19 year old with bipolar left home

by Robin
(San Jose, CA)

My 19 year old daughter has bipolar. She has very low self-esteem and has had social difficulties and so sets the bar low for friends. She tends to hang out with people who use her for drug money, or even sex. She has had a traumatic adolescence; experiences have included the death of my husband (her stepdad) a rape and severe bullying at school.

I am a loving, present parent and a special ed teacher, so I have utilized every tool I can muster to help her, but I feel like I'm on a sinking ship. I tend to be protective and hands-on and she relies on me to help her navigate through the day. Our conflicts are always about the choices she makes with a certain group of friends. Awful things happen whenever she associates with them. Today I left work to help her through a particularly rough mood. After helping her get through the dark moments, I left to attend a meeting for an hour. When I returned, she had taken the bus across town to see the aforementioned "friends,' and lied about her location. When I said I was coming to get her, she admitted the truth and then said she was leaving for good. I was stunned. She came to get clothes and thankfully took meds with her.
Last year after hanging out with this crowd, she had an episode so bad that she was in the hospital for weeks.

She seems to be acting completely without impulse control and

it frightens me because she does not seem to learn from natural consequences. I don't know where she is staying--the person who came for her clothes is completely new to me. I am at a loss about what to do.

Hi Robin.

I can understand how you would be concerned about her behavior. DO you have a good therapist and psychiatrist? I know that it is difficult to deal with your daughter being 19 in chronological age , but not really being 19. It's hard to know what kind of boundaries and rules to set because developmentally she isn't really that age.

I wonder if she is stable, as you don't talk about her stability. The other issues in her background complicate some of what might be going on also ( the rape and death of step dad).

I would recommend that you get a good therapist if you don't already have one. Building the infrastructure of emotional regulation is part of the job of parents of bipolar children.It's not normal for a nineteen year old to rely on her mother to get through the day, but it is normal for a 19 year old bipolar child too. In fact, it may be that you can use this closeness to bring her back in when she starts to make those dangerous and impulsive choices. I am truly sorry for the difficulties you are having and I hope some other parents will chime in her and give you some support.

Wishing you the best

Kristen McClure

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Jan 02, 2017
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by: Anonymous

It is so painful to read your stories... I`m so sorry you, ladies.

Sep 12, 2016
Nice post
by: Anonymous

I started to read your blog with great enthusiasm but ended up with a sad state of mind. It is very saddening to hear your story. Hope everything is getting better by now.

Jul 30, 2015
so painful
by: Marie Madeleine

It is so painful to read your stories... I`m so sorry you, ladies.
Wish your kids to grow up and become better. I`m sure that they will appreciate your love and patience!
Good luck! Be brave

Mar 12, 2011
two daughters and lots of pain
by: Dad at a loss

I too have a daughter 19 (I'll call her #2) who left home this past week on an impulse even though she tells us it's been coming. She claims we're smothering her! This is a youg lady who has had trouble i school, socially and emotionally. My wife has helped her to cope, therapy, meds and as much as we can to help her to work to acheive a good bs efor life.

We've given her as much love as a parent can and now in one impulsive moment she packed 3 bags and left home. I gave her a shot of reality and told her no car, don't want your boyfriend to come here on the property too. She walked up our 600 ft driveway to meet him at the end and left home. She's calls here every day to check in, and also today she called to ask me for more clothes. I told her NO! No clothes, no money, not a penny, nickel or dime, nothing. You left home and walked away from your family and now if that's what you feel is it, then after all we've done for you over 19 years. Don't call me again. I'm trying but it's harder for us then we know. I do however fell a relief tonight. Should I? I have felt for the past week like what the hell??? Do I deserve this, should I jump off a bridge? My son is young, not een a teen yet. We have loved all three of our kids no less hen the other. Our #1 daughter is an addict succeeding now in College. It's been the toughest past 5 years then any other time in our 30 years of marriage. Is tough love the answere here? It has worked for our other daughter casue I told her that if she stays sober I would support her thru her rehab but if she goes back to it/drugs I'm not sure I can do it again. the pain that she put herself thru and me, my other two kids, my wife and us all.

We know however her creep bastard boyfriend has brainwashed her. When she got up to leave home after an angry impulsive confontation over her and her boyfriend who we don't like, she packed three bags and left. We had sat down on Monday to talk, having anice convesation w then addressed her bastard boyfriend. After coming to me and texting my wife of how he wated to support her we both go very angry with her. We asked her to get him to back down, he is way too much in our face. While my wife cried during the ordeal I felt like crap her we go again but not at all emotional since I'm tired and have had enough. My daughter is 19 and has been given all the tools and support we can thru her young life, school, socially, etc. Our other child left us for rehab 5 years ago to drug addiction at age 18. She also had great diffifulty dealing with that and the two of them with our patience have tried to build their relationships with some conversation leaving them both to work on it over time. #2

Feb 07, 2011
by: Connie


I have a 22 year old daughter with bipolar. I understand what you are going through. My daughter has moved back home from living with her boyfreind in another state. My only advice is to hang in there...you are not alone. I would make sure she has a pdoc and therapist. Is she on any meds righ now? My daughter is on seroquel, wellbutrin and topamax. She is seeing a therapist now for about three months which has made a great difference. It is so hard on us moms...we carry the greatest burden. Take care of yourself...that is so important.
Charlotte NC

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