My daughter is having another bipolar episode (long)

My 36 year old daughter moved in with my brother in another state about 10 days ago. She is now 8-10 hours away from me. We (the family) thought that maybe others in the family, particularly my brother, could help her get own her feet and start a new life not so dependent on me. We are extremely bonded as I raised her by myself and we are just close. What goes along with this is that she knows what buttons to push to make me jump when she wants something and how to make me feel guilty to get what she wants. She is very manipulative as many people with bipolar or mental health issues are. She is also ADHD and has been all of her life. Now, as an adult, it seems to affect her even more severely.

She is on disability (SSDI) and we are trying to help her get part time work and help her get back in school. She wants to work and get out of the system if she can. We all thought this move would help her. She has pretty much burned her bridges here so the change should be a good one.

She was doing well at my brother's until yesterday (day 9 after I had left her). She has been in severe pain with fibromyalgia and is awaiting being accepted into a pain center by referral from her rheumatologist. She began by focusing on her pain and it escalated into a full blown bipolar episode where she was somewhat not in touch with reality and feeling very persecuted by the other family members. She told my mother that I had sent her toher house to ask for pain meds. I had suggested that she go see my mom (lives next door to brother) about pain help but not her pain medicine, just something like Aleve, Advil,etc. When my mom asked me if I had sent her to ask for a pain pill I said no. But, by this time it had been all misunderstood. Now the family believes she is drug seeking, and lying to get drugs from family members.

My mother flew off the handle and told her according to my daughter, "we're trying to help you, and if you are going to come over here and lie to me, you can pack your bags and go home". My daughter was hurt beyond belief and she went into hysteria that led to her wanting to move to New Orleans or Houston immediately. The whole family is in an uproar not knowing what to do and they called in a Social Worker for advice. My daughter would not accept an apology from my mother and is being very dramatic and hysterical about the whole situation. I couldn't calm her down and she feels the whole family is against her. This went on all day long into the late evening. I finally got her to agree to give it some more time. I told her she cannot come back here and run away from every problem that may come her way.

She is still totally upset and hurt. I don't know what to do at this point. I want to support my daughter but feel she is wrong to not be willing to discuss the problem with the other family members especially her grandmother. I'm afraid that my daughter's problems are too much for my family to handle and feel guilty that she is there and they are struggling to help her.

What should I do? Leave it alone, and let them work things out or intervene and try to keep the peace. I'm torn apart by this. We all wanted her to do well so badly and I think she can if we can keep her from going off the deep-end eveytime something comes up that she is upset about.

I really just want to dig a hole and climb in. I am so nervous and upset I don't know what to do.

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Ah, Kathy, I am sending you a huge hug. I've experienced this and when I taught NAMI's Family to Family Class I heard so well-meaning families describe the manipulations, the lies, the family upsets AND your fatigue, shame, anger, upset.

So hear's what NAMI's experts who I'm quoting now would say:

"If you do what you've always done, you'll only get the same results."

That doesn't sound comforting, does it?

So, what NAMI does in this part of Family to Family is introduce the communication process called "POW" which stands for:

*Isolate one PROBLEM and figure out what you've done in the past to solve it--what works and what doesn't work (when I did it, I quickly found out that NONE of my options for dealing with my adopted daughter and son-in-law EVER were successful before I used this strategy)

*Generate as many OPTIONS for solving the problem as you can (don't forget funny options like getting a new phone number and not giving it to ANY family members)

*If the strategy you choose does not work, give yourself a back up strategy, the old WHAT IF.

So, in your case, you have to figure out the one problem you want to solve, remembering you don't have to solve everything all at once. For example, say the problem you really want to solve is:

"I want my daughter to stop calling me every time she gets mad at my family" (Problem)

What could your options be? Brainstorm a whole lot of Options, then pick the ones you think will work best. Finally, pick your top two strategies and designate one as your primary strategy and one as the What If in case your primary Option doesn't work.

What do you think, Kathy? It's a bit of work, but I found that it was worth it because I worked one solution, didn't deviate, and I'm way happier and calmer about my situation with them.

Take care,


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Thank you so much for sharing that strategy with me. I am going to do as you say and start identifying problems and working on possible solutions. It can't be any more work than I'm already doing and not getting the desired results. I have had my hands full for so long that I know working this process will take me a long time but it can't do anything but help.

My daughter has stabilized as of today. She crashed and burned this afternoon and has made up with her grandmother. She is in what I call her atoning stage of behavior. She knows she has hurt some of us so she is now trying to make up for her bad actions. It took every ounce of courage in my body and soul not to tell her to come home last night. But I didn't, I actually told her she had to stay and work things out. She did and now she is crashed out sleeping. This is a typical history.


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I new you could do it girlnow fine you ann black hole to crawl in for a couple of days {SMILE} tought love is hard but it is best in the long run some times. take care and GB

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Thank you, Sharon.

I do feel like finding a black hole. It sounds kind of peaceful to retreat from everything for a while. My family wants me to let them handle things with my daughter so I can get some rest. My daughter still wants to call me for every little problem that comes up. I guess I have enabled her for so long she is having a hard time letting go. But, we'll get thru this and things will be better in the end, I'm sure.


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I am in the similar boat where my 23 year old son who has schizo affective disorder, Adhd, developmentally 5 and manipulates up a storm to get what he wants. If he doesn't get it, he threatens, pouts, throws a tantrum or "becomes gravely ill" for me to call the EMT's to have him hauled to the ER. Sometimes, if he is in a bad way mind wise or his meds are off, he'll posture a certain way to have the staff 51/50 him. Why anyone would want to be pigeon holed into the hospital for nearly 3 weeks is beyond me, but I suppose that's why it's called mental illness. My family on both sides support me because, let's face it, both sides have had this type of mental illness (and then some) in different family members. Most with this disorder have passed on after living long lives with this disorder. I have read tons on this subject and because my son's situation is somewhat unique, I've really had to be creative in dealing with his manipulative ways. I totally understand where you're coming from and I think the NAMI suggestions posted above are 100% spot on. I will be incorporating these into my own situation in resolving issues I am dealing with. I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. God bless you and our special kids :).

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Hi Deborah,

Thank you for your message. Yes, it does sound like I have the female version of your son. My daughter is bipolar and ADHD. She is extremely manipulative and has been since the day she was born.

After I made the aforementioned entry she had a bad bipolar episode and is now in the hospital. She has been there for 2 weeks and they are not planning on letting her go for a while. After her release she is going into a group home with medical supervision. She has not been taking her meds right so that will have to be supervised for a while. Everytime she is about to get on her own and things start to look up for her something happens and we are back at square one again. It is really sad.

My brother has asked me to allow him to handle her care. I am ill and after 36 years of dealing with her illnesses I'm worn down. So, my family wants to try and help her and hopefully they will be able to.. I think she was entirely too dependent on me so I have to let go. I will hope and pray that she can learn to do the things she needs to do to take care of herself so that she can have a life of her own.

I wish I had some words of wisdom for you but it looks like we are pretty much in the same boat with our adult children. I hope that using the POW steps that Benita told us about will help you and your son.


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