How Having A Dog Became The Best Therapy For My Kid


As early as five years old, I had seen some symptoms of bipolar disorder in my son, Joe. There were days when everything he would do would be on the extreme side. For instance, if he were excited, he would do whatever, even if it hurt him. If he were angry about something, he would fling objects around and sometimes end up hurting himself.

Then, during Joe’s low moments, he would refuse to get out of bed, no matter if we tried to persuade him with his favorite pancakes. If we ever manage to do that, we could not encourage him to go to preschool or play with his Big Brother. All Joe would want to do was stay on the couch and do nothing else.

The thing was (and I always felt guilty about it), I was aware that those were signs of bipolar disorder, but I still did not bring my son to a psychiatrist until he turned seven years old. Though some people might condemn me for it, being in denial that you have an imperfect child was common among parents. I kept telling myself that young boys tend to behave like Joe so that I could put off a mental health diagnosis for as long as possible.


Confirming BP

My husband and I decided to have Joe checked by a psychiatrist when we realized that he did not care about safety during his manic episodes. Before that, after all, our son snuck out of the house on a Saturday and took off with his bike on his own. He did not go too far; he mostly stayed in the local park, riding in circles. However, something wrong could still have happened to him, even if he felt invincible at the time.

When the psychiatrist confirmed my worst fear, I died a little inside. In my book, anyone with a mental health disorder would require lifetime assistance. I did not dread looking after Joe for the rest of my life, but I felt sad to imagine that he would not grow up and have all those experiences as others would have.

I voiced my concerns to the psychiatrist. I was glad I did that because she told me that bipolar kids could have normal adulthood. “Many of my previous patients have stable jobs others are already married and have happy families. Because of that, I do not see any reason why Joe cannot have the same fate.”

“How can we increase Joe’s chances of living a full, independent life?” I asked. At that moment, a sliver of hope gripped my heart.


“The best option for Joe is to go to therapy. I can recommend you to some of the child therapists I know to positively impact their young clients’ lives. With him being so young, I would honestly not suggest giving him any drugs. That’s especially true if therapy could teach him early to recognize his symptoms and deal with them. More importantly, it may be ideal for Joe to have a service dog.”

Everything that the psychiatrist said made sense to me, specifically the need for therapy. I could already imagine that this treatment would help my son understand the difference between excitement and mania, although I did not expect him to realize it soon. He might also learn some distracting techniques during his depressive periods so that he could feel better. The only thing that I had to question was the service dog part.

“Doc, we already have a family dog that Joe loves. Can’t we turn him into a service dog?”

“You can, but it is best to give Joe a dog of his own. Besides teaching him responsibility, he would bring the service dog everywhere and help him with his symptoms. Some skilled trainers can make it easier for service dogs to assist people with medical or mental health conditions. This way, you will not worry about Joe’s welfare all the time,” the psychiatrist explained.


Getting A Dog For Joe

Ever since Spot came into Joe’s life, he still had high and low episodes. However, what made things better was that the dog would bark whenever Joe tried to sneak out or would not move away from the couch for more than an hour or so. That’s Spot’s way of alerting us when something was up with Joe.

Another benefit of having a service dog was that he could calm down Joe wherever we went. It was explicitly helpful when Joe was at school, and we could not be there. The teachers had to call us in the past to pick up our son, but Spot was quick to distract him during those times.

Getting a dog for Joe turned out to be the best decision we ever made. It was right there on the top spot with therapy, to be honest.

Therapy For Siblings Of Bipolar Kids

During the first year that I provided therapy to bipolar kids, I had a very idealistic and businesslike approach. I said that I would only be accepting one client every hour and that my office would only be open from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. Then, I would not be taking calls after office hours from the parents. If they wanted to talk to me, they should book an appointment with my secretary.

The thing was, the young clients that sought my assistance often came with their parents and a sibling or two. They understood that most of the sessions were supposed to occur behind closed doors for confidentiality’s sake, but they still came as a family every time.


Since I often saw brothers and sisters of bipolar kids in the office, I was quick to think, “Oh, they must have an incredible bond.” After all, no matter how pretty or child-friendly my clinic was, it was still in a mental health facility. Child or not, no one genuinely wanted to be seen going in or out of that place in fear of their friends assuming that they were not right in the head.

I got an explanation one time when I could not help but overhear a couple of converse with their older daughter while waiting for their younger daughter’s therapy session to be over.

“Can you drive me to my friend’s house later?” the girl asked.

“Sorry, honey, but your sister has a group therapy to attend after this one,” the mother replied.

“All right, but can you take me to the mall tomorrow and go shopping?”


“Your dad can drive you to the mall, but I cannot go with you. You know that your sister doesn’t do well with massive crowds, and we cannot leave her alone at home,” the mother said.

