I have a newly diagnosed bipolar 12 year old daughter

I'm new to the site... Just wanted to see if anyone else has bipolar 12 year old daughter and what has been their experience. Our daughter's mood fluctuates within a day and day to day. She has bouts of rage and frustration. She is often triggered by her 8 yo brother and her mother who also takes meds of anxiety/depression. Anything can set her off. I don't set her off. I can talk her out of the rage or frustration but mom can't. We are just at the begining of this. Psych wants her to start respiradol. Not sure I'm on board....

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My daughter is 13 and was diagnosed at age 8. As the mother, I am the target of rage and aggression as is her 10 year old sister. When she is upset or irritable it is easy to target the people who are quick to forgive, who love you the most. My daughter does not fight with her dad . Although he has never hit her, he has a quick temper and a booming voice that scares her and keeps her in check. My daughter was treated with abilify initially and then added lamictal. They were both very effective initially, not so much these days. Puberty, hormones, rapid growth and stress of additional workloads at school all contribute to making symptoms worse. Whether you question the diagnosis or not, you KNOW when something is not right with your child. Call it what you want, but make sure to get your daughter the best treatment insurance can provide. NAMI has a GREAT family class that can help you understand mental illness, explore medication options, kill the stigma and find appropriate treatment. I would recommend finding a therapist your daughter can connect with who is experienced in CBT or find a DBT therapy group setting. Consider a family therapist to work with all of you. This can suck the life out of a marriage and family if you let it. Consistency, limits and awareness of what is and is not in your daughter's control are paramount. The hospital is not a bad place if things get really out of control. There is no shame!!

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Thank you for taking the time to reply...
My dtr has been treated for anxiety for years by various therapists. She had horrible animal phobias until she was 8. After 1 year of therapy to overcome animals we got no where. I eventually said screw them and bought an old cat and set it on the kitchen table and told her to deal with it. She was over it in 2 weeks. She now loves all animals...I am not that excited about therapists. Between my wife and daughter I think we are now on number 9. Now she has diagnosed with mood disorder after being in the hospital for 7 days due to rage and suicidal ideations. She just snapped one day when she didn't want to go to school... Now we are in serious mental illness territory.

"limits and awareness of what is and is not in your daughter's control are paramount"
This is a very important point you made that I have been trying to teach my wife. My dtr has been in a hospital for 7 days with counselors and psych, she has been to counseling, she has been to a psychiatrist for follow up and no one discussed this point with us. This is probably the most important point of all. This should be BP 101. I am very frustrated with mental health professionals. We have not met one that truly helps us. We have seen therapists in Ca and Az. My dtr doesn't want to go anymore because she says all they discuss is what she did on vacation and how great disneyland is. My dtr will say she wants help but no one is helping. I can't disagree...

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I think you have to find the right therapist - I agree that there are more bad than good. Be clear about what you are looking for - DBT therapy has shown to help - CBT as well. Interview & be clear about what your expectations are- mine are 1.) recognizing triggers and 2) diffusing situations before they get physical 3) practice social skills - be a better friend 4) learn to accept personal responsibility 5) want to get better - positive outlook - confidence - self esteem ...My daughter just went back to school after 5 weeks in the hospital. She is not cured. I have many questions about her treatment. We are on less meds, more therapy & school is a disaster - failing math & English - 10 days til summer - the school sucks. I am hoping that a new therapist will be a good fit. I did like her last pdoc at the hospital who told my daughter that she hated therapy b/c she wasn't good at it - the more she does the better she'll get. It is non negotiable. I am committed to doing what it takes - rules/limits as well as praise for as much as Ivan praise her for... Of course she just called me a F'ng $itch for asking her to shower after 3 days...so maybe all I have to offer you is a little empathy - I feel your pain!

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We are considering home school/online school. School is a giant trigger for our dtr. That is when it all began. She refused to go to school. It escalated and she ended up in the hospital. Now every counselor and psy insists that she needs to return to school even if she has to take more meds!? So let me get this straight...I have to drug my dtr into outerspace to get her to a public school environment. Can't there be other ways to educate? We are in summer now but we have to make a decision pretty quick. This is quite a tough road. My dtr has now been frustrated and angry for 2 days which is a first for us. She usually snaps out of it pretty quick. How is that going to work with school.? I have read so many posts of parents fighting their child and the school to make it through public school. Wow this isn't going to be easy.

