One Mom Balances “Fixing” and Accepting Daughter’s Bipolar Diagnosis

Last Updated: 6 Aug 2018

Lucy* opens up about her family’s ‘scary and gut wrenching’ long road of emotional ups and downs in dealing with their teenage daughter’s bipolar disorder II.

Photo: skynesher/iStock/Getty Images Plus


Tell us about your daughter’s diagnosis…

Growing up she had some signs of ADHD, but she was a very happy outgoing kid and a good athlete through school-age years. Depression started in 10th grade; “weird” happiness, grandiosity (hypomania) in 12th grade and then intense irritability. We both started researching what could be wrong and we both came up with possibly bipolar disorder. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder II, along with major depression and anxiety. 


Please describe what you and your family went through personally during this time…

There were many times we were all walking on eggshells. We had many sleepless nights and lots of tears. The stress of dealing with this reality and trying to keep our lives as normal as possible was immense. At times, it still is. Our younger daughter often got the brunt of the irritability symptom and I felt the need to protect her. We have worked hard to make sure she knows that she deserves her best life, but also to help her understand that what her sister goes through isn’t anyone’s fault and that we all have to work towards acceptance and healthy relationships.


As a parent, what’s it like to go through this experience with your child?

So scary and gut wrenching. It’s been a long road to acceptance. I kept trying to “fix” it. We have had many emotional ups and downs and I continue to be scared of the future and what it holds for my daughter.


What treatments are now successful?

During our journey of trying to find the right med(s), one of the mood stabilizers triggered an immune deficiency; this led to having to deal with a number of specialists: a neurologist, immunologist, hematologist, psychiatrist, psychologist, and endocrinologist. My daughter is currently seeing only a psychiatrist and getting ready to see a hormone specialist. She has been through multiple medication changes and had genetic testing through her psychiatrist to better judge specific meds for her particular genetic make-up.

She takes pharmaceutical medications as well as supplements for mood, depression, anxiety and general health. It has been a long road getting to this “meds-cocktail” and we wish she didn’t need so many, but it is working the best for her after years of trials and testing. I think it’s important for parents to know how much testing we have done and that we have been willing to look outside the box for therapies. We continue to read up on current med trials and studies regarding other ways of dealing with this.


As a mother where do you find inspiration?

My inspiration comes in waves. We take big steps forward and many steps back. I have read so much and talked at length with my daughter’s psychiatrist. I have close friends who know the situation and I have leaned on them when needed.


Your most valuable coping strategy?

Being open about the struggles with people I trust.


How has this experience changed you as a person?

I have a new appreciation for parents of children with special needs. I don’t feel the need to brag and put my kids on pedestals. I feel I’m more open to understanding people’s differences and am very empathetic now towards other parents. My expectations and dreams are different.


Most important lesson you’ve learned?

Taking life one day at a time. Finding a balance between acceptance and trying to make things better. I also read a lot about bipolar disorder, which has helped me with acceptance of our new reality.


What advice would you give other parents?

Don’t lose yourself! Keep as much of your own life and dreams as you can and don’t let bipolar take over your life.


What do you wish could have happened differently in the medical system to help your daughter?

I honestly just wish there was a cure … or at least a way to more easily deal with this and to make life easier for all involved. 


How is your daughter doing now?

She continues to deal with anxiety at times and is often tired due to her immune deficiency so she only works part time. Her life is basically good after a few years of significant struggle. She takes a lot of medication, but we have accepted that she is better with them than she is without them. It really is a rollercoaster, but I have hope that she is accepting her reality and is working towards a healthy life.

*Lucy, not her real name, shares her “happy and active” life with her husband, two daughters (ages 18 & 21) and a dog in a suburb of South Central United States. She hopes to help other parents understand the struggles of living with bipolar disorder, while finding hope through loving and helping their kids find and live their best life.




  1. My daughter is now18 and she was diagnosed with mood swings and addh when she was 13. She has been going to therapy and was put on meds after faking suicide she was supposed to have taken pills but after testing there were nothing in her system but that lead her to baker act she was 14 she was referred to child guidance until she turned 18 and then all hell broke loose. She stopped taking her meds , moved out with a friend and had a horrible manic attack , my husband and I had to go get her when her friend couldn’t take it anymore. Now she’s home and I’m trying to get her back on her insurance and meds. She says such horrible things to her father and brother. It breaks my heart to see my daughter go through this
    She struggles so bad , she thinks I am the only one that cares for her. I’m the only one with patience with her. I love her so much she’s my only daughter and I I jwish we had the relationship that my mom and I have. I pray for her all the way time asking GOD to protect her and heal her.

  2. My daughter is 26 with three small children. I recently lived with them to help her out alrbo was kicked out several times because I wanted to volunteer or get out of the house. She told me last week to get out so I packed up and left. I read an ugly text message yesterday after I went by her house to pick up some things..I left what I thought aS a loving thank you. Her perception was it was a joke..pathetic. ..called me names which is not unusual. Tell I g me I am no longer allowed to see her children who I am very close to. I feel lost and just stomach punched. I have turned this over toGod and now I need help staying positive and focus ed as I am starting over. I have been thru this scenario often. What’s it going to take? Any feedback is appreciated.

    1. I just went through a similar experiance when my 23 year old went off on me for asking her and her brother to come over for Christmas on the 22nd to celebrate. Every reason for how awful I am. i started to joke back through text only to realize I had triggered something and simply offered support. We have not spoken since and she has announced her engagement. So hard missing milestones and I can imagine how hard to miss grandkids!! Hang in there. I will pray for both of us.

  3. My fabulous 18 yr old daughter was just diagnosed as well, however I knew it was coming. We have been dealing with depression and suicidal ideations for some time. Two weeks ago while up at school she stopped taking her medication and locked herself in her dorm. I had to call campus police to get her out of there and she was admitted to the hospital. I have never felt so helpless in my life. She was kept a couple days and then released. My heart aches for her as it runs in my family and I know the highs and lows of the disease. I know that this will be a lifelong battle that she cannot give up fighting or it will consume her. I have a no nonsense approach to this illness. If she stops taking her meds she will go back to the hospital. I have seen a beloved family member deal with this for years and it is a constant battle. The moment they think they are good is when things fall apart.
    I am so relieved and sad to see others fight the same fight.

    1. I am fighting for my 18 year old as well in AZ. It started 18 months ago and she overdosed in March and I almost lost her. Meds are tricky, after a few different medications we found that Lithium is what works best as it is housed in the bloodstream. Just this week, for the 1st time she came to me stating her mind was cycling and she felt as if something weird might happen. This is progress, she’s figuring out when it starts and was able to talk to me about it. Inpatient is acute only and I have not found anything other than simple stabilization available. We see a psychiatrist every week, blew through several counselors and doctors via manipulation. Bipolar mixed with high intelligence is a cocktail for potential disaster. I’m scared to let her go to college in the fall, but I’m also needing the time for her to try to “adult” and for me to heal. I’m thankful she’s alive and yes it is one day at a time, I’m in therapy now to work through things.

  4. My daughter just went thru a divorce and since been diagnosed as bipolar, so sad she sets around all day talking to people that are taking her out of hear , watch the same music videos all day ,smokes 2 packs of cigarettes everyday and drinks 2 12 packs a day . Wont take any meds , has no medical or car insurance and says these people are taking care of it ,I’m scared and dont know how to handle .wont talk about anything to use talks all day to other people watching the sky.

  5. My daughters bipolar and i go thru the same stuff. I really need to talk to someone that goes thru the same stuff i do. My family thinks i just need to say no to her and be more tough. But im confused on how to draw the line between tough and. Loving your child and being there for her.

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