Sad mother, bipolar daughter


Active Member
Hello, I don't know how I found this site, probably by googling something along the line of "bi-polar adult child tough love," and I am grateful to have found this site!
We are middle aged parents of three daughters, 24, 26, and 28 years old.
Our middle daughter is the reason for my post.
She was our artistic child, popular in school, and was accepted to the best public university in our state. She began to unravel right around the age of twenty, and had to withdraw from university just before her 21st birthday. She tried various medications, but lacked the discipline to stay on any long enough to find the best mix. She tried a vocational program at our encouragement in the hope that she might learn a skill, thinking that maybe the academic route just wasn't for her, but she was unable to finish the program.
Since the age of 23, she has lived full time with us. Many descriptions on this site of unpleasant and domineering behavior on the part of a difficult child apply to our experience. To recount what her behavior is like when she is in a manic state is painful and perhaps unnecessary since we all know what a depressed bipolar adult child is like.
Things were getting bad enough in the last year that I began to seriously consider spending time away, since I thought that maybe there would be peace in the household. I tested the waters by spending a few weeks with one of my sisters, with my husband's support, and my daughter simply shifted her focus to my husband and made his life miserable.
Three weeks ago, at the conclusion of a manic episode during which she physically attacked me when I confronted her about bringing in cats number two and three (never mind the three pet rats and two parakeets that we had to have removed), she found herself charged with domestic disturbance and in the back of a police cruiser and ended up spending the weekend in jail. It hurts me to write all this. It is awful to have a loved one who is mentally ill handcuffed and put in the back of a cruiser. She spent three days in jail.
It is a hard situation as I care very much about her well being but I am also afraid to be in her presence, since her attack included hair pulling, punching, and biting.
I have read stories here of parents who have learned to detach themselves, and I think I am half way there. I wish she didn't have to be forcefully removed from our household. Just two months ago, I was encouraging her to look for a small apartment with me. We found one, but on the day we were to sign a lease, she backed out and refused to sign or even consider moving.
Does anyone here find themselves experiencing a peaceful household when their adult child is finally out, and dreading the day that the child might have to come back? I'm ashamed to say that I can't have her back in the house. I love her and am willing and able to support her from a distance, but I need time to breathe, and my husband and I need time to be alone together.


Well-Known Member
Hello Tandemdame
Welcome to the forum. I’m sorry for your heartbreaking situation, but I am glad you found us here. It is a safe place here to share your story. I can tell this is a hard situation for you as you love your daughter, and understand her illness, but it is also a fearful situation, especially if you need to fear for your safety.

All of us here are learning that loving detachment is necessary with our difficult adult children. If you have not yet read the article on detachment at the top of this forum, that is a great reminder and reinforcer of why detachment is necessary and is the only thing that works in our situations.
Does anyone here find themselves experiencing a peaceful household when their adult child is finally out, and dreading the day that the child might have to come back? I'm ashamed to say that I can't have her back in the house.
Yes. We are all in the same boat with this. This is nothing to be ashamed about that you have peace when your adult child is out. You are right that she cannot return, as it will only worsen the situation. This is actually how it should be in most situations, that our adult children should be out. They must all leave at some point, for their own growth and freedom as well as for us and for our own health. Most all agree that our difficult situations only get better, saner, and more peaceful when our children are out of our homes.

Stay with us and keep posting. More will be along soon with wisdom and guidance and more experience to address your specific situation. You will find much support and comfort here to know you are not alone and we understand. Take care and keep sharing.


Active Member
Thank you, Kalahou, for your reply. I read the detachment essay this morning and found it useful, along with many other posts and links on this site.
She has stopped posting on any social media site, so we called the local crisis intervention agency yesterday and were not told whether or not she has sought help there. They would only say that a release of information had not been signed. It was an ambiguous statement that could be interpreted to mean she is there but didn't sign a release or that she is not there. The attendant didn't confirm anything other than that a release wasn't signed. Frustrating.


Well-Known Member
Hi there and I'm sorry for this. I have mood disorder myself, controlled well on medication. Bipolar is quite treatable. If your daughter refuses treatment then essentially she is untreated bipolar due to her own choice. I don't know if funding her non compliance is good for her. Each manic and depressive cycle ingrains itself further on the brain. The cycling needs to be treated or it gets worse.