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After 3 years of fighting with the school I finally hired an education advocate and VOILA - IEP. Request that your daughter be tested (by law, this is supposed to happen within 30 days, and they are supposed to pay). Some learning disabilities are often (un) misdiagnosed. My daughter is now thought to be depressed and have a non-verbal learning disorder (NVLD). Again, I don't care what she has, I just want her to get the help she needs. Mood Disorders are also covered under a 504 which would also give you some accommodations. They can abbreviate her schedule, maybe provide instruction in a smaller stable setting - keep the same teacher, not switch classes... they can even give her therapy at school (especially if her anxiety is about school). If her illness is impacting her success at school she must be helped - an advocate knows the system, the law and can get the school do what is required - including a therapeutic day school if your school system isn't equipped. If your wife is not well, homeschooling may not be the best environment to promote and encourage the health of your daughter.

Don't give up on the therapy part. I have too been a skeptic. We have gone years without one, until now. Having goals to work towards, practice, fake it til you make it... All of these tools are *helping* providing little glimmers of hope that our daughter will be able to catch on and make her own way through life...

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Thank you for your continued feedback..it is very helpful...

I agree my wife isn't the best one to be at home with our dtr. My wife and son are triggers like I mentioned before and all three are home all day together. You can imagine what the day is like. I spend time texting and talking on the phone to diffuse situations. We are living a nightmare. If I was rich I would have a full time nanny that specializes in problem behaviors and two separate houses. We are struggling with logistics. My dtr can't be with just anyone and my son can't keep staying at friend's houses. Not sure what to do....you are right home school may not work but I can't fight traditional school everyday. I'm thinking of something in between. Counseling is great but it only goes so far. I haven't found silver bullet.

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I have to keep my daughter busy. For the summer you could look into a 'partial program' it's like therapy school and you can call your insurance / doctor to see if it's covered and available in your area. It's like all the therapy you get inpatient but on an out patient basis. That would at least get your daughter help and probably more important - get her out of the house for a bit. Does your town have a recreation department? Summer programs? Does your daughter have friends? If so, it's worth sponsoring play dates (my daughter doesn't seem to get upset if others are around). I would also like to stress getting in touch with your local NAMI chapter. Their courses are excellent, and the opportunity to connect with parents in your area is SO helpful. I would also highly recommend a family therapy session. My husband and I don't always see things the same and having a mediator work through the setting up of a UNIFIED front was invaluable. It was also great to be able to introduce the RULES in a neutral area so even if my daughter got upset we knew she wouldn't freak out there and we'd have the captive audience to explain consequences and benefits of the rules and show my daughter that we were completed united. Predictable schedules and structure are SO important. The more you learn the better you will feel about the challenges ahead....

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Wow, very awesome and helpful post...
Thank you for your insights. It has helped to connect with someone who is further down the road of this condition.
We are going to do all of those things. :)

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My wife went to a support group the other day that I found on NAMI website. Moderately helpful she reports back. We are trying to find a parents of bipolar children support group but none found yet.
I keep reading your last post to do all of your recommendations. I have noticed it isn't easy finding help with what to do at home specifically with bipolar child. One counselor told me that we need to make sure there are consequences to behaviors even if those consequences are hours later. Once upon a time we had many rules and consequences in our house before our dtr was diagnosed with bipolar. That eventually landed my dtr in the psych hospital wanting to kill herself and ending with a diagnosis of bipolar. Do you kind of relate to that?? A punitive environment escalated the anxiety in both of our children. Consequences I don't believe has ever changed our children's behavior. Rewards have changed their behavior but I am running out of rewards.
How do you use consequences and rewards??

