Hello Mom? Do you think I could be Bipolar?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Star*, Dec 7, 2007.

  1. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Hi all,

    This was the call I got from difficult child last night. If you've been following our saga, Dude is in a group home after leaving Department of Juvenile Justice. He's been non-compliant, lying, stealing and sleeping most of the day away. He quit his first and only job he needs for restitution, and said he was barely able to function 2 days a week to work on his GED. He was going to be kicked out of the group home, they talked and decided to give him another chance.

    Since they (group home and difficult child) talked he's been doing better. I have tried to stay as out of the picture as possible. Tough love. In a last ditch effort to show him how disappointed we are and pray it sticks to something in his head. The house elf at the group home told me he found Dude sitting on a couch crying that his family didn't want him for Christmas and that we aren't even celebrating it the traditional way. Sobbing? Over family? Yeah right. or Really? Yeah?

    When he asked me about being BiPolar (BP) - I told him that it was never proved but suspected through actions by our psychiatric. that bio dad and biodads Mother sound very much BiPolar (BP). And I've heard it runs in families. Then I said "What makes you think you are BiPolar (BP)?" and for those of you that are - please help because I don't know much about it -

    He said "I have thought for a long time that I was BiPolar"
    I said "How long have you thought this and why never said a word?"
    He said "I've thought this since I was like I dunno = I guess forever because one minute I'm standing there and I'm nice to people and then you say something (anything) to me and I'm ready to rip your head off and kill you. What do you think Mom?"

    I sat there for a minute and then said -"Well you have been on a ton of medications that have done little to no good, but if you ARE indeed a BiPolar (BP) - it's just a chemical imbalance and you could take medications for that, but I think you should see someone about it and continue in therapy."

    He said "I guess I could" and he sounds so depressed. I know that you can't tell much by one conversation but could he be?
    Psychs have hinted he may be, but have never been willing to solidify a diagnosis. mostly due to his age. The people here believe you don't truly see BiPolar (BP) manifest itself until your late teens or early 20's.

    He's really got a good heart. I just havent' been able to ever get along with him. Moreover it's like he said "I've never been able to get along with myself, but I have friends."

    Just throwing it out for discussion if you've gotten this far. And yes, I've (sigh) considered that I'm playing devils advocate once again, but this time he asked me. This time he listened to what I had to say about him and the possibility. I don't think that's the same as running up there, putting him in a car and forcing him to go anywhere for an evaluation. This time maybe (cross fingers) - He also said "Mom, I am SOOOOO tired of not taking my life seriously, school, work, what's wrong with me??"

    How do you answer that at 17?

    Yes indeed what is wrong with you son.

    Any input? Thanks in advance
  2. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    Maybe the light bulb is finally coming on? Maturity can kick in, in spurts, so my bet is this won't be consistent with him, but take it as it comes....maybe he's ready to get help and see what his past actions have caused.....good luck with your son....
  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    {{Star}} I wouldn't know how to respond either and we've had DR's say that difficult child IS bipolar and others who say she isn't. There have been times when I think she MUST be BiPolar (BP) and other times where I think her behavior is all hormonal and depression and nothing more.

    To me, and based on what I've read here and other places, it seems that a true BiPolar (BP) diagnosis is like a shot in the dark and that treating the behavior rather than the diagnosis is the only way to find out. But that's my opinion - I'm certainly not a DR.

    I think it's great that he's thinking about these things though. And I think it's great that he's reached out to you to see what YOU think. And I think that he really IS tired of it all and may be at a point where he will listen more and rebel less - perhaps even take a proactive step to improve his life. I don't want to come off sounding like a pollyanna, because my own difficult child has done this, seemingly turned over a new leaf, only to slip back into her old patterns again. As you already know, it's exhausting and extremely disappointing.

    I think that if your ds *thinks* this could be a possibility then he needs to discuss it with his counselor/DR. He seems afraid to do that; talking to you about it is safer for him, but he needs to talk with his DR.

    Sending hugs and support -
  4. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Star, that hurt my heart.

    I've got this little set of pom poms, and I'm quietly cheering Dude along. I WANT him to make it. Your post was like a secret play that nobody saw coming.

    Maybe. Just maybe!

    I'm gonna pray extra hard for Dude tonight.
  5. I'm going crazy!!!

