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Your child has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. You want to understand what this really means. What will their life look like now? Don’t despair. It’s still possible for them to have a bipolarfulfilling life. This is part two in a series on mental illness. My information is from The National Alliance on Mental Illness, nami.org  Refer to my last blog (May 10th) for a further introduction to the topic of mental illness.

Bipolar Disorder is also known as manic depression. A mood disorder, it affects nearly 6 million adults in the U.S. Characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning, people experience alternating episodes of mania (severe highs), depression (severe lows), and mixed states which contain elements of both high and low experiences.

These episodes may last for days, weeks, or even months, and are often separated by periods of fairly normal moods. A chronic condition with recurring episodes, bipolar often begin in adolescence or early adulthood. If your child has been diagnosed, remember – it does NOT mean they’re sentenced to a life of misery. Good treatment is available from many professionals who are continually improving their understanding of this mental health issue. (more…)

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When your child is addicted to a substance or behavior, whether it’s pornography, gambling, cutting, binging and purging or to depression20 another person, it has a huge impact on us as their parent. If they suffer with a mental illness – Depression, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or an Anxiety Disorder it hurts us, too. If they’re gay or confused about their sexuality we’re affected as well.

Their pain is ours. We’re connected on a deep level, especially us moms. And sometimes we develop unhealthy, addictive behaviors ourselves.

What are you addicted to?

Getting your Way? “My child better please me and do what I told them; they need to live up to my expectations, or else.” (more…)

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MaldivesTen years ago my daughter was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She was eighteen. I was clueless. A few years ago I attended a lecture on the subject at a local college campus. The speaker was Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, one of the leading experts in the field. Author of An Unquiet Mind, she knows her stuff. Jamison was diagnosed with bipolar in high school. She fought against it for years.

Her comments will give you a better understanding and more compassion toward your loved one. These are my notes from her lecture. (Part 1 of her talk was the subject of my last blog on 2/4/15. It focused on the reasons bipolar sufferers resist or stop taking medication.)

Q & A:
1. Words of hope given to a twelve-year-old diagnosed at age eight. “There’s no end of hope to offer you. (more…)

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Has your child been diagnosed with bipolar disorder? My daughter was. Have you struggled to understand? I did. A few years ago I had the privilege of attending a lecture of one of the leading experts in the field,  Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison. She suffers with this brain disorder herself, so she really knows what she’s talking about. She wrote the book An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, about her experiences. Here are a few highlights.isolated

One of the biggest challenges is that people who struggle with bipolar resist or stop taking medication.
It’s hard for doctors and loved ones to understand why patients do this. Some of the common reasons are:

– Mania is an intoxicating state. Exhilarating. Being on medication cuts into that.

– Side effects of medication can seem intolerable.

– Mania destroys the basis of rational thought. While it brings some pleasure, it also brings untold suffering (the things you do/choices you make when in this state. Often, you don’t even know or remember what happened. You wonder if you will ever be free of the cycles – mania and severe, often debilitating depression. When will it happen again? You never know.

– They affect memory and coordination.

– It’s hard to accept you have a disease and must be a patient for the rest of your life. Pride is involved. Even mild mania is quite alluring. Can be compared to how cocaine makes you feel, only the mania does a hundred times more; wild highs. And you don’t forget how you felt. So this becomes an illness you don’t want to give up. You deny you have an incurable disease.

There’s a great sense of loss and the very real chance of losing your life if untreated. You must accept this. It’s a difficult process. It took Jamison all through high school, college, 2 yrs of grad school and into her second year as a professor of psychiatry at John’s Hopkins Medical Center to finally accept it.

brokenIn the lows of suicidal depression everything feels dull, lifeless, no joy, can’t feel anything, or think clearly or feel loving.

One of the most powerful things anyone ever said to her was from one of her fellow professors,
“Keep taking your meds; learn from your experience; teach from it and write from it.”

