Things I Wish I’d Known While Raising A Son With Bipolar Disorder by Mädchen Amick

By May 21, 2015Blog

My husband and I raised a seemingly happy, healthy, and talented son, who flourished throughout his childhood until his freshman year of college. Beneath his tall, handsome, athletic, easy-going exterior was constant emotional turmoil. To everyone else, he was called the “golden boy” and it seemed like he had it all, but inside he was struggling with crippling swings of anxiety and depression. As he was entering the University with exceptional grades and a D-1 Athletic Scholarship, we thought we had equipped him with the best tools we could give him to become a “successful” adult. In hindsight, there were indications that our son was battling the onset of bipolar disorder, and that we, as a family, lacked the mental health knowledge that we would eventually need. Thankfully, we had a very strong family unit: father, mother, son and daughter that always had open communication, strongly advocated for each other, and unconditional love for one another. Unfortunately, all of this didn’t guarantee that our family would be shielded from a disease that almost took our son’s life. Even though we were thrown into uncharted territory, and had to take the “learn as you go” approach, I do believe that through some very dark times, the trust that we had built was key in the eventual outcome of seeking help and recovery. Now that our son is a young adult, working hard to piece his life back together, I would like to share our experiences along our journey in hopes that it may help other families during theirs.

Beware of Mis-Diagnosed Learning Disorders:

High-school counselors called us in for a family meeting with concerns that our son may have ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’ (ADHD). At the time, we considered this “hysteria” and “over-diagnosing”. Therefore, we took our time, did some research, spoke with other professionals, and as a family decided to not medicate but to closely watch his symptoms. In hindsight, we still believe it was the right decision. We have since learned that medications to treat ADHD or depression, unfortunately, can bring the early onset of a ‘psychotic episode’ (if one has an underlying mental illness). I point this out not to discount the legitimacy of learning disorders but merely to encourage families to educate themselves about mental health. I worry that when educational counselors and teachers call in families with concerns of a child having a learning disability that we aren’t always looking at the “complete picture.” In the way that our school system feels strongly about requiring vaccinations and annual physicals, I feel strongly that it is essential to add a mental health component to that annual physical.

The Signs of “Self-Medicating”:

As I said earlier, we sent both of our kids off to Universities with all of the tools we thought they would need to succeed. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the facts or education to know that when our son seemed to derail from his goals because of “excessive partying,” this was a sign that he was “self-medicating” the onset of a mental illness. Our son was unknowingly using alcohol to battle severe depression, along with marijuana to counter his mania. We struggled trying to understand why he would jeopardize his scholarship and academic career after how hard he had worked for them. What we later found out, and not until we were in the throws of his hospitalizations and treatment programs, was the impact of the biochemical imbalance that occurs with his illness. As parents, we have to walk that fine-line of letting our kids leave the nest to grow on their own and keep tabs on what could be warning signs of a much bigger problem. A classic sign, like in our son’s case, was binge drinking to the point of passing out. In most cases, the onset of a mental illness shows itself between the teenage years up until the mid 20’s. This is when our kids like to push the boundaries and experiment with drugs and alcohol. 1 out of 10 people in the U.S. will develop the disease of addiction after the age of 12, and 1 out of 3 people affected by the disease of addiction have a co-occurring mental illness. I want parents to know that while it may seem “normal” for college kids to experiment and push boundaries, sometimes there are deeper issues, and kids might be “self-medicating” in order to attempt to gain control of their feelings.

The Treatment for Addiction is Different than Mental Illness:

“Tough love” from family and friends for people who are struggling with addiction can be important in them seeking sobriety. However, when someone is having a “mental episode” (mania or depression), a different approach may be needed. In both cases, the individual needs to make the decision for themselves that they need the help, but someone who is in the swing of a ‘psychotic episode’ is experiencing delusional thinking. The biochemicals in their brain aren’t allowing them to think rationally. At first sight, your loved one can appear to be “high” but in actuality, they might be completely substance free. It can be so confusing when you’re dealing with two separate illnesses at the same time, like in our son’s case: his disorder initially presented itself as addiction. In hind-sight, we now recognize that our son’s grandiose thinking, rapid speech, and hyper sexuality (opposite of his “normal” behavior) were all classic signs of mania. The behavior of a person ‘intoxicated’ and a person having an ‘episode’ can look similar, but this is when family or friends who are familiar with their “baseline” need to intervene and make sure their loved one gets immediate medical attention.

True ‘Dual-Diagnosis’:

After four agonizing years of our son going through multiple hospitalizations and eight rehab centers, we have yet to find a true ‘Dual-Diagnosis: Substance Abuse and Mental Illness’ facility. A sad and nearly fatal incident was when our son, who was in a “highly reputable” and we feel, well-intentioned “dual-diagnosis facility,” was discharged and kicked out into the street for “non-compliant behavior,” when in reality, he was having a manic episode. The rehab center acted appropriately if (in their view) it had been “drug seeking behavior,” but this was not the case with our son. A true mental health facility would have had him see a doctor immediately to administer medication in order to stabilize his condition. Because his manic episode was allowed to spiral out of control, he ended up in an ICU, having to be resuscitated from alcohol poisoning. Unfortunately, as of now, our medical field has divided treatment for addiction and mental illness, and, quite frankly, there is very little funding for the mental health side. This has created a situation where the money lies in “addiction treatment”, and the facilities can get additional funding if they meet the “dual diagnosis” standard. The only criteria to qualify their facility, is if they provide the client the opportunity to see a psychiatrist once a month, when in actuality, what is necessary is an on-call psychiatrist, weekly psychotherapy, nurse administered medication compliance, and a staff trained and experienced in mental health. This means the responsibility to seek out the appropriate treatment center lies in your hands! Do your research to make sure that the facility is primarily a mental health treatment center. Be prepared to appeal to your insurance company and fight for an “adequate facility”. Advocate for your loved one!

Trial and Error:

1 in 4 people will be affected by a mental illness in the course of their lifetime. The biggest advice I can give loved ones who are supporting someone navigating a newly diagnosed mental illness is: patience, patience, patience. It can take up to a year for the brain to recover from neurological damage of a single ‘manic or depressive episode,’ so prevention of multiple episodes is crucial. Medical professionals will need to evaluate your loved one for an extended period of time in order to give a proper diagnoses. It will then take some frustrating “trials and errors” to find a successful combination of medications and psychotherapy. Once a balance of medication, therapy, and healthy living has been achieved, the work begins… Setting up a support system, being “med compliant,” and on-going communication with a psychiatrist is essential. Also, remember as the biochemicals in the body naturally change, the medications may also require adjustment. As much as I wish there was some “magic pill” to make it all go away, there just isn’t. This is a lifestyle adjustment for the whole family, and the sooner you can accept that, the sooner you and your loved one will heal and begin to flourish.

