For those of you with BiPolar


Going Green
I have this question rattling around in my head and I'm not quite sure how to word it. Please know though that I'm asking this in the interest of my son and I mean no offense at all.

My son was diagnosed with BiPolar about 6 years ago (although I have papers from evaluations before we adopted him stating that diagnosis from a few years prior) and also has ADHD.

He's going to be 17 in a couple of months, is still basically a freshman in HS, has no job and has never had one, has issues with stealing (either outright or "messing" with our stuff in our house), lying, accepting responsibility and is basically operating on the emotional and maturity levels of a 10-11 year old. There is also a lot of the grandiose thinking and ideas. I'm starting to look into getting him signed up for any kind of services I can for when he turns 18 but I'm not sure what he's going to qualify for. He seems to be caught in the middle; not functioning enough to be totally independant but not low functioning enough to easily qualify for services.

Honestly, I'm not even quite sure what my question is. I guess I want to know two things. (And I do realize that every person is different and has different issues and motivators) 1) If you had BiPolar (BP) as a child or adolescent, was there any type of program (Residential Treatment Center (RTC) or otherwise) that helped and 2) Was there anything as a young adult that helped you with living skills or understanding what you needed to do to live on your own. Like I said, I know everyone is different, I guess I'm just grasping at straws to get help for him to function as an adult. Of course, anything I find will depend on if he actually does it. In addition to everything else, there's such an attitude of entitlement for him. I know some of it comes from him being in foster care for most of his life (i.e.: I'm special and have my own special rules, etc.)........I just don't know. I know at some point I will have to let him follow his own path, whatever that may be, but I'm still not ready to stop, I guess. He's had so much counseling over the years that he could hang his own shingle but when it comes to actually applying all that he's learned to his own life.....never happens. Of if it does, it's only for a very short time and then he thinks that's enough.

I know this post is probably just some long pointless ramble and I'm sorry. It's just that we're coming down to the wire of being able to get him services and I don't know what's going to happen when we come to his 18th birthday. I don't want him to wind up on the street or in jail as an adult but I also realize that, for him, it's a distinct possibility. I hope some of this makes sense. Like I said, I'm not sure exactly what it is I want to ask but I'm grabbing for straws at this point. Thanks for listening.


New Member
I wish I could be more help, but there was no help for me till my 30s. My parents tossed me into the street at age 12 and hunger made me stick to things, fear made me accept deplorable working conditions and hypomania gaeve me the energy to work a LOT of hours at high energy demanding jobs at low pay while finishing school.
Maybe due tohypomania and being chatty and cheerful, I was a great waitress. I was a poor real estate agent, I found that to be very dull. Once out of high school I found vocational school to be great and I also enjoyed taking classes at community college thta interested me, one class per semester while I worked 2 full time jobs.
cosmetology, truck driving, police officer, and finally nursing. those are the classes I took and seems to me those fields could utilyze someone with extra energy, and an off schedule if your son is an off traditional schedule person.
SO, for me I guess, it was no formal program- it was sink or swim. DO or starve, most literally.


Well-Known Member
My parents tossed me out at 18 and I got married to survive and not be homeless. With me there was a mood disorder and also neurological issues that are still not well defined, but they keep me from being able to keep a job. There was no help then, and I'm not sure it's better now, except that if you have a BiPolar (BP) diagnosis, I was told that's almost always an automatic SSI "yes." The best thing she can do is continue treatment with a very knowledgeable psychiatrist (God knows I think I saw every horrible one on earth). And then take no drugs, do not drink alcohol, and take your bipolar medications. That's what works for me. If I deviate from that, I go to that dark place again, so I never do. I think now is a good time to keep looking for the best psychiatrist you can find, one that can take her into adulthood and find the medications that work the best for her. In all honesty, medications helped me the most of all combined with not drinking or taking recreational drugs. ADHD medications plus bipolar usually equal disaster. I wouldn't even worry about ADHD. Bipolar is a much bigger issue. Because I had problems beyond bipolar, there would have been no sink or swim for me. I would have sunk. I was a very hard worker, but just didn't "get" what I was supposed to do at work and made tons of mistakes and would get fired. Until older adulthood the neurological problems were not identified, so I got no help. You may want to take her to a neuropsychologist to make sure she doesn't have problems on top of bipolar that may impair her from being able to work. Even stable on medications, I struggle with this and I had to swallow my pride and accept Disability. Good luck.
Unfortunately I can't help you. However, your post isn't just some "pointless ramble". In some ways, your son sounds very similar to mine. My son will be 16 soon. I'm struggling with some of the same issues you are.