Is your daughter on SSI? She can get it for bipolar and in my opinion that makes more sense than you feeling you must support her all her life. Most people with treated bipolar are productively working. It discourages her from getting proper treatment if you support her financially. And those highs and lows need to be treated.
I am sorry your daughter is mentally ill. Bipolar, other mood disorders and anxiety disorders are no longer untreatable. Good therapy helps the medications. Excerise helps the body and mind both. She needs a treatment plan and your retirement money won't make her bipolar improve. Sometimes the money we hand out is to assuage our guilt, not help our adult children. It is our easy way of our feeling better, but doesn't help them get better. But it is hard to stop thinking if we let go, they will fall and feel unloved. Money isn't love. Emotional support is love. On their side, respect is love. Treating us like crap is not love, mentally ill or not. She isnt.psychotic so she knows what she is saying and what it means.

I hope you can find peace today. You do not need to worry about and take care of non compliant adult daughter forever. She alone can help herself. You cant.

Hugs for another hurting heart.


Active Member
Somewhereouthere, I was hoping someone with successfully treated bipolar would respond. Thank you. It gives me hope to hear this.

My daughter is not on SSI, but we were in the process of gathering medical records to apply, and I had mostly finished helping her fill out the application when her latest manic episode began. I have the records all gathered and ready to submit.

Currently, we don't know where she is, and I mentioned in a previous post that we called the local crisis center yesterday which neither confirmed nor denied her admittance.

I have driven around town, scoured FB posts for clues (we are still "friends" but she rarely posts), looked at her cell records online (she still has a family account with us), all to no avail. She was always secretive and suspicious of us as a teen, and any inquiry, no matter how friendly or well meaning, into her school or private life was rebuffed. I don't want to intrude upon her, I would just like to know that she is alive.

I have not yet contacted the few friends she has because I don't want to infuriate her, assuming she thinks I'm being intrusive.

I did put some money in her checking account two weeks ago, and she ran through it pretty carefully, all things considered.

As to your advice to not continue enabling her, I know you are right.

When she declined the offer of an apartment, my husband and I took out a loan against the house to have a small living area made for her in our garage, just so that she could have something of an independent life, and we could have a normal married life. Needless to say, I'm not sure what I was thinking at the time except that I desperately wanted to help, and any plans to renovate have gone by the wayside now that she is out of the house.

My biggest fear is that she is a young attractive woman. I worry about her safety.

Thanks again very much for responding.


Well-Known Member
Staff member

I'm sorry for your struggles with your daughter, tandemdame, it is very difficult to parent our adult kids who have mental issues.
Many of us here experience that peaceful environment you speak of, once our kids are no longer living with us......and we do not want to repeat the experience of having them live with us once again. You deserve that peaceful environment.

You might try contacting NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental illness. You can contact them online and they have chapters in many cities. They have excellent courses for us parents... along with resources, information and guidance for us to learn how to deal with our adult difficult kids. Get yourself support in some fashion, either NAMI, therapy, counseling of some sort, a support group, whatever feels right to you. Many of us here need that support in order to make the tough choices in regard to detachment, it's not easy to do. But it is doable.

Detaching is a process, it takes time as we learn a very different way to parent. We have to learn to stop enabling our kids.

Keep posting, hang in there, get support........I'm glad you're're not alone, we really do understand, we've been in your shoes.

Snow White

On the Mad Tea Party Ride
Welcome, tandamdame. Sorry that you are going through such difficulties right now.

I feel for you worrying about where your daughter is and whether or not she is safe. We are currently going through the same thing with our daughter, who halfway around the world.

You deserve peace and serenity. Having our difficult kids back at home would be so detrimental.

I am in the beginning stages of detachment (daughter always accused me of it but I really have been an enabler) now and this forum has been so helpful with information and ideas. If my husband and I don't detach fully, we will be bankrupt and stressed to the max.

Keep involved in the site here - there's lot of great help (and always an ear and/or shoulder ready for you)!


Active Member
Thank you, McDonna and Recoveringenabler, for your responses.

My husband just told me he got a call from our daughter from the local hospital. As we suspected, she was admitted to the psychiatric floor.

Husband said she sounded heavily sedated. She said she needed a new cell phone. She ran over her last one. This would be the third phone in two months that has been broken.

She asked if there was still a "lawsuit" against her, probably referring to the temporary restraining order that was issued when she was removed from our home.

Husband said he had to repeat things to her several times, and that she ended the call with, "f*** you," and hung up.

I'm glad she has been located, and we both agreed that there is no hurry to replace the cell phone, and that the next cell phone purchase was coming out of her savings bonds, or we can scrounge around for an old phone and reactivate it.