The girl huffed. “Everything you do is for my sister’s sake. When will you ever think about me?”

I felt bad for the brothers and sisters of bipolar children in that instant. I used to believe that only the kids with mental health conditions needed much attention and were happy to get it from their families. However, I failed to see that their siblings were kids as well. Normal or not, they needed as much attention as anyone else. And since they could not consistently achieve that, it was understandable for them to get upset or even resent their bipolar siblings.

What Did I Do, You Might Ask?

Every time I would meet a client since that day, I would ask the parents to let me have a 15- or 30-minute session with their other kids. Many looked confused; others seemed offended as they pointed out that not all of their children needed mental help. I had to explain my observation to each of them.


Every time I would do the latter, understanding would settle on the parents’ faces. It was enough indication that they also knew the struggles of their other kids who had to live with their bipolar brother or sister. Sometimes, the mom or dad would even break down as they told me how guilty they were for caring for their bipolar child more.

Giving Therapy To The Siblings Of Bipolar Kids

I had spoken to a few kids about how they felt about having a bipolar sibling, and their answers somewhat varied. Some of them expressed anger and embarrassment for having a sister or brother with a mental disorder. Others felt scared, especially when their sibling was showing their daredevil side.

However, most of those kids showed real maturity by saying that they always looked after their siblings, regardless of whether their parents asked them. Among them was that girl I overheard complaining to her mom and dad. She told me she would always check on her sister at school in between classes to make sure she was okay.


“But no matter how much I care for my sister, I sometimes wish that she will go away so that I can live freely. I know that’s bad to say, but I feel that way whenever she’s throwing a fit of some sort,” the girl admitted shyly.

During our short therapy sessions, I explained to the children that being honest about their feelings – good or bad – was significant. Many adults turned out to have deep-seated childhood issues because they were unable to express themselves as kids. Still, I encouraged them to do it calmly, considering they knew that people with mental disorders were wired differently.

Final Thoughts

I continue to offer therapy to bipolar kids and their siblings up to this day. I have even leveled up and begun offering family counseling so that they can air out their differences in the safety of my office. It has seemed to help more families than I have initially imagined as the children who used to envy or get mad at their ill brother or sister began to understand them more.

Therapy For Bipolar Disorder

What is bipolar disorder? What are the negative impacts it can bring to a person’s life? Is the disorder curable? Some information also talks about its effects on individuals. It is typically developed more in teens and young adults, but it can manifest in kids as young as six years old.


Presently, it has become a contentious diagnosis. Several medical professionals agree that it is atypical and just being overly diagnosed. Others, on the other hand, have conflicting claims. So at this moment, it is difficult to confirm just how typical it is.

Continue reading

Family Counseling: Helping You Help A Loved One With BP






Bipolar disorder in kids is actually possible. It is frequently diagnosed in older kids and teens, but BP can present in children of all ages. As with adults, BP in children causes mood shift from euphoria or the stage of mania and to the lows of severe depression.

Rebellious conduct and emotional outbursts are typical of children and teens, and in most circumstances, these are not indications of a mental health illness that needs treatment. Of course, almost all children go through rough moments – it’s not uncommon to feel irritable, rebellious, sad, and angry sometimes. But if your child’s manifestations are constant, extreme, or are causing substantial problems, you should think that this is no longer a phase.

Below are some indications of bipolar disorder in kids:

  • Impulsive, hyperactive, violent, or socially improper conduct
  • Extreme mood swings that are not the same as their typical mood swings
  • The temperamental or depressive attitude most of the time or almost daily
  • Inflated or elaborate perception of their own abilities
  • Careless and precarious behavior that are usually not normal for the child, like having frequent sex with several partners, bizarre and unreasonable spending, drug or alcohol abuse
  • Suicidal ideations in older kids and teenagers
  • Insomnia or remarkably reduced need for sleep

Kids and teens with bipolar disorder have their symptoms in unique attacks. And in between these attacks, children go back to their typical mood and conduct. Remember that numerous other disorders in children may also lead to bipolar-like indications. These include oppositional defiant disorder, severe depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and anxiety disorders. Diagnosis can be perplexing, as these and the rest of the mental health disorders often happen in conjunction with BP.

Bipolar Treatment

An estimated 10 million Americans diagnosed with bipolar disorder, family members, and significant others are also impacted because they strive to deal with its debilitating effects on them. Numerous methods are being utilized to manage BP, including some psychotherapy and counseling forms and medication therapy. In addition, a certain bipolar treatment known as family-focused counseling or therapy has shown to be effective for many bipolar patients, assisting them in becoming better and decreasing the probability of relapses.


