Living with a a Bi polar teen: 18 and ready to leave




Bipolar disorder hit my daughter's life as well as mine and my families like the TITANIC almost a year ago. As you may know it was a nightmare of a year mentally, behaviorally emotionally, socially and academically for her. She is only 16 and now because of all of the "road blocks" we have had to put in place for her and tight boundaries because of her poor decision making she is "counting down the days" till she is 18 so she can "move out" --I have no place to put that in my life or my heart as a mother as I AM the person who is the most patient and understanding with her each and every day and normally she thanks me daily and tells me she can't do it without me. How can I better help her in the future as well as myself?


She does have a good psychiatrist, supportive family doctor, great psychologist at school who she speaks to weekly, great home life and loving family support all around.

Thank you for your time and help.
Linda
lbamonte25@optonline.net

Answer:

Hi Linda
The truth is, it seems that you are in a pretty good position with your daughter as is she with all of that support in place.

Suggestions:

1. All teenagers, whether they have bipolar disorder or not, go through this period where they want to leave the nest and rebel. What choice do you really have as a parent than to learn to accept this? You could argue, and struggle against this but the reality is she will need to learn what she is capable an incapable of on her own, like we all do. I would work on accepting that this is how it is, despite the fact that it will involve pain and likely some mistakes on her part as she learns how to be an adult with a mental illness.
2. I would talk with her therapist about how she can be a primary support during this transition. Many of my kids come back throughout early adulthood because they are more likely to share their struggles with a therapist than a parent . The therapist can serve as a surrogate parent during this time.

3. I would focus with your child on developing trust and allowing them to plan and make decisions without your interference or attempts to control. Often this strategy of providing complete support ( kind of a little sneaky) will result in them coming to you more for help and being more open to feedback than if you are arguing with them about what they are and are not capable of doing on their own.

I hope these tips have been helpful.


Good luck to you with your teenager!

Kristen

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Jan 22, 2012
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Thank you Laura
by: Linda

Laura,

Thank you for taking the time to tell your story about your son and for offering advice and help. Every little bit helps as you know.
I will pray for your son as well. As you well know we all what the best for our children but we can't control what they ultimately choose. I can understand how scary it must be for all of you in your family that he wants to be on his own.
Thank you again for your advice it really was very insightful.
All the best to your son. I won't forget him in my prayers.
Linda

Jan 18, 2012
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Feeling your pain -
by: Laura

Wow - this sounds so similar to what our family is going through with our 18 year old BP1 son right now. He has decided to move completely across country so he can be out on his own. He wants to find his own way and be responsible for himself, rather than living in his parent's basement and attending community college here at home. He's worked enough to have accrued savings to support this, and so he's determined to leave. The only people he knows out there are a best friend from high school & his girlfriend, who both moved there 6 months ago.

We are not averse to our children "fledging" and in fact look forward to it. With this son however, it's scary because of his illness - out there he will have to re-develop a support network and relationships with therapists and a psych. We are very worried for his safety since he tends to the impulsive side - he's had multiple suicide attempts in the past. We will not be there to pick up the pieces if/when things get out of control. He also tends to abuse substances and we aren't confident he will stay away from them out there.

The best advice we've gotten? Release yourself from the responsibility for his safety - it's ultimately his job and not yours not that he's an adult. To support this, we're helping him identify situations that might come up and asking him "what would be a good way to address this?" or "what's your plan for this situation?" which shows confidence in his judgement, shows our support of him, and helps him to identify situations to plan for. Keeping the relationship intact and supporting him as he needs it are our key goals. Giving in to our anger over this and cutting him off from us/his support would certainly increase the odds of him failing so our choice is to help him succeed if we can.

We are still very scared for him, and pray daily for divine intervention and guidance. Sorry not to have more advice than this - it's just a really hard situation. At the end, we can only say we did the best that we could as parents of a mentally ill child. Best of luck to you and your daughter!

Laura


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