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DD age 16 may be bipolar -does anyone have experience of teens with this?

(35 Posts)
MiceAreRatherNice Sat 18-Apr-15 09:09:07

She is seeing a psychiatrist later this month and obviously he is the expert but I can't help googling this subject and worrying and wondering.

She does have major mood swings seeming very down sometimes and staying in bed all day, then up all night talking to friends on FaceTime etc.

Stealing things from her sister (including a driving licence), risky behaviour letting a boy into the house while we were all asleep and having sex with him in her room, had cocaine with same boy and a girl, only once or twice I believe.

She suffers from headaches a lot. When she's up, she talks 19 to the dozen and is the life and soul etc. But she also has angry hysterical screaming fits. It has been tearing the family up. Seems very very materialistic, and also lacks empathy in a big way.

Can anyone please tell me this is not normal teen behaviour - i have 2 other teens and they have been demanding but nothing like this one. Can anyone share any experience of bipolar in teens? thanks

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArabellaStrange Sat 18-Apr-15 17:41:55

From what you have posted, it sounds like there is definitely more going on than normal teen behaviour/issues.
Does she think there is a problem?

MiceAreRatherNice Sat 18-Apr-15 20:37:28

Hello NeedAScarf - I just decided to see a psychiatrist privately. He's the same one who diagnosed my other DD's depression (not bipolar in her case) and he was so good. Ended up going to him because GP was unwilling to presc4ribe anything because that DD at the time was under 18. ( She did NOT want any talking therapy or CAMHS).

I have not been to the GP or gone down the CAMHS route with the DD I am posting about, although we have done this in the past for her OCD when she was about 13 yrs old. We did not find it entirely helpful and also very longwinded and I know DD would not want this again (all the repeating of her story and so on). The private psychiatrist's style will suit her, I know that.

Arabella - I think she does think there may be a bit of a problem yes. She doesn't like to talk to counsellers, therapists etc. Been there, done that. But when I said that the psychiatrist is very matter of fact she was quite positive about seeing him, and is happy to come home especially for the appointment (she is at school a few hundred miles away). I didn't call him a psychiatrist when i mentioned him to her - just a doctor.

ArabellaStrange Sat 18-Apr-15 20:47:47

Does she act out when she is at school?

MiceAreRatherNice Sat 18-Apr-15 20:56:45

she used to when she went to school locally, yes.

She's now at a vocational dance school which she is far more suited to (FWIW she is also dyslexic) and she is a talented dancer. They do party a bit as well and I know she often takes part in that!

Twatfreezone Sat 18-Apr-15 21:00:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MiceAreRatherNice Sat 18-Apr-15 21:14:12

what's PD, Twatfree?

anthropology Sat 18-Apr-15 21:17:04

In my experience diagnosis is quite difficult at this age as symptoms can shift so try not to worry too much, but make notes for her assessment . It sounds like she is struggling and needs professional support . If the private psychiatrist also works with Camhs you might be able to revisit this if necessary. I found camhs a lottery, but necessary when we needed longer term support, and for liaising with LEA and schools etc. good luck.

LaurieFairyCake Sat 18-Apr-15 21:19:09

Is there any drug taking involved?

I think the psychiatrist will be cautious about diagnosing it so young.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CookPassBabtrigde Sat 18-Apr-15 21:40:34

My brother is bipolar and first began displaying symptoms in his mid teens though it took a lot longer to get a diagnosis - he was first diagnosed with depression. He had manic episodes then too however, but he didn't and still doesn't recognise when he is going into mania and flat out denies there is anything wrong so it can be harder to spot, especially when you're watching out more for depression symptoms.
As a teen the worrying behaviour he had (that made it clear this was more than depression) was:
- drug and alcohol abuse (binges)
- not sleeping for days or sleeping in small amounts during the day and awake and hyper during the night and running away or going missing during the night
- spending huge, scary amounts of money in one go, usually on unnecessary items and often getting into debt, and stealing
- delusions / big OTT plans ('I'm running for prime minister and I will win', 'I'm going to write a novel/make a painting that will sell for £5000', 'princess diana is my real mother')

