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Son with Bipolar

Hi everyone, this is my first time here. I am feeling a bit lost and vulnerable. My son spent his 17th birthday in hospital with psychosis. Now 6 weeks later he's been diagnosed with Bipolar, though they have not ruled out schizophrenia. Both psychotic episodes were acute and full-on. Now he's been on meds for a week, is going really well but has already put on weight, feels lazy and wants to come off the meds. He is sure he doesn't need them and can avoid becoming psychotic again if I point out symptoms such as word-salad or grandiosity which indicate he's heading in that direction. I'm frightened that he would become psychotic again. My main fears are that 1.psychosis could cause long-term damage and that 2. he might not recover as well as he has these last 2 times. Also, if I let him come off the meds, I might get in trouble from my ex, who thinks he needs them, not to mention the psychiatrists. I feel as though I am between a rock and a hard place.


Re: Son with Bipolar

Hi @Louise 


Welcome to the Forums. I'm glad you found us Smiley Happy

It's so sad that your son had to spend his 17th birthday in hospital. The timing sucks. What is good though is that he is in a place that can help him. I have lost count of the amount of carers in here who are stressed out because they can't get their loved one admitted to hospital to get the help they need.

Diagnosis and getting medication right can be a long road. However, while the dignosis may not be confirmed yet, it sounds like he's found meds that work! That's huge!

I must say, I was concerned to read the part where you're considering to 'let him' come off his meds. Maybe it's time for some tough love? I can't stress how dangerous it is for people on medication to come off them without consultation from their health care professional.

Medication for mental illness aren't like antibiotics. I think we have all been guilty of stopping antibiotics because the symtoms have gone away. Meds for MI are not like that. They are preventing symptoms coming back. 

I wouldn't be concerned about getting in trouble from your ex or you psychiatrist, I would be more worried about the impact on your son's mental health if he were to stop them.

I know it must be tough to not let your son to do what he wants - but it's for his benefit. I hope he can understand that.

If your son is concerned about his weight and motivation - talking to the psychiatrist is really important. Does he see a psychologist too?

Welcome again Smiley Happy You raised some important points that I think a lot of us struggle with.

Re: Son with Bipolar

Thanks for your reply! You've reminded me that my son is lucky to be back to normal functioning thanks to hospital and medication. Thats a lot to be thankful for, as initially I didn't know if he'd recover at all. Is it true that every time someone has a psychotic episode there is a 1 in 6 chance they won't recover? Is it true that active psychosis causes long-term damage? These are things I've read on the internet, not things I was told by psychiatrists.

I have told my son that I won't even consider him coming off his medication unless he sees a psychologist, so he's agreed to see a psychologist, which we will arrange ASAP. I've also told him that it's not just up to me, it's up to his father as well...and that it might be a good idea to just keep the psychiatrists happy by staying on the medication for a while....maybe until he gets his drivers license..

Thanks again

Re: Son with Bipolar

Hi Louise,

I can't answer your question about the statistical chances of recovery. Talking to your son't mental health team might be helpful though. 

I'm happy to hear that you encouraged your son to speak to his psychologist about his meds. What I do know is that prevention is so important. If your son has found a medication that works, I'd suggst that you encourage him to stay on it and support him to address his conerns about weight gain and energy levels. Exercise and diet can play a huge role in this. I'm not trying to say the medication is the be all and end all, a comination of therapy, medication, and psycho-education, I think is really important.

I understand that many teenagers can find it hard not get there own way. This is stage in their life when they want to start making decisions for themselves. As parents, I think it's important to allow them some space to do this, but ensure that they are well informed by providing guidance. Remember, taking medication is about staying well and preventing another episode rather thank keeping the psychiartrist happy.

Hope that helps,


Re: Son with Bipolar

Hi BeHappy

Thanks yes, that does help, you make some good points. I am just trying to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of the medication at present, which is why I'm wondering just how detrimental psychosis is to longterm health....and what the chances are of  a poorer recovery than my son has fortunately made up until now. I don't want to risk poorer outcomes for him in the short term or long term....but it is hard to accept that he might have to take anti-psychotics for the rest of his life, because of the side effects they have. I will ask the psychiatrists, as you have suggested. Anyway, thankfully he has his first appointment with a psychologist tomorrow. Thanks again


Re: Son with Bipolar

Hi @Louise 


BeHappy has some good points. Medication is just one element of the bigger picture. The psychologist and psychiatrist will work with you & your son in creating an ongoing prevention plan. That may or may not including medication.

