Recently, my daughter has been diagnosed with bipolar. Last fall she had a manic
episode, very out of control, car accident, problems with the law, etc. Since
this was our first experience with this, we did not recognize it or know what to
do, but seeked counseling for advise. The last 3 months up until about two weeks
ago were the down side and she was very depressed. During this time we were able
to get her into counseling being overseen by a Psychiatrist. She was prescribed
an anti-depressant and almost overnight after about 3 weeks of taking the
medication has flipped pretty fast to what we can now know is the manic side
She now wants to work as much as possible, has signed up for summer classes, and
on the go constantly. She is now taking Lamictal for five days and the
anti-depressant has been discontinued. Well, at least, she is supposed to be
taking it as we found one pill on the floor in her room this afternoon. She has
been drinking excessively and smoking at l east two packs per day, doesn't
sleep much and when she does sleep, it is erratic. I'm frustrated, losing
my own way and it seems like the support I need is hampered my the slowness of
the system. My Husband and I, after much contemplation and discussion have
decided to commit her.
1) Can you give me some advice about how committing her will work from here and
what the risks are? We felt we had no choice at this point as she is getting
unmanageable (by the way, she is 20)?
2) How can I change the situation; make it better?
3) Are there any successful clinics or sanitariums and if so, where and how do
we go about getting her into one?
Thank you so much,
I completely understand your frustration. Hopefully, you have discussed
your plans with your daughter's psychiatrist. Resources and commitment laws
vary by state and even county and he/she should be familiar with what types of
services are available specifically in your area. There are a number of levels
of care available and generally speaking the least restrictive alternative which
is appropriate yet effective is the one to choose. This should be worked out
between you and your daughter's mental health workers, in particular, her
psychiatrist to find the treatment setting most appropriate for her. Some of
those sources of information for referrals to such places include the following:
# Employee Assistance Program through your employer
# Local medical society, local psychiatric society
# Local mental health association
# County mental health department
# Local hospitals or medical centers with psychiatric services
# Department of Psychiatry in nearby medical school
You can begin to change the situation to make it better by attempting to
help your daughter treat her bipolar disorder medically first (get stable on
meds), in other words do what you can to communicate openly about all of her
behaviors and symptoms to a psychiatrist/therapist who is persistent in getting
as much accurate information from her as possible and is knowledgeable about
Encourage her to get and stay on her treatment. Your daughter may be
drinking excessively in order to self medicate her bipolar disorder. It
takes patience and persistence to get the correct medications and dosages and
once she feels improvement, she will need to continue taking her medication for
the rest of her life.
Depending on where you live, there are university-affiliated hospitals with
both inpatient and outpatient mental health units that are successful in
treating a variety of mental illnesses. Again, discuss this with your
daughter's psychiatrist especially if involuntary commitment is necessary. You
will also need to inquire about your health insurance coverage as well.
Recommended Reading: Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder, Fast, Julie A., 2004
Don't get discouraged. Bipolar disorder is a chronic disease, like
diabetes, and requires constant treatment and re-evaluation. It can become
somewhat predictable and treatable. Over time, learn to identify symptoms that
can trigger relapses. Have an action plan in mind such as who to call, which
medications to add, or which proactive behaviors to engage in when you notice
signs of a possible relapse.
For you and your daughter- adopt a healthy lifestyle. Get sufficient rest,
regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, work at managing your own stress level,
and avoid alcohol or other drugs. Research has shown that individuals with
bipolar disorder who are able to maintain a daily and regular routine are better
able to avoid relapses in their disorder.
Good luck and hang in there....you are not alone.
David Schafer, M.Ed.
Published May, 2006