without this place and all my old friends here! Just want to let y'all know I've thought about you many, many times over the past (four?!!!) years I've been away. Suffice to say that I went down the rabbit hole for a while due to a whole host of circumstances, and so for those of you who remember me (and for those of you who don't but are curious anyway), I'll try to sum it up as well (and as briefly, haha!) as I can. I'll take you back a bit farther first. husband was laid off in mid-'09 after 17 years at one company. He managed to land work six months later, only to be laid off again about two years after that. This next stint of unemployment lasted over 18 months, during which I dabbled in some freelance work, but eventually we ran out of COBRA coverage and cash. So I came out of SAH "retirement" and reentered the workforce full time in order to pay bills and secure medical insurance. That was in 2013. Meanwhile, husband got picked up as a contractor, however his job was over 100 miles away, so he opted to stay in a motel during the week and came home on weekends. Pros and cons to that, but I digress. DC1 graduated that year from high school (previous diagnosis ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)), and at grad night, started his very first romance. It was cute at first, but turned dark and ugly after roughly six weeks because (I'm pretty sure) of DC1's obsessiveness and the girl's (normal) reaction of distancing herself and then breaking things off. This sent DC1 into a gradual, but very serious depression, the likes of which I'd never seen. He dropped out of college by second semester, and spent the next year at home, unable to do much of anything except play video games and watch YouTube. He became suicidal, started cutting himself, and then he would flip into rages and go for long, agitated walks across town in the middle of the night. He stole things from family members, he lied, he became hypersexual, he raged, he sobbed, he picked fights, he became explosive. After one particularly violent episode, I drove him to his grandmother's for the weekend in order to keep the other siblings safe and give everyone a chance to cool off (he was always able to hold things together around her). And that was when we knew we were dealing with bipolar I -- he called me every 10 minutes to scream at me for "kicking him out" of the house and "tricking" him and making him a "prisoner" at his grandmother's, that we were all against him, etc. I went to visit him and his paranoia was even more evident -- he was verbally aggressive, pacing, and continuing to lash out at me. Of course the whole medication regimen was being reexamined during this time, and we all know how long that can take. But until that got sorted out the therapist sessions weren't very productive either. When he came home from his grandmother's, I gave him an ultimatum: Either call the outpatient services program through our local hospital to get help, or start making plans to go live in a facility until he was well enough to come home. He agreed to the outpatient program. Meanwhile, the psychiatrist got him on new medications that were helping, and the outpatient program discharged him after about three months. Progress! He got a job working for a neighbor making local deliveries, but after his second day on the job, had a full-blown panic attack and called me crying because he was lost and overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. psychiatrist added another component to his medications to address the anxiety, and things got a little better. That was last summer. He went on a few job interviews. Was more cooperative about helping out around the house. We were all hopeful again. Then this past spring, he forgot to take his medications one day. And then the next. And then next thing I know, he's going off the rails again and I find out he hasn't been taking ANYTHING for months. We are still in the process of getting him back on track (as well as dealing with a full-blown Crohn's flare) but things are slowly improving. He signed up to take one class this fall. We live one day at a time... DC2 (barely) graduated from high school last year and had the typical high-IQ/low achiever pattern, despite interventions and accommodations. (Preliminary BiPolar (BP) diagnosis in elementary school, confirmed in high school). Started right away at community college, but quietly stopped going to classes about half-way through the semester. It wasn't until I was helping him sign up online for spring classes that I discovered he'd failed every single course. Even the English class and the term paper I helped him to write. Because, of course, when that's the only assignment you turn in all semester... His explanation was that he felt overwhelmed and not ready to deal with school. He just needed more time and would go back next year (i.e. this semester). Ok, we can accept that. However, my stipulation was that he do something constructive with his time (not play video games or read anime fiction or watch video games on YouTube), like get a part time job. His job hunting efforts were very minimal, and the battle over screen time has been constant (for both Difficult Child's) -- so much so that I had to cut off internet access at home and on their phones. (I wanted to just cancel the phones, but husband wanted to be able to reach them, so we compromised). He argued that if DC1 could "get away" with not working or going to school for over a year (technically three), then why couldn't he? The psychiatrist helped him address the anxiety issues around school and work, and by this summer, DC2 sounded willing and ready to try school again, and I agreed to the same one-course arrangement for the first semester that DC1 was allowed, primarily to focus on a successful experience rather than taking on too much and failing again. Baby steps... On the job front, he was recently hired (first time ever) at a local chain restaurant, which in itself is fantastic. The only negative is that he's working the 11pm to 6am shift, which, if you know anything about bipolar disorder, you know how important sleep hygiene is to stability. So I'm watching, and holding my breath a little, and hoping for the best, but ready to intervene if things start to unravel. DC3 is now a senior in high school. She has definitely been negatively affected by all the chaos here, but manages to function productively in both school and her personal life despite it, and despite her struggles with anxiety. Reminds me of how I dealt with similar home-life issues at her age. She has stellar grades, a successful online freelance business, takes care of herself (for the most part), and is a bright spot for me more often than not. I am, however, concerned about how her anxiety will affect her as she starts college next year, and hoping it doesn't derail her like it has others in the family, and hoping I can intervene and that she'll accept help if it comes to that. husband did not do as well with the job changes, long distance commuting, and Difficult Child chaos as I needed him to, which has made my job even harder. In fact, he contributed to the chaos in some of the worst ways possible (physical altercations with both Difficult Child's, not knowing how to manage his own emotions, not knowing how to help de-escalate out-of-control Difficult Child's, creating unreasonable demands on our relationship, not keeping appointments to manage his own mental health, etc.) Consequently, my depression and anxiety became much worse. Go figure. I developed medical issues, had a surgery, am developing more (as yet undiagnosed) medical issues... But the good news is that I finally took time to see the psychiatrist for myself, adjusted my medications, and I'm doing much, much better. And have much more energy (physical and emotional) to help keep my family circus act together. How's that for a "nut" shell? Hoping to be on here a little more often, now that I have the strength to reach out again, and looking forward to catching up with the old-timers and everyone else who has joined since I've been gone!