Initiated by two famous psychologists, this bipolar treatment, which is grounded on family dynamics principles, makes sense, taking into account that the main guardians of individuals, particularly children with BP, have a higher likelihood of developing depression than the general population. In addition, numerous studies have proven that family counseling benefits other family members in the psychotherapy treatment aside from the patient.

During the counseling sessions, the family and the patient are requested to come together and meet with a therapist or counselor experienced in managing BP with this particular form of psychotherapy. Among the objectives of FFT (family-focused therapy) is to strengthen family relationships and is often believed to encourage better outcomes.

How Family Counseling Helps

In a family counseling session, the counselor or therapist aims to educate the family members regarding bipolar disorder and associated problems, which include the fatigue that several family members and other guardians go through when supporting a loved one with BP. In addition, this psychotherapy method strives to provide families with more improved communication skills to lessen stress and work as harmoniously as possible to resolve problems, regardless of whether these problems are directly associated with bipolar disorder.

Family counseling sessions for BP should be able to educate participants on how to:

  • Utilize communication skills so that they can engage more efficiently and resolve disagreements with lesser negative emotions.
  • Recognize BP manifestations and determine indications of approaching attacks and relapses.
  • Take productive actions and steps whenever the patient seems to be experiencing substantial complications with the disorder.
  • Utilize problem-solving skills, which include management techniques particularly developed to help deal with BP.

The Efficacy Of FFT Or Family Counseling

Studies have revealed that this form of family counseling can significantly help patients avoid relapses and recuperating from bipolar attacks more rapidly than those who are not going through therapy or counseling interventions.

Family counseling has been more effective than some other types of psychotherapy, like group therapy or CBT, in preventing or reducing relapses, particularly when FFT begins following an acute bipolar attack.


Patients who present with predominant depressive BP symptoms have a higher likelihood of benefiting from FFT than individuals with mainly manic indications, who have shown to benefit more from cognitive behavioral therapy.

However, it is significant to note that whatever form of therapy is used to manage bipolar disorder can never cure the illness, as there has been no proven cure as of the present. Furthermore, even patients who have had successful treatment will continue to present with mood changes and longstanding indications of BP. Therefore, treatment and management will have to be continuous.

Family counseling, specifically family-focused therapy, could be the way to alleviate challenging family concerns and enhance the entire family’s capability to better deal with bipolar disorder.



Frequently Asked Questions About Bipolar Disorder In Children

Can you imagine the mental distress that kids experienced when trying to diagnose their psychological disorders? They need to go to a psychological facility regularly, play with different mind-stimulated things, and answer various questionnaires – all to figure out if there’s something wrong with their brain or not.

This process is more common than you may ever know. Many illnesses have similar symptoms, particularly bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. Kids with either condition tend to have a short attention span or short patience with people or things; that’s why they might seem aggressive at times. In reality, though, they just had no idea how to express their emotion, so it comes out as aggression.


My Personal Experience As A Bipolar Child

I received the news that I had bipolar disorder when I was already 21 years old. However, I had been dealing with its symptoms from the age of 13.

Back then, I was labeled as a rebellious child. I would always ask my parents to let me hang out with my friends after school, and they would always say no, so I would often sneak out. It did not mean that I was never caught, though. Because of that, I would always get scolded. Still, it did not stop me from sneaking out repeatedly.

Then, there were times when I would refuse to converse with my family. They would get mad and assume that I was too childish or full of myself. They would challenge me to run away and then ask how a 13-year-old could stand on her own feet. At first, I tried to explain that I just did not want to talk, but I could not give them a reason for that, so I merely stopped trying to explain and accepted their words.  

One time, my mother came across a little girl with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Her parents were very open about her condition because they wanted other people to be aware that it existed. My mother noticed some of her symptoms in me, so she brought me to a child psychologist. They did some tests and initially diagnosed me with the same condition as that little girl. Hence, for many years, I thought I had ADHD.

When I turned 21, my doctor passed away, and we had to look for another psychologist. However, the second one that we found questioned the diagnosis that I got at 13 years old. She said that while I did have some ADHD symptoms, I also had other depressive and manic symptoms. Having both sets of symptoms was not too common in ADHD kids, according to her. That’s when it became known that I had been getting treated for a wrong illness for a long time. Instead of ADHD, I had was a bipolar disorder.


What is a major difference between unipolar and bipolar depression? 

Bipolar depression and unipolar depression manifest with the same symptoms, but there are three major differences:

  • Bipolar depression is on the edge of mania all the time.
  • Bipolar depression tends to be more episodic compared to unipolar depression.
  • Because of mania’s risk, the treatment for bipolar depression is different from that for unipolar depression. 

Can you have bipolar and major depression? 

