Cassie’s Story

Posted June 4, 2010

My daughter Cassie was diagnosed when she was 12 1/2. That was 3 years ago. I knew something just wasn’t “right” when she was 2 years old. She had terrible mood swings. She never wanted to cuddle or be hugged and was extremely independent. She was very, very particular. She stacked her clothes for the next school day in neat piles on her nightstand. If her room was out of order, she went into a frenzy, demanding WHO had touched her things. She would cry one minute over something very minor, then burst into laughter the next minute over absolutely nothing. She wants to shop constantly and stays busy from dawn until dark. She also spoke many times of killing herself and how she was “worthless.” She also verbalized wanting to hurt her sisters.

All I could think of was my younger sister and her son, both diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. My sister attempted suicide when she was 14, went to a psychiatrist, lied to him, etc. The psychiatrist told my mom to commit her, but no one really knew much about it in the early 80s. She was then diagnosed with Manic Depression and put on Paxil. My daughter is currently on Abilify, 5 mgs daily. She is going to see a new psychiatrist next week to see about changing the medication, or dosage, because she and I feel that it is not working anymore. I am terrified of Tardive Dyskinesia and/or seizures – two potential side effects of extended anti-psychotic use.

Because of my sister’s suicide attempt, I tend to give in to Cassie more than to her three sisters (money-wise), afraid that she might try to kill herself. I know now that she has had the control all along, so I am working on that. Now that Cassie has passed the age of 14 (my sister’s age), I feel better about it. This disorder is wearing me out, and her sisters are also worn by it.

My mother didn’t know how to handle this disorder when my sister was diagnosed. She doesn’t handle it very well and is not on speaking terms with my sister. I work hard at keeping lines of communication wide open – talking, calling and texting her when she is out, going places with my daughter, asking her how she is feeling, etc. This BPD stuff can be a monster! But, like all monsters, we have to let it know who is boss, learn to control it, and watch it carefully… and love those whom it has inflicted.

My daughter also complains of dizziness and stomach aches. I really don’t think they are related to the Abilify, because they started before she was on the medication. She used to worry a LOT, too. She worried about everything, from getting homework finished to hoping the dog doesn’t get out the front door if her sisters opened the door too wide. On the Abilify, even though it isn’t working as well as it used to, she does NOT clean her room unless she is in one of her manic modes. Prior to taking Abilify, nothing was out of place.


  1. We had an appt with a psychiatrist. After almost 2 hrs of rigorous “this and that”, he claimed although he was the “new guy”, he didn’t really “see” BPD, yet didn’t want to rule it out! He instead said a good possibility of ADHD (ADD??) Impulsivity! I agree with that. He spoke a good while about the way she reacts, acts, etc. Wow. We are still upping her dosage of Abilify to 10 mgs for 5 days to see if that works at all. He said it if doesn’t work at least 30% more, then we will stop it and look at something else. he said it may take months and trials before we find what works. Of all of the people she has seen, I like him the best. He is very thorough yet not jumpy when it comes to a DX. 🙂

  2. Hello, My son is 16 (almost 17). Cassies story sounds similar to his in that he was always “different” as a child. Abilify/Lexapro combo started about 5 years ago really stablilized him (previously he was on all kinds of things as they worked to control symptoms: Depakote, Risperdal, Lamictal, Klonopin,…cant even remember them all). The Abilify and continually uping the dose combined with Lexapro stabilized him …..for awhile…..He went thru puberty this last year (huge growth, maturation etc) and he is out of control now. At first you think it is just “teen adjustments” but you as a mom know what you know. So trust your gut. We are trying to stablilize him again and may go back to some of the other meds. But I was going to say 5mg is very low dose of Abilify especially for suspected BP. He is on 15mg and my other son 13 is on 10mg. I love this drug because it has 0 side effects. Just keep watching…sounds like you know deep down what her issues are and that she is VERY different fro her sisters. Good luck! God Bless!

  3. I have BPD I, my symptoms started when I was 17 and by 19 they were pretty bad but I refused to go to a Dr about it because I was terrified I would be labeled as “crazy” – whatever the diagnosis was. I was eventually diagnosed at age 23 when circumstances required medical intervention.

    Having said that, I am so surprised that a 12 year old would be diagnosed with such a mental illness. At that age, a child’s brain is still, for lack of a better word, “growing” to reach its adult state – just like their bodies.

    Toddlers are all different and there is a reason that time is nicknamed “the terrible twos.” Not every child goes through it, so I would say the reason you were surprised by her actions and reactions was because your other children did not go through that stage of development in the same way. In addition, teenagers are well teenagers and mood swings, control issues etc are not uncommon.

    I understand the whole “having to have everything is a certain place in a specific place” & “worrying about something specific (i.e. the dog getting out)” – but that sounds more like OCD to me, if she actually has that mental illness. As a young adult those symptoms relating to OCD for me didn’t stop, so I was then diagnosed with it, but only then. My brother however had an anti-germ issue where he would wash his hands all the time and never touch a door handle (he would always wear a coat so he could use it to open a door and not his bare hand). However, by the time he went away to college that had all stopped, so to have diagnosed him with OCD would have been incorrect.

    I agree with you, this new Dr sounds like the best. I had to go through a lot of “bad” ones before I found the right Dr. I would try and pull back from fixating on BPD. She may be different than her siblings and even you when you were a child, but just remember she is still growing and this includes her brain and all its chemical synapses etc are still growing as well.

    I do not mean to say she may not have the illness when she is an adult, just that it is extreme to place that diagnosis on a 12 yo, even a 15yo as she is now.

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