I have a family member with Bipolar Disorder and Asperger’s, they have been on Seroquel and Lithium for 20 years and Abilify for 12. Never have they been “meltdown free”, but the episodes were much less frequent and severe. Recently they are coming more often and much more aggressive, and it began with a major life disappointment and horrible low mood taking over and feeling stuck in life and not knowing how to/or able to navigate their way out. Our family is very supportive and doctors are supposedly experts in bipolar. I have never seen them so low and finding absolutely no interest in things that usually inspire. Complaints are that their brain is dull/numb and can not think and the smallest thing has been setting them off in truly unreasonable anger outbursts so bad police have had to be called. First time we went to the hospital who practically talked them out of wanting to be admitted for help and ended by saying they had no bed. After that experience the interest in being hospitalized for help has vanished. Do any of you have experience with these symptoms and how/where have you received help? What has worked for you?
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Hi @almi319 and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I can definitely relate to having a family member with a diagnosis that you feel is not being properly treated and feeling helpless to do anything about it. A family member of mine had a similar issue where the police were called and our family asked that they be involuntarily baker acted so that they can get they help they need.
I can tell you that 20 years on those medications can most certainly change the person's body chemistry.
Have you asked them if they are willing to check in to a facility to help with their symptoms?
They were willing the night we were at the hospital, but the hospital did not avail themselves. They are certainly willing to get help, and is cooperative with medications and appointments etc. I even called Mayo Clinic who told me it would be 3 months minimum before would be able to be seen and of course their insurance was not accepted. A large sum of money was required as a retainer. So, as I said, it has been quite a challenge to find help in the midst of a crisis. We are still connected to current doctors, but getting a second opinion or other help has been a challenge.
Be careful of costs. A friend of mine was in a facility for three days cost over 14,000.00 dollars and they just put her in more meds. Be careful not judging.
* more meds
I’m so sorry your family is experiencing frustration over finding help for these conditions! I have a close friend who’s daughter has bipolar. She refuses to take medication that has helped her in the past. She has daily outbursts and extremely poorly controlled anger. To compound the problem, she self medicates with alcohol. She’s an alcoholic. Automobile accidents, being evicted because of fighting, physical abuse of boyfriends, jail time, etc. She has two young children who she neglects. Luckily her X has the kids. Her family has tried everything to help her, she’s not cooperative! They even put her in rehab for alcoholism and she left after a week. She’s an adult, so her families influence is limited.
I know these stories are devastating for families. One thing I hear in yours is that your family member is willing to accept help. That is so important! I do understand your struggle is finding adequate help. I think a second opinion is a great idea. Fresh ideas might be very helpful. Unfortunately, I’m unfamiliar with inpatient treatment without commitment to an institution. That doesn’t mean it’s not available! Most treatment I’m familiar with are outpatient programs. I’m sure you’ve done your homework there! Sometimes doctors run out of ideas to help patients. Other times they have provided top notch care, but there are ongoing challenges.
I truly hope you find the help you need. My heart goes out to you, your family member is fortunate to have you! Take care of yourself!
Thank you, I am sorry for what your friend is going through, it sounds awful. Thankfully my family member is very compliant with medication, does not drink at all or use any illegal drugs. They are really a wonderful person until these outbursts occur, lately out of nowhere. Mostly they are frustrated and feeling stuck in their life, wanting to find success at work and relationships and health always enters in a causes a problem. I think these outbursts are directly connected to the fact that they want a future and can not see one. They have never been fired, but has the fear of it and has spells where they call off because they can not function. This is truly an awful illness for the the person with the diagnosis and their families.
I don’t know how much positive reinforcement would help, and I certainly don’t understand the processes of the mind of someone with bipolar. Would involving your family member in therapy, a program or class that teaches and reinforces positive mental process help? I have major depressive disorder and learning and reinforcement of techniques to change my thinking when I lose focus and think negative thoughts has helped me tremendously.
These learned thought processes don’t always help 100% but over time and applying what I’ve learned, I’ve been able to redirect/change my negative thinking into more productive and positive thoughts. The family could get on board by reminding your bipolar family member of what they have learned and how to apply it in different situations. Obviously you would know better than I if this is something that might help.
Has this person experienced trauma? I ask because these are play by play issues I struggle with when my PTSD is triggered and im trying to process.
If not: it may be a good time to evaluate medications. You build a tolerance after so long and they feel ineffective. This person may be struggling to filter these emotions.
How kind of you to reach out, what a nice support system!
Also Aspys qualify under autism and I know there are a lot of organizations that offer free group and processing training in low key relaxed outdoor settings this person may benefit from if they were open to it and 9 times out of 10 they are.