My 16 Year Old Son
My son was experimenting with marijuana at age 14 so I put him in a residential treatment program for 34 days. The Psychiatrist diagnosed him with cannabis addiction and anxiety. After his stay he went to live with his father for a brief time and received another psychiatric diagnosis of Bipolar NOS.
I didn't want to believe this new diagnosis and felt it was in error because the FIRST Psychiatrist never mentioned any mental illness. Later, my son started "using" again and being verbally abusive to his father so he ended up at the airport calling me to pick him up later that evening.
Since then he's been on Depokote and had Abilify (30mg) also added to his meds. Some days he is drama free, most days he calls me horrid names, slams doors, punches things and other sulks around the house. The biggest difference now is I get an apology at least despite the eruptions. I almost feel like having no hope at all so I don't get disappointed. He's so credit deficient in school he will be lucky to finish on the 5 year plan. I slowly have had the life sucked out of me despite having read and educated myself on his condition and most importantly tried to separate his behavior from his illness.
After three years of dealing with residential treatments, brief adolescent psychiatry hospital stays, and daily skirmishes I am wiped out. What I need to hear of is HOPE. What is medication suppose to do for him? Thanks for letting me vent...this is one merry-go-ride I want to be off.
I don't know if your son's diagnosis is correct, or if he is appropriately medicated , but it is possible he is not getting all of the help he could with meds.
What should medication do?
Medication should balance out the mood swings so your child can function better. Your child should be keeping a mood journal, the journal should indicate the frequency of the mood swings and you should be able to determine the symptoms of the mood swings. So if for example he has a symptom of boredom, you should be able to identify that with mania. Then the doctor can get the report, for example that the child is bored every night from 4-7, and make med adjustments based on that info. The meds should be tweaked until the moods level out and symptoms are more manageable.
Cursing and slamming doors are not unusual in children that have bipolar disorder. The parenting approach should focus on conversations with him when he apologizes about how the two of you can move forward with different interactions in the future. If you haven't been trained in RAINBOW parenting, check out my website or google it!
Here is an example dialog around door slamming and cursing. This should happen when he is calm.
Mom: "We need to talk about what happened earlier"
Child: "I'm sorry I slammed the door and called you....".
Mom:" What were you feeling when that happened..."
Child;" I was mad because you were trying to force me to...."
Mom: "First lets figure out if there was anything else going on that made it difficult to handle stress. Were you hungry? Did something happen during that phone call? How was school?"
Child: "Nothing else happened, but the teacher at school hates me and won't do anything to help."
Mom: "Let's try to figure this out. I know it feel s like we can't fix it, but there is a way to get through this together. I know it feels out of control and you are angry, but we have to keep trying to communicate better. I know we can do it, and things will get better if we just work at it."
I know this is idealistic, but the idea is it is an ongoing process to work on developing the communication skills, coping skills and hope in your child that is required to move forward. You have no choice but to have hope, because without it you are nowhere. Unfortunately you also have to create that hope for your child.
School: Many children with bipolar disorder are unable to graduate school on time, in fact, some are unable to attend normal school and get their GED, or are homeschooled. Just because they don't graduate on time doesn't mean they don't graduate. I have had several of my children go back in their 20's and get their GED and go to community college. Developmentally children like yours are often several years behind. This does not mean that they aren't capable of success, or that they aren't intelligent, just that they are slower than the average child to come into their own.
Hope: The challenges your face are overwhelming, this I understand. It is not uncommon to feel hopeless . Hope by definition is to expect with confidence or trust. In absence of evidence it is challenging. I can tell you with certainty, that if your child has bipolar disorder, it is by no means a diagnosis that precludes him from having a successful, happy life. It may not be the life you had envisioned, or the success that you had envisioned.
If you are feeling hopeless, go get some help for yourself so you are better equipped to deal with the challenges of raising a special needs child. You need support to help you to summon up the energy to help your child.