In a state of utter confusion
July 31, 2013 7:43 AM   Subscribe

My adult daughter was diagnosed very quickly by a psychiatrist with bi polar disorder. It isn't that I disagree, but unfortunately I'm concerned that she is showing signs of antisocial personality disorder....She cycles about every three months having at least 2-3 mini rage episodes a month. She told me today that she's scared because of thoughts she is having. She lives with me, as do her two amazing kids. Her ability to care for them on her own is out of the question in my opinion based on the fact that she has a pill addiction and has had 2 seizures over dosing. When things are bad she goes to the doctor, has good intentions, gets back on a "good" track when things are bad she is not capable of being a loving mother.

I want to hear from people who have dealt with mental illness personally or a family member or friend with a mental illness. My first priority are her children who have known me as Mom2 since birth. They are now 2 and 3. I love my daughter very much but I can't force her to talk to a psychologist, or to try new drugs or attend support group meetings. I am very concerned because today she told me she caught herself feeling rageful toward her daughter who spilled milk and had to leave the room to collect herself so she didn't potentially hurt her. I am not leaving her alone with her children right now and she understands that, but, What recourse do I or should I take to protect the kids. When my daughter is good she's amazing but it's literally like she's two good and one horrid. Best case scenario she gets quality help, I get quality help and we heal...This is a sticky area with legalities and custody issues, I could use sound advice. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you might find useful help or resources on the BPSO mailing list. (Possibly the website, too - I haven't poked around it much lately.) It's not just partners, but parents or children or people with bipolar disorder as well. I haven't tended to pay much attention to discussions about custody issues since those aren't a concern for me as a partner to someone with bipolar, but I know I've seen them. I bet someone there can help offer you some advice.

My impulse is to tell you to call a crisis line to talk about what you can do immediately to protect those kids, but I don't know to what extent that triggers legalities you may not be ready to trigger if you don't feel there is an immediate danger to the kids. I think it's worth at least investigating whether you can talk to a crisis line anonymously about what's going on and what your options are, and what actions would be triggered if you followed up with identifying information.
posted by Stacey at 8:00 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, you might benefit from seeing someone yourself. It takes a lot out of you physically and emotionally, and you need someone who will advocate for you as YOU, not just as Mom2 to your grandkids or Mom1 to your daughter.

They can help you find resources for family members and caregivers. If you have a social services connection, they may be able to help you as well.

In your area, there's probably some sort of respite center or family stress center -- that sort of thing. Using their services doesn't mean you've "given up" or that there's something wrong; on the contrary. It means that you're pacing yourself and looking for the best resources out there so all of you can be healthy and support each other.
posted by Madamina at 8:02 AM on July 31, 2013

This isn't specific to mental illness, but getting a second medical opinion is rarely a bad idea. I've done it a couple of times in my life, and have always been glad of it, even when the second doctor ended up basically agreeing with the first.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:03 AM on July 31, 2013

her ability to care for them on her own is out of the question in my opinion based on the fact that she has a pill addiction and has had 2 seizures over dosing.

What is being done to address her drug addiction?
posted by inertia at 8:12 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'll go ahead and tell you to consult a family lawyer if at all possible. You need to know what your custody options/rights are should she decide to take the kids.

Also look into borderline personality disorder.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:39 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I will start by saying I am not implying your daughter does not have a legitimate mental health issue, but it is challenging, to say the least, to properly diagnose someone in the throes of a substance problem properly.

With addictive use of any mind-altering substance, you will run into artificial brain chemical imbalances caused by excessive abuse of the substance, a standard state of hopelessness and helplessness one commonly feels due to chemical dependence along with financial and relationship difficulties due to the obsession to pursue a substance, etc.

Chemical detox from the substance may not even gain you immediate accuracy, as the mental, emotional and biological fallout may continue for months (or years for prolonged abuse) after the immediate withdrawal symptoms are removed.

Many addicts and alcoholics, especially those referred to therapists who may not have the proper experience in dealing with them, or those that utilize the usual selective honesty and minimization of the amount taken and the duration with doctors, may find themselves diagnosed with a myriad of mental health disorders as the core source of their issue is not being properly emphasized or recognized.

More than likely, this problem will need to be addressed on both fronts simultaneously to determine the actual problem, but it will require honesty from your daughter to determine if the mental health issues are from the substance or the other way around. Either option is entirely possible.

The first priority of course, is the children, and I agree with young rope rider. If you want to, establish grounds for custody if she further deteriorates, but also keep in mind that your first duty is to yourself. Don't be a martyr and destroy yourself trying to save someone from themselves if they aren't willing to take the help that's being offered.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:25 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I second iliketitanic's recommendation of NAMI. They were extremely helpful to me in coping with my bipolar mother.
posted by desjardins at 12:59 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hi, I dealt with a similar quick diagnosis problem this year. I was diagnosed with ADHD along with depression this year, after about two talks with a psychiatrist.

Being stressed and worried led me to believe the diagnosis very much and I was put on a roller coaster ride of medication experiments during a college year that in itself is tough enough. It made me alienated, strange and worried, and has definitely affected my performance this year, altough I learned from it.

My suggestion is a simple one; I believe psychiatric problems are very very real, and inevitably are connected to things that happened before, and going about it through medication far too quickly can aggravate the decision immensely. Rather than worry about which diagnosis is correct, I suggest you simply take this slow, and have a proper diagnosis develop over a longer period. Simply telling a psychiatrist "2-3 rage episodes a month" isn't enough of a symptoms; healthy people in a high stress environment can have rage episodes.

Take it slow.
posted by ahtlast93 at 1:20 PM on July 31, 2013

You need to talk to a family lawyer ASAP. What happens if your daughter just up a leaves with the kids? What recourse will you have? The mental and physical health of her children need to come first. Of course your daughter needs help, but the ones most in danger here are the kids.
posted by OsoMeaty at 4:47 PM on July 31, 2013

First, only discuss her illness with her when she is mostly normal. When she is suffering from mania or depression, she probably won't react well. Also, mania isn't necessarily the "feeling good, unstoppable yay" high that some descriptions of bipolar would have it. Mania can just as easily manifest as rage and irritability.

Also, what kind of pills is she abusing? Does her psychiatrist know about this and is there a plan for getting off the pills? Because it is really, really hard- if not impossible- to accurately diagnose and treat bipolar when someone is also riding the rollercoaster of addiction.

Lastly, when she is in a more or less normal state, remind her of the good decisions she has made, and impress upon her how dangerous her altered states can be. Not that she should fear them, but that she should respect them and want to try to avoid them. Bipolar is unlike a lot of diseases, where there is a sort of binary "sick and better" phase. Rather, bipolar is much more of a spectrum kind of thing, like diabetes or parkinson's. You start with blunt tools to stop the worst effects, and then work to make it more livable. It requires dedication and some amount of dealing with shitty side effects. A lot of people quit taking their medication because it makes them feel dull. She needs to accept that that potential dullness is the first step in treatment, not a lifelong new normal. The treatment needs to start with knocking down the highs and lows of the disease, and then fine tuning the treatment (both pharmaceutical and therapeutic) to eliminate the dullness. Finding and maintaining stability is the first step of a long, but ultimately rewarding process.
posted by gjc at 5:11 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

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