Stay the Course:

When someone is diagnosed with an illness like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s, we immediately feel compassion for his or her struggle. The latest research proves that the five major mental illnesses – depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, and autism are genetic. It just happens to affect the brain instead of another organ. Be sure to keep a calm attitude and attentive approach to your loved one’s needs. You are going to have to learn to separate your loved one’s “rational thinking” from their “biochemically induced delusional thinking.” Remember that even though people in the medical profession have good intentions, they don’t know your loved one the way you do. Family, friends, and significant others are the ones that know his or her “baseline.” What is their “normal” behavior? This is an essential key to the doctors’ ability to evaluate what medications and / or therapies are working. Working closely together with your loved one and their ‘treatment team’ will be essential in piecing together a rhythm that will eventually emerge. It is imperative to establish routines, and it is just as important to avoid triggers.

The Importance of Healthy Living:

As parents, we knew that sleep and exercise were essential to our family’s health, but we didn’t necessarily know how important they were to keep mood swings stable. In some people, like our son, not getting enough sleep can trigger mania. In fact, if you notice your loved one getting less and less sleep, it’s a strong indication they may be entering a manic phase. On the other end of the spectrum, regular exercise has proven to combat our son’s depression. We also knew that a good diet was needed for our bodies’ overall health, but like most people, we didn’t necessarily know the importance of eating specific “brain healthy” foods. We raised our kids with a focus on balance, structure, and routine, and even though we were sometimes accused of being the “strictest parents in town” by our children, we have since learned that these are key elements in not only the recovery of addiction but also maintaining mental stability. In addition to his medication, our son has found consistent ‘Transcendental Meditation’ practice to be extremely helpful for his mental stabilization. Finding the right form of meditation for the entire family can be very helpful.

In closing, I feel that the media can tend to sensationalize and only report the very dramatic and tragic events surrounding mental illness. I choose to focus on the many, many success stories. It is possible and very common to overcome and manage a mental illness. There isn’t any one “type” of person that it can affect; it doesn’t discriminate. You would be shocked at how many extremely successful individuals are not “suffering from”, but “living with” a disorder. Although, it is important to accept a diagnosis and work towards recovery, a label doesn’t solely define anyone. I hope to be joined by many others to work together to erase the stigma around mental illness and have an open and brave conversation about how important mental health is for everyone!

Thank you for allowing me to share my story,
Mädchen Amick
Ambassador, Bring Change 2 Mind


  • Andrea V says:

    This was an awesome article and story! I relate as my son has gone through the exact same thing. It has been a very hard road very similar to Madchen’s son — we now know what we are dealing with. I thank God for that.

    Thank you for such a complete and all around panaramic picture of what bipolar is really like. I loved how she explained all of the facets like how important a healthy lifestyle, counseling etc. are. This CAN BE managed. Along with a solid support system. People enduring bipolar are stronger than most of us and should be praised and respected for their endurance and given a lot more grace!

    Thank you for getting this info out there — I also believe more needs to be done to change the inaccurate stigma. People just don’t know. If they knew first hand they would think differently. Plain and simple its just ignorance.

    Great job on the article!!! All the best to you!!!

    • Sterre says:

      I realy like this story. My son has a serious mental ilness but is now married happily 9 years and is a good father to his 2 children. He takes his meds and sees the psychiatrist and councillor once a week! He also earns on free lance realestate. Keep courage it can change for the better

      • Rebecca says:

        That is great to hear. My son had just turned 22, and after a night out a couple of days later he had his first psychotic episode. It was very scarey. Its so hard to see something like mental illness up close and personal. His episode also almost cost him his life. He is going to therapy and seeing a psychartist but his days vary greatly. He is so strong, our days right now are taking care of him. To get better. I have yet to hear of meditation. If anyone can give me some more info on that, it would be great. Thank you for this article.

        • JITENDER G says:

          I am surviving due to following Meditation as first line of Treatment and medicine as second line of treatment today at the age of 6o after suffering from Depression and BP. U can ask me about Meditation

          • Marlice says:

            My 23 yr old son was recently diagnosed with BP while in a drug rehab program. We would like to know more about how meditation helps. Thank You!

    • Mary says:

      I have a 31 year old son who has custody of his child living with us and he has bi polar disorder He had his first episode at 22 while he was overseas in College. I also didn’t know he was suffering with this until then . As a matter of fact when I realized what was happening I had to convince my husband and other children what was going on and I had to go to Another country to get him, He had completely collapsed and was in a hospital. It took a couple of years for him to recover , was onnlithium for a year came off under his doctors supervision , he got involved with a girl who eventually became a heroin addict which is why he has custody of their 5 year old child after coming hone with her Thank God she has recovered . He seemed to be doing welll and was engaged to someone else after living with us and working for 2 years . She became pregnant and as fate would have it he had a manic episode and she said she couldn’t handle it and chooses to raise her child herself . I am so heartbroken for him right now . He went back on meds after ten years of not being on any but has since gone off he felt too sluggish he said , fortunately he seems ok for now he was drinking like a fish while he was manic but has since calmed that down and drinks a little but not bingeing . He’s terribly sad and seeing a therapist I know and trust. He just can’t believe his life is like this he went to prep school on a scholarship wanted to be a doctor and now is working at a sports facility and has two children with two different woman. My husband goes up and down with anger concerning this whole thing, he consumes himself with his work . Me? I pray a lot and paint and help him raise his child. My other two children are supportive and loving and I try to focus on the positive to help him be positive . It’s hard but I’m a survivor and I don’t give up on people . My sister and brother are mentally ill and I’ve been looking out for them since my mother passed so maybe I feel somehow responsible that I passed these genes down. That’s stupid I know but it’s there in the back of my mind . I happened upon this article after waking up and feeling kind of depressed about it all . It helped me to realize it’s ptetty common and yet no one talks about it, people i know just kind of look at me like whats happening with him. You don’t know what to say because you want to protect your child’s privacy. Thank God I have my therapist and good friends I can talk to. Believe me everyone has something going on in their life is no ones perfect. When your in the throes of this thing you tend to feel isolated and like no one else understands . I’m happy to have read this .

      • Katia says:

        Pls pls pls look up Orthomolecular madicine! ❤️

      • Chris says:

        Mary, thank you for sharing.

      • Louise says:

        Mary – thank you for sharing and being so open and real. So much of what your wrote resonated with me – and has given me much to think about, too. So, as I try to figure things out with my loved ones, I will be thinking about you, too. Thank you again.