If you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you may have episodes of mania or hypomania and depression. You can experience episodes in between if you do not have any indications. Also, it is possible to present with depression and mania symptoms simultaneously, which is often known as the mixed bipolar state. 

Is bipolar disorder worse than depression? 

Behavioral information found that when the subjects felt normal – meaning that they are not depressed – those diagnosed with bipolar disorder were at their worst in managing sad and happy emotions than those who had depression. However, when they felt depressed, the bipolar subjects were efficient at managing their happy feelings. 

What are the four types of bipolar? 

The American Psychiatric Association states that there are four major classifications of bipolar disorder. These include bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, bipolar disorder secondary to existing substance abuse or medical condition. 

Do people with bipolar ever feel normal? 

Bipolar disorder is a condition that elicits dramatic mood shifts, along with other symptoms. An individual with bipolar disorder will alternate amidst stages of depression and stages of mania. Additionally, in between these two ends, the individual will experience stages of normal mood. 

Does Bipolar get worse as you age? 

The requirement for psychiatric admission in the elderly group is increasing. But in contrast to schizophrenia, wherein about 30% to 50% of cases become better significantly with age, bipolar disorder does not improve with time; In fact, it usually worsens. 


Can bipolar people tell they are bipolar? 

The truth is that not everyone diagnosed with bipolar disorder is aware that they have the disorder. There are plenty of reasons why a person with bipolar disorder might not recognize it – or perhaps why they may not admit having it despite the fact that they do. 

What triggers bipolar? 

Factors that act as triggers for the onset of bipolar disorder include:

  • Stages of heightened stress, like a traumatic event or the loss of a loved one
  • A first-degree relative, for instance, a sibling or a parent, diagnosed with bipolar disorder
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

What is a bipolar person like? 

Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder have both episodes of mania and severe depression – excitement or joy, overwhelming happiness, decreased inhibitions, heightened energy, and a decreased need for sleep. The experience of bipolar disorder is distinctly personal. No two individuals have precisely the same experience. 

Can bipolar go away? 

While bipolar symptoms come and go, the disorder typically necessitates lifetime management and does not disappear by itself. Bipolar disorder can be a huge contributor to suicide, family conflict, and unemployment, but appropriate treatment results in better results. 

What should you not say to someone with bipolar? 

Some important things that one must not say to someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder include:

  • “Well, all of us have our moods from time to time.”
  • “You’re overreacting, you know that?”
  • “You are psycho!”
  • “Everyone can be a little bipolar at times, right?”
  • “If it does not kill you, then it will make you stronger.”
  • “Please stop acting like a maniac.”
  • “God, I wish I could be manic – then I’d get things done!”

What are the signs of bipolar in a woman? 

Some bipolar indications that are seen both in women and men include:

  • Decreased sleep
  • Overconfidence or feeling of grandiosity
  • Irritable mood
  • Easily distracted
  • Fast speech flow or racing thoughts
  • Increased energy
  • Greater than usual frequency of speech


Is bipolar inherited from the mother or father? 

Bipolar disorder can be inherited or genetic. But it will typically not be passed on to children. Approximately 1 in 10 children of parents or a parent who has bipolar disorder will have the condition. 

What are the signs of bipolar in a man? 

Most common indications of bipolar disorder in men include:

  • Worse symptoms
  • Recurrent manic episodes. Women probably experience more depressive bouts with their bipolar condition. 
  • Heightened aggression. When a man is suffering from an episode, he experiences a higher chance of manifesting a higher aggression form. 
  • Denial to pursue treatment.
  • Co-occurring substance use issues.

Final Thoughts

Despite the innovations in mental health, it’s sad to say that misdiagnosis is still common among bipolar patients. There is yet a distinct way of diagnosing them; that’s why many people have a similar experience as I did. My parents would have sued my former psychologist if she were still alive, but I guess the silver lining was that we found out that I had some form of disorder early. Thus, everyone somewhat understood that not all my actions were caused by my true nature. Still, it would have been nice if I knew that I was bipolar much earlier than that.


Frequently Asked Questions About Separation Anxiety

I don’t usually talk about my issues. But when I do, I sometimes feel like my feelings are somewhat irrelevant. Not because I don’t value what I feel, but because I sometimes knew that my mental illness is often the reason I always end up alone. Dealing with a psychological condition is hard because it can entirely change someone’s life in an instant. Although I already have a diagnosis, I still do not want to believe that my “supposed” clinginess was associated with separation anxiety.


I often think that the way I care about people is genuinely part of my character. Whenever my loved ones leave or somewhat out of reach, I get distracted, sad, and agitated. Honestly, I thought it was usual, and everyone deals with separation anxiety normally. The more I get into it and experience many complicated mental conditions, the more I knew I am not mentally okay. Fortunately, with all the frequently asked questions in my head, I managed to get some answers. Let me share some of those with you.