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Funny you should mention that... My therapist this week suggested I look into a consult with Dr. Ablon who runs a program at Mass General called http://www.thinkkids.org/ He collaborated with Dr. Ross Greene who also has a group in Maine, and wrote the THE EXPLOSIVE CHILD. They have a theory, method, called Collaborative Problem Solving. Greene has some videos on YouTube that you should watch. It's pretty insightful. I only did a cursory search for a therapist closed to me, but I did notice there were some on the west coast - not sure where you are. They also have a parent training on line which I am considering... I think carrots and sticks are great in theory, but honestly they haven't really made a difference for us either. We have a small set of rules: BE KIND, HELPFUL, RESPECTFUL. Take your medicine, Don't break anything intentionally, No self harm, No harming others. Our internet/TV is on from 7 am to 9 pm for everyone. After that we read or play DS or draw or sleep.... We've found that if there is one set of rules my daughter is less likely to consider them punitive to her. The consequence for not following the rules - specifically med/harm related is a trip to her doctor and/or cancellation of any out of home plans --- If you are not stable, for your safety we need to have the dr./therapist check in with you and I can't trust you'll be OK at camp or the movies or on line, or at your friends house.... For my daughter she knows that I have all the information about a partial program in our area. She just spent a month at McLean Hospital in an inpatient therapy program called East House, so she is NOT interested in spending her summer repeating that process. She has an incentive to at least do the minimum (which is exactly what we've gotten). I would still stress the DBT group therapy and/or partial program for you. It sounds like she would benefit from having some mentors as there are typically kids at different stages of treatment. I know that my daughter took more advice from the older kids in her program that were more mature and more accepting of the treatment and their responsibility to it and their illness. I stress my daughter's growing maturity when she mentions something from therapy or has a moment where she uses some of the tools they gave her... practice, more therapy, practice.... No magic bullet. AND take your daughter for who she is and her unique symptoms. Don't embrace BP as the only diagnosis or as a definitive diagnosis. The research is really changing --- moving away from pediatric bp ... It doesn't have to be a life long struggle... After 5 years of BP, the new theory about my daughter's illness is it's Nonverbal learning disorder + depression and/or Borderline personality (which they wont DX until after age 18). Again, whatever it is, she has a mood disorder and some learning disabilities and we are working with her and doctors/therapist to get her stable, productive and reasonably happy. We had a great weekend!

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Awesome post!!!!!

We use "be GENTLE, KIND AND CARING" at all times.
I also discussed with the kids the importance of using a mental "shield" instead of a mental "sword". We are building shields with breathing and positive thoughts and behavioral techniques and explaining that they need to "drop the sword" when they start fighting. It is a work in progress but it seems to help a little.

One question: Why is my dtr able to hold it together when a friend is over. My son got mad and started to hit his sister and she didn't do anything and calmly told us what happened. If her friend wasn't here she would have been in the hospital guaranteed.
If it is a chemical storm that occurs with stresses, how does the presence of a friend stop it???/?

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Holly crap!

I thought today was a good day. I didn't get any phone calls. When I came home I told everyone how proud I was of their behavior. 15 min later my wife said something to our dtr and our dtr got very angry and threw a granola bar at my wife...My wife then slapped our dtr in the arm 3 times and all hell broke loose. I had to pull them apart. If I wasn't there someone would have gone to the hospital or jail. This was a first. I had to talk with both separately and bring them together later to talk it out. Im not sure all is well. I am very concerned about tomorrow??? This kind of violence is very dangerous. My daughter is tall and strong my wife is short and maybe not so strong. Our dtr assured us that everyone was safe including herself. I'm not too convinced. Wow...

Any experience with this?? I understand why my wife snapped but that can't happen. I know there are days when I would like to do that but I have not lost my cool so far.

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My daughter is 16. Diagnosed bp at 13. It is my husband and her that go at it. One day they were physically punching one another. At one time she punched me as well. Not sure what sets her off. One day you say somethimg and she is fine with it, another you say the same thing and it makes her mad. Shes been in the hospital for suicide attempts twice. Had a baby at 15. (We placed him for adoption, so hard but the best decission for the time) not gone to school for two years but I still love her and every once in a while I get a glimpse of her before this dreadful desease attacked. We are still working to find meds that work. Just when we think we have found it, she crashes or flys too high. Good luck sounds like you have your hands ful

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After that violent episode...

The next day I talked with my dtr privately and told her that she is making really poor choices. I explained that I know she can make better choices than violence. We reviewed coping skills. I informed her that her current path is leading her away from home. I found a treatment center in Illinois where she would live. I said that there will be no more violence and that I have to make choices that are best for her and our family. She cried and then asked for 10 min alone... It has been 10 days and I have my dtr back. She has been awesome, not perfect, but really good. She has been able to withstand triggers and has not gone into bipolar mode these past 10 days. It has been very cool but a little weird. She changed back so quick. I am on edge. She claims that she is working on her behavior. Wow, almost like she is cured. All I can do is pray....

