Needing some input please (long)


Old Hand
After a long absence, though I've always lurked since the beginning of time as per normal, I really felt the need to come back and start posting for many reasons about the difficult children. In particular to this forum my oldest difficult child/easy child. She is more easy child then difficult child these days but right now she has been in crisis for months and most recently she has some really troubling symptoms that I wanted to put out here for ya'll to help me with.

As we all know, the doctors aren't Gods and especially when they aren't giving good care. In our case daughter wasn't getting proper treatment and we are currently transitioning to another one (next week) that hopefully will be better. She will get a therapist along with it. Something she didn't have prior either.

Let me give you a little back story on what has been going on to help out a bit. She went away to college a year ago. At that time she had been stable for about 7 years or so. Minor little things would be going on but mostly things that were manageable. She maintained on basically on stimulants for focus in school. The problems we had encountered otherwise was the season mood swings during Winter (depression about Octoberish to January give or take in timing) and then Spring brought on mild mania. Again, not enough that she really needed mood stabilizers. She would often have trouble getting to sleep come spring but it never disrupted her schooling or functioning. When she was about 16 she went through about a months period of time she felt a little suicidal but it was due to a broken relationship with a boy but we all survived that and the "very" brief 2 week period where she had cut her legs (has scars now) because of it too. All in all again, not bad.

Once away at college it was an adjustment for her because it was a totally new environment, no support structure like she was used to at home (me) and life was just "different" as we all know college life is in many ways in how you have classes, etc. She experienced the typical draw that our kids do once they go away to school and wanting to "fit in" and do what everyone else does there. She was always the excellent student in high school with the advanced classes and such and still had advanced college courses so the work load was a bit heavier but she maintained "fairly" well even with some of the "stupid" things she apparently was doing. I can say this now because I have learned what she had done. Come Spring time there she struggled, as she would normally, only this time with no support and a new environment it was harder and so she sought out help via the school health office. There she met with a counselor and the dr who attempted to put her on some medication, Lamactil. She has not been on a mood stabilizer since she was very young (at that time it was very disastrous!). Same thing happened this time and she had to go off it relatively quickly as it made her very angry at everyone and everything. Luckily she was able to make it through to the end of the year.

By this time we had moved to another state and things were unsure of what the future actually would be for a while. She went back to college and I was concerned for her stability but there wasn't an option for her due to deadlines of applications, etc. I really wasn't happy about it but it was the best choice at the time financially for her. I was concerned. About a month into the Fall semester I get a call from her on a Saturday night about 11p. She was extremely drunk and depressed, crying and kind of suicidal. It's a call I will never forget. She had called me in the past but never like this and with her and her expressions of suicidal (not sure if others can identify or not, but sometimes they express these thoughts but it's just "talk" and you know they aren't really meaning it?) thoughts, I knew that this time was not one I could just let ride at all.

I talked to her for about 3 hours as she had so much to say, concerns. She wanted to come home, didn't want to come, etc. There really wasn't anyone at the school I knew could help her. The student health center wasn't open and even if they were, they wouldn't be of much help. The most that might have happened is the police and/or and ambulance would have been called and she would have been taken to a hospital and then perhaps landed in a phospital but that wouldn't have been a good idea as her insurance would not have covered her in that state, not to mention she would have been hours away and her anxieties without me being there would have just snowballed and made it far worse in the long run.

So I had to make a judgement call after listening to all she had to say to feel it out of what she really wanted and needed. The need was that she needed to be in care of a "real" doctor who could stabilize her on proper medications now and work through issues and such and this would need to be ongoing. Something that in no way could be done where she was at going forward, especially again, due to her insurance. So, SO left to go pick her up at 1A and got there at 3A. They got the bare minimum of her stuff and a week later they returned to clean out her room (she roomed in with her boyfriend who is an RA). Of course this caused another bigger problem due to financial aide in the end as the school charged her 30% of everything and now that's a big mess and they are holding her transcript which means she can't get into the college here, compounding the situation at the moment. But that is for another time.