Of course, my worries are now replaced with anxiety over what is going to happen next once she is released. If she was admitted last Saturday, wouldn't she be more "with it" after almost five days of medication?


Well-Known Member
Why worry about it? She will either chose to continue treatment or she wont. Worrying won't change her decision. Maybe she went into one for the free meals. I never try to figure out difficult kids. Does she have borderline personality disorder, by any chance?

Five days on psychiatric medications are nothing. THeY Take Over A Month to kick in. They do not help borderlines, which is often mistaken for bipolar. But people with bipolar are pretty nice. Crazy anger and erratic emotions and rages and moods that change every minute....that is more like borderline. Diagnosed or not. Read up on it. Borderlines are impossible to get along with. Bipolars do well on medications. Borderlines...not so much. They are harder to treat.

Why buy her a cell phone? Let her buy one. IN THE u. S there are free phones for the unemployed. She must have a way to get a phone where she is. If not, does she need one so badly that you'd make sure she had one even though she is horrible to you and won't work and buy it herself?

I really think you may have a borderline daughter. Look up the symptoms on your search engine and see what you think. There is a good book for those who love people who are impossible to get along with. It's called "Stop Walking on Eggshells." I don't remember the author, but even without one it should be easy to find in the psychology book section.
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Active Member
Thank you, Somewhereoutthere, I did a quick reading of Borderline Personality Disorder. She does exhibit erratic behavior, does have pretty intense anger issues, but she has never expressed suicidal urges (even to mental health professionals. We have been going over her records for SSI purposes). She has had periods of stable behavior, but I have to admit that after living around her for three years, I have trouble sorting out the normal from the abnormal because she has changed US and how we live in this house.

Her diagnosis from a few years ago was Bi-polar with major depression. She did exhibit some auditory hallucinations two years ago when she kept telling me that people were saying obscene words to her, but has not complained recently. She does tend to be paranoid and seems to think she knows what others are thinking.

The one straw that I keep grasping is that she has never really stayed on any medication long enough to see if it works, so I hope that there is that magic combination of medication that might make a difference.

We will not be supplying her with another cell phone any time soon. I'm hopeful that she gets connected in with social services and sticks with a program.

This is hard.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
tandemdame, this is very hard, I'm so sorry.

Before your daughter is released from the hospital, you and your husband need to put together your strategy as to how you're going to approach this. Do not allow yourself to be broadsided by her demands. Since you have a temporary restraining order, it may be prudent for you to use this time to get very clear on your boundaries. Once she is released and reality sets in, you're likely to begin receiving communications where she will start manipulating you to take her back, pay for whatever she needs, in essence doing what you've always done before. That's where support would be helpful for you, to develop your "tool box" of resources for yourself.

You cannot leave anything to her or to chance at this point, if you are ready to begin to detach, your boundaries must be strong and impenetrable. You may want to sit down with your husband and determine what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do. I have read here that at times the hospital will make every attempt to transfer care to the family, unless the family refuses that responsibility. You may want to figure out just what your stance is before she gets out and tries to make you responsible for her.

My daughter exhibits many behaviors that fit quite a few mental illness categories. Quite a number of my relatives have dual diagnoses, often mental illness is a constellation of different labels, and not always easy to pin point..... but regardless of the diagnosis, unless your daughter is psychotic or comatose, she is able to be responsible for her actions. In addition, as I've seen in my own family, just because there ARE medications out there, doesn't mean folks will take them. My sister is bi-polar and refuses to take any medication because she is an artist and she says that the medications kill her creativity. Someone has to be willing to take the medications, experiment with different medications and take the time to figure out which ones work the best. That can take time and certainly a commitment. Not everyone gets on board with that. Non compliance is a big issue.

It is so difficult for us parents to understand how many of our adult kids operate, we want to help, to support, to nurture, to forgive, to allow, to love.......however, many of our kids don't respond to a typical parental expression, they only know how to manipulate to get their needs met. Their brains often work in different, complex ways we cannot grasp. As a result, we have to learn a very different way to connect with them, parent them and be around them...... and we have to learn how to detach from their behaviors and choices.

It may be helpful to read the article on detachment a few times and to read some of our stories here. Hang in there......keep posting, it helps.

Snow White

On the Mad Tea Party Ride
Recoveringenabler has hit on many of the same things we experience with our Difficult Child. She was originally diagnosed with bipolar disorder, as it was easier to obtain services for her when she was a child/adolescent. Her diagnosis now crosses a few mental illnesses: borderline personality disorder with narcissistic traits, ADHD. She can go from 0 to rage in milliseconds and then back to 0 again. The medications she was on until age 18 helped to calm her somewhat but she discontinued them the day she turned 18.