People who are treated and do well tend to keep quiet about their experiences. They don’t want anyone to know. Pride stops them. So people have an unrealistic view about bipolar. Being treated by a great psychiatrist and psychotherapist are crucial. Find ones you know will be honest with you, but offer hope. Tough but kind. Get second opinions if you can afford it. If you don’t have a good connection with the one you’re seeing, find someone else. Not all psychiatrists are good in this area.

After she was in recovery a long time she always missed her highs in mania. But she came to realize that she must choose between life and death. Bipolar is that serious.

In my next blog on Sunday, February 8th, I’ll share more insights and words of hope from Dr. Jamison . If you need a little more hope, it may help.

God, we need fresh hope. We need more understanding. More compassion. Please help us. Only You can. We’re relying onhope27 You.

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If you’re a parent whose son or daughter has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, this is for you. Don’t despair. Your child can still have a bipolarfulfilling life. This month I’m addressing mental illness in each of my blogs. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, nami.org, is my source.  Refer to my blogs in May for more content on these vitally important issues.

Bipolar Disorder was previously known as manic depression. It is a mood disorder. It affects nearly 6 million adults in the U.S. and is characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning.

People who live with bipolar experience alternating episodes of mania (severe highs), depression (severe lows), and mixed states which contain elements of both high and low experiences.

These episodes may last for days, weeks, or even months, and are often separated by periods of fairly normal moods. This is a chronic condition with recurring episodes that often begin in adolescence or early adulthood.

If your child has been diagnosed with bipolar, remember this – it doesn’t mean they’re sentenced to a life of misery. Excellent treatment is available. More is being learned almost every day. There is much reason for hope.  (more…)

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Do you have a son or daughter who has been given the mental health diagnosis of bipolar?  Was it hard for you to believe it could be true? Didsnow flowers you wonder what this would mean for their future? Have you struggled to understand? Has it been difficult to figure out how to help? It was for me.

I want to tell you about a book that was written just for young adults to help them accept their diagnosis and learn how to deal with it. I wish it had been written ten years ago when we began this journey with our daughter.

The book is Facing Bipolar: the young adult’s guide to dealing with bipolar disorder by Russ Federman, Ph.D. and J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., MD. A unique fact about these authors is that they have been involved in counseling and psychological services on college campuses for over thirty years. Out of their experiences they developed a burden that birthed this book. (more…)

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sad heartI am the mother of a twenty-seven year old daughter who has struggled for years with a drug and alcohol sad heartaddiction, cutting, brain disorders (bipolar and more) and suicidal tendencies. It’s been a long, hard road full of countless experiences I thought I could not bear. In the last fifteen years my love for her has brought me intense pain and heartache. Love became a four letter word, but I have found my way to hope and peace, so I wrote this for those of you who are still trying to find your way there.
For brokenhearted parents love is a four letter word.
What was meant to bring joy has become a portal to pain,
A highway to hell,
A frightening roller coaster ride you can’t get off, that never stops.
A haunted house, a maze with no way out.
A hurricane with no eye of relief.
A wound that never heals.
Because we love our children deeply, we suffer deeply.
When they break, we break.
Their tears stain our cheeks.
We walk around with our hearts unprotected,
On the outside of our chests
Bleeding and exposed.
Their madness our insanity.
Could it be possible that their dying not be ours?
Our cold hearts beat again?
Our life not so wrapped up in theirs?
I believe that yes, it is.
Because of love, that four letter word.Yet love is also the place where hope lives.
Hope, another four letter word.
So hold on to love and hold onto hope
For Both are gifts from God.
In Him we love 
In Him we live
In Him make peace with pain
Until our dead hearts come back to life,
Until they beat again.

Though we break and bleed.
Wounds can heal.

Relief be found.

We can be restored.

In God                                                              hands with bandaid heart
In His life
In His presence
In His unfailing love
In that terribly, wonderful
Four letter word.
Brokenhearted parents can find
The pathway to continue to endure.

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