Regardless, this prevention plan is going to help your son maintain his mental health. I can't speak to the long term impact of  psychosis - but I would think that the short term impact of the scary experience of having a psychotic episode is motivation enough to do whatever it takes. There is no such thing as a safe psychotic episode.


How did your son's appointment go? I hope it went well Smiley Happy

Re: Son with Bipolar

Hi Coffeegirl

Thanks for your post. 

The first time my son was hospitalised with psychosis, it was distressing for me to see him like that. He kept repeating the same thing over and over, in an unnatural voice... was unable to prepare food or make a cup of tea...was falling to the ground and speaking in tongues. I was so frightened that he would not recover. But he did.

He remembered everything afterwards, but said that he had felt wonderful and knew what was going on the whole time. 

The second time, he was speaking in word-salad and over-explaining in an agitated fashion, lurching about and shouting. In the car I was frightened of having an accident, and when we got out I feared he might throw himself in front of traffic, as he was so disinhibited.

Again, he did recover, and remembers everything, but says at no time did he feel ill at all...that he knew what was going on, was perfectly safe and there was no need for any one to worry.

So although the psychosis was distressing and frightening for me, it wasn't for him. He has no fear of it. He was actually enjoying it, even though it certainly didn't come across that way.

So theoretically, if psychosis is something that comes and goes...and if I was able to put up him behaving like that at times...and brought him food and looked after him til it passed...then, that might be one way of dealing with it, instead of using ongoing medication, especially if the medication has bad side-effects for him. However, if active psychosis does cause brain damage, or if there is a risk that he won't recover as well as he has so far, then that would be a less satisfactory option.

As I said, this is just theoretical. I suspect that theory goes out the window when psychosis re-appears: the natural reaction in a parent seems to be distress and concern. There is also no way to guarantee he wouldn't leave the house...and other peolple would be frightened/ irritated and violence could erupt. Also, what I found probably more challenging than the psychotic crisis each time ...was his recovery time in hospital...just waiting and hoping for him to recover, feeling frustrated because I couldn't act, only wait and hope. I strongly suspect it was the medication, more than anything else, which brought about the recovery each time. Perhaps without it the psychosis would be ongoing. 

Anyway, I'm not sure if you can make any sense of this? I am just feeling my way... I really do appreciate your responses.

His visit with the psychologist seemed to go well. The psychologist said he is not depressed or anxious in any way and is not showing any signs of schizophrenia. He said it may be Bipolar 3, which doesn't include depression...or possibly it was just  a one-off period of illness ( I get the feeling the psychiatrists are pretty sure it wasn't a one-off, and I tend to agree). He recomended my son keep a journal, noting down any symptoms he notices, and the date, which I think is a good idea. He's also happy to teach him a bit of meditation, which I'm sure would also be beneficial. My son is happy enough to go along with all this. He's very co-operative actually. He doesn't view himself as having been sick at all and is not concerned and regrets nothing, he actually feels the experience has been a positive one. He doesn't think he needs the medication or the psychologist but he's co-operating because he knows that I'm concerned and that his Dad and brother and psychiatrists are concerned.

Anyway, thanks again and cheers,



Re: Son with Bipolar

How's things going with your son and also yourself? Hope things stabilising for you both. J

Re: Son with Bipolar

Hi Jacob

Thanks for asking! Things are going very well for both of us at the moment thankfully. My son is taking his medication pretty much without complaint now, and seems very stable. He has had a bit of weight gain, but not enough to be concerned about yet. I'm dieting with him, we have both cut out bread, and I encourage him to exercise. We have put our names down to do cherry picking together locally for 3 weeks in January...and if he keeps this stable he will soon be able to start driving again and go for his P's.

I asked the psychiatrist the questions I was asking on here. He basically told me that my sons diagnosis is Bipolar 1. He has had mania but no depression....and if he stays on the medication for a year he MAY NEVER have another episode. This is such good news really. He also agreed that my son is doing very well and reduced the amount of medication by a quarter.  He referred to psychosis as being damaging and I asked if he meant brain damage....and he said damage to mental functioning, which is virtually the same thing. He said that talking about recovery from psychosis in terms of statistics is not necessarily helpful in understanding the case of an individual, because everyone is so different. Basically I came out of there feeling very grateful that my son is doing so well, and very hopeful for the future. Even if the medication does turn out to have drawbacks, being on medication for one year doesn't seem TOO hard, when the benefits could be so great.

I have been reading some of the other threads on here and seeing what other people are struggling with has shown me how blessed we are to be going so well at present. 

I hope you are also going well! Thanks again, 



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