How do you deal with separation anxiety?

To deal with separation anxiety, you need to consider the following things: Practice good-natured separation, develop a quick and comfortable “goodbye” ritual, schedule separation during naps, and leave without a big deal. Also, keep familiar surroundings whenever possible and only leave the premise when other activities can take in.

Note that by making these suggestions, you might experience a slight comfort. But the whole process requires a lot of time. Thus, there is no guarantee that even if you managed to pull through with separation anxiety, you wouldn’t experience it anymore because you will still do.

 What is separation anxiety in adults?

Adults with separation anxiety disorder experience high levels of nervousness. The feelings sometimes elevate to panic attacks. That is especially when no one is around or loved ones are out of reach. Adults with separation anxiety usually socially withdraw themselves from everyone. They also show extreme sadness, agitation, and physical discomforts. In some instances, they also experience difficulty concentrating when alone.

Generally speaking, separation anxiety can lead someone into an entirely complicated and isolated life. It would be sad and lonely because the mental health condition will not allow you to experience and learn new things independently. Usually, due to mental illness, you get to rely on everyone around you. There is the constant fear of being unaccompanied.


 What causes separation anxiety disorder?

Some of the factors that cause separation anxiety are life stressors. It could come from grief from the loss of a beloved pet, death of a loved one, divorce of parents, or moving or going away to a different place.

People deal with separation anxiety differently because their triggers vary. Some individuals can handle situations despite not being near their loved ones. However, for individuals with a mental condition, the whole experience is crippling, devastating, mentally and emotionally exhausting.

 What are the known three stages of separation anxiety?

The three known stages of separation anxiety are protest, despair, and detachment. The protest starts right after there is separation. Usually, it can last up to weeks of feeling sad and lonely. People can sometimes manage it since it is quite a common scenario that brings that kind of usual feelings. Then, there is despair. It accompanies signs of distress, such as crying and tantrum behavior. People usually couldn’t understand the reason for it and assume that one misses his loved ones. Then there’s detachment, where there is avoidance with people, places, or activities, associated with a separated person, past trauma, or event.

 How long can separation anxiety last?

Separation anxiety happens automatically when there’s a split. Usually, eighteen months and then fades during the last few months of the second year. However, there are some cases that this phase affects a person’s emotional development. Some might handle it accordingly, while others will experience a deep sense of emotional and mental pain.

With that particular impact, it is vital to consider things. Instead of forcing people to forget about their mental and emotional dilemmas, they need to take things slowly. They need to understand that any kind of separation is heartbreaking. But it is not enough reason not to move on and continue living.

 At what age is separation anxiety the worst?

Separation anxiety can occur to individuals as early as 4 to 5 months of age. And the most developed stage would be visible at around nine months.

 How do you deal with bedtime separation anxiety?

Managing separation anxiety requires consistency. There must be an engagement in calming routines and reassessments of daytime and bedtime schedules. It is vital to be careful about introducing new habits, especially when not fully adjusted to the emotional and mental pain.

It will help if you seek professional guidance from a therapist on some of the things you can do to ease your mental problem.

What is anxiety separation disorder?

Separation anxiety disorder causes significant distress in daily functioning. Symptoms can be excessive for the developmental age. These can include recurrent and unwarranted stress from being away from a familiar place such as home or school or away from loved ones.

 How do I cope with anxiety?

To cope with anxiety, you need to consider taking things one at a time. Also, it would assist if you focused on keeping your overall well-being healthy. You can do it by getting enough sleep, hydrating, eating healthy food, exercising regularly, and practicing mindfulness. You can also cope with anxiety naturally by letting your emotions out. Talking to friends and family would be a great help.

Always remember that you are not alone. You can seek immediate professional help if you have to. Do not be afraid and feel discouraged just because you thought you are going through some detrimental phase in your life. Everyone deals with their issues, and your separation anxiety is just a small percentage of those mental illnesses out there.

 Is separation anxiety a sign of autism?

Well, not entirely in all cases. Children with autism express fear or nervousness in many of the same ways as others typically develop. However, most children do experience separation anxiety without any association with autism. Almost all of them struggle with parting ways with trusted parents or caregivers to go to school or camp.


 How can you tell if a girl has autism?

You can tell if a girl has autism when she’s unable to look at or listen to people, has inappropriate or no facial gestures, resists touching, inability to start a conversation, inability to keep a conversation going, does not respond to her name, and prefers being alone.

Is autism just anxiety?

Anxiety is not considered a definite highlight of Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, at least 40% of young people with mental conditions experience clinically elevated anxiety levels. Usually, some of them even developed at least one anxiety disorder, including obsessive-compulsive disorder.

 How do I stop autism anxiety?