    I'm going crazy!!! New Member

    Sending you all the prayers and support I have love ya
  6. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Thanks all for the "reality" of it all and the very encouraging words and prayers.

    Just when I THINK I am tougher than steel? He throws this at me and I guess because I still want to believe - it could melt me in an instant. Trying to stay strong is really P.U.

    Thanks again

    I did do a little research on adolescent BiPolar (BP) and while it seems he fits, he fits CD more. But since we've never tried BiPolar (BP) drugs - who knows. I'm thinking lithium too - but I'm not in the know for teens and medications.

    -Just for a lotto ticket type dream for minute - wouldn't it be WONDERFUL if he did start something for BiPolar (BP) and it just turned him around totally? - it's just a dream and I haven't any dreams left to dream - but it was fun while it lasted.

  7. KFld

    KFld New Member

    I'm not really that familiar with the characteristics of BiPolar (BP), but maybe this is the answer and he will get diagnosed and proper medications could be the answer.
    I hope for all of your sake that I'm right.
  8. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    Well -I'm unfortunately more familiar with BiPolar (BP) than I care to be.

    I don't know what your son's symptoms are really. Just what you allude to in this post.

    I remember my daughters very best therapist telling me that adolescents are bipolar just by virtue of being adolescent. Being 'nice one minute, and ready to tear your head off the next' could certainly be teenage angst. Hormones are wicked sometimes.

    I also think todays kids are much more savvy about the lingo and their own mental health. It is interesting that he brought up the term bipolar - where do you suppose he heard it?
  9. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa

    I don't know enough to venture an opinion on Bipolar, even though both difficult child and wife have been diagnosed with it. But I think it's encouraging that Dude acknowledges to himself that he has a problem and is looking for an answer.
  10. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    GG makes a good point about all teenagers being bipolar by virtue of being adolescent. I know that diagnosis was thrown out about Rob for years- he was even put on Depakote as a mood stabilizer and still nothing changed.

    It also could be that your difficult child is looking for an excuse for his behavior instead of owning up to it.

    Still...this might be a great time for him to see a new psychiatrist. Is that possible? If he's been weaned off all medications this would help as well.

  11. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    GG - you make a good point and one that I have to consider to be a well rounded guesser. I think Doby the house elf may be practicing a little arm chair Ph.d. He sounded pretty collegiate in our last phone conversation.

    I'm not stepping in - this is something that he is going to have to learn to do on his own. Make appointments, call the doctor, get his medications, take his medications - be responsible for himself. Seek therapy on his own.

    Doesn't make it any less of a wish - But knowing when to stay out and keep quiet about my sons business is a milestone for me.

    Thanks everyone - I'm glad you reminded me of what it's like to be a teen - forgot how vicious they are. Feed with a stick!

  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member


    I am gonna probably come in here and throw some cold water on you...lol.

    If he has bipolar...and thats a big if...I dont think this is his heartfelt idea to pour it out to you. I think someone has spoon fed him this "probable" excuse for his behaviors.

    I have known you and your son through this board for many a year now. We dont live all that far from each other. While I know they dont like to diagnosis kids with bipolar down here, trust me, if Dude was showing it in flashing neon with all the placements and therapy he has been in...he would have been diagnosed by now. Cory got the diagnosis at age 13.

    To be honest, this sounds much more like the mood swings and explosiveness and manipulation and impulsiveness that goes along with CD or maybe borderline PD. Now...if he is borderline...some of the same medications that they use for bipolar work for borderline.

    I have the double whammy of borderline and bipolar so arent I lucky...lol!

    (But Im a mild borderline so I have been told)
  13. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    It does sound like someone may have put this idea into his head. I think it's awfully unusual for him to be coming out and asking you that.

    Nichole at her worst, and not so worst fought her dxes. There was nothing wrong with HER.....it was the rest of us who had the problem. lol It wasn't until her medications were at the right level and kicked in well that she began to see it for herself. Then it still took her having to come off her medications for the preg to really have it sink in we weren't just making it all up to make her miserable.

    I suppose it's possible. But I'd have thought with his behavior and everything you guys have been thru if they really thought he had it they'd have diagnosed him with it by now. Nichole was diagnosed firmly at 15 by 2 seperate psychiatrists. And I was told they don't diagnosis bipolar here in kids.