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Don't be lulled into a false sense of cured. This is when therapy will make the most gains. You will have good days, maybe even weeks and then... square one. Ten steps forward, 15 back... I only say that because we have taken some steps backward, and I am more committed than ever to letting therapy work... and last night when things could have been ugly - I totally backed off, made sure she was safe and did not engage. She came in my room and asked if I would rub her back to help her to sleep. Granted, it was midnight, but I did it and she slept... progress, baby steps. The last two weeks have been hellish. Cutting, stealing, problems with friends, rude, quitting summer school b/c of the stress... And then we have glimmers... She wants to go to church camp and I told her they would not have her if she was harming herself. The cuts on her arm would send her home. I don't know if the lure of camp or the lure of not going back to the hospital will be enough. Kids do well when they can. I am doing my best to support her and encourage her to use what she's learned in therapy (which when she's mad is NOTHING), and I'll keep hoping that eventually it will sink in. I also find that after a giant blow up, my daughter typically has a period of calm so be mindful.

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Good morning @ Absmom1 & mckc06. My daughter is 13-1/2, I wanted to thank you both for sharing your stories. I felt like I was reading about my life with my daughter. It all began with anxiety and suicidal thoughts last September - she went so far as to mash her head against a bathroom counter... at any rate, with my therapy, reading and meds (Zoloft for anxiety and depression, Intuniv for impulse control and Resperidon for the unsettling dark voices) she is starting to level, but still has those days. Her therapist recently mentioned Bordeline Personality Disorder (check out the Wikipedia article on it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borderline_personality_disorder) which comes hand in hand with Bi-Polar... or visa versa. Has anyone ever mentioned that to you?

I've also read the Ross Greene book, and have been working with her to understand her challenges, and I take time outs too lol with a lot of deep breathing. It's just me and her 16 yo sister at home (her father sees her irregularly and she is terrified he will get angry with her so she is usually on point for him) at any rate - she has self image issues b/c she is 35 pounds heavier than her older sister and will sometimes skip meals and was cutting a month or two ago - first her arm and then her thigh and stomach. This is what led to the Resperidon and the bordeline perosnality diagnosis. I am in Nor Cal and looking for support groups for all three of us. I will check out some sites, any recommendations are welcome.

Thank you -
JJ

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Thanks for your input / introduction. We don't know what we have - currently depression and nonverbal learning disability... I am beginning to think that it is borderline personality... Whatever it's called, we have another Pdoc appt Monday and I am hoping there will be a med change. She went into the hospital and all they did was add lithium, take it away and decrease her abilify. We came home on less than when we went... She is so uneven and not yet willing to embrace the therapy. She's embarrassed to have depression and thinks all the coping skills are stupid... Luckily she has things she wants to do so she'll comply for now... Its a constant cycle of frustration... Thanks for the recommendation on the book. I will check it out.

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Hi all. My daughter is 13 and has not "officially" been diagnosed BP, although one of the doctors during her last hospital visit used the term regularly. She had her first breakdown last year and it has been a hellish year since then. Three hospitalizations, the last for an actual suicide attempt prompted by us discussing residential treatment with her. She is currently on Abilify and Safris, which is relatively new. She's doing ok on them. She did absolutely fabulous on lithium for about a month, then the side effects caused us to have to take her off that. Mckc6, I wish you all the luck in the world. Know you are not alone in this, even though it really feels that way sometimes. Find someone you can confide in and talk to regularly, if for no other reason than to unload yourself. Dealing with a BP teen is a 24/7 stress machine. I know it can be discouraging, but keep trying to find a good therapist. They can make all the difference in the world. We went through a few, and the one we have now is wonderful. We are also continually trying to find a good psychiatrist to manage the medications, but that is really difficult. As for your family situation, keep trying to keep regular routines for your daughter, try to keep her eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise. We only use punishment for the big things, which are refusing to take meds, being disrespectful, lying to us, and refusing to go to school. Everything else is dealt with in a passive aggressive kind of way, which means we stop interacting with her if she misbehaves or gets angry. She continually tries to use her disorder to get things she wants, and it is really, really difficult to try to see through that. One of the common themes I hear is trying to separate the teenage behavior from the BP behavior. It's tough.

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