Teens with Bi-polar Disorder: Pay Attention to Their Bodies for Clues to Problems

Awareness of teens body

Becoming aware of your teens body is a very important parenting goal. Many times as our teen grow we assume that all is well with their health. We assume that they are eating properly, that they are taking care of their hygiene, that they are well "good kids".  However, if you are faced with a teen with bi-polar a very important step is to become aware of their body. The reason behind this is to keep a close eye on what type of behavior they are incurring when they are not in our site. You see over the years I have learned that individuals with bi-polar struggle with many aspects of living one being "respecting their body'. They take for granted their health, they think they are invincible and they truly believe "it won't happen to me".

I strongly urge parents to pay attention to the simplest things such as: when they have shorts/short sleeves on are there any unexplained bruises, cuts, burns, tattoos, these are things that I encourage you to watch. What I have been faced with is my teen daughter getting into teen relationships with boys that were man handling her. Boys who wanted sex, wanted phone sex and who wanted to control her every move. It seems that she has a tendency to allow her self to be manipulated which I find frustrating as she is a very good manipulator herself.  What I have learned over these years is that all they want is to be accepted, to be noticed, to fit in. From what my daughter has shared with me is that it is difficult because she can not understand her inner feelings, her decision making and even who she is. In her words "I'll do whatever just to fit in".

Cutting and Burning is something that I have not been directly exposed to with my loved ones.  However, she has had several friends that do cut and burn themselves and it is very difficult for me to comment on as I do not understand the hidden reason for behavior.  All I can suggest is that  if you see this get immediate help from a licensed professional.

Diet is another area that I recommend watching as my teen can go days without eating because she will be in her low spot for many hours and even days of sleeping. Then she will eat as if there is no tomorrow. However, when I get concerned is when I know she is self medicating with illegal drugs and has "the munchies". Self medicating is very dangerous and can bring on numerous "episodes" of in appropriate decision making and behavior.

My daughter attempts to explain to me that now a day's kids have tattoo's and piercings all over. I personally do not agree with this as I still am a firm believer that under the age of 18 they are not ready or capable to make appropriate decisions. I believe that as teens they have a tendency to want to "fit in" and "be cool".  In society today it is not easy for them to rationalize that the choices they make today can affect them for many years. This is something that as the parent/caregiver you have to stand firm on. You have to let them know that you are paying attention to these things. If they know you are watching then all we can hope and pray for is that we can deter them as long as possible.

After many years of working with counselors and psychiatrists, which I hold in the highest respect, they were never able to inform me thoroughly what I was going to be facing or how to handle it.  Every thing that I can share is something that I have personally experienced and personally found helpful over the years. I am not by all means attempting to state that I know more or that I have the answers, but I do have the ability to share with others what I have experience and that you are not alone in this journey.

If you start to see these things and they are not the norm in your family then they need to be addressed.  Do not look the other way to avoid conflict or further turmoil. The more you look a way the more they begin to believe that they can get away with. Yes, they are teens, Yes, they will make mistakes we know that as we did the same as teens.  However, if you are living with bi-polar then you know that it is not as simple as them growing out of it.  Let's face it as they get bigger it seems the problems get bigger. As they get older it seems the problems get older. As they attempt to pull away it seems they still land in our laps. So the overall job that we can do today is to be aware. Know our teens friends (acquantices) I call them as they change so often. Know their habits, interest, life-style and most importantly know their bodies. There is so much we can learn if we just pay attention to the simple thing as their body. Remember one thing when they were born we counted their toes and fingers. Now that they are older we need to know more than just the count.


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Posted on Feb 17, 2010
Ari Manes
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Posted on Feb 14, 2010