Getting help with managing anxiety in autistic requires cognitive behavior therapy. It is a process that helps develop skills to change people’s thinking to deal with anxious situations. The therapy supports the use of gradual exposure to help people with ASD face their fears.

So far, those are some of the frequently asked questions I managed to find answers to. If you need to learn more, you can try and consult an expert for additional information.


Protecting Your Mental Health When Your Bipolar Ex Can’t Move On

I met Daniel at a gala event for my publishing company, where I worked as a writer and editor, and a co-worker was a friend of his. He was undoubtedly a stunner, considering he towered over everyone at 6’4” and could pass as David Beckham’s younger brother. I snatched glances in his direction throughout the night and felt a tinge of longing and jealousy whenever Daniel laughed with others, wishing he was doing it with me. But I could not bear to introduce myself first because, well, that’s not very lady-like.



When the party was over, I thought it was the last time I would see Daniel. I gave him one last look before I walked towards my car, but before I reached the grand staircase, someone yelled, “Miss! Miss!”

My head whipped around so fast, I got dizzy (true story). Once my eyes could focus again, I saw Daniel smiling at me. Confused, I said, “Were you calling me?”

“Yes, I was. I’m sorry for yelling like a lunatic; I just worried that you might go home without me being able to say hi to you,” Daniel uttered bashfully. His ears turned a light shade of pink – he was blushing!

Still, I tried to hide the fact that I was swooning over him deep inside. Trying to be cool, I replied, “Hmm, hello, I’m Jazz. Nice to meet you.”



“My name is Daniel. Nice to meet you, too. Please don’t think I’m a creep, but I must admit that I had been watching you all night but couldn’t pluck up the courage to come up to you.”

“Why would you want to do that?” I asked.

“For one, I think you are stunning. You caught my attention as soon as I arrived. Secondly, I want to get to know you more. Can we meet over coffee tomorrow morning?”

Knowing Daniel

Of course, the man did not need to ask me twice; I said yes to the morning date, exchanged contact details with him, and drove home to get some beauty rest. I did not want Daniel to see bags under my eyes, after all. My gut feeling told me that we might have a future together, and I hoped it was true.

Like we agreed upon, Daniel was already waiting for me at the coffee shop the next day. After the pleasantries, we decided to do a little Q&A with each other. I told him how many boyfriends I had, what kind of job I did at the publishing company, what my favorites were, etc. He was super attentive and polite and gentlemanly – everything I was looking for in a potential boyfriend.



Then came the question, “How soon do you want to get married when you find the one?”

Daniel told me that he had been married before for ten years and that the divorce was finalized in 2016. He also said that he was co-parenting with his ex, who had a bipolar disorder, and his kid stayed with him four out of seven days. Instead of feeling turned off, I found the man admirable. I thought, If Daniel is this responsible, I don’t mind being a stepmother to his child.

It was the beginning of an exciting relationship between Daniel and me. We were not officially together, but we were more than friends. He would always call me after work and take me out for lunch or dinner. I even met his son once, and he seemed cool with the idea of his dad dating again. So, nothing was getting in our way – or so I thought.



Here Comes The Ex-Bride

I received a call from Daniel one day, asking if he could come over to talk. I noticed the difference in his tone right away, considering he did not sound as happy as he used to be. When Daniel arrived, he wrung his hands while telling me that his ex-wife did not want him to see other women.

Unable to comprehend why his ex’s opinion mattered, I asked, “Does that mean we can’t see each other anymore?”

Daniel took my hands and said, “No, no. But we need to be careful about it. She is on heavy medication for bipolar disorder, you see. It stresses me out too, but I can’t do anything.”

That’s where Daniel was wrong, and I told him that. He allowed his ex-wife to dictate how he should live his life even after their marriage dissolved, and it was obviously making him unhappy. “You keep walking on eggshells because of her mental health, but have you ever thought of protecting your mental health?” I asked.



How To Protect Your Mental Health When Your Bipolar Ex Can’t Move On

  • Create a clear boundary with your ex and make them see that your relationship is over.
  • Keep your conversations strictly about the child (if you have any) to show that you are not as close as before.
  • File for sole child custody if the ex’s mental health disorder will possibly affect the child.

Not taking any of these measures will make the ex think that they can rain on your parade whenever possible.

Children With Bipolar Disorder – A Family Concern




Despite the fact that bipolar disorder is more common in older teens and young adults, it may present in children younger than seven years old. In the past years, it has become a provocative diagnosis. Some scientists believe that it is very uncommon and just over-diagnosed, while others would suggest the opposite. Currently, it isn’t easy to know for sure how rare or common it really is.