    • Lydia D says:

      Finanlly someone who has a bipolar family member that understands the same as I do. I was in my Psych rotation in nursing school and recognized the symptoms my son was having as BiPolar. It took several years before a psychiatrist was found that took the time to get him on a medicine regemine that worked. His wife refused to accept his problem as an illness and recently divorced him. He changed from his psychiatrist to the VA for insurance purposes and the nurse practitioner immediately took him off the medicine that kept him in a normal mood most of the time. Since then he has been in a hyper manic mood and the family is unable to get him to medicate properly. If anyone has an idea how to get him better treatment from the VA please let us know. Please America it’s time to help the mentally sick and their families. It will help them have a better life and reduce the terrible tragedies that are happening across America.

    • meikva says:

      you are wonderful thank you so very much for this

    • A. Turner says:

      My sons story is like so many of the stories that’s replying. My son an awesome, intelligent, fun nature, mild temper , loving tall handsome young man had his first break December 12, 2018. A sophomore returning to college after Thanksgiving Break, He had changed his flight for the third time , woke up that morning like he was possessed. I’m didn’t understand what was happening, I just knew this was not the behavior of my son. He hit the dog, made a scream like never before ran outside and kicked an object to pieces. We searched all over the city for him but couldn’t find him for hours. Finally, found he agreed to go to the ER . He was eventually diagnosed with bipolar. It’s been 7 months and he’s been hospitalized four times, arrested twice, countless parking and moving violations, emptied back account on business adventures. The saddest is that his easy going , loving spirit, people connector, social being is not there. He doesn’t know it but I’m constantly fixing his mess behind the scene. He’s mad at the world and hates me. I’m broken hearted but I know it’s the illness and not him. How can I get him to stay compliant with his medication and therapy?
      ~Broken hearted

  • Kelly says:

    You make a really important point about proper dual diagnosis treatment. I don’t know where you’re located, but in the Boston area there are several facilities, psychiatric hospitals, that specialize in true dual diagnosis treatment. There’s one in particular for men only at the Arbor Hospital in Jamica Plain. MA.

  • Susan says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have 2 sisters that are bi-polar and several family members that are living with depression, anxiety and a host of other things. I’m thrilled that so many public figures, such as yourself, are working to help remove the stigma associated with mental health issues so that we can work on the actual problem.

  • John says:

    Thank you to Madchen Amick for such a well written article about bipolar. My son has had a substance abuse/mental illness problem for many years, but He’s your family, we didn’t recognize the signs until he began to self medicate with crystal meth. He has schizophrenic episodes. Like Andrea V above says, I admire my son’s, intestinal fortitude for battling this disease, but he also is very resistant to psychotherapy and going to meetings for support, unless forced to do so by being in rehab. He enjoys group therapy, but won’t go now that he’s out of rehab. This for us has been the most frustrating part of working with him and this whole situation. For most people with heart disease, etc, they will go to the doctor in a more proactive way than some with a substance abuse/mental illness. I understand about stigma, but with one in four people in this country experiencing a mental illness, not to mention their families, there is no excuse in my mind why more people don’t “come out” and voice their thoughts about what needs to be done to aide families; from better coverage from insurance, more willingness from medical/ rehab providers to be classified as “in network” to reduce the costs of care to the family, to laws that disregard the HIPPA law that prevent families from placing their loved ones in rehab when the loved one is resistant/has no insight as to just how sick they may be.

  • Robin G says:

    I struggled with issues similar to your son.
    I still don’t like the “label” bipolar, or the diagnosis, but that’s mainly due to the shame I have about that word.
    Thank you for speaking out.

  • Kim says:

    My husband and I experienced the exact same thing with our son. It has been and still is a struggle. He hasn’t come to terms with his illness and we don’t know how to move forward. He goes to therapy and for the most part will take his medicine however has gone off on occasion and we have to start monitoring again. Does anyone have any suggestion?

  • Cory says:

    We do a lot of work with children and a fair amount diagnosed with various psychological ailments. I also have a step-daughter who has been diagnosed as bi-polar and we saw a massive improvement in her when we began increasing her exercise and watching her diet. It hasn’t been perfect and she definitely has her moments but it has helped her tremendously. Great blog and wonderful story!

  • Boyce N-M says:

    I’m almost too happy that there has been an organization made to bring awareness to these types of happenings. I, myself, have bipolar depression and schizophrenia, two things I honestly have never liked to admit to people, but now everyone knows in some way or form, whether it be catching me on a day where I’ve crashed and burned, or people seeing the scars on both of my arms, the countless times I’ve felt regret or sadness to that extreme since the age of fourteen. This brings me to a peace knowing that research is being done to help people with preventing the happenings of psychotic breaks earlier in people’s lives so it doesn’t occur too late. Knowledge must be obtained, symptoms must be sought out, and awareness must spread out to form solidarity on mental illness. Thank you for letting this be known.

  • Jo Badenhorst says:

    Thank you very much for the insightful article. My bipolar son is 29, married a has a small child. He is a loving and caring parent but that is unfortunaty where it stops. He takes his medicine, but it doesn’t seem to help. He is in and out of jobs and he displays very self-destructive behaviour. He is unwell, to put it very mildly. He currently eexperiences a manic episode but although he acknowledges his condition, he cannot and will not recognize it as such. He refuses therapy and is very very defiant. My heart breaks and aches for my lovely daughter-in-law and his 1 year old son. He constantly ‘divorces’ us when we try to warn or discourage him from taking very irresponsible financial choices. In fact, we bail him out and recently took a second bond on our property to help him with his huge debt – just to learn that this has triggered his mania – he left his job and ‘started his own business’, with money that he believes he has already earned. We don’t know what to do. He has gone without sleeping for four days in a row. Things are spiralling out of control. He doesn’t acknowledge his current behaviour as an episode – he is impossible to reason with at present. ANY advice will be welcome. We’re at our wit’s end.

    • Sandra says:

      Hi Jo, it’s been almost 2 years since you wrote this, I am interested to know what has happened? How is your son doing now? How are you?

  • Shelley says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It sounds as though you took the words right out of my mouth. I continue to pray to God daily for strength, patience, and guidance to help my son though this illness. Thank you for being so inspiring.

  • Annie G says:

    Our Son was recently dismissed and won’t accept the diagnosis or take the medication . We live in Seattle Wa . Does anyone know of a good place for dual diagnosis besides Harborview medical center. I pray for all the families affected . Our lives has been turned inside out. Just trying to get as educated as possible . They are strong individuals and can live productive lives . We have just begun to fight . Great article . Thank you.

  • Annie G says:

    Correction. Our son was just recently diagnosed with bipolar affective diorder

  • Donna I says:

    Our son is freshman at a great university and we are experiencing exactly the same problems. The school is not helping to get him assessed and they would rather take disciplinary actions while his judgment is completely impaired and he is unable to do anything on his own. In a way we do not have access to medical professionals either because I cannot find one or because he cannot keep appointments. Also the assessment and diagnosing process is unclear. We don’t know what to do.