Sadly, your daughter is like mine and regular parenting methods do not work. We've tried everything from rewards to removal of privileges and nothing ever worked. Rules and boundaries are never respected.

I hope that you and your husband can get to the same place, so that you can be unified in your limit setting. I would not be getting her another phone. She clearly does not appreciate having one. She will have to figure things out on her own.

Hopefully, she will be given information when she is discharged from hospital for resources, etc.

Hang in there.....{hugs}


Active Member
McDonna, thank you for your response.

I'm grappling with the advice here.

It's easy to make the decision to not open our home back up to our daughter, but it makes me feel sick to imagine doing it.

My husband is supportive, and is very concerned that I fear for my safety around her.

Early last week, she sent a text message asking me to bring a car key to her as she had locked herself out of her car (again). I did not respond to her text, nor did I arrange for a key to be brought to her because I did not want her to be in any more trouble than she already was under the temporary restraining order. My husband was away on a fishing trip, so he wasn't there for advice.

I gotta tell you, not bringing a spare key out to her was very difficult. I paced around the house fretting about it and felt just awful and guilty.

My question is this: other than refusing to allow her to live here, what other things do we have to consider when she is released from the hospital?

We have a little time to make some decisions as the restraining order is in effect for another month.


Well-Known Member
Write down services, such as shelters, county mental health facilities so she has somewhere to go for her bipolar, local food pantries, social services so she can apply for SSI, food stamps and ?lmedical assistance and housing. Give her the names of the resources that will help her take care of herself. She may get angry, but she'll feel good about herself if she does this herself.

She will feel and be helpless and incapable if she doesn't learn to take these hard steps herself.

I had no support from family or my first husband and was a total mess in my 20s, but I refused to give up on myself and did all I could to get my anxiety disorders and moods under control. I did work. It wasn't always easy. I had moodswings and was miserable so I added therapy and self help books to my crusade to get well. I got stronger. The medications stabilized my moods. I took minimal medications but they saved my life.

I did get stable. I don't think I would have done it, because it was hard, if my parents would have doled out money and pity for me. It was something I needed to do myself. And I needed to know I couldn't just be depressed behind my mother's skirt. I had to realize that I had to do this on my own or be misetable. I didn't want to be sick and unstable.

I got so much better. Honestly, I worked hard and my life ended up good and I was able to have the things most of us want...a loving 2nd husband after leaving the first one. Beautiful kids, love, and stability. I take my medications still, go to therapy and try to encourage young people with mental illness.

I don't think it ever helps if we feel so sorry for our mentally ill kids that they never have to get well. There is lots of good treatment out there. They just have to use it. We can not be their solution. We dont have the ability; the knowledge. We see them as our poor children too, but they are adults.

If they choose not to get help after given the resources, that is their burden, not yours. We can't live forever. They have to figure it out.

Big hugs and prayers for strength. You can do this.
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Staff member
other than refusing to allow her to live here, what other things do we have to consider when she is released from the hospital?

This is very difficult to do tandemdame, take whatever information is offered, sift through it and formulate your own plan, a plan that feels right to you.

Honestly, I think the main thing to consider is to get yourself and your husband support. Someone who can help you map out a strategy that will work for the two of you. When I was in the throes of the insanity of my daughters life, I got myself into as many environments as possible to learn new ways to parent......I knew that left to my own devices, it would be way too hard for me to do. Like you, I felt sick about what I had to do and really was not sure I could do it. I got into a 2 year course on codependency lead by therapists, so I was in private therapy and group therapy, plus classes. I also went to Coda 12 step groups. I wrote on this forum A LOT and read many books recommended by folks here. It took a village for me to make the changes necessary. But I did it and my daughter did change. (After I changed).

I'm not sure if this is a valid point considering the restraining order, but you may want to check into the eviction laws in your state. Your daughter may have legal rights to live in your home, which would ultimately mean you have to go through the legal process of evicting her. You may want to check to see if the restraining order nullifies her rights as a 'tenant'. If she is not aware of that, it may not be an issue, but if she is, she may have rights that you are not aware of.

It's a lot to take in. You have a bit of time.....take good care of yourself......


Active Member
"Write down services, such as shelters, county mental health facilities so she has somewhere to go for her bipolar, local food pantries, social services so she can apply for SSI, food stamps and ?lmedical assistance and housing. Give her the names of the resources that will help her take care of herself. She may get angry, but she'll feel good about herself if she does this herself."