Another illness referred to as Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, or DMDD, has also been considered to describe kids from 6 to 18 who manifest with extreme and insistent irritability and temper flare-ups that do not have concrete definitions for it to be considered bipolar. Hence, it is vital not to jump into conclusions. If a child in your family has bipolar disorder, it is wise to get another opinion prior to deciding on what treatment plan to utilize. Be sure that you are confident of the healthcare professional that your child will be dealing with.

Bipolar Disorder in Children

Making a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children is not easy at all, as several of the symptoms are comparable to that of ADHD and other behavioral conditions. One concern is that prescription medications that are indicated for ADHD are usually stimulants that could possibly induce mania in kids with bipolar disorder. Young children that present with mania may be more aggressive and short-tempered compared to adults, and they have a higher likelihood of having psychotic symptoms as well. When they are experiencing a depressive episode, on the other hand, they are most likely to complain of body aches and pains.


A remarkable difference is that bipolar disorder in the young has more quick cycles compared to that of the adults. While depressive and manic episodes might present separately by months or years in young adults, they can also occur within one day in children.

Helping Your Child With Bipolar Disorder

As parents of a bipolar child, there are things you can do to help your child maintain his mental and emotional well-being.

  • Monitor strict medication instructions. You definitely must be sure that your bipolar child takes the medication that she needs. Utilize pillboxes, timers, or notes to help you remember the schedule. If she must take a pill at school, communicate with her teacher or the school nurse to assist your child in taking the medication – that is their responsibility.


  • Keep track of the side effects. Most prescription medications for bipolar disorder – which include antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants – were previously experimented on adults, and only very few were studied on young kids and adolescents. Some children are more susceptible to getting side effects from these drugs, like weight gain and alterations in cholesterol and blood sugar due to some antipsychotics. Talk to your child’s doctor and discuss what symptoms you should be watchful for.


  • Communicate with your child’s teachers. There are bipolar cases where your child might require special support and allowances at school. They may require more breaks or fewer assignments during their manic or depressive episodes. Discuss and develop a plan with the teachers of your child. There will be times when your child may need to be taken out of the school premises for a while, just for the bipolar symptoms to be pacified and controlled.


  • Maintain a routine. Bipolar children do benefit from keeping a routine. Please help your child get up from bed, eat her meals, do some physical activity, and go to sleep at similar times every day as possible. Try your best to lessen the stress in the family.


  • Talk about family therapy. Having a bipolar child can be problematic and disrupting the entire family. It places extra stress on a couple’s marriage, and your other kids might not be able to understand the condition of their sibling. They may even feel annoyed because of the attention that their sibling is getting. Consulting a family therapist can certainly help everyone acknowledge and manage the effects of bipolar disorder on the family.


  • Do not ignore suicidal threats. Parents do not want to think that their children can hurt themselves. Sadly, things like this could happen even with your young child. So if your beloved child starts expressing the desire to hurt herself or presents with deadly behaviors, do not in any way neglect it. Get rid of all dangerous pills or weapons inside your house. And don’t forget to seek help immediately.


Bipolar Teens

The symptoms and management for older teens with the disorder are more or less the same as with the adults, although a bipolar teen manifests with more definite problems. As they grow older, teens may feel resentful if they notice that you are trying to impose treatments on them. You can try to prevent this by allowing them to join your conversations regarding their management. Talk freely – together with your child’s healthcare provider – about their treatment preferences. Avoid creating a confrontational relationship with your teen because of their treatments or medications.

As for the adults, it is vital to let your bipolar teen avoid drugs and alcohol, as these will adversely react with the medications that he is taking. They have a higher likelihood of developing problems such as substance abuse. It is also crucial to keep the usual routines associated with sleeping and waking and to be able to learn efficient coping skills for dealing with stress, anxiety, and other problems arising from bipolar disorder.



Helping Your Teenage Kid Overcome The Stress Of Potentially Having Bipolar Disorder

For a teenager to learn that he or she has a psychological illness – a bipolar disorder, no less – it can only be devastating. The initial set of words that you might get out of them is, “How can my schoolmates look up to me if they find out I’m unstable mentally?” or “My crush will never want me now!” Most adolescents tend to worry about mundane issues like that with or without an incurable disease, however, so that’s not super shocking.

“Bipolar disorder is usually treated with a combination of medications (including mood stabilizers and antidepressants) and talk therapy.” – Kathleen Cairns, PsyD

What they don’t comprehend is how lucky they are for getting a diagnosis at an early age. Many individuals are not that fortunate as their doctors can’t or won’t even give a name to their real problem until adulthood. Thus, folks who assume they have bipolar disorder but still haven’t received confirmation may become confused and stressed out because of it.


According to Robin Mohilner, LMFT, “Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder characterized by mood instability that includes both depressed mood and manic or hypomanic mood.”

