Dear Darcy : My 16 year old has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and it has been a very difficult time. What can I do for my self because this is causing me a great deal of anxiety?
Dear Concerned Mom,
First and foremost, you must start by taking care of yourself. You mentioned your child’s diagnose is causing you anxiety, so let’s address this first. Anxiety is another word for worry, which is absolutely natural in this situation. You didn’t mention how this anxiety is manifesting in your body or mind, but often there are physical symptoms and ruminating thoughts that accompany the concern. The most important thing is accepting what is… Is. If your child has bi-polar, than accepting it is very important before moving forward. I do recommend getting a second and maybe third opinion as symptoms can often be confused with other disorders. For example, substance use and anxiety can “look” line bi-pilor” disorder. As clinicians, we must be careful in giving that diagnosis to adolescents because of all the potential variables.
Let’s proceed like the diagnosis is accurate. First, acceptance. Second, educate. Become an expert on bi-polar disorder. Bi-polar disorder is treatable with the right medication in combination with psychotherapy.
Both take time. Medication, like therapy is not “one size fits all”. People often get discouraged by the process and give up on either or both. Bi-polar is a chemical issue and the medication helps with mood stabilizing and sleep issues that often present with this illness. Bi-polar is an illness and must be treated just like any other physical illness. The therapy provides a safe non judge mental outlet for processing the many emotional turbulent situations that can/will arise. Therapy is also about building a tool box of skills to decrease the suffering that occurs with being overly emotional, angry and reactive- symptoms of this disorder.
Mostly, remember, you are not alone. There are many online support groups for you and your child. This is a life long disorder and must be handled with love and responsibility. I also want to leave you with, there are many successful, happy people living with disorder. After all, we are all unique individuals living with our own personal challenges. You and you child can persevere regardless. I believe that! Thank you for your question.
Darcy Flierl is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Addictions Professional, and Certified Yoga Teacher currently offering individual and family psychotherapy in Stuart, Florida. She also enjoys teaching in the Human Services Department as an Adjunct Instructor for Indian River State College and is Consultant for Non Profits along the Treasure Coast.
She has held board positions on for a variety of local and statewide agencies from the Department of Juvenile Justice’s State Advisory Group to CHARACTER COUNTS! and others. Darcy has received a variety of awards for her community work such as; Soroptimist’s Rising Star Award, the Community Champion Award from the United Way and for community advocacy from the Tobacco Free Partnership and was a 2013 Nominee as a Woman of Distinction.
Besides working to make Martin County a healthier place, she donates her time doing River Advocacy for the Indian River Lagoon and raising awareness about many issues effecting young people and families. She treasures her time with her husband, and children attending local events and enjoying Martin County’s recreational opportunities.
For more information about Darcy you can visit her website at: www.darcyflierl.com
If you have a have a question for Darcy you can email her at AskDarcyFlierl@gmail.com