So that's the back story of where we are at with her home. She has been having trouble with her BiPolar (BP) and began seeing the doctor in December (took that long to get her in) and put on Lithium, Seroquel, and Ambien for sleep. In the beginning it did seem to level out her moods a whole lot but even with the medication she still had sleep issues. I have to say though, that she would opt to sleep during day more often then not even when she could sleep some of the time because of sibling difficult children due to their behaviors ( again, another post in another forum at another time) since she can not tolerate them so she sleeps to avoid them and will get up in the evening and then stay up late into early morning hours. Something I've repeatedly told her is "not" helping her in the long run and she knows.

She has been having issues with diarrhea, feeling nausea and when she eats immediately having to "c*ap it out, as she puts it. Nothing seems to agree with her other then if she simply eats a granola bar or yogurt. I realize to some extent that the diarrhea and nausea can be side effects of the lithium but even this many months later? I don't think that the inability to eat anything is, is it? The more disconcerting thing that has been happening that I've learned and is really "scaring her" and making her wonder if she is manifesting symptoms of schizophrenia is that she felt the following:

She went back to her college over the weekend to visit with friends. On the drive home she felt very surreal feelings as if their was a "veil" in front of her that she was trying to look through. Not a literal piece of material. Clear wall she had to view through. She has felt it again each and everyday, including yesterday. Some other things that have been occurring is that she has a "hatred" of her little sister due to her behaviors (in reality she doesn't hate her but she gets to feeling like this anymore, like she just can't stand her) and when oldest difficult child/easy child was very little and I was pregnant with sister oldest said "I'm going to flush her down the toilet". LOL Now what that has to do with is the fact that oldest difficult child had a really odd experience 2 days ago where she didn't think younger sister was real. She actually thought she was dead, that she had flushed her when she was little and she was manifesting her, though she knew she was really alive. Do you understand that? She also had another experience last night where she was online talking to someone she knows and this person was telling her about their life (tragic things that have happened to them) and suddenly she got that strange feeling "surreal" as she puts it, and comes downstairs to me freaked out because she wasn't sure if that person was real or not even though she "knew" she was talking to him online but could not understand how someone could go through such horrible things and she was actually talking/typing to him online (was sure she actually was). She also had a "paranoid" thought about some lady when she was at her exercise class at the Y that this lady was some government agent but realized that she really wasn't. She said she has experienced this things in the past, not just after this weekend. She has never spoken of this to me before so I'm a little shocked, concerned. Everything is surreal to her when it happens and she is "freaked out" that she is losing her mind, going crazy. In the past she was not on these medications.

A few days ago I was thinking she was having Lithium toxicity with the physical symptoms of the diarrhea, nausea, tremors of her hands, etc and then these strange feelings. Partly because the stupid dr hasn't checked her level in 3 months!!! She is on 1200 mg and that's a high dose. They should have been checking it at least once a month. My younger daughter gets hers checked once a month. I also thought "maybe" it was an interaction because stupid easy child/difficult child drank (WAY too much) alcohol and smoked over the weekend at a party (yes I am very disappointed and she knows it but she did tell me which I give her credit for - though suspected she might do it prior to her leaving so was hesitant to even let her go). She said she's never drank so much before like she did this weekend to where she "didn't pass out" but sat there "out of it" and has blank spot of time. I questioned her about the possiblity of someone having access to her drink in case something got put in it, also something being in the smoke (that is the only factor we can't account for at the moment). She said she had her own bottle at all times and no one had access to it at any moment. It is something I have spoken to her since young teen years (even though I don't like the idea I am proactive in self protection). I warned her that smoking can kick back at you and interact with her medication (and alchohol), but more importantly the smoke can kick back at any time, even up to a year later and who knows what might have been in it even if it was a pesticide.. ..... *big sigh*

I am so so disappointed in my difficult child/easy child. This one is not one I would have ever thought would go down this path and if you knew her you'd know why. But more then anything right now I'm concerned for the symptoms she is displaying and what might be causing them. Does anyone have any input or thoughts? Anyone with experiences? It seems that they only display in the late afternoon/early evening into the night.

I welcome any responses.


call 911

I'm sorry for you both. (((Hugs))) I know she's really struggled to get on top of things all her life, and has done so remarkably so despite every roadblock. You know my first incling was schizophrenia - HOWEVER after the list of medications and the strength coupled with the freedom of college, drinking, and God knows what at any given party? I think I'd back up on that thought and put it on a back burner for awhile.

