Bipolar daughter - consequences and incentives mean NOTHING


New Member
Hi all! I need long term help for my daughter, as she cannot function at home any longer. I don't think I need to tell this crowd how difficult it is to parent her. She has no regard for rules or authority. Consequences and incentives mean NOTHING. She's 16 and was diagnosed with bipolar last year. I was always very hesitant to medicate or label her with a diagnosis but we got to a breaking point after several years of bad behavior, running away, and poor decisions. She now takes lithium and geodon. She was in residential treatment for a total of 4 months during 2017 and outpatient therapy for over a year now. We are still struggling!!

She refuses school most days. She holds the entire home hostage with her moods, anger, and manipulation. She is especially terrible to me, her father, and her brother. She's often physically violent with me and her dad. I finally had her arrested in May after she began punching me in my face and neck when I tried to wake her up for school. The juvenile justice system is a joke, by the way. They asked me to pick her up 2 hours after she was arrested.

I'm at a tipping point, folks. I have endlessly researched and made calls and told my sad story to someone on the other end of the line to little avail. There are so few programs available to adolescents with mental and behavioral health concerns. Private insurance only covers a few weeks and other programs cost upwards of $15-20k per month. I have no way to pay for more than a couple of months of care AND most of these programs are strictly voluntary. How can you "MAKE" a defiant child who is physically much larger than you DO anything??

I cannot believe I am even fathoming this, but I wonder if I should relinquish my rights? It almost seems she would receive better care if she qualified for Medicaid or some other state program. Am I crazy to think that? I can no longer live this way! My poor family deserves some peace and harmony. And I would do anything to get my daughter the help she needs, including selling my organs on the black market lol. Any advice would be appreciated.


Staff member
I'm so sorry your parenting journey has been so rough @Knifetomyheart

You are doing the best you can in an impossible situation. This is in no way your fault. From what I've read assistance programs vary from place to place. Unfortunately I have no advise to offer about that. Hopefully someone with more experience with these issues will show up to share their story.

Please read this wise advice about detatchment


Well-Known Member
Welcome, knife.

There are no right, one size fits all answers. It is just to do this one step at a time. There are parents who relinquish parental rights so that their kids get treatment to which they are otherwise ineligible or beyond a family's means. Sometimes, with an IEP, the school district pays for a residential placement.

Nobody can advise you what to do. Because they will not experience the consequences nor do they experience what you do.

Some parents have family that steps in. That can be a mixed bag.

How does she behave with others? At school?

She is close to the old enough for job corps. They are a free, residential job training program for youth in the USA run by the government. They take kids with disabilities, challenges and problematic behaviors, to a point. They are well supervised there.

There are also programs like boys town. I do not know the particulars and how a child becomes eligible.

There are a number of parents who post here who have been through or are going through what you describe. They will come along shortly.

Nani is an organization of parents with mentally ill children and family. Many of us go to al anon to learn how to deal with an I'll and/or adducted child. You don't mention it I missed if drugs are a factor. This always makes it worse.

Anyway. Welcome. You are not alone. Keep posting. It helps a great deal. Take care.


Well-Known Member
Welcome, Knife, and I am so sorry you need to be here.

A family law attorney may be able to explain your options so that you can begin deciding how to best proceed.

You are right, YOU MATTER, and you and yours deserve a home life without the constant threat of violence. One of my two stepsons is violent, so I understand what you are going through.

Is her father in the picture? Is there another relative with whom she might be able to stay for a time, just so the two of you can get some distance from one another?

At 16 she should have an IEP for an emotional disturbance with the level of behavior you describe - lack of attendance is truancy and therefore a school issue. It may be worth it to argue the point with the school district. My bipolar 16 year old stepson - a different child from the one I mentioned above - qualified for an IEP after he tried to kill himself and was hospitalized for three months recovering. He was immediately placed in a therapeutic day school for children with emotional problems. He is still struggling in many ways but he is doing much better. Their support has been a game changer for him.

Keep us posted, we care and we're here!

Snow White

Temporarily in the Magic Kingdom
Hi Knifetomyheart. Welcome here - sorry that you had to land here. I just read your post and it instantly brought back all the memories of our daughter during those teen years.

We were in the exact same shoes. Started when she was young - she had all of the services and professionals at her beck and call but they did not work. She was violent, deceitful, made really bad impulsive decisions and constantly ran away. She had an IEP in place but would eventually become abusive with school staff - transferred to different schools and then to a treatment type of school (both locked and unlocked). Those didn't work. We couldn't keep her safe. We signed a voluntary placement order when she was 12 years old (for a 1 year period) and that was the hardest thing I have ever done. Things were looking up a bit and it was felt that an additional 6 to 8 months would be a benefit. She returned home and the nightmare continued until she took off to literally "join the circus" at 18 years of age. Her behaviour pretty much ruined any chance at a normal family life. She ruined relationships with extended family, so that was not an option for us.

If the lithium and geodon aren't giving good results, it might be time for the specialists to revisit her medications. Ours would respond briefly to medications but it was not long-lasting. She has been on everything from lithium to valproic acid. Your daughter sounds very much like our daughter, who is now diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (and probably an element of antisocial personality disorder) - medications don't really help. The anger, manipulation and physical violence are often too much to take and nothing seems to slow it down. The rage can be instantaneous (shoelace doesn't tie up properly), catching everyone off guard. We once missed a funeral because of a meltdown at the back door as we were getting ready to leave.

There is no right answer for you and your family. I don't know a lot about services in the US, so I can't comment or add anything to SWOT's reply for residential-type services. Have you and your family been for counselling/therapy? That might be beneficial for you, as you try to outline a plan.

Keep coming back here. The support is so very helpful.

Hugs to you.
Check and see if she qualifies for Medicaid through a mental health waiver. Our son has bipolar disorder as well and has Medicaid in addition to our regular health insurance. He’s been in residential treatment for 12 months twice when he was younger and Medicaid paid for almost all of it.


Well-Known Member
Yes, please check on the Medicaid waiver for SED...Severely Emitionally Disturbed. At least that is what it's called in our state.

Also, ask her psychiatrist or family doctor about DNA testing to find the best medication for her. It helps to know if she us an ultra rapid metabolizer or a poor metabolizer of her medications. Check to see if it's a covered expense first as it might be pricey without ins. Coverage.

I've had quite a few struggles too... Juvenile court system is a joke. The DA threatened us with child I told him I wanted to leave her in detention until she saw the judge. I believe they have 48 hours (excluding holidays and weekends). So... We picked her up, and she ran off before her court date. Came back 3 days later, I notified them, they didn't take her in, ran off again, 5 days later ran again. Found by police, finally kept in detention for 5 days.

Juvenile justice... What a joke. Ksm


Well-Known Member
Some (admittedly small) ideas based on our daughter with same diagnosis:
1. The cell phone can be a major incentive.
2. She likely needs a medication change.Something, perhaps stronger or more calming. Lithium should work, but doesn’t always. We had little help with that drug and NONE with Geodon.
Seroquel and Abilify work well.

——Risperdal is a good temporary medication to use with very erratic behaviors.

3. Any chance she would go to weekly therapy and/or group therapy?
Can you get it court mandated?
4. Baker Act her every time she is violent...different names in different areas. Call police and state that she is a danger to herself and others. Likely will put her in a facility for 24 hours.
5. See if there are Families Anonymous meetings in your area. Local people probably know of good local resources.
6. Start a good medical file and rapport with doctors as she might not be able to work and would then qualify for disability.
7. If you haven’t done so already, see a therapist for yourself at least now and again. This stuff is VERY hard.