August 26, 2007, by Rose

I don’t have a website, however, I am seeking answers or solutions for my 18 yr old son diagnosed with bi-polar.

Bubba has had an some type of depression ever since is he was about 8-10 yrs old. After one bout to another, we said to ourselves “this will pass” and never did.

After the age of 13, Bubba moved in with me, his mother, after living with his Dad for 3-4 years. It was a choice we allowed him to make after his dad and I divorced and I was moving away.

Bubba also has a brother and sister, 13, and 14. When he came here he was already a mess. We had a lot of angry episodes to life threatening incidents happening. Finally I decided it was time to seek therapy for him. While in therapy it was never suggested to see a doctor for medication. I guess this doctor thought she could cure him of his angry issues and not considered that he was bi polar. This therapy lasted about a year and either our insurance ran out and Bubba was ready to go with therapy. Hie was 14 yrs old. He was in 9th grade in a new school and was very unhappy that he had to live with me and the kids. Very anti social.

Needless to say, I suggested another therapist after other bouts of “acting out”. This was very difficult to do because of insurance. His Dad had him on a medical plan, but I was never authorized to get referrals. Anyway, got him another therapist and we would go regularly. When his Dad came into town we wanted him to join us. I really think it did more harm than fixing. Because Bubba was comfortable with the new therapist but once she mentioned he might need medication, his Dad didn’t want to believe it. The authorization from insurance had expired. His Dad was adamant that I was crazy that our son had something wrong with him. It’s been a struggle. Now Bubba was a 10th grader but by the skin of his teeth. He had many absences.

By age 15 Bubba committed a major crime: auto theft, burgary of manufacturer buildings, stealing things from this building and damaging several buildings with the trucks (two of them) who he found keys in their vehicle. By that time his Dad moved into our town and had to deal with what was happening to our son. His Dad built a temporary room for himself in my garage. What happened the next few days were so surreal. He was in juvenile building for two days. I couldn’t touch him for two days. We could talk to him but only 15 minutes on the first day and 30 minutes on the second day. We finally got to take him home on the third day.

This is when he told us he has “voices speaking to him” within his mind. They are like the evil voices telling him to say and do things because we are all against him and he had to defend himself. He says they are around him all the time. He doesn’t remember what he did that night and seemed like he blacked out. We had to go to court and thank goodness because he was only 15 yrs old, they couldn’t find him guilty of a felony. We had to pay restitution and community service for one year and probation for two years.

This is when I believed it was time to seek medication. We got the authorization and Bubba got to speak to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with bi-polar at the age of 16 years old. He never became social. He missed a lot of days of school. But the doctor first put him on depokate. This part is a really slow process because the medication had to be handled a little at a time. By the time he was up to four pills a day, I persuaded his Dad he needed something else, because Bubba was still moody. His Dad finally made another appointment and the doctor prescribed I believe lexapole. He is now up to 4 pills a day.

Bubba graduated this past year but again by the skin of his teeth. He had a lot of community service for the school to do every year because of these absences. Two weeks before graduation we were 50% sure he was going to graduate. O I forgot he failed a few classes thru the years also. Two days before graduating, we got the ok he’s on the list and we were all elated.

Between that last night, he had many bouts of anger with his Dad and they were very heated. One incident they decided to wrestle about it and I was very scared. You see, his Dad didn’t really have a stable family life. It was difficult for him to be patient with Bubba. I, however, had a good home life, but I was suffering from depression also.

We are now at the stage of waiting for him to decide what he wants to do with his life. For graduation he wanted to go on a cruise. I saved for the five of us to do that and it was the best time of our lives. I saved for another vacation two weeks later at the beach for a week and had a great time, except when Bubba and his Dad had it out.

We are at this point and one day before the final registration at a community college he registered for two classes. I had to pay out of pocket $850 for these classes. I told Bubba if he had submitted for loans, grants and scholarships, this would have helped me out, but it was ok. As long as he was doing something.

This weekend he felt like we were pressuring him. Between the ages of 14 to 17, Bubba would bully his brother and sister. Of course my daughter was full of drama and won’t put up with his crap and she would make it verbally known he was bullying her. The young son, dealt with it, because he never wanted to make his brother mad. Bubba once choked him.