My son is gifted when it comes to computers. I'm hoping that this will help him find his way in the world. Although my son refuses to do anything he doesn't want to do, he is taking college level computer classes in high school. So, while he is practically flunking history, and repeating 9th grade science because he flunked it the first time around, we allow him to take college level computer classes. We're hoping that if he doesn't graduate at 18, he'll at least have marketable computer skills.

I don't really know much about your son but does he have a certain skill that he excels at? If so, I would do what I could to help him further develop this skill. Hopefully he can get a job using this skill.

I'm not sure if I'm making any sense. Sorry I can't really help you. WFEN


Well-Known Member
WFEN brings up an interesting point. It seems to me that most of the difficult children who have done well either have a talent or a passion that they can work with (Martie's ex-difficult child). Some have new responsibilities that they take very seriously (Genny & Ant's Mom). The thing is, they end up doing well enough to either survive or thrive because they play to their strengths rather than their weaknesses. So, the trick is figuring out his skill set and going from there.
MWM has bipolar and just became a published author.
Dammit Janet worked for social services for years despite her bipolar.
Success and at least relative stability are possible...


New Member
I think for me it helped immensely that at my jobs, the people around me were accepting and also energetic and work turned out to be "fun" It did not take long for my job to become "home" and I actually LIKED working TONS of hours, so much so that when not scheduled to work, I went there anyway. Really by then I only needed a "place to live" to take a shower and a nap......becuz my whole social life and my idea of recreation all got intertwined into my place of employment or school. I did not have "friends" outside of work, and LOL since I worked in a restaurant, i could eat right here, LOL. SO- instad of having days off and SPENDING money, LOL- I worked instead and MADE money.....
and that worked until I was almost 30 and met someone to marry.

Being out IN the world helped me grow and learn along the way. My boss, my coworkers, my peers- I wanted their acceptance and that helped me find an inner motivation and I guess I just kind of grew. The classes I took becuz they interested me personally eventually began to fall into place to eventually be useful towards a specific goal......and becuz I took classes that interested me, I was happy in those classes, and that facilitated my ability to follow thru. It also helped me do well in those classes and the continueing success helped me want to try a little bigger challenge eventually. I built on my small early progress ......and that all also helped me grow. and taking my classes that way helped me really see if the things I chose were really what I thought they were about. (I mean, I THOUGHT I would like being a realtor, but in reality the job itself turned out to be ..dull in my opinion for me) But by taking single classes here and there, I got to find out more about different things.
What I tell my BiPolar (BP) dtr now is find something that sounds interesting, check it out. see if it is a good match, volunteer in it.....
I have learned over time that successful people are not necessarily super smart. They also are not necessarily good with people-----I know a LOT of doctors whose bedside manner stinks. I know a lot of PhD people who know nothiing else besides what their degree is in. But if you find something that interests you and that you like.....even mood swings can kind into place and you can usually sorta make it work, anyway.

If you think about bosses you have had, or docs you have had......I bet you can think of negative things about some of them. I bet you could sit and think of some successful person who you would still describe as having mood swings, being a "lil dense" or always being irritable crabby or anal. LOL.
Maybe you could help your kid find what he LIKES and build from there?

LOL my sons eye surgeons and neuro docs and psychiatrists all tell us as daughter his last principal-----hey bud, OK you cannot read, you cannot write, and you lost your eye- can talk, you can listen you can keyboard you are bright, you have a great sense of humor, and hey you can always drop off your laundry at the laundrymat and order groceries in and get a personal assistant.


Going Green
difficult child does have a big interest and talent (needs developed but it's definately there) in drawing. The only problem is that he wants to do what he wants to do. Even with him being really behind on his credits in school, we let him take a drawing class this past semester thinking it would be a good break for him during the day. He got a D in it because he didn't do alot of the assignments. He just wanted to sit and draw instead of doing what the teacher required. His other interests bounce around so much that we are reluctant to indulge them financially because it's a waste of money. He did PAL football for a year because our friend was his coach. Soccor lasted one season and then we had to push him to finish. He wanted to try out for the school's swim team but his grades weren't good enough so we tried him on the Y swim team. He went to about 4 or 5 practices and quit. He'll decide that there is something he wants to do/learn, tries it and either discovers he's not instantly the best or it actually takes effort and loses interest immediately. We've tried to support his interests over the years but with them being so flighty, we just don't have the money or the inclination to do it anymore.

