Athmlldy, I am the mother to a 14 year old BP. We have been going through this since he was dx at 9 yrs old. We had been doing some kind of therapy with him (sensory integration, neuro-feedback, family therapy...etc.) since he was 4 1/2. We suspected ADHD, as my husband's brother has it and we noticed our son (while not bouncing off walls as some do) fidgeted all the time with little things. Anyway, at 8 1/2, we were listening to a lot of verbiage of "I hate my life, I want to kill myself"...etc. So, we moved to individual therapy with a specialist in boys who recommended a full evaluation of our son. So then we went to another specialist for that. Then they got together and gave us their report. We were told clinical depression & ADHD at the time. So...there started our quest with the pdoc which they BOTH recommended as the best of the best for complex cases in children or adults. This man has been a godsend to us. To start, he went after the depression. Once that was under control he tested for BP with mood medication to rule it out - because although it could just be ADHD, if it was BP, the medications that were needed were different. He said if he IS BP we will see a difference pretty quick, if not, there will be no change. One week later we were on our knees saying THANK YOU! As he was our first born...who knew???? In the end of this year long med adjustment odyssey, his dx was - BP & ADHD w/ with a chaser of depression flair ups, and a few learning disabilities thrown in for good measure - LOL.
I use to be very open about all this with people….not today...I only reveal when I have to, and only with the people in authority positions. My son has also had to learn. While he is not ashamed of it, he sees how other people finding out causes them to treat him differently. He socially has a VERY hard time at school. He has a lot of dear friends that have been in his life since pre-K, but they all go to different schools now. So, we had great hopes with the new district we moved to, as it is #2 in our state. Sadly, things have not gone so well socially. One of the kids who befriended him when we first moved here found out and told EVERYONE about my son's "issues". Since that time, he has been treated quite mean. The problem is though; it is not all everyone else’s fault. In many ways, my son can be his own worst enemy due to the impulsivity with the ADHD and he CAN be very annoying. Calling out in class without raising his hand, talking a lot during class (he is NOT a shy kid), doing things that are irritating people and not picking up on the social queue’s that his behavior is not being successful with others. I should also share with you that on the spectrum of the BP condition, my son is BPII and on the milder side of that as well. He is the implode type vs. the explode type. He would hurt himself before anyone else (although he does not). His ADHD is NOT destructive or aggressive as many are (that has never been his issues…). So, in many ways I have always felt VERY lucky with regards to this. That is not to say though that it is any easier…it is just a different set of issues that we deal with.
As to your situation with your daughter, I am so sorry she is cutting. My son does have a friend that he has recently told us is too. It is heartbreaking. He is trying to get her to stop; he finds the idea of her hurting herself like that very upsetting to him. Obviously you know, don’t hide from it. Be very straight with your daughter and work to get her into therapy with an EXCELLENT child therapist – as well as the BEST pdoc around! I am SO blessed to have such a great team for my son. His pdoc is amazing and fully available to us at all times, his therapist’s have been excellent. We recently changed to a new one with the blessing of the original one as he felt he had taken our son as far as he could after 4 years, and the new one was his “social skills group” director who was also a therapist. We all agreed together to move him over, as the SSG director had a different vantage point on him from seeing and working with him in connection with other kids for the last 2 years. It has been really terrific for him to be one on one with him now. He is older, so he can handle a more “in your face” (albeit still sensitive in a not over the top) approach. On the school front, I wish I could offer some great pearls of advice to you and your daughter, but in truth, once word gets out it is tough. The BEST thing for your daughter to do is work to stay as balanced as possible, and do her best to ignore their rejections. She needs to try and stay open to consciously making new HEALTHY friendships with new kind and responsible people. Eventually, some of the old ones will see she is the same as she always was, and they will come around (although if they encouraged her to pierce her tongue…I don’t know that I would want them as her friends). As to the cutting, you already know she is crying out from emotional pain and is trying to control something. For that I have no real advice except to work to get her the help she needs…FAST.
I know we all want to live in a world that will accept each other’s differences and nuances that make us each unique no matter what, but sadly, the world has not gotten there yet. I advise your daughter, and you, to be VERY selective who you share it with. In your family it may be GREAT news she has the dx, and you may deal with it very openly. Which is terrific and how it should be. There should be no shame in it. (Would a diabetic be ashamed? NO…and this is no different, except it is not insulin out of wack, it is another chemical group). But out in the world, you can not live that way quite yet. It is especially hard on kids. It does separate them because of how their peers react to the information with such a lack of understanding and maturity. But then, ½ the adults I know can’t handle the information either. Only share on a need to know basis from now on, and use your best judgment on when those moments are. Work to stay calm and trust that you both are doing the best you can today, and try for better with every tomorrow. Parenting a BP is hard. Our babies are so vulnerable. But it IS doable. I have a terrific kid, and he’ll be an even greater man and human being when he finishes growing up. He is a VERY special human being (most adults who know him see it to). I am sure your daughter is as well. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time, and don’t forget to be the parent with nice soft shoulders for her to cry on, and the strength she will need from you that she can count on to guide and discipline her in spite of her issues at the same time. Hang in there….LFW (sorry for the length)