Bubba has had a lot of disappointments in his life as a result of his condition. He really wanted to join the military like his parents (we are both retired Air Force sergeants), but he was not eligible because of what he committed three years ago. He also wanted to go to college but never enrolled even though we were prodding him to sign up. Finally he said “HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO”. Like what are the steps to take to enroll for college. Like what to do with his life. Now a week later, his Dad finally got it that we, as a family, needed counseling. We are now scheduled for that. But first his Dad and I had a screaming match blaming each other for what became of our son. I strongly believed now that we didn’t have the tools to help him and we need to seek professional guidance. I felt it was time to talk about placing him a group home. He is now 18 and it has to be his choice.

This is where we are at now. Any advice from anyone out there that has been in this scenario, please, please, send advice. Thanks for reading my blog.


  1. As you describe, bipolar disorder can ravage a family, especially when the person who has the disorder has not received appropriate treatment for so many years. If your son has reported having voices speaking to him in his mind, he may even be experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia or psychosis related to the bipolar, which compounds the problem. The first order of business is to obtain an accurate diagnosis from a psychiatrist.

    It sounds as though you and your family are taking positive steps. I would highly recommend that you, Bubba’s dad, and perhaps even your siblings take the NAMI Family-to-Family course if it is available in your area (http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Family-to-Family). One of the most important things is for Bubba to take ownership of his condition, get into a psychiatrist for a diagnosis and the medications he needs and work with a therapist.

    The NAMI Family-to-Family course can help you and other family members set boundaries, which may encourage Bubba to take more control of his situation. What I’ve learned from bipolar disorder in my family is that I cannot control others, but I can set boundaries and control my response to what I consider unacceptable behaviors.

    Bubba should not have free reign to bully everyone in the household. It is not fair to you or to Bubba’s siblings or father. Bubba needs to understand that bipolar is a treatable medical condition. You can help him as a family obtain the necessary treatment, but he needs to follow the advice of his psychiatrist and therapist, take his medications, and take care of his health. You then have to decide what you will do or not do if Bubba does not follow through.

    Try not to judge Bubba–he probably does not understand what is going on any better than you do. Work with Bubba’s psychiatrist and therapist and with whoever is counseling your family to set boundaries and consequences, and then enforce the consequences when necessary and without judgment.

    This is advice from someone who has been there and made plenty of mistakes himself. One therapist told me not to expect the problem to be resolved overnight, because it took a lot longer than that to get to this point. Expect setbacks, know you’re going to make mistakes, but give yourself a pat on the back when you see progress… however small it may seem.

  2. My best advice is psychotherapy on top of meds perscribed by a CARING psychaitrist. I take 1500mg lithium(helps mood swings), up to 600mg seraquel(miracle drug), 200mg lamictal, and 40mg celixa all together 10pills a day plus seraqeul prn for racing thoughts. I cannot tell u the coaktail off drugs it took to get me here. A good Psychaitrist knows it can be alot of trail and errors. you should defintaly look into seraquel and lithium.

  3. This is such a sad sorry. Bipolar is a mental disorder and his doctor should have referred him to a psychiatrist a long time ago. It is very treatable with medication. The earlier the adolescent is treated, the better the prognosis and the better chance that it won’t become permanent or debilitating. The therapist should never have agreed to see him for therapy without him being seen by a psychiatrist. This is unethical! It angers me that he got such poor care. A young person has so much potential and so much suffering could have been prevented. You must have him seen by a good psychiatrist and not give up until you find one that can diagnose him correctly and get him stabilized on a medication (it’s usually a mood stabilizer). If the first medication doesnt doesnt show good improvement than another one must be tried until he is well. Sometimes a few meds need to be tried until they find the one or the combination of ones that works for him. If he won’t take them regularly or for a long enough period to judge efficacity, he may need to be hospitalized until he is stable on one. I know this sounds difficult and like a lot of work but it IS worth it ! These conditions respond to medication (with therapy is even better). And your son can live a happy and productive life.

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