  • Sue R says:

    Advice for anybody with a child between 16-25 and showing signs of depression and anxiety. Please look for a early psychosis program in a city near you. In Pennsylvania there are two, Univ Of Pennsylvania and John Hopkins. Our son found help after he had his first and only psychotic episode, our program was free for first six months. These programs were funded by funds from Congress after Sandy Hook incident.

  • Irma says:

    Thank you all for for sharing your stories. My son is 26 and has recently diagnosed with bipolar and schizophrenia. Now I know why the ups and downs. The binge drinking his levels of alcohol were at 317 not once but regular. He has been to jail countless times for drugs and alcohol consumption. He has gone to jail for mtr many times. He has tried to commit suicide many times . As I’m writing this he is sitting in jail for failure to appear. He doesn’t keep appointments of any kind. In a months time he has been arrested 3x. He has been to rehab many times. Each day I pray to my lord for clarity. He attempted college for 5 semesters and each time he failed to attend classes and failed all together. The cost of college, rehab , attorneys, bail bonds, and hospitals has taken a toll on our lives. My husband and daughter refuse to see him they say they have nothing in common and that they have nothing to say. He doesn’t have children and I’m glad for that. He cannot hold a job . My story is very similar to the ones on this blog. My son is a very handsome man and I love him so much. I’m not giving up on him not today, not tomorrow and not as long as I’m living and breathing. I pray for HELP for my son.

    • Dee says:

      This breaks my heart because my son age 26 has just been diagnosed with Bipolar one and he was in jail several times before and I thought he was just being bad I’m dying with GUILT I thought it was drugs or that he hated me. If I knew it was a brain disease I would have supported him and helped him ! I HATE MYSELF

      • Susan says:

        Dee, you did the best you could with the knowledge you had at that time. It is a cruel disease. My family has dealt with this for over 30 years. My brother is now 54 and still has mania, depression and at times psychotic episodes. He continues to drink heavily and go off his meds at times. Advocate for your son. Get counseling for yourself too.

      • Maria says:

        Please do not hate yourself. Do not do that to you. My son, 22, is bipolar and refusing treatment. And i have to remind myself that i am doing everything i can but that i cannot live his life. People like us have to remain sane since this is a long journey. I stand by him, I am there for him, i give him live, I try to protect him for basically himself. But after all this trying there is no much else i can do. It is hard to accept.

      • Noni says:

        I have not replied to any of these post although I have read very many but your worst touch my heart. Please please please do not blame yourself. You have done the best you could and there was nothing more you could do. Please forgive yourself. There is still time to help him and I am sure you are a wonderful and loving mother. Your son does not hate you.

  • Patricia R says:

    Wow this really really is an important story! Thank you so much. I was looking for stories like this for a long long time and your story is so much like so many people’s stories and that sad sad tragic thing is there really isn’t much understanding or treatment for Co-occuring disorders in our country.

    My son is very attractive and extremely intelligent and talented. It’s hard to comprehend how this these disorders can mangle his ability to use his God-given talents…it’s really hard for me to wrap my head around it. That’s why we need more research and programs that can help sooner rather than later because more damage is getting done with every episode and every binge
    People wonder why the mentally ill with bipolar schizo affective schizophrenia and addiction cycle in and out of jail. there’s no help for them. Our sons and daughters need to be diagnosed early on before more damage is done including Trumatic brain injury. I’m really wondering if my son has a chance anymore. I mean I know I can’t give up hope never but it’s just so painful. I live in Los Angeles and one of the ways I have been dealing with my emotional roller coaster in hell is to become an advocate like I’m sure so many of you are. Now with the new drug Medi-cal waiver there is an opportunity to try to get the mental health providers and the substance disorder providers trained and cross trained so that our love ones when they’re young can understand how much more complicated it is to have these co-occuring disorders and how much more damage they can do their lives if they don’t understand where it’s going to lead. I know there are angels that have been looking over my son because there’s no way that he would still be breathing having so many near death experience he’s had unless there are angels intervening to save his life. So thank you angels! I know also without Nami I would really be in deep deep trouble. I recommend Nami to everyone who is reading this post because being with people who understand is the best way to deal with the anguish we go through.

  • Yvonne F says:

    Thank you so much for this insightful article.

  • Yvonne F says:

    Thank you so much for this insightful article. Many families including myself will benefit. Everyone will need different treatments but the true etiology is finding the right diagnosis and treatment.

  • AB says:

    Great article! It’s a lonely experience to be mother of a child diagnosed with bipolar disorder… my son’s doctor said family support of someone living with this illness is the most important factor to recovery. When I am consumed with worry, it’s hard to take care of myself so I can be as supportive as possible. That’s my task right now.

  • Stephanie R says:

    My 17 year old son, who was just recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, was FIRST diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. He began rapid eye blinking that morphed into repeated sniffing around the age of two. By the time he was entering the fifth grade, his tics had turned into LOUD and very distracting vocal tics and that year we pulled him out for home bound schooling. He got a Tourette’s Syndrome diagnosis from Arkansas Children’s Hospital during that time and was put on Guanfacine to quieten the tics. He went back to school and had a nice 6th, 7th and 8th grade year … but was slowly liking school less and less and slowly starting to withdraw more and more as well as become more and more angry. By the time E entered his 11th grade, he couldn’t take being in school anymore. He asked to finish by taking online classes and I allowed him to try this, but he couldn’t find the motivation to make much headway with it. He completed three class with my pushing and prodding and nagging and it was destroying our relationship. I finally suggested he just get his GED and call it good … and he did. He WAS able to manage that very quickly because he is very smart … though it was difficult to keep him going through the process since those who suffer from depression have a hard time staying motivated and a hard time focusing. –
    Over the past two years, he had experienced numerous depressive episodes that had made it impossible at times to even get out of bed. My beautiful, smart, curly-haired boy who had made all A’s, sang like an angel, played piano, guitar and violin … who was on the state Junior High Quiz Bowl Championship Team, member of Junior National Honor Society, was asked to be a mentor to new 7th graders coming into junior high, was an All-Region violinist with 10th grade school orchestra, popular, smiling, laughing, lots of friends, engaged in life … was slowly withdrawing from all of these things … one at a time. E began to threaten suicide in 2015 and did so at least a half a dozen times in my presence. Later that year I took him to his first psychiatrist who put him on Trileptal which is a mood stabilizer. The doc began treating E for depression and though E seemed a little better after starting the med, his condition eventually got worse and worse. Sadly, though I loved this doctor, his staff of women in the business office were complete hags and totally uncaring. What a place for people like that to work .. with the mentally ill and their struggling families! :/ Last fall (2016) E began drinking and smoking cigarettes and pot. I would have NEVER dreamed that he would do these things. In many ways, his is not even the same person that I knew the first 14 years of his life. I then moved E early this year to a new psychiatric facility. I suggested that he be put on an anti-depressant. When E’s condition did not improve, the Advanced Nurse Practioner increased the dosage and E then went into a full blown manic episode where he barely slept for a week. I now believe the Prozac triggered the manic episode and feel responsible for this since I was the one who suggested the anti-depressant in the first place. After Ethan’s second stay in a psychiatric hospital, he told me he had been researching his condition and believed he had Bipolar Disorder. I documented many of the things he said to me and when he had his next appointment, I told the ANP that E believed he had this condition. Based on his answers to a series of questions she asked him and based on the things he had said to me, she said he indeed suffered from Bipolar Disorder and finally we had, what I believe to be, a correct diagnosis. I write all this to write, we are in the trenches right now. I have no idea how bad this thing is going to get. I know that regulated sleep and nutrition and stress management and counseling and psych visits and strong family support are all extremely important. The problem is that you are dealing with someone who is mentally “unwell” and at times uncooperative. I feel for all of you on here. It is a very sad thing to have to watch an illness like this wreck the life of someone you cherish and adore. It’s like cancer of the mind … a monster that is trying to kill our beautiful children. I live, eat and breath this thing. It is scary. All of us on here are dealing with the day to day struggle of trying to do the right thing on behalf of our loved ones and sometimes we don’t know WHAT to do or where to turn. I wish you all the very best and hope we all find the right treatment plans that work for those we love. The one thing they have going for them though is US and our undying love and assistance. Without it, they will end up homeless, in jail or dead.

