Bipolar teen......looking to help as best i can.....

by Jackie

I'm 19 years old and have bipolar 2 disorder. doctors say it started when i was in the 4th grade. From that moment i was constantly struggling in school, home and with "friends" I had at those times.

the two main things i struggled with, and still do from time to time, was my family, but more so myself. i was so confused constantly and so afraid all the time of what was going on inside my head. it was like i was on a never ending horror ride at a theme park. it got so bad, when i was about 9 or 10 years old my mom and i were eating dinner. right out of the blue i looked over at her and asked straight up " i going crazy?".

i don't exactly know how to describe the intensity of the emotions i felt. but to give a good idea, take what the "average" person feels (anger, sadness, scared, even happy) and try to multiply it times 50, maybe even 100. to try to lesson the intensity i would self mutilate. it started at an early age. at the time i just didn't know what else to do. all this continued all the way to my first 9th grade year. yes, i failed that year. the reason for that is because my disorder got worse, i got into drugs and alcohol, i constantly skipped school and i was hospitalized a few times. now, to most people being hospitalized in a psychiatric facility means that person is "crazy". nope.

at least not for me. i know now that i was hospitalized because i was not safe from myself, my friends and family were not able to help me, i needed to get on medication and i needed to be in a safe, neutral environment. in the end, it really did help. it helped me A LOT! i learned so much.

BUT, i was willing to learn. when i was able to take all the coping skills i received and created, and place them in my daily life, i was able to control my emotions, for the most part, and the bigger picture became clear enough for me to find my path in life.

now, at this point in time, despite all that I've been through and endured, i have NEVER felt this balanced and in control.....i even find myself laughing and smiling everyday. i found my path to recovery, i took baby steps the whole way, i fell and learned, i got back up and continued on. what helped me the most was finding people who understood me and what i was going through. my family had no clue. they still don't. but they try REALLY hard to understand. that made it kinda worse for me at times.

most of the time i just wanted them to leave me alone so i could deal with it myself on my own time. and as for my friends.....up until about two years ago most of my friends were bad influences. now, I've learned how to choose my friends wisely. the friends i have now help me stay on the right track.....and they love me for me. they know everything about my past. bipolarness and all. hahaha.

yes i had my therapist and psychiatrist, but what helped most was a support group i went to. so, really REALLY long story short, it will take time, effort and a lot of love and support from those around a person to help them with their path to recovery, no matter how old or young that person is with bipolar disorder. speaking from my own experience, the more positivity that person is surrounded by, more doors will open. it took me four years to get to where i am today. but you know what, it was all worth it.

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Jun 13, 2010
by: Jackie

when i was first diagnosed i too was in denial for a long time, for many reasons. my main reason was that i was afraid of being "labeled" as psycho, crazy or anything of that nature. so instead of trying to cope with my disorder, learn about it and face it, i tried to ignore and run from it in every way possible. i think its absolutely wonderful that your trying to understand your daughter, for my mother explained to me many times her trying to understand me and what i was going through was very difficult. as of now i have two books on bipolar disorder and one book on psychology that helped me quite a bit. the two bipolar books are "The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide by David J. Miklowitz" and "Bipolar Disorder For Dummies". As silly as those may sound they've helped me understand my disorder on a factual level. the psychology book is "The Complete Idiots Guide To Psychology". all of those books gave me a clinical perspective on my disorder and gave me actual facts, however, i have also read a couple of books written by people with Bipolar Disorder or people with loved ones that have Bipolar Disorder. Those books gave me a more personal and internal perspective. The only book i can remember was called "Cutting" but i cant remember who the author is. i used to have a problem with cutting and decided to read the book to understand it better myself. i got all my books from Borders book store and Barns And Noble. the only website i've looked into is kristens, so i'm not sure what is on the internet that can help. in all honesty, the only reason i have been able to cope with my disorder was because i accepted it and CHOSE to understand it instead of continuing to deny or run from it. it did take me a while to do so. for me it was a self-paced process...and a slightly slow one at that. i too neglected to talk to most people, especially my family. i cant tell you why your daughter is doing the same, because it may be different for her...but for me, i didnt share what i was going through not only because i didnt know how to but because i was afraid to. afraid of how my family would react to what i was thinking and feeling. i would get very upset if anyone would ask me questions that i didnt know how to answer or didnt want to answer. all i wanted my family to do was be patient with me, love me as one's family would, let me know everyday that they were there for me whenever i needed them and reassure me that eventually everything would be ok. i hope i have managed to help you Cindy. if you ever have anymore questions, please feel free to comment here and i will gladly try to help as best i can. i wish you and your daughter the brightest of days, biggest of smiles and best of luck. ~Jackie~

Jun 12, 2010
Good for you!
by: Cindy

Hi Jackie, I am a teacher and parent of a bipolar 16 year old. I am struggling to understand what she is going through, as she doesn't share. Your story has given a bit of insight into what she may be going through. She is in denial and keeps stopping her meds which throws our lives into chaos. I am struggling to find a way to help her and survive these awful times. We are in a very rural area and lack services to support us. Have you found any books, websites or other resources that I might be able to tap into? You are a smart young lady and seem to have found the balance a person needs in life. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Apr 12, 2009
by: Jackie

it wasnt just guts and willingness that got me through it was the love of those around me and the knowledge of what was happening to me. I am very glad to know i've helped in whatever way i did. that was my main goal in telling my story. i'm glad i was able to help you with your son. if at anytime you have a question and what not feel free to ask. i'll continue to help as best as i can. good luck and i hope things go well for your son. he has quite a journey ahead.....and it will turn out for the better i'm sure =)


Apr 07, 2009
by: Renee

Hi Jackie,
First, I want to say that I am in "aw" of your guts and willingness to share your story. You have not only helped the parents that are dealing with their bipolar child, but you have also helped many children/teens understand that they are not alone in their feelings! What a gift you gave to not only me, but I am sure many others.
Let us know when you publish your first book about your coping/survival skills, I will be the first in line to buy it!!
I will share your story with my son, 15, and anyone else who struggles to understand the inner chaos!

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