I also noticed he would dress much more flamboyantly/bizarrely when he was in a manic episode and do things like get strange tattoos, dye his hair pink, shave half of it off. When he was depressed he would sleep most of the time, self harm and contemplate suicide.
I'm no expert and I don't know what 'normal' teen behaviour is but these are the things I observed from him and I have lived with his illness for most of my life.
I think you're doing a good thing going straight to a psychiatrist personally. My brother went through the whole GP/CAMHS/counselling etc, it went round in circles for a long time and didn't really get anywhere. When things really changed was when he got a proper diagnosis from a psychiatrist, it helped everyone understand more about what was going on and we've been able to deal with it pretty well since. Good luck flowers

MiceAreRatherNice Sat 18-Apr-15 21:55:04

needAScarf - I know. Oldest DD was only commenting the other day how that when you talk about what DD is like, it just sounds like she's being a teenager. When in actual fact living with it is a hundred times worse than that! it affects everyone so much when she is being hysterical, youngest DD who has Aspergers gets very anxious, and oldest just dislikes DD intensely now. Mainly because she is the one who gets most of her stuff stolen, and because the stress has meant she has plummeted at college marks-wise when the DD in question has been home for a visit.
Sorry I know I am sounding a bit garbled - I should point out the DD I am posting about is the middle DD (older DD is 18 and younger is nearly 15).

I really don't want to drip feed but I've only just remembered that i found a large kitchen knife in DD's bed the other morning. she said it was for protection in the night. Tragic that I've only just remembered something like that!! She said she likes to sleep with the window open because it feels fresh, but worries about intruders. (she sleeps upstairs though, and it's a sheer drop to the ground. Can't imagine who might be able to get in - spiderman possibly?!)

Laurie - she has smoked weed, I don't know how much or how often but quite possibly still does. She did have cocaine but I don't know how many times; she admitted to the one time.
CookPass the money spending issue is interesting - obviously my DD doesnt' havve access to much money at her age, but somehow I always end up spending lots on her. It's like she manipulates me into buying this that and the other. There is always some logical reason as to why I should pay for that and that. I don't know why I fall for it. It's like she always gets her own way. The other 2 DD's aren't like that, I must not let myself get so manipulated. Is this a characteristic? It's probably just me being stupid.

MiceAreRatherNice Sat 18-Apr-15 21:59:40

Anthropology good idea, I will start making notes. The appointment is in about 2 weeks time and DD will come back from school for it, so I won't see her before then, but I will think back to what has happened and write some of it down. It will all be from memory though, rather than recording things as they occur IYSWIM

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CookPassBabtrigde Sat 18-Apr-15 22:17:12

mice From what I know, extreme money spending can be a symptom of bipolar, but of course it doesn't necessarily mean she does have bipolar. It definitely is a feature of my brothers illness,and it's become a good way for us to spot when things are starting to go wrong again.
He got a job at 16 and his weekly wages would be gone instantly, but this isn't uncommon for teenagers I don't think. I don't think asking for stuff is either but I'm not sure - our parents didn't buy us stuff unless we needed it for school etc so there was never much point in asking! He did used to steal though, he stole from my piggy bank several times when I was little.
When he was 18 he started opening credit cards on a whim and maxing them within weeks. He would never have much to show for it and couldn't seem to understand that it was a big problem.
He's slightly better with money now but will occasionally neglect his bills and spend his money for the week on 4 or 5 hats, for example, for no apparent reason.
Also I agree making notes could be useful. It might help you to see some kind of pattern emerging, if there is one.

CookPassBabtrigde Sat 18-Apr-15 22:19:20

And also, the knife thing rang a bit of an alarm bell for me, it does sound slightly paranoid behaviour IMO. My brother sleeps with a baseball bat for the same reason, I've never known anyone else who does that though.