    • AR says:

      My son just turned 18 is in the exact same scenario but things have gone very heavily South because of what happens to them legally when they’re 18. If you would like to email , or chat 1 on 1 I would love to share notes on experiences and perhaps there is something that I’ve been through already, that might be able to help you. Whoever is monitoring this has my permission to give you my email if you need to do that

      • Sara says:

        My son is 19 and was just diagnosed as well. It would be great to connect via email. I am trying to figure out what to do next. He’s spiraling downward.

      • Rachel C says:

        Stephanie, I would like to connect. My son turns 18 this month

      • AR says:

        Our son is now almost 20 .. the day he turned 18 , he took us off of medical advocation and legally now with anything we can’t have a say in helping him. The minute he says no that has to be his choice ,even though he’s not capable of making a normal choice right now.
        He refuses to go on any meds because of the negative side effects that he had while he was in rehabs with them and he continues to self medicate and drowned out his pain and Sorrow by doing drugs which has made him become an addict. He cries to me and tells me he doesn’t want to do it and that he’s tired of it , but he refuses to go into any treatment of any kind because he says, ‘Mom they haven’t helped me, nothing does ”
        II emotionally cannot carry another 10 years. Recently he was gone for a long time and when he showed up at our doorstep he was a stick and looked so sickly and I could tell that he was coming off of some major drugs . He has used threatening suicide in the past ito get what he wants , but kept threatening severely to kill himself and to hurt us at the same time. When I called police to have him taken to a hospital because he threatened suicide severely and had cuts and sores all over him and he was mentally and physically not well at all, ….they ended up coming and asking him if he was okay and if he wanted to go to the hospital and because he said no, in his messed up ,drugged , mania state of mine ,they literally drove him into town and just dropped him off on a street!
        When they called me and told me that I was so angry and I just cried because we had not seen him for almost 2 months and there he was again in a very bad state with no help and they told me it was because the law said that if he said no then they couldn’t help him.
        There is something very wrong with a law that will allow someone that is going to commit suicide and is obviously not mentally well, to say that they are okay and have someone just drop them off at the street, instead of taking them to a hospital.
        Our son cannot live here because he literally just destroys everything and he steals and he threatens and he turns everything physical into an episode of Hoarders..and life becomes caged because I have to make sure nobody gets hurt or that he is not doing something to himself or stealing something again .Things have just gotten worse instead of better over the years and it’s sad because I see so many dealing with the same thing and I have talked with families who have sons or daughters now in their thirties with this and it just seems to get worse as they get older at least certain BP cases do, there are four different types.
        There needs to be a very strong move among family members that have loved ones like this, to change laws that will advocate more for them and to have something to help them live in a safe situation if they cannot mentally care for themselves, as far as being able to remember daily medications , keep a job Etc.
        Once they turn 18 and you cannot advocate ,or ask for things as you could before…. it is completely up to them . There needs to be some kind of residential options for life where there are people that really do care and have actual training in dealing with people with severe bipolar disorder where they can feel loved and safe and yet be on their own and not made to feel like they’re in some kind of a sterile jail that a lot of rehabs feel like. There’s just not the options out there that there should be. We had to give up our parental rights to the state for a year three years ago, just so that our son could go to the facility he was at because we couldn’t afford 12,000 bucks a month , which is ridiculous!!! It does not cost that much to feed someone or do what they did there per mth.
        Right now like many of you all ,I’m at loss and heartsick. I can’t even explain the problems or pain of dealing with our situation with him to even therapists..they just dont understand, I believe they cannot. This is one of those conditions where you literally have to live with it in your life to understand. So I’m grateful to not feel alone and having people that truly understand and I’m thankful for prayer honestly because my heavenly father is the only way I have even been able to make it this far.

      • Angie says:

        My son is 17 and we are going through the exact same situation. I would love to connect with people who have been through this for advice.

    • Sandra says:

      Hi. Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. I am crying as I type this. Our beautiful daughter just turned 19 and was dx Bipolar 2 after a suicide attempt. She had developed a social anxiety disorder around 15 and now this. I just went through an episode with her tonight because I denied her request to allow her to buy a fish and loan her the money for a 30 gallon tank. She is more than aware that we will not allow her to EVER, EVER bring another pet into our home due to her horrible hx of not taking any responsibility for all the ones she previously talked Ys into. Now I am the source of all of her problems, she refused to come home, she blocked me on her phone and is being very disrespectful, etc. I took her car keys and phone due to her continuing to break our clear rules of her not being allowed to speak to me with such contempt, rudeness, disrespect and telling me to shut up! One minute I am strong and know it is her illness talking and the next I am shocked, angry and hurt. I wish I had a good counselor available on call 24/7. This is so hard! Knowing I am not alone really helps! Thanks to you ALL for sharing! I feel close to you all now. My tears are for us all! I am so sorry you are hurting the way I am. Our one true hope is in our lord Jesus Christ! I pray for healing and renewal of our children’s minds. I pray for us to have the strength, wisdom and knowledge needed to support our children and one another during these trials. I pray for peace for us all and protection over all of our children. In Jesus’ Name! Amen!