It's basically like I said in the original post......I just don't know what to do at this point. Someone suggested having further testing and I've brought it up with his psychiatrist but she doesn't feel it's necessary. She's been good with us and doesn't poo poo me so I tend to believe her.

As for BiPolar (BP) being an automatic approval for SSI.....I'm just getting into the process, what exactly is SSI? Is that full disability or just the supplemental income? And since we're on the subject....what type of things do they require when you are applying for disability because of BiPolar (BP)?

Thank you all for your responses, I really appreciate.


New Member
there are so many things a person can do- but often they are not quite the same doing them as you think they are going to be before you do them. Very often it is only once you are doing it that you look around and go , gosh, this is not at all what I thought it would be. Or maybe the part that IS how you thought it would be is just a tiny little part of something and the rest is doing things you do NOT like or are NOT good at etc.

something else that comes to my mind is that---well once we get to go off on our own.....we CAN do some things our own way. When we are children and teens in public school, we must adhere to the hours that are predetermined and traditional. We must take a lot of classes that the state says we MUST take in a variety of subjects we might not do well at or have much interest in. We live - well usually- in homes where maybe they are our family (or maybe not) but most of the time we do not have many CHOICES. (as in you can choose your friends but not your family) And sometimes the chemistry does not work, or sometimes we feel as if we do not quite fit in.....BUT as we move on out of our childhood homes, we DO have some choices, often MORE choices. We can bathe when WE want (hopefully) or eat cold spaghetti for breakfast (so long as we get ourself an income) and we can stay up all nite watching TV if we want...
and THEN sometimes we DO learn, finally. and we learn it thru our own experience, which is usually a far better teacher than someone TELLING us someething.
And yes, if we do not perform how our boss requires, we WILL get fired, but for many kids, finally, they DO start to "get it" then......BUT when we get to choose a job...or a field- or our classes-----it is easier to be motivated to go. and if it IS something we are interested in, it will (hopefully) draw us in. and usually the people around us will also be interested and the curiosity is contagious, and bonding takes place ---

If he is older than lots of his classmates, I bet he is feeling......uncomfortable. He may feel useless, hopeless.

My dtr was a 3rd year freshman, and that thought alone instead of motivating her- well it crushed her.
Her grades were OK, she missed finals (3 times)due to administration issues...(long story)

Yes, there are different "degrees" of bipolar and bipolar does not "stay stagnant"- it cycles, it is ever changing......from birth to age 13 my dtr was an ultra rapid cycler- mixed states. I also was an ultra rapid cycler, mixed states. Both her and I could run the gamut in one day back and forth up and down and sideways.
when she was 16, it was, drugs, drinking etc. And she got caught- a LOT. arrested. then when she um..left school----she spent a full year home, never leaving home, (her choice) a very good part of that time asleep......her doctor said she was "healing" I was so glad she was no longer sexing, drinking, drugging and running around or agetting arrested......and when she began to emerge from "healing" (sleeping and staying home, isolated) she slowly began to step out into the world. Much more cautious, much more aware, more aware of what SHE could handle. and usually only with me by her side.
Her doctor and I discussed somethng I thought I noticed. Her cycles have spread out considerably, and continue to do so. She no longer seems to cross the line between hypomania and full blown mania. She verbalizes more, has more self awareness......I asked psychiatrist if psychiatrist had seen this with other early onset bipolar kids? psychiatrist said yes, sometimes.......sometimes an Early Onset Bi-Polar (EOBP) kinda...mellows.........they learn what their limits are, what they can and cannot tolerate or handle.
Now you can say that they cannot let their illness dictate their life, BUTthink about it- diabetics know what they can or cannot tolerate and they learn to live within their limits. SO do asthmatics and arthritics etc. You can learn to accomodate yourself, you can learn to compensate and you can learn to adjust. And very often, you can find work etc that can fit to who you are. We ALL do that, and in the rest of us when WE do that- it is considered "good" and "healthy"

Yes, I am also aware not ALL bipolars CAN accomplish this...... yes, there ARE varying degrees of bipolar. and yes, you can go awhile and things can be OK and then you can hit a rough time. Sooooooo you do what you have to do------at the time of crisis. Maybe a leave of absence or a week or 2 of sick time? ANd yes, I am painfully aware that some people cannot at all go on and be independant at all......and some will self destruct.....
but-----not ALL will.

