family Tips Stay as calm as possible with the family member struggling with the illness Don t shout back or lose control Following an episode that family member inevitably feels remorse Resist reprimanding relax and redirect When your child is manic it doesn t help to argue or try to correct the behavior at the time of the episode Follow the 4 Rs Seek advocates in your school and treat them like valuable business contacts They have a lot of power over your child s education Make them into friends not enemies Educate yourself about the illness Read everything you can Interview doctors Knowledge truly is power

    Original URL path: http://www.bphope.com/kids-children-teens/one-family-four-bipolar-diagnoses/ (2016-02-14)
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