    So are they going to consider evaling him for this now?

  14. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    My question would be "what do you want to do about it?".
    No one knows the answers to his questions. A medication and a diagnosis may help him tremendously to learn how to be a responsible, functional teen but it won't make his life a huge success. He still has to learn to make better choices, focus on a goal, treat people with respect. There aren't shortcuts to that.

    medications do a lot of good with bipolar and can allow him a life that he wants. If he is willing to put that mirror up and ask those questions and answer them honestly.

    Hugs. Growing up is the best help I have seen for difficult child.
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Oh Fran...what a true statement.

    medications cant make it all go away. I had hoped that all I would have to do was take my handful of pills and I would be all better. Nope.

    Didnt work that way.

    I have been in really difficult therapy for the last two years now and there is no end in sight. I am now headed into starting a DBT group as soon as they can get it started which I am actually looking forward to. I want to learn some better coping skills for my life...lol.

    medications can only carry one so far. It takes a person really wanting to make the hard changes and realizing that they are responsible for all that they do.
  16. jamrobmic

    jamrobmic New Member

    I agree that medication isn't a cure-all, but without medications, there was no reaching my son. Absolutely nothing got through to him. He was in therapy, he was in juvenile detention, none of it made an impression. When he was locked up, he was miserable and didn't want to be there, but he didn't connect being locked up with anything he had done. WE put him there, he didn't put himself there. The psychologist who tested him told us we wouldn't get anywhere with him until he was stable on medication.

    So while I agree that medication isn't the whole answer, I do think that in some cases, any changes have to start with the right medication.

    I don't see any harm in having Dude re-evaluated (if he's willing), and trialed on a mood stabilizer if the psychiatrist agrees. I wouldn't trial an antidepressant, however, because Dude is in so much trouble already. A bad medication reaction could have dire consequences (something I did consider for my son when I thought they were going to suggest an antidepressant). I know some people do well on them, but that's not a chance I would be willing to take with a kid already in trouble with the legal system.
  17. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Ahhh sometimes cold water is good. I'm inclined to agree with the idea that he's manipulating - he IS a master manipulator. I'm also inclined to agree and know he has Borderline (BPD) tendencies ie: narcissistic. So we're back to mood swings.

    And he's a moody bugger. The house elf brought that up to me - so if anyone is spoon feeding I suspect him. on the other hand - if he THINKS difficult child is BiPolar (BP) - then why aren't they getting him to a psychiatric for medications?

    I had not considered that taking trial medications may cause his behaviors to become worse and do something to get him thrown back in jail - so I will bring that up to him when we speak the next time.

    I'm really trying to stay out of his current situation, but when they call you and say "I'm not getting the help I need" it's hard to say "Well go back to the people you live with - they know very little, have no clue, and truly don't care." I've been (i think)pretty good with my words so that he isn't dependent on me and learns to be dependent on himself.

    Growing up has been the best thing for him so far - that and the CBT and EMDR therapy. I guess if I had a wish about his supposed disorder it would be that he would go through therapy - talk out his problems, they would find that ONE THING that is deep rooted in his head that makes all his behaviors seem okay to him - and his life would change. Then get on with healthy, happy life.

    However in an effort of self preservation - I have lowered my expectations to: I hope he can find happiness, and a job to support himself so he can survive. Funny what dreams change in such a short time -

    Thanks all
  18. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Well..........I guess I am going to be the one that is going to err on the side of non-manipulation......but quite possibly BiPolar (BP). Mania can take all forms, but stealing is one classic symptom. The day that my difficult child, age 12, went on Lithium, his stealing stopped & his frantic rages stopped. That was when I knew that our suspicions were correct. Now at 17 he is still on Lithium, and although it takes the edge off of his illness - the older he gets I can see the bi-polar forming itself into a more tangible illness. Staying up all night, and then sleeping too much (mania-depression); talking with that pressed speech when he is manic; having a grandiose image of himself and how he interfaces with reality; the random disorganization of his thoughts. BiPolar (BP) is not the only thing Matthew has going against him - and Lithium has only taken the edge off - but I can safely say that without the Lithium he would literally be off the deep end.