I have no personal experience with Lithium, but one of Dudes teachers was on it for a long time and we talked about the effects it had on her long term, and the spacing out, and aggression was two that I remember her speaking about. The fact that your daughter hasn't had any blood work to test her levels and how they are affecting her organs and blood? Hmmm I'm not medical either, but I would think at such a high dose I'd want to start there before going anywhere. That and possibly reading about the side effects of all the medications and maybe talking to a pharmacist about the long-term interactions. The diarrahea may be helped by probiotics introduced into her diet daily. That alone would make me grumpy - and possibly she could add some imodium - IF it doesn't have any problems interacting with the other drugs - it can't be taken with some medicaitons -if she is taking it? That may be one of her problems (just thinking)

I think a complete physical, blood panel, and some rest are needed for her. As far as talking to the guy on the computer and other stuff? I'd basket b that for now - absolutely be acutely aware of it, document it, but I think we need to get her blood chemicals straightened out first and then proceed. It could be something as simple as STRESS. I don't know - like I said I don't take and never have taken the drugs she's on so I can't speak as to the side effects. But if she's feeling wonkey/ Time for a check up first and THEN see where you go from there. If levels are fine? Maybe change medications? Maybe add something FOR shcizophrenia and see how she feels. Definitely have her tell the doctor about it. Nothing to be embarassed about - I do know three schizophrenics, and all are dandy people as long as they stay on their medications. When they don't? One of them is very aggressive, physically harmful, dangerous, the other two I'm not sure the one girl gets mean, angry, very out there - the other is just a mess. It's one of the illnesses I dislike the most for anyone.

I'm sure others will come along that have more experience with all of this. Just know you are in my thoughts.

And as far as her transcripts? Do you think maybe a letter from her doctorS would help them release her records - Maybe if theyknew WHY she had to leave? They could help her.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
The first thing I would do would be to call her psychiatrist and get a lithium level done asap. The diarrhea could definitely be linked to the lithium, and lithium toxicity is not something to mess with. Ambien could be behind the other weird symptoms, Oldest had a psychotic episode after mixing Ambien and pain pills once, it was very frightening. Had she taken Ambien before having those episodes?

I think it's time for a sit-down with the psychiatrist to re-evaluate her medications.

Hugs.. and welcome back.


Old Hand
Thanks Star. Thing is, Schizophrenia is in the family genetics from bio idiot and now we found on maternal family line (they have it on back burner for middle difficult child for future reference). My second cousin just recently triggered into it from "smoking" and mixing drugs too. :( Scares the beegus out of me knowing what I know just within the family history here.

As they increased the Lithium up (started at 600, 900, 1200) she became more and more angry/anger burst over nothing it seemed. I really did think it was the Lithium. When she started not getting the proper care I began searching out for a new dr but it's hard as she is very limited on who she can go to. Finally just found someone else that isn't in the same practice group. The Lithium even caused her thyroid to go wonky and her primary dr had to check that out. It did level off thankfully. I think it might have caused an iron problem for her as well as she has never had problems with iron either and she had low levels and had to go on that. It was a big concern because she had had mono about 3 years ago and we thought she was having to battle that again with how fatigued she was feeling all over again. Plus she got upset because she is a faithful donor of blood ( she is O negative - universal donor and the fact that it is given to babies pleases her even more) and she wasn't allowed to donate due to low iron.

As for getting blood level, she can't have old dr draw because she isn't "with them" any longer and she hasn't been "assigned" the new dr yet. She has to "see" the therapist next week and then can see dr same day who can order it. I know it sounds messed up but it's the "system" and how it works. The only other thing is to go to an ER which is a really big hassle and she is not a patient person. I told her we could do that but after speaking to her primary care dr's nurse and discussing it with difficult child, unless things get totally unmanageable (meaning if difficult child feels like things are really out of control) then no reason to go to ER as we are in agreeance that she is tapering down the Lithium anyway which will help bring the level down too (also spoke to pharmacist).

