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25 year old daughter


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Hello - I need advice. My daughter has horrible mood swings. When she was 16 she was diagnosed as bipolar, but then she was on and off drugs and alcohol so much therapist thought this was causing her mood changes. She starts to get herself together and gets a job and even goes back to school but can't stay focused and gives up. Always back to square 1. She finally moved out because she didnt like my rules. Now she wants to come back home. I have changed the locks and she saids she has no where to go. I feel bad, but after 9 years of this, I can't take it anymore, but now I am worried because I don't know where she is. Should I be treating this disorder with tough love?

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Hello, pjean, and welcome to the community.

This is a painful and difficult situation. :( It's hard watching a loved one struggle, wanting to help, but also needing to be very mindful of your own needs. Is your daughter still in therapy? If she is unwilling to go and get help for herself, I don't think there is much you can do aside from supporting her. It's okay to put up the necessary boundaries you need to take care of yourself. If you choose to allow her back into your house, I would think that it's also appropriate for her to be expected to follow your rules. Such limits may actually be helpful to her as well. Do you have a support system there for you?

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I can hear you are having a tough time with this. I don't know what to suggest, I can only give some thoughts. I'm not sure there is an easy answer to this. I am bipolar and 51 years old. I have children of my own. My 23 year old is in treatment for depression and may yet turn out to be bipolar too. I have had times of high functioning and times of low functioning. I have been in and out of work. I worked for a year, last year but had bad anxiety and became depressed again as a result, that I resigned. I also struggle to keep things up and my CV is full of holes where I didn't work. The illness has waxed and waned over the years.

A big positive is that she was diagnosed so early. The course of the illness is so much better with early diagnosis and treatment. I was 47 when diagnosed although I had problems since about 21. Over the years I have had so many episodes of illness and each one hurts your brain, sometimes permanently. She has a better prognosis.

You have a right to have rules in your home that she must abide by and it sounds like you have been patient for a long time. You do not have to put up with her doing drugs and alcohol. Bipolar mood swings made it harder to be consistent and sometimes my moods make me irritable. I try hard not to take my mood out on anyone else and I think I manage to succeed most of the time. Unfortunately those closest to us get to see our negative sides and mothers probably bear the brunt. But bipolar is not an excuse for behaving badly. I think some tough love is appropriate with this. She might not like it, but you have a right to call her on her behaviour and make your help conditional on this. At her age she needs to take responsibility for her illness. You could also say you will only be able to help her if she remains in treatment, which ideally consists of medication and therapy. Your support will help her but your help doesn't necessarily mean you have to let her back into your home. You can support her but not her behaviour.

Only you can tell how much you are willing to put up with and whether to give her another chance and let her come back. I am sure it must be very difficult for you; I would find it extremely difficult. It must be very worrying to not know where she is and what she is doing. I hope you are able to get some support for yourself, in dealing with this.

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