  • Donna J F says:

    My son is 30 years old. He is single and presently living at home with me. He recently was diagnosed and treated with meds for depression and bipolar disorder. He wants so badly to find answers, get proper and effective treatment, and be able to lead a peaceful and productive life. However, he feels his life is worthless, that things will never change for the better, and that his condition is not helped or taken very seriously by healthcare professionals. I am so afraid for him. I see the pain, the sadness, the lack of self-esteem, and dwindling hope of ever living the life that most people enjoy naturally. He is very intelligent and constantly searching for how to cope. It is sad also knowing there are so many of YOU struggling with it as parents. I pray for my son, for the proper help to come. …as I will keep you too in my prayers. God Bless you all.

    • AR says:

      Make sure the psychiatrist that he is seeing is well versed in bipolar needs and has him on the proper medication . My son had just started Latuda and it was seeming to help bipolar depression and sleep issues. You can ask about it if hes not on it. The one thing that your son has going for him, that is great, is that he seems to be compliant. He has a desire right now to want to have things change and that is key to him moving forward
      With medication and counseling helps, that can change things for him greatly. Try and see if he can get involved in some kind of volunteer work because in helping others, it will help him have his mind shifted into something that is positive and not situated only on his own challenges. It is a difficult thing for the parents as well as our children And you’re in my prayers.

  • Catherine says:

    Thank you, my son is 16 and had been suffering his entire live. I was the only one that could see it until now. He is in a IOP but he is resisting all treatment. We have been in the hospital 3 times. 2 our of 3 they think it’s me. I am so sad for him, he is very self distructful, it is painful to watch.

    • Kathy K. says:

      I have a 26 year son who knows he needs help but refuses. I am his mother and I, like all of the parents here, love my child and worry constantly. He has a loving family but it’s so difficult to know what to do. He has very intense mood swings that easily become frightening. We want to help so much before something bad happens.

  • Pkin2 says:

    it may take time for your son to realize and accept help, try to get a doctor that cares and therapy is important to help your son understand his feelings. Someone above said regulated sleep and nutrition and stress management and counseling and psych visits and strong family support are all extremely important, totally agree. It will get better focus on little gains. Most of us have been or are going through what you are.

  • AR says:

    There is Bipolar 1 and Bipolar II. My adopted sister has one type and my adopted son has the more severe. She was diagnosed at 15 , but has been on medication and eats well and does not have the intensity, or length in her manic times, Depression seems to not be an issue for her either. On the other hand, our adopted son, who is now 18, was diagnosed ADHD when he was young, but I started seeing signs of things that seemed much more severe. I went for years of getting frustrated in IEP meetings with teachers and in talking to doctors about the fact that I felt like he might be Bipolar, but nobody would listen . It was” he has to try harder’ or’ he just has severe anxiety”adhd or he has executive functioning disorder. A year and a 1/2 ago when he finally got to the point where he was going from marijuana to meth and was shoplifting.. A JV officer said that he either was going to be put in jail or in a medically watched over resident type situation, which we frankly had been trying to get him in for 3 years. In order to do this though, we had to give up our rights to the state so that the 10 to $15,000 a month bill was mostly covered we still had to put out 500 a month! Finally during this time he was diagnosed as PTSD and bipolar and was on medication. After a year there, he came home this January on a trial basis till this May, to see how he would do things were pretty much OK until he turned 18. That day he decided he could do everything for himself and he didn’t need to be on meds ect. It started a big snow ball rolling… he lost the job that he had, he stopped coming home, he wasn’t taking meds and started drinking. Now because of his age we can’t advocate certain things for him legally if he doesn’t comply with it and that is what is the most frustrating because if you’re mentally ill you’re not thinking in the right place 1st of all and the choices you make are certainly not benefiting you. It has been heartbreaking…. things like this are like throwing a rock into a smooth pond it doesn’t just affect that person…. it scatters out and effects everyone in the family and I have had my share of issues from these past 5 years. I also would comment to the moms and dads to make sure that they are seeking help if THEY need it. For those of you whose children are turning around I’m thankful for that for you, but I have yet to speak with a family that has the type that my son does and not have it end in either suicide, jail time, or them being missing. I wholeheartedly agree about structure and diet exedra. But, for those of you that have children that are in the state that are struggling severely, Sometimes all you do just isn’t going to affect them. I know you are doing all that you can and You have to make sure that you don’t blame yourself. At some point it’s going to affect you emotionally or mentally and you need to be able to talk to your doctor about that and your friends , family or your spiritual leaders.
    Many times just talking it out with other family, or individuals that are dealing with the same scenario can help lighten some of the emotional load . Hugs to all and keep hope

  • Laura says:

    I’m so glad I came across this article …. my son who like so many others seemed like a healthy happy boy up until about a year ago (2nd year of college) he will be 21 next month . I too thought some of the drinking and smoking pot was your typical college stuff and due to him not having many friends or a girlfriend in high school never really has to set boundaries . I am lucky that he noticed on his own that things were not right with him . He had panic attacks, was very angry, hard time at work and dealt with anxiety and depression . He had to come out of school cause he had no motivation to go to class or anything for that matter . He will be going into a treatment facility in 4 days and actually excited about it . I’m lucky that nothing bad has happened and that he will be able to detox his body and they are able to find the medications that work best for him . I did my research on the facilities to ensure that what their main concentration was is mental health specifically bi polar . I was adopted and recently found my birth family and learned bi polar runs deep on my birth moms side … we are even related to Lizzie Borden I’m like one of the moms on here I will never give up on him as long as I walk this earth . We can’t help the cards we have been delt and do the best we can to live in this crazy world . I’ll keep u all updated on his progress.

  • Margaret says:

    I greatly appreciate the article and the comments. But how did you or your loved ones finally recognize their condition and decide to deal with it? We are parents to a bipolar son who just turned 28, and is in complete and utter denial of his diagnosis. Looking back we now realize that he’s experienced at least three manic episodes and three depressive episodes over the last 3 years. His illness killed his marriage, multiple very good jobs, and really any sense of who our son is. We are very close, but he lives in another state with a co-dependent enabling roommate. And no matter what we’ve done over the last 5 months, we just can’t seem to get through to him. Any suggestions? We think he’s headed into a depressive period now, and that would be consistent with his typical timing. We are hoping to reach him during his depressive period. Please any suggestions are welcome. Thank you

  • Theresa M says:

    My son was diagnosised as having bipolar disorder a year and a half ago. He was 29 years old at the time, married to his high school sweetheart, 2 small children under the age of three and his wife became pregnant again. She became very sick and bedridden for the first 4 months. She was the primary bread winner. My son was working 2 jobs to try and make ends meet and had the responsibility of the kids. I helped during the day but had no idea a manic episode was brewing. My father n law was bipolar and as mean as hell at times so I didn’t see it in my son. He’s a kind soul and would do anything for anyone. Since this experience I have learned that people have their own personality and thenthe disease so it looks different on different people. Needless to say their life fell apart, we found he was self medicating with Marijuana which made it worse he became deliuousonal and weckless with spending. Scariest thing I have every experienced- seeing your son falling apart and not even knowing it. Thank god he was willing to go to St Joseph’s our patient program, they treat the disease with a dual program approach and explained how the disease manifests and how you can have other things going on like panic disorder etc. He went to class everyday for 6 weeks and learned about his disease with others. They tested him for drugs and started him on a medication regime. I couldn’t be more grateful to them. He didn’t feel alone or like an oddity. He almost lost his family but they managed to put their lives back together. Now my third grand child from them is turning one next week. I worry constantly about him and I become anxious when I see him struggling. I’m convinced they need to monitor our young people in school to catch it early. Looking back he had it in college and has been suffering a long time. I have a lot of guilt not helping him sooner or understanding him better sooner.