Considering your teenage kid is in a relatable situation, and you don’t know how to make things better for him or her, you should check out these tips.

  1. Distinguish Your Strengths

The first thing you have to reflect on is yourself. Notably, your strong points as a parent. Say, are you good at consoling your children with words alone? Do they perceive you as the cool mom or dad who can take them to any place they want to visit?

If the response is yes in any of the two queries above – or you can think of other parenting stuff you are excellent at – then you need to stick with that. It is more favorable than pulling a new stunt; if the latter fails massively, it might trigger your child’s depression. So, it is vital for you to recognize your strengths immediately to help your kid who potentially has a bipolar disorder forget about it once in a while.


“When it comes to successfully treating a mental health disorder, it’s important that you have the correct diagnosis—which is easier said than done.” – Kathleen Cairns, PsyD

  1. Accept Their Weaknesses

At the same time, you cannot overlook to figure out what their weaknesses may be. You have to do that not because it will keep them on their toes but because it will stop you from pushing your child to work on something he or she thinks is impossible. You want him or her to overcome such fears – that’s understandable. However, it’s plain wrong to stress the kid out and not let him or her conquer those weak spots in their own time.

  1. Open Every Communication Line Possible

Many teenagers are the same in the sense that they don’t feel like burdening their elders with their worries. As a result, they end up bottling up all the negative feelings, or worse, self-harming or attempting suicide to ease their pain.

Before that happens in your household, you should reassure your kid daily that he or she can talk to you about anything. Perhaps you can start by telling him or her about your day too until he or she warms up and converses with you. This way, you’ll be able to relieve some of their stress and connect with your beloved son or daughter.


Don’t ever assume that paying for your teenage child’s medical bills is enough to help him or her get through their ordeals. Showing your love and giving your 100% attention to them is only a couple of things you should do to help them get rid of stressful thoughts brought by potentially having bipolar disorder. In truth, you can even pay for their online counseling (via BetterHelp perhaps) so that mental health professionals can reassure them and keep them from going down the depression lane.

Good luck!

“Sometimes referred to as manic depression, bipolar depression ranges from “depression so low you can’t get out of bed” to manic highs of euphoria and “talking so fast and furiously, you can’t follow the train of thought.” – Beth Esposito, MS, LPCC-S, LSW

COVID-19: Protect Kids From The Virus

Everything about COVID-19 is creating unprecedented challenges for most people. Understandably, it is reasonable to feel anxious and stressed because no one is in control right now. But the emotional and mental problems caused by the virus are not limited to adults only. Yes, children, at any particular age, can also experience behavioral and psychological issues. But there is nothing too much to worry about that because there are actions we can take to protect our children. We can help them understand their emotional and mental issues better, adapt to the situation, and recover from the traumatic experience.


Stay Calm And Positive

It is entirely essential to remember that in terms of protecting our kids, we must stay positive and calm. That way, we can avoid associating our adverse reaction to our fear and anxiety. We have to be truthful and honest with the kids about everything that has been going around, no matter what the situation is. We have to admit to the children that we are uncertain about what the pandemic can do in the future. Thus, it is okay to tell them we are also frightened; however, not in a way that our emotions will negatively influence them.


Keep An Active Routine

With all the drastic changes that our children need to deal with during this pandemic, we must help them establish better routines. We have to make sure that our kids go to sleep on time so that they get the necessary hours of sleep for the rejuvenation of mind and body. We have to set a schedule where there is a time for self-care, leisure, and family time. We need to come up with better things to do at home to secure our children’s emotional and mental wellbeing.


Focus On Healthy Activities

One of the best ways we can protect our kids from getting infected is by helping them manage a better lifestyle. Kids nowadays are stagnant at home. Most are often binge-watching and spending too much time on their computers and smartphones. Therefore, we need to ensure they still get the right amount of physical health they need. We have to give our children enough time to run and play inside the house or on our lawn if that is available. Or we can ask them to do simple chores so they can still move their bodies from time to time.


Give Them Proper Nourishment

The virus affects our immune system. With that, we need to make sure that our kids’ bodies can handle the infection. To do that, we need to give our kids proper nourishment. They must eat healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, there will be a time that organic products are not available. So we need to supply our children with multivitamins to ensure they get all the necessary nutrients they need for immune system enhancement. In addition, we must encourage the children to keep themselves hydrated all the time. Thus, we need to constantly remind them to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water every day.

Be An Example

All of us want our kids to listen and obey us. So as much as possible, we want them to wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing. However, there are times that kids’ curiosity is unpredictable. As a result, some of them won’t listen to what we tell them. With that, we need to be mindful of handling this stressful situation smoothly. So, if we want our kids to follow instructions, we should set as an example. We need to show the children the proper way of taking safety precautions.