    Star, I would encourage, motivate, and do what you can to get Dude into a psychiatrist visit and see what they suggest. This is the age that BiPolar (BP) starts to really take on a form, and maybe Dude is able to feel it, literally, for the first time. Perhaps someone else also planted the idea, but he has to have a reason for taking the idea, and mulling it over, rather than rejecting it. It sounds like he really is trying to do some self reflection. Even if he is wrong, and it is not BiPolar (BP), at least he is searching for answers, and that should be honored by getting him to see a psychiatrist for another evaluation.

    As far as Lithium goes, this was the only medication we had very few side effects from. Whatever the doctor suggests, do not start an anti-depressant - never, ever - this will undoubtedly throw him into a hyped up state, and we do not need that! Lithium is the only medication that has been around, actually since the late 1900's when people would go and bathe in the hot salt baths, and somehow, miracously feel better. Then in the 50's I believe, it was re-discovered, and put into a pill form, and used very successfully to treat everything from deep depression, to manic-depression. It has an interesting history.

    Here is a blurb about it for those who are interested:

    <span style="color: #000099">While Swedish student Johan Arvedson has been credited for the discovery of lithium in 1817, the role of lithium has been suspected for ages, possibly in Southern Egypt before the Birth of Christ.

    Lithium Carbonate was first discovered as treatment for Mania in 1948 by Australian Psychiatrist John F. Cade. After Mr. Cade's initial report , Lithium treatment was principally developed in Denmark by Mogens Schou, beginning in 1954.

    After a decade of trials by these and other groups in the United States and abroad, the Psychiatric Association and the Lithium Task Force recommended Lithium to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for therapy of Mania in 1969, twenty years after its discovery by Cade. In 1970, upon the recommendation, the FDA approved the prescription drug. A breakthrough had finally been achieved in the treatment and prevention of one of the world's major mental health problems in the form of manic depression, and the genetically related forms of recurrent depression.

    Now having said all of the above, pioneering doctors in Lithia Springs were eighty years ahead of Cade, Schou, and the FDA. In 1890, Doctors Robert B. Cloud, Christopher Columbus Garrett, and W. H. Whitehead established the first hospital in America, the Lithia Springs Sanitarium, using natural lithium water in treating alcoholism, opium addiction, and compulsive behavior. Manic depression had not been identified as a form of mental illness at that time. In 1887, the first analysis of Lithia Springs Mineral Water proved the water to be rich, not only in lithium, but also contained potassium, calcium, magnesium, fluoride and other essential trace minerals.

    In 1999, scientists and the medical profession celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of the miracle drug lithium, a true revolution in the treatment of mental health.

    If the Springs' ancient granite walls could talk, they would tell a tale of the healing water's benefits to prehistoric mankind.</span>
  19. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    janrobmic, I want to clarify I agree with you 100%. medications are a must if there is BiPolar (BP). His stability would work wonders to allow him to learn life lessons but it won't make the life lessons just become easy with no work. If he is stable he may be able to understand that he can't get an A in school if he doesn't study. It won't give him the self discipline to sit down and study. He has to learn that like every other kid.(this is just a simple example)

    I agree that regardless if he is manipulating or not, he came to Star with some questions about helping himself having a better life for himself. As a mom, I would go with it. If a difficult child shows initiative to do something positive for themselves we should help them in any way we can.
  20. Scent of Cedar II

    Scent of Cedar II New Member

    Could it be that, having run up against a brick wall on the "oh excuse me for trashing your treatment center but I would still like very much to go home for Christmas"...Stardude might be rethinking his attitudes and behaviors?

    He could be honestly searching for an answer (and a miracle cure~ just like we moms do) to why he behaves as he does.

    As it seems to have been an honest question, not an accusation or an excuse, I would give Stardude the benefit of the doubt regarding manipulation ~ although there is a better than fifty per cent chance that his comment was meant to be manipulative.

    He senses that you are done playing the game his way and wants you re-engaged.

    Did you ask him why HE thinks that diagnosis might apply to him?

    And we must always remember that the psychiatric has to put down SOMETHING from the DM III or IV ~ whatever version of it they are on now, in order to qualify for funding.

    I think it would be very good to re-read Fran's response too, Star.

    Whatever is happening to Stardude, he will have to learn to cope with it the best way he knows to do. I hope the lithium makes a difference for your son, Star.