I have written in to your forums over the past several months. I had problems with my daugther over the years, but things clearly escalated when we hit adolescence. She was always a bit difficult with me--behaved very well at school and at friends' homes, but while at home, she was often irritable, nasty and confrontational. There never seemed to be any rhyme or reason to her moods. Her dad and I divorced when she was 7 and he was never a consistent or stable presence in her life from that point on. I attributed much of this frustration, irritability, etc., to the abandonment.
Well, I am writing to thank you. Something you said a number of months ago when I had written in several times about a myriad of struggles, i.e., drugs, inability to get alone with others, little ability to sustain relationships with peers, stealing, poor academic performance where it had always been pretty good, etc., really hit me. You mentioned that you wondered if our physician if she was bipolar. At that point, it scared me to think that this could be so. She had been diagnosed as ADHD and had done pretty well on ritalin and then concerta until adolescence.
This past February, she was put on Zoloft for what we thought was depression to address the symptoms I previously mentioned. By April, she was on the therapeutic dosage. She began to act more impulsive even though the other symptoms had gone away (irritability, anxiety, anger, etc.). She was stealing, taking over-the-counter drugs in large quantities, smoking pot daily and declining. Finally in late April, she got her hands on some sleeping pills and took 8-12 and had to be rushed to the hospital. She became violent.
I began thinking back to your comment about BP. I began to research the symptoms in children and became convinced that she was, in fact, bipolar. The GREAT news, Dr. Bradley, is that she is now stable. She's on lamictal and is doing extremely well. We get along better than we ever have and her moods are now even. I cannot thank you enough and I also want to pass this information on to other parents. It is not something that we want for our children, but allowing them to go untreated is so much worse. I now realize that my daughter was struggling with rapid cycling and was flailing. She's now calm and stable and has the ability to modify her behavior. She's in therapy and now can work on the issues/problems that she has created in her life. She is in an outpatient drug treatment program also.
For any parent who feels there may be something other than normal adolescent challenges going on, not to be afraid. Research, ask questions and keep an open mind.