  • Kay says:

    Our son is bipolar 1.diagnosed after he had to leave college because of self medicating with other drugs and not attending classes. At the time we thought it was just problems with partying behavior,now we realize it was when the illness was really presenting itself He was hospitalized with dual diagnosis but it was very difficult to find someplace for him to go on limited funds. .He has a good psychiatrist but not sure if she is pushing the therapy because he refuses to see a counselor. He and his fiancée both have mental health diseases and now have a 4 month old child. The two sets of parents will most likely have to help raise him as they are not capable of doing it on their own.
    I am in counseling myself in order to help me deal with the realities of this life we now have. We love him dearly and want him to feel good about himself,but it is an uphill struggle so far.

  • Kelly says:

    Well where to begin. My son has just turn 17 and is spiraling out of control more each day. He has been diagnosed over the young years with ADHD & medicated. He was a bright boy, friendly & active with sports.
    Then Summer of 2017 his father passed on. He rebelled more in anger & experimenting with marijuana & after his dad passing , he took a big turn . We were counseling & he was seeing other specialist before that. He has become raged & very depressed on up & downs. Two years ago a family physician diagnosed him border line bipolar .
    Now he refuses to take any med. & all counseling stopped. I have no control over my son anymore , he disrespects & stretches the stories in his mind.
    I am consumed with this beyond belief . I have this last year of school to get help before he turns 18 and who knows the path ahead

  • Jack says:

    As someone that has struggled with mental illness since 2nd grade I can relate to your article. My mind just changed around that time and things got hard. My parents tried to help and the psychiatrist put me in the psychiatric hospital for 4 weeks when I was in 3rd grade to toughen me up. Well that just terrified me and made me keep my craziness to myself. At 16 the depression hit me so hard I was on medications but they made me suicidal. Things really changed for me at 18 and I started becoming angry and very irritable. I also started having excess energy, racing thought, and always had to be on the go. This is when I started using cannabis and alcohol to get some kind of control. Yet again I was back to the psychiatrist put on an SSRI and then the real mania began. Needless to say that ended my college career. I tried to tell my parents what was going on but they never listened and I even showed up mid day drunk just trying to show them something was wrong but my dad laughed it off. 5 years later I had a break down ended up in a mental hospital where a counselor who didn’t know me decided along with my parents I didn’t have mental problems I was an alcoholic. So off to rehab where I was abruptly taken off my meds(caused 6 seizures) and received treatment that had nothing to do with my illness. Well the story goes on but my point is listen to your kids or they will end up like me. Broken, alone,depressed, struggling day to day, unemployed, and still living at home at 43. My life could have been great but my bad(manic) decisions, plus bad advice and decisions from the people that I depended on have made it pretty sad.

    • Jacque M says:

      Jack, I am a mother of three boys. One who is doing good, one who self Medicates who I know has problems but always seen it as just a troubled kid who now is an alcoholic at age 30, and one who is really struggling with depression and anxiety; now self medicating to help him cope and sleep. I relate to your post because both my boys are going in the same direction and I don’t know how to help them. Please tell me what and how I can help them. It is so hard and I love them so much.

  • Caybre F says:

    My son is 30 years old and was diagnosed with bipolar and ADHD since he was a teen. He suffers severely and self meditates. He said he doesn’t know why he does the things he does. He won’t stay in rehab programs because he is not on any medication and they are treating his drug addiction and not the mental health. I tried getting him mental health disability but they say he doesn’t qualify because he’s an addict. He hears been in several Salvation Army programs across the United States but either gets kicked out or leaves. He doesn’t have insurance and I certainly can’t afford to pay for treatment. Right now he’s in Virginia in jail for battery on a healthcare provider. I’m in Florida so I’m not there to help. I called the jail to go over his history but I don’t think it helped. Please help me help him. I’ve tried everything I know to help. He wants the help but we don’t know how or where to get it. I’ll send him anywhere he has to go.

  • John E says:

    Wow. OMG. My spouse stumbled upon this well-written article while researching online. It is just so on point. We are on a big learning curve and are just coming to terms with our 20-year old daughter’s raging dysphoric manic mood swings. The signs were always there, but we simply attributed it to typical raging teen hormones. She herself is seemingly happy, healthy, talented and easy going, and we have a good baseline of her rational thinking. Unfortunately, we now have a good baseline of her biochemically induced delusional thinking; it’s California “road rage”, a mixed mania that causes dangerous, violent and aggressive behaviors. Diagnosis and treatment is certainly a difficult road, as is her ability to recognize and make the decision for herself that she needs the help. Each day we awake as parents and tell ourselves to keep the faith, strive for better days ahead, and support her with our unconditional love and never ending patience.

  • Marilyn T says:

    Thank you for sharing your families experiences; they resonate wit me. My beautiful daughter has bi-polar and after 6 years i still cry every day about the total change in her life. I do feel guilty because I did not know the signs, may have even encouraged her eccentric behaviour because she was such fun to be with. My husband is beginning to be a support to her but gets angry with me for feeling such guilt as he can just cut off from his feelings 0 or so it seems. Thank you for all the comments.

  • CM says:

    Thank you!

