Hello, I am concerned my 8-year old stepdaughter may have bipolar disorder. I have not been living here with her and her father very long so its hard to say a real long term pattern of behavior, but she definitely has angry outbursts, especially related to not wanting to go to school, do homework or go to bed at night. She has torn her room apart, kicked the wall and the door, threatens her father with violence, threatens to run away, etc. It seems like she has no control over herself during these rages, if she doesn't get what she wants (to stay up later, go to a friends house, etc) she flys into a rage and cannot calm down for at least 45 minutes. She is also very afraid of being alone and says things like "you guys don't care about me, you dont love me, its true" when she is upset. Her mother was diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality disorder many years ago and has not been in her life for a number of years; she lost her rights to the child as well. I believe that she may have some abandonment issues related to her mother, and that could be part of her fear that we will leave her alone or that we don't love her. But it is becoming clear to me that there is more going on here and I want to get her the right help and the best help we can before her behavior become worse and more dangerous as she gets into adolescence. Also the scariest thing thus far, especially for her father is that she recently told someone at school that when she went in time out her father grabbed her hard and gave her a bruise, which is not true - he picked her up underneath her armpits and put her in time out, she does however kick and scream and pinch and scratch him when he does that. Social services was called and they spoke with her and with both of us. It is not being followed up because it was clear she did not have any marks on her and exaggerated the story. However, we are afraid that if she continues to lie or exaggerate things like this that social services or the police later on could be involved and she could even end up in the system one day. She has also lied about another extended family member pushing her down stairs (a 13 year old boy) which was not true, and a neighbor elbowing her in the face, again not true. She also has been caught stealing before, not sure how this may relate to any other symptoms. She also seems more depressive than other 8 year olds, normal day to day things seem to make her unhappy and if she's not doing exactly what she wants to do she can't handle it, she can't see the reward of getting what you want after working for it - do your chores and you can go to your friend's house, etc. We are very worried about her, and to add some stress and excitement, we just found out in 9 months our family is growing, and I am worried about the effect this will have on her and the whole family. Any advice on where to start to look for help for her is much appreciated. Also, our financial situation is not great at the moment and while my husband gets insurance for us all with his job, mental health services are not covered so any of this would be paid out of pocket.
I would suggest taking her to a mental health provider and get her evaluated. There may be one that goes on a sliding scale fee in your area. You could also talk to your medical doctor and see if they can give you a referal to somewhere.
i think this new trend of diagnosing and medicating children with psychiatric illnesses is frankly ridiculous! Maybe i don't understand it because i'm not an American but it seems stupid to poison a child with medication before they are able to grow into themselves. Honestly i think this child just needs feel that they are unconditionally loved and supported and if she doesnt get better by the time she is 18 THEN maybe take her to a doctor. There are heaps of books about how to deal with a child like that which will help you deal with her. Good luck! and congrats on the new baby :)
Your daughter sounds a lot like myself when I was younger and I think that it is wonderful that you are seeking out help for her. I was constantly labeled a nuisance for my behavior. Now, being almost at 30, I've had to struggle with putting myself into treatment and feel like I am starting back at square one.
I highly suggest finding her a very involved talk therapy without medication. Let her know that she is being heard and that you are there for her no matter what. Look up a local health department or other resources that could assist you in your financial situation. There are great programs to help children.
I wish you and your family the very best of luck.
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