Dear Dr. Archer,
I became bipolar at the age of 14, despite not being diagnosed until I was 22. Even then, it took one more year for them to figure out that I was full on bipolar and not the milder bipolar 2.
I was so manic, at age 17 I heard scary voices, saw a yellow autumn tree shedding leaves during the summertime and heard poetry. They were all hallucinations, some pretty and some pretty terrifying.
I've been guinea pigged on all sorts of bipolar and antipsychotic drug out there, and in the midst of being fully compliant, have lost friendships, blown a fortune due to manic spending sprees, somewhat messed up a once excellent credit score and temporarily lost custody of my then 5 year old. I was once suicidal and made too many mistakes, due to poor judgment.
I'm currently on SSI for mental health disability. I'm beyond being frustrated over my disorder and am desperate to find stable months. I always have mixed mania and GAD, and only experience one stable day every seven months.
Yes, once every seven months! I take one college class at a time, but that's all I can handle as a bipolar mother of two. I want to complete my associates degree to become a physical therapy assistant. That is my dream job.
My husband is Bipolar 2 and our relationship often suffers because I'm disabled. I find it difficult to communicate, and we also have financial pressures with me not working.
A year and a half after his diagnosis he still had a hard time keeping a job, and his depressions disturbed me. We love each other very much, but are often overwhelmed with each other's conditions.
I recently started taking Risperdal which is a wonder drug that knocks me out for 12 hours a day. Thank goodness we live with his grandparents again. I'm still hoping for a miracle. I have poor coping mechanisms and am in some sort of manic state nearly all the time for the past seven years.
Do you have some psychological advice you could offer to either me or my husband? Also, I'm worried that our 5 year old daughter will someday develop this disorder. What if she becomes so severe that she's disabled and can't have a normal, happy life?
If one parent is bipolar, a child has a 10 percent plus chance of developing the disorder. If both parents are bipolar, that possibility is raised to almost 50 percent.
However, I don't mean to be harsh, but it's too late to worry about whether or not your children will be bipolar. It will be, what it will be at this point - no sense worrying now. You and your husband need to focus on being good parents and taking care of each other and yourselves.
If you only have one good day every few months, then your condition is not being optimally treated. Focus on YOU, Cristy. Tell your doctor you are not doing well and DO NOT be satisfied with being half treated. There are dozens of meds that work for bipolar.
Find a doctor that will work with you to keep trying meds and combos of meds until you find something that will work. This is the best gift you can give your kids - a stable mom. Once you are doing well, then start focusing on your husband.
Above all, you must be happy with your doctor. If you feel you aren't getting the care you need, don't hesitate to get a second opinion…..or change dctors.
Again, the best thing you can do for your children is to keep working closely with your doctor, and get as well as possible. Your stability will help the whole family.