As to the transcript, I have spoken to a disability rights advocate and a disability law center on the transcript issue both here in TN and in NC (where school is based). They have every right to withhold transcript until the money is paid! See what happened is she received the financial aid loans from FAFSA process and school got them at beginning of school. When she withdrew a month later they had to return it. Only thing is, she now owes the "school" the 30% of the cost (tuition, room/board, etc). By law, they have a right to hold it. Doesn't matter that they know her income and she could never pay that by the date they want it in full because it's not like financial aide loan you pay over time. So, she can't get transcript to send to UT here to get back into school (so she will loose essentially at least a year or more) which will help stabilize her even more because she lives for school (and diversion) and getting on with her life. She has been volunteering at the local library (her love of books/literature) weekly, taking zumba and other classes at the Y, starting a garden here, going on small hikes at the local places, attending "shows" (alone) at hotspots to see concert (free) to maybe meet others but mostly just for the music, etc. All things to help occupy time and keep herself busy. I try and give her other ideas as well. She wanted to start fostering some furpups but that is just not practical here not only with the difficult children but the setup is not conducive to that kind of thing. LOL She'd be great but just not a wise thing.

Crazy - I was also thinking about the Ambien as I've known it to cause some strange things too. She only gets 15 pills for the month so it's not a steady, daily thing for her to take but I think you just never know with medications when it will be that 1 pill that will do something. I was also thinking it could be the Seroquel as I've heard that can do some strange things.

We are talking about a really super intelligent young women who is very much aware of herself and about most everything and educates herself about things as well. Problem is she gets serious anxieties, can be very insecure and believe it or not (though she has no reason to be) has some self esteem issues too.


Active Member
My son-in-law's brother has Schizophrenia. He lives in a 'home' and can not hold job. When they have brought him to family dinners he sometimes has to walk around outside to calm himself before he comes inside. He also has the serious anxieties, but doesn't come across as an intelligent or educated person at all.

I know this is an extremely hard time for you and you family! I hope the docs find the right dose of medications to help her soon. (((blessings for us all)))


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Hi TP. I am sorry you're experiencing all of this. I am no expert on any of this and hesitate to give any input at all. However, perhaps some of my experience will assist you. My brother is a Paranoid Schizophrenic. He has had hallucinations. As is often the case with these mental illnesses, he is very, very bright and extremely creative. As is my sister, who is BiPolar (BP)/Aspergers, etc. Mental Illness is all over my family and often those impacted are extremely bright with very high IQ's. If memory serves, there are 5 different kinds of Schizophrenia. As you likely already know, mental illness often comes in 'constellations' many different kinds affecting the person, which makes diagnosis as well as medication a real challenge. And, mental illnesses often present later in the teen years or early in the 20's. My brother and sister were unique kids but the illnesses didn't really come in full force until they were quite a bit older. My sister's came in full force when she was in her late 20's, early 30's. Brilliant, creative, unique, talented, bright and with brain anomalies which make living a 'normal' life impossible. However, both siblings are doing quite well now.

If you haven't already read it, I recently read a really good book about mental illness by a Psychiatrist who is BiPolar (BP) too. It explains the disease in a fashion that makes it understandable. It's called The Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. It also shows how someone with such a challenging illness can have a productive and successful life/career. Even with all her knowledge, it took YEARS for her to find the correct dosage/medications.

My heart goes out to you. These illnesses are so difficult to diagnose, medicate and live with. I grew up with it and then realized my only child is also impacted. Long ago I read a book by a Jungian therapist whose best friend was BiPolar (BP). She decided at one point to go along with and into her friend's manic phase without judgments and without medications. She wrote the book about her experiences with her friend. It was compelling and fascinating. Where they go inside their own heads is remarkable and horrifying (to us) at the same time. The therapist came away with a whole new understanding of the disease.

Hugs and prayers to you to find the right medication, diagnosis and the right path for you and your daughter. God bless.


Roll With It
You are having a really tough time of it, aren't you? I am sorry that she is having so many problems.

I don't know if she is schizophrenic or not. I actually don't know much of anything that would help except to follow your instincts.

is there any way she could register as a special student for a semester, and not need the transcript or be in a degree program but take a few classes? Or take some classes at a community arts center, just something to give her some purpose and creative outlet? Or take prerequisites at a junior college until her transcripts are available? Most jr colleges are a LOT cheaper and transfer to the larger 4 yr univs fairly easily. It cannot hurt to ask.

If you are in Tx, and are talking about UT Austin, I do know a group that she might be interested in and able to work with for a semester or two on an unofficial basis that would get her involved in things. I can pm you IF that is wehre you are. Just PM me and let me know.