There are some very accomplished bipolar people all thru history.
ANd there are some very briliant people who did not pass school even in their chosen field......but who went on and did VERY well. ANd thinking outside the box, while it might be uncomfortable to listen to- it is the people who CAN do so that often do cause great things.

Hmmm...I am starting to get a lil confused here..there are 2 threads that have been running thru my mind, that in my mind are kind of similar......
-------for those who are bipolar and another thread about um.something like- did agencies help?

something that always creeps into my mind is that.....acknowledging bipolar in kids is relatively new. Treating it is even newer......sure seems to me no treatment has been in place yet quite long enough for anyone to really truly know what IS successful.....(and what isn;t) and bipolar does not have any um..."test" like a blood test.......or xray that says definetly yes......this IS bipolar. and this is "how bad it is" or to what degree the intensity of this specific persons bipolar is. and well, it is all just so...............unsettled. so non concrete.

OK, I am bipolar......I had a successful career, I had some WILD and horrible personnal problems being bipolar.....and I KNOW I have had people who have never been formally diagnosis'ed judge me, but when I look at them, I think WHOA! Maybe you are my boss.....maybe your house is 10 times bigger than mine, BUT yikes YOU are WAY more bipolar or schizo or delusional or psychotic than I have EVER been. AND I have had some pretty sound thoughts and ideas that others discredited simply becuz I carry a bipolar diagnosis, and then I turn around and they have confirmed or validated my ideas, or stolen them......or whatever.
and I know a LOT of non diagnosis'ed bipolar people who do no better than some of the very wildly bipolar people I know at managing their own life or their own affairs. and while it might be hard to live with a bipolar, I know a lot of people who are supposedly great people who are so judgemental and so cold and so....well lots of bad things------well- I would rather live with my seriously mentally ill husband and my wild and crazy BiPolar (BP) dtr and my wonderful brilliant but goofy little son. ANd while I am bipolar, I am VERY loyal.....VERY faithful......and far too generous. It is my generosity that stops me from ever being wealthy..not my bipolar. And while much of the world might think THATS "crazy"------it suits me just fine. I LIKE myself. ANd THAT is an IMPORTANT thing------to like yourself and be comfortable in your own skin.......sadly- so many people seem to only see the "bad" parts of makes it a little harder for a bipolar person to figure out how to like themself.


Well-Known Member
Hi. While its true MANY bpers do poorly, the reaons vary. 60% of all people with BiPolar (BP) refuse their medications. That's a HUGE reason why many do poorly. Some drink in spite of knowing it can mess with their systems. I'm fairly sure I had early onset BiPolar (BP), at a time when there was no such thing...haha. I'm doing really well, but I'm extremely compliant about my medications routine. I don't feel the need to talk to anyone now. Most of the bipolars I've met who do poorly (and I've met a lot because I have belonged to many self-help groups) when they quit their medications and refuse to comply with treatment. And that's a huge chunk of those who have it.


Active Member
just an aside...ant is not bipolar nor does he have any diagnosis other than when he was young he was diagnosis with ADHD with an emphasis on the H-hyperactivity. he seems to be a busy guy as an adult but not hyper. he also went thru and seems to have outgrown ODD and drug addiction induced conduct disorder.

he shows no signs of that at this point.

however, my older sister is is 56 yrs old and bipolar. she has been hospitalized several times after long term refusal to take her medications. with medications, she can live well. she is on disability and stays home a lot. she tried many many jobs and is intelligent, but she had her ups and downs and was not able to always be at work and stay there if she was having a bad day. she says the medications make all the difference in the world.


Well-Known Member
This is an interesting thread.

I did fairly well for quite awhile because I was able to fragment myself and keep my public side "normal". No one saw the real me except my family. I hid the stress and came home and exploded. Just like people say kids can maintain in school and come home and meltdown at their parents, I did that when I had to be "good" out in the world. It was like I played a role of a normal person. But the stress had to come out someplace and home was it.

As I got older, I wasnt able to contain it as well. I dont know if that was because I became physically ill too and the pain became too much of a stressor or if my bipolar became worse. I do believe I have Early Onset Bi-Polar (EOBP) and that because I wasnt treated early that it is more treatment resistant. We keep upping my doses of medications to what I consider extremely high doses. It worries me.