Somewhereouthere, I will do this today. Our local state run job center probably has this information, and I have volunteered for Second Harvest in the past and remember they had a list of food distribution in the community. I know of at least two shelters.

Recoveringenabler, I read up on eviction a few months ago, but I am not sure whether her rights have been nullified due to the pending charges. That would be something to ask the DA office.

I spent the better part of two days boxing up her things and storing them in our basement. My husband and I are united in not allowing her to come back, and after spending time reading many accounts on this site, I feel even more that it would be the best thing for her to figure out how she is going to go forward.

There is a NAMI group meeting next Wednesday night that I will attend.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read her story and respond to my worries.

Snow White

On the Mad Tea Party Ride
Tandemdame, I really know how you feel. Giving your daughter the contact information for services puts the onus on her to make the choices that SHE wants. I don't live in the US, so I'm not sure of all the available resources.

Your daughter has shown that she does not want or deserve to live in YOUR home. You deserve to be safe and healthy (physically and mentally). I still have pangs of guilt and sadness when I think of not allowing our daughter back into our house. It feels like a betrayal but then I think back to how "sick" our house was when she was there and I know we can't go back to that....ever.

My father was an alcoholic. When my mother finally had enough and my father made it clear he wasn't going to go for treatment, she took us and left. She refused to go back until he was in treatment and maintained sobriety for a year. We reunited and things went great for the next 8 years. He relapsed (became violent with psychotic episodes), refused treatment, lost his job, lost his family and the house. What my mom did (in keeping herself and us safe) is no different than what I need to do now.

We still have many bins of daughter's stored items in our basement. We became her storage unit during many of her back and forths. We recently went through all of her stored things, donating clothes and shoes from her teen years. Her stuff is now all sorted and put away in the recesses of the basement where I don't have to look at it. It has been somewhat of a blessing with her being gone for the past 6 years. She originally left at 18 but came back when she couldn't get along with friends and they kicked her out. Her rages escalated and for the first time, I feared for my personal safety when she punched and pulled out a fistful of my hair. I applied for a restraining order but was denied. The magistrate here said that daughter should be served with a court-ordered involuntary psychiatric assessment. We all know how that would have played out - daughter would have said and done all the right things and been back out on the street in 72 hours.

I'm not sure about US laws regarding eviction but here in Canada we would not be responsible for our daughter's housing.

Read more. This group definitely helps keep you grounded and focused on staying in the right direction!


Active Member
McDonna, thank you for your kind words and for telling me a little bit about your story. I appreciate the response.

Tonight, while my husband was driving up to see our oldest daughter, the psychiatric ward called and asked him to participate in a conference call with our daughter and the psychiatrist. The doctor had some questions about the medications that our daughter had tried, as well as some questions about some things my husband had dropped off at the nurses station (a letter from the judge and an old flip phone that we activated on her cell account).

Our daughter had asked to stay a little longer in the ward and seems to be wanting help, and is cooperating with the care, but she complained about the type of phone delivered (which was irritating for me to hear!) and told my husband that we need to stay out of her room (which has been emptied and packed away). I was hoping to hear some gratitude or contrition, but it was not to be. My husband did remember to say that we are still paying for the last two phones that were destroyed, not to mention that we no longer have a third old smart phone as a spare because she lost it.

My husband did not tell her that the room has been packed up, and frankly, I am bracing myself for her reaction to the news.

I think she has the idea she is coming back home, but the protective order is in effect for another month. I remain adamant that she is not coming back here. My husband is more soft hearted about this, but he has said he will stand with me.

Rereading all this, it sounds as though I am angry. It's weird to swing between feelings of frustration and hurt and relief.

Thanks to everyone again for taking the time to read and respond. It means a lot to me.


Active Member
hi tandemdame, sorry to hear you are going through all of this. You are right to not let her back home. My son was out of our house and things were peaceful but then my soft hearted husband felt bad for our son when he was kicked out of his apartment on NEW Years day., and let him come back home. The thought of our son out in the cold homeless, was more than he could bear. ( i think its that first born only son thing) He so regrets that decision now! It has been very stressful for us. Please stand your ground! You will be much more peaceful in the long run. Take it from someone who knows LOL


Active Member
oh and swinging between all the emotions that we go through is a perfectly normal thing to feel ! I cycle through anger, frustration, hurt, name it I've been there...several times a day! lol Its no wonder considering what they put us through!