Well-Known Member
tia...Im so sorry you are having these problems with your dtr. I dont have experience with schiz myself but I have had experience with those medications. She does need to get that lithium level checked. She doesnt need to wait to get into her dr. You can go into the ER and tell them you are concerned and they will run a quick panel anytime for you. We have had to do that several times when Cory was on lithium. Also, lithium caused Cory's thyroid to go wacky too but with synthroid it got better. If she got put on medication that could help.

Seroquel can cause the symptoms it is supposed to control. The first time I tried it, it turned me into a first class raving psychotic Later on, years later I was able to take a very small dose of it to start off with but no where near the dose they started me on the first time that turned me psychotic. Some folks cant take ambien though I can take it just fine. I have been on it for well over 8 years now.


call 911
What about just going to a doctor in the box place and asking for a panel or a non-emergency hospital place - I can't think of the name for it - but here they are like ER's but not ER's. They have them all over the bloody place associated with the hospitals but not like The walk in clinics called Doctors care - they are technically ER's - just NEVER as busy. Someplace like that maybe? Usually a copay on insurance is MUCH MUCH lower. Like $50-$100 vs. $500 for an actual ER.

And scooping off Susiestars great idea - HOW about her going to Technical school and taking classes? OR -----Since you are in Tennessee? And she likes Animals so much - HOW about an internship at the zoo???? OMG if she ever got to work at their serpentarium I would move in with her. lol.

Just been thinking about her all day.....You want me to box up the monkey and send it back to you???? ROFL - OMG he STILL makes me scream.....Poor little thread bare mon...key.


Old Hand
recovering - I will look for that book. Sounds like an interesting read. Thank you.

susie - no, we are in TN like in my profile says. She had thought about community college but they wanted money up front and/or a transcript as well. She could "audit" a course, meaning she wouldn't get the credit and she refuses to put time in and not get credit for the course. To her it's wasting time. Additionally, her classes she likes aren't widely available in all the schools around here. They aren't business or tech classes. You see she is a classics major ( she's had 4 years advanced Latin, now 1 1/2 of advanced college level, 1 year greek, etc). She also takes literature classes so it's heavy on English courses.

So far she's doing a little better as the Lithium is lowering since we are weaning downwards after speaking to her primary dr at the beginning of the week before starting the process in prep for the new dr. Basically we were to cut the dose in half 1200 to 600. The surrealness is still happening but nothing like it was so I think perhaps the lithium. She is not so freaked out about it when it does happen either because she knows what's going on and she just comes and tells me about it and we talk a few minutes and it seems to pass within an hour now unlike before when it would last a lot longer and she'd obsess over it making it worse. The best part is she is not saying "this is why I don't want to take any medications and why I should just die and not have to deal with this the rest of my life". That has always been an issue with her, and I know often typical of BiPolar (BP) illness in how it often can make people feel.

I have struggled with her to help her see that she needs to find her purpose for living. She can't seem to ever see that there is a purpose for life, to live. No matter what I or anyone else have thrown out to her she finds a way to dismiss it. She is so darn intelligent she talks her way around it. *sigh*


Well-Known Member
Staff member
TP, I am encouraged to hear that lowering the lithium levels seem to be helping. Good news. I am sorry to hear that your daughter feels she has no purpose, perhaps if she read the Unquiet Mind that may help. And, you might share with her that my younger sister who is BiPolar (BP) with some other issues as well, went to Grad school for Fine Art and became quite an accomplished and successful Artist. Along the way,as she understood her own illness better she became an advocate for the 'disabled' (disabled is how she views herself and it gives her a forum to assist others) using art as the medium to teach and also to encourage other artists who are disabled. She used her illness to support others and has become quite well known for it. She not only does what she loves in her own home studio, but has art shows all over the country, but her most cherished job is teaching disabled kids/people and letting them know how important their work is. I am very proud of her for what she has done with her life and how she is so steadfast in her commitment to support others like herself.

