Bipolar Boundaries

Our granddaughter now lives permanently with my husband and me, after our daughter’s death three years ago. She copes with bipolar disorder and ADHD. Bipolar disorder causes highs (mania) and lows (depression) in her moods. To keep on top of her disorder, I have charted her highs and lows for three years. Recently, she has been in a manic phase, which causes her to try to change or negotiate boundaries. She expressed a desire to have an eighth grade graduation party. While her grandfather and I were not opposed to a party, we just felt this was not the “big graduation!” We thought a low-key gathering for cake and ice cream was more appropriate for graduation from elementary school. But, as her mania escalated, boundaries got fuzzier for her. She invited twenty or so people for a party that did not yet exist. Did you ever try to “un-ring” a bell or “un-invite” an invite?

Because we found ourselves in an uncomfortable position, we let it pass and went ahead with her plans for a party. After all, what harm could be done by having a celebration and inviting people that were important to our granddaughter? While it meant a lot of extra work for me, that was not the real issue. The real issue was her lack of respect for boundaries. It is not pleasant to be on the recipient end of fallout from a lack of boundaries.

When we discussed her error in judgment, she seemed to think there should be no problem with scheduling a party without checking with the host and hostess.

I hoped she had learned something from the incident, but the day before the graduation ceremony, she announced to me that she had called her hairdresser and made an appointment to get her hair styled. WOW! Here was a 13-year-old acting as though she managed a bank account with limitless funds. The boundary lesson had definitely not stuck.

After, a heated discussion, we agreed that she would call the hairdresser to inquire about the cost of a styling and then count her allowance money to see if it covered the expense. If not, she would have to cancel the appointment. In any event, I was not willing to pay for an unapproved hair appointment! …another boundary issue.

As I wrote this blog, she came into my room with a rather insignificant question. I tried once more to set a boundary and asked her not to come back until the blog was written. She has been in here two more times, each time insisting that she was not bothering me.

HELP! If anyone has solutions for teaching boundaries to a teenager with bipolar disorder, I’d be interested in hearing them.

About dorothyruppert

Author of two books - God Placed Her in My Path - Lessons Learned From the Furnace of Bipolar Disorder -Sixty Days of Grace - God's Sufficiency for the Journey
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