Dear Dr. Archer,
Please help me, if you can. We are in desperate need to find a psychiatrist in the Bay area who would help our 18 year old daughter to believe in herself and get rid of the heritage of a bipolar diagnosis done within a one hour appointment. Fears of a potential future ending in the hospital and other scary things which were said to her right away.
She doesn't have any visible periods of mania and depression at all, and I, as a mother, didn't have the opportunity to speak with the doctor before I realized what happened.
We want a psychiatrist who will look at all aspects of our daughter's personality, talk about alternatives to medications. Someone to evaluate her state and her need of medication carefully, understanding this is a young girl, although she's a legal adult.
We will not be able to continue a normal life! We are looking for any references for doctors who share your view described in your book, as it is very difficult to find any source of information.
We are wandering in the dark, beating our heads against the wall, feeling we are trapped between psychologists and a single consultant in Stanford who pronounced the word "bipolar", scaring our daughter to death. She was thinking she was on her way to recovery from depression, soon to be successfully studying in college.
I just saw your book on the shelf. You can trust me or not, but it was like a miracle. I was literally crying, as it gave me a path and foundation for the future, and it connected the dots.
As educated parents, being trained to make conclusions on facts and verifying these facts, we were not able to accept such an easy way of diagnosing without even monitoring the girl, or taking into account how big an effect such a diagnosis is being presented.
There are many details which are easier to talk about on the phone or in person. If needed I can write them to you. However, if you can recommend any psychiatrists in the San Francisco area, or anywhere else because if need be we can travel.
Someone who can help us to work with our daughter and return her trust in herself, and also to pour some light into our life. We really need help.
Thank you, and with all my respect, hoping to hear from you.
First, take a deep breath, because everything is going to be okay -- promise. You should know there are two distinct reactions to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder: (1) fear and despair, feeling that life has crashed and burned, and (2) relief, knowing now that there is a diagnosis that explains all the labile behavior.
Psychiatry has come a long, long way in understanding the different mood disorders. They are not determined by any lab tests, rather by a clinical interview by the doctor discussing moods, behaviors and lifestyle.
Ok, here’s my advice, you need a second opinion. I cannot name specific psychiatrists for you to see in the Bay area, but here's what I can do for you.
Call your local hospital ER. They will know the doctors and how they treat and interact with their patients. Recommendations from family and friends can be an invaluable resource, too.
Before meeting with the psychiatrist, have your daughter write down her symptoms. Information not only on depression, hypomania and mania should be reported, but also any changes in sleep, energy, behavior and thinking should be included.
Her family history is also helpful. Go with your daughter, because you may be able to describe or add something to help. She should also share her lifestyle habits, including exercise, diet, sleep, alcohol and/or drug use.
Finally, be sure to read Erin Uses Bipolar 2 To Her Advantage, and follow the links. If your daughter is, indeed, bipolar, then be thankful that she will receive help IF she actually needs help.
Many celebrities have not let bipolar disorder stop them, and even credit much of their creativity because of it, like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Britney Spears, Marilyn Monroe, Vincent van Gogh, Carrie Fisher and Linda Hamilton.
If she needs medication, then by all means she should take it. BUT, maybe she just needs to learn to live and maximize the many inherent strengths that bipolar entails.
If you read Chapter 8, you know how I was able to accomplish all I have because of my traits (including high energy), and your daughter can do the same. All the best to you both.