Having grown up with so much mental illness all my life, literally surrounded by it, I have a different viewpoint and experience then most. All of those in my family who are 'different' also possess skills and talents ordinary folks don't have. Perhaps in one way their brains don't function in the average way, but their brains are very well developed in other ways, as if to make up for the initial anomaly. They are usually brilliant, creative and unique, and I believe with the appropriate support and encouragement, which I'm sure you are providing your children, they can lead remarkably creative lives. It takes more work perhaps, but the brilliance of their worlds can be such an asset to the rest of us. So many highly creative people have given the world great works of art, music, literature, and fought their own inner demons along the way. You might share with her the sheer volume of famous, creative folks who were BiPolar (BP), it's remarkable.

I wish you peace and calm on this path you are on, it is not an easy one but I believe it can be a rewarding and creative one. God Bless you and your family.


Old Hand
Thank you recovering. She is brilliant. So many have told her this. From the first grade when she couldn't read and then suddenly by the end she could she would be the top accelerated reader each and every year there after for years. She was never without a book in hand. We'd go to the grocery store, she'd walk along side me with book in hand reading. It went like that no matter where or when to this day. She loves the smell of books. She has met famous authors. Her passion is books/literature. She has been writing for years and growing in her ability to do so and learning how to fix her errors/grammer as she has never been a good speller (go figure on that one). She just doesn't see herself like we do, any of us.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Spell check can be useful for her. But, wow, a writer, that is wonderful. One thing about words is how much they impact others, with beauty, information, inspiration, support, direction,etc. One thing I've learned in my 100 years on this planet, is that when you take yourself out of your own 'stuff' and help others, you are transported out of that stuff into a whole new world. Perhaps she could write her own experience, her feelings, fears, worries, an account of what it's like for her at her age. The writing could be for her, what art was for my sister, a way to heal from her own issues and maybe even help others in the process. The helping others was the turning point for my sister. I had a similar journey too, and when I was able to assist others, my own pain began to dissipate. As a young woman facing these challenges, she could be an enormous support to other young people facing similar issues and help herself along the way by using her words to gain insight and clarity. Brilliance should be shared!!


Oh my. Just some thoughts...everyone is different, etc.
A bit of a concern in my mind is that she started taking Lithium, Seroquel, and Ambien (on top of a stimulant???) all at the same time. And, as we all know, being on a stimulant with BiPolar (BP) can be very tricky. And was she taking the Ambien every evening? The Seroquel can often help folks sleep.Now that she is feeling so sick, I do hope she (or you if necessary) will call the doctor asap and let him/her know what is going on. Perhaps all that is needed is a medication adjustment. Perhaps you can work with financial aid. I have friends that have made all sorts of good deals. Has she ever been to regular therapy (t-doctor or mental health counselor) in addition to seeing a psychiatrist for medications? It would be great if she could get back to school (one closer to home if necessary), get her health in better shape and perhaps get to counseling to help with the stress related to college, etc. Anyway, it all starts with informing her physician right away of these symptoms you have mentioned!!! This is very important!!!!!


Old Hand
Nomad, she isn't and wasn't on a stimulant and yes she has seen a regular dr. Part of why she left the college was to come back home to be involved more closely with both a regular psychiatrist, medical dr and a therapist. All things she's doing and she wants to get enrolled in college here locally so she can be able to do and keep this all, which was in the post. The school isn't really the stress, it's the BiPolar (BP).

We have talked with financial aid office and there is nothing they will do at all. They want it all, in full at once sadly. We've tried even with disability law advocates help. We are just hoping for best and will continue pursing the mental health here while she's saving up the money she needs (I'll help her as best I can but I'm limited too) and then we will pay them off. Her health comes first as that is the only thing we can really address at the moment. :)


Old Hand
Thanks Janet. I told her about the book yesterday and she said she had heard of it. I told her I was going to read it and she should too. I believe she will. I'll see if our library has it and if not see if it can be ordered in from another branch. If not, we'll just get it.


New Member no degree needed. You don't want to pack her off to California-but look at the programs on the list. Writer's boot camp is one that looks perfect. Also-sure it does sound like being on the verge of a dissociative episode, but it also sounds like a lot of other things, like a dip in blood sugar.
The one school is being rather strict with the transcript, but at this point they are preventing her from enrolling elsewhere? Hmm. So in essence, the federal gov. is blocking her education? There HAS to be a solution! Maybe the in-taking school can be more lenient about transcript req.?
Ambien is the one that worries me. Why not just use Tylenol PM? Or Benadryl? Or even Melatonin? Seriously, the side-effects from Ambien are not worth the risk.