Twatfreezone Sat 18-Apr-15 22:25:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

anthropology Sun 19-Apr-15 08:06:30

Mice looking after yourself and the rest of the family is important. I found some C BT support via the GP was helpful to learn effective communication/boundaries with my DD. As you are seeing a psychiatrist he can prescribe meds if necessary but it should be alongside talking therapy at this stagef. At this stage the challenge I think is to help her engage in wanting help as a diagnosis may take a while.

ChampagneAndCrisps Sun 19-Apr-15 08:19:41

I think any illegal drug use is going to be a much more likely cause of unusual behaviour.

I don't think Bi-Polar mood swings usually happen within a day - although they can do in fewer people. Is there a family history of Bi-Polar Disorder?

Although it's perhaps more drawn out and painful, you'd be better going down the NHS route as it sounds like whatever this is, it's going to take a while to diagnose and support.

MiceAreRatherNice Sun 19-Apr-15 10:21:09

thank you all for the replies and help/advice. As DD is away at school and only comes home for holidays etc. that means I/we do get "respite" from it all.

re. the self harming with that knife - I don't know. I would have to look at her torso when she's asleep. Definitely no marks on arms, legs etc. It is a possibility..

I have googled the Borderline thing and she ticks lots of boxes for that. There's no family history of bipolar disorder as far as I know - nor for Borderline. Although of course so many things went undiagnosed in the past didn't they.

champagne it will be hard to go down the NHS route as DD is away at school and there's no way she would go to her local surgery and talk to someone up there without me. She has negative memories of her time with CAMHS in the past, saying she found it annoying and pointless (it was helpful for me though and the second appointment I attended without her)! She recently tried counselling (I insisted) but would not engage with the counsellor so it was abandonned.

Perhaps if she gets some kind of diagnosis that resonates with her and makes her feel she has a definite "thing", then that will be a basis for revisiting talking therapy and getting more out of it. Recently she said something along the lines of "lots of creative people can be difficult, do you think that's why I'm like that sometimes?" (she is v. creative - talented dancer and actress).

So sorry to ramble on. I am finding this very supportive thanks

LaurieFairyCake Sun 19-Apr-15 10:27:46

Does she display this behaviour at school or is it only at home during holidays?

What do the school say about her?

MiceAreRatherNice Sun 19-Apr-15 10:41:31

School say she is doing well in ballet class etc. although she needs loads of extra support for the academic side - she is in receipt of DSA due to dyslexia - and her attendance for the academics has been a bit unreliable (she's told them she's been ill etc).
School don't know what she gets up to at weekends etc. There is definitely an amount of partying...
I'm not sure how her room mates find living with her. I know she likes them and gets on with them although she finds them very untidy, she's quite a neat person (a lot of the time).

When she was at "normal" school, her behaviour was terrible with teachers she didn't like. She seemed to like teachers who treated her more as an equal. The more traditional ones she really fought against, she found them very unjust. She would quite happily shout in their faces. This doesnt happen at dance school because she "gets" it. The structure and mores of a ballet class are something that mean something to her.

The first few times when she came home for holidays, instead of relaxing and spending time at home, we hardly saw her. She had every minute of every day micromanaged into meeting this person for coffee in London, that person for a "gathering" locally, the next person or group of friends for something else in the evening.... and so on and so forth. Of course I was expected to drive her everywhere. It's a cliche but she really did treat home like a hotel! Very loud and very overbearing, physically dancing around the place whilst talking to us,dominating every conversation etc.
More recently when visiting home, she has been staying in bed til 2pm that kind of thing. Smoking in her room, FaceTiming friends til late.

ChampagneAndCrisps Sun 19-Apr-15 10:46:06

That's undrrstandable. We don't like having involvement with CAMHS either.

It was just if long term support is needed then it could be expevsive on a private basis. But perhaps if you can get some acute help, you can go to the NHS with that information. They'll probably still want to make their own diagnosis.

MiceAreRatherNice Sun 19-Apr-15 10:46:29

I've jjust remembered a comment she made to me about a month ago on the phone (she was up at school) - she said she just felt sad but didn't know why, and that it was really odd because she had been to a party and didn't enjoy it whereas normally she would have done, and that she didn't feel like going to parties anymore, she just felt sad.

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