  • Cj says:

    I recently have taken over guardianship of a 15 year-old boy for a friend of mines, he has BP, BPD, HDAD, ADD, anxiety, stress, and ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) I thought at first that seeing how I am working on my Masters in Marriage and family Therapist that I could someone how help this child. I have to say that this is wearing me down. I stay consistent with the rewards and consequences, He is on two kinds of medications vyvanse, depakoe. He tells me that if he could just smoke weed everything would be okay, I have to remind thin that it may only help with this anxiety and stress, but would not help with the depression. He more recently decided to cut himself which he was very remorseful about. However, there is a waiting list in our state of Massachusetts and in our area for a child therapist (are you kidding me). I am doing the best that I can do but it is exhausting…
    thank you for reading

  • Soph B says:

    ADHD, mental illness, bipolar, anxiety and repeated depression or illness can be cured. I was once a victim and thought it was normal i use medical drugs and still the problem grew worse. I was lucky to meet a spiritual priest who prayed for me in his temple and that was the end of my problems. My life has changed for good and i see good results in all i do. What are your problems? Do you have relationship issues too Contact him for prayers and spiritual cleansing to get your happiness back: shangosolutiontemple (at ) yahoo

  • MB says:

    This all sounds like where we are headed…My 22 year old son left college after 3 semesters because his grades were poor and it appeared that he was using drugs. Since that time he has floundered and lacks motivation to do anything. He has been in jail twice (charges dropped both times) but strangely, he did not seem to care that he was in jail (for 3 weeks). He didn’t enjoy it, but he didn’t complain either. My older sister was bipolar but our family didn’t know this until she was in her 40’s. My son does not exhibit classic bipolar symptoms, but I just know that somethings not right. My interactions with him remind me so much of my sister. There is a similar irritability that he exhibits and he spends hours alone and/or sleeping. He seems incapable of coming up with any kind of plan/goal for his future. I feel like I’m just waiting for him to get worse before he can get help.

  • Laura P says:

    This is an amazing article. Thank you for sharing this. The first time I read through it I cried. My son’s story is so much of the same. We are working on getting meds regulated and counseling. He is 19 and I hope that I have intervened before the true addiction but we will see. But there is so much beating up on oneself when they have such promise and lose scholarships and opportunities. Extended family members do not understand and the young man feels like he has let everyone down while struggling to just get up in the morning. I have often thought as I realized what this was, that it is cruel this mental illness hits at the age it does. If they were children they would learn the habits of taking medicine at the same time everyday and other coping mechanisms from the parents they trust. Instead they are rebellious teens in the middle of it trying to learn how to care for it. The combination of the age with the mental problems just leaves them so vulnerable when they should be taking basic steps toward ‘adulting’. This is one of the best articles I have read. I shared it with my son and hopefully it will give him hope. Thank you.

  • Renee Lash says:

    My 17 year old daughter was diagnosed in the spring of this year. She started exhibiting signs at 14. She is a talented artist and sfx makeup artist. It breaks my heart to see how this illness has affected her life already. She is no longer attending high school but is on track to get her GED. This illness took a very bright excellent student and brought her to the point of dropping out because of the pressure to perform at the level of those with healthy minds. I have spoken to so many educators about her illness but I don’t think most of them have a clue how to help or accommodate how a child with bi-polars brain functions. It’s sad.

  • Mary Jo says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Our beautiful 16 y/o grandson has been diagnosed with schizoid effective disorder. He has just been released from a 5 weeek inpatient program and is scheduled to begin 7 hot a day out patient counseling. I am so frightened for him. Last year this time he was trying out for his HS baseball team ( which he made). He had many friends and seepso happy. He started experimenting with marijuana this past summer, had no interest in school and stopped playing baseball. He began hearing voices and and acting violent. I want to find the best care for him. His parents are divorced and there is much discord between them and the fathers girlfriend. He has a 14y/0 brother who is very supporting and seems to be doing well. I feel as if I am in the middle of the father, his girlfriend and my daughter. This should all be about my grandson, not them. Does anyone have suggestions about inpatient therapy, possibly long term? Thank you so much for reading this. It is so sad for all these families.

  • Stephanie says:

    This was written so perfect. I feel as if I am drowning and suffocating in this everyday battle when trying to explain to others that are close exactly what is going on with my son. I do not have much if any support myself and my 18 year old son is suffering from lack thereof as well. It felt really good to read this and I am so very thankful because now just maybe I can share this story with others instead of attempting to try to explain what is going on. I believe I seem to be over dramatic and making excuses for my son. It’s absolutely frustrating. Thank you

  • Jeff who lives at home says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’m 34 and just had my first manic episode but had depression and addiction since high school. Just curious, what meds did you find the most success with? I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get on a regimen, but not sure if I have a preference. Anything you can add would be helpful. I know this thread is super old. Owell

  • Vivían says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m dealing with the same situation with my 17th year old daughter and I ‘m desperate, exhausted. She has one episode today after being hospitized a few day ago for a week after she stopped taking her medicine.
    I need hope and the strength to continue help her. Everything is falling apart, my marriage, work , life.
    Please give me hope.

  • M.Ferris says:

    After reading this article and the comment section I realize that I am not in this alone. I also realized in reading the comment section that there is tremendous love for our children that are inflicted with mental illness. My son had his first episode at age 22 while in college. 8 yrs since and his life, mine and the rest of our families have never been the same. In many respects he is his own worst enemy, refusing to take suggestions or advice that has been well researched and solid, but I can also understand that at the age of 30, he feels frustrated that he struggles to manage life on his own, and has become resentful and disrectful towards me, his Dad. I have become the source of many of his issues. Prior to the onset, he was the most respectful child growing up and I had other parents and adults routinely comment on just what a fine young man he was. His illness has stripped this from him on some days. I know there has been a lot of comments about various effectiveness of certain medications in the comment section. Meds have only marginally helped, as he has difficulty accepting regular therapy, eating healthy and exercising. Seems like a lot to ask of someone that struggles daily with anxiety and depression…. one bit of positive news to share…he recently decided to see his doctor and do ketamine injections. I saw an immediate marked improvement in his mood. He was more relaxed and calmer and introspective. And for awhile functioned better than I had seen him in a very long time. He didn’t follow his doctors advice on follow up treatment, and we have watched him slip back to being riddled with anxiety, anger and frustration….yes it’s hard to watch, yet like many of you have said, you’ll be there today, tomorrow, next month and every year until our last dying breath. In some way, it is their choice to side line us, it’s our choice to stay the course.
    Have faith, find time for yourself and those that are unintentionally neglected as a result of your focus to help your son or daughter. Forgive yourself, yes…we are all doing the best we can under unbearable circumstances.

  • Linda C says:

    Wow, I’m so glad I stumbled upon this article…. I was just about to give up, but seeing all your comments has made me see I’m not alone, and I’m doing the best I can (I hope) for my son (he is 22) and has been struggling for the past 4 years with his bipolar and substance abuse. He was doing really well for 10 months , but has started drinking again and is actually passed out in his room right now. Honestly it just so hard to be worried all the time, I feel like that’s all I do. I wish things could be better and easier for him, it makes my heart break .

  • Jan says:

    The beginnings of your story are almost identical to the story of our son. And I could not agree with you more; we have yet to find a treatment center that could help him with the addiction that I believe is a symptom of, as well as a trigger for, his bipolar disorder. Three and a half years later, he is med compliant, in school full time, exercising regularly, fighting the fight, but still struggling to maintain daily equanimity. I would love to speak with you about what has worked since you posted this most helpful story.

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