Non Compliant 19 yr old

My son is 19 years old and has been diagnosed by two different doctors as BP I disorder.  The most recent episode (or current) mixed moderate degree.  He is completely non-compliant.  If he starts meds, he stops taking them before they have a chance to work or when he’s feeling better.  He isn’t seeing anyone and continues to cycle through mania/agitation/depression.  He has stopped going to college, and loses jobs when he has them (although he lies to me about losing them).  He is extremely artistically talented, very, very intelligent (tested as a “genius”…) and amazingly funny and charming when he’s either well or manic.  How do I handle this situation.  His first dr. told me it was time to use “tough love” (i.e., if you don’t get help, get compliant, you’re out of my house), but I’m hesitant to do that when he’s ill.  He says he’d never hurt himself but not because he has any desire to live, just that he does realize that he has a great life and that he’s loved.  Any advice?  Thanks for your time.


I hear your worry as a Momma here.  It is so difficult having a child who has Bipolar Disorder.  I hope maybe I have a few ideas to help you.

I know this is difficult, but many Bipolar patients do not comply with taking their medications or keep going to therapy treatments either.  I used to do the same thing because I really hated the side effects of medications.  Plus, it’s not uncommon for Bipolar patients to like their manic high.  I know I do and I can certainly relate to that.  Of course, we know what happens after a high most times so there’s not much to look forward to.

One thing going in his direction is that he knows he is loved and that he feels his life is great.  That’s a step in the right direction.  Many Bipolar patients really struggle with not being suicidal or having suicidal ideation.  And I personally couldn’t do the tough love situation with my Bipolar child either.  I do have a child with this disease but he is eight.

Here are a few tips or pointers you may want to use to try and help him.

  • Love him unconditionally and make sure he knows it.
  • Contact his psychiatrist and see if there’s something else you can do.
  • Therapist?  Contact him/her, too.
  • Bring up the subject casually and tell him you are worried.
  • Will he tolerate a conversation about quality of life?
  • Encourage medication usage.
  • Encourage activities that will take his mind off of his problems.
  • Try and get him on Social Security Disability or Social Security Income.  This could help him immensely.  It sounds like he has enough history to warrant this.
  • It’s not uncommon for them to lie but never condone it and let him know you don’t like it.
  • Does he have a friend you can get to help him or talk with him?
  • Keep on keeping on.  Your persistence will pay off.

I hope these can help you.  I know that my husband has a lot of difficulty sometimes in dealing with my mood when it’s all over the place.  He has used some of these pointers to get him through the rough times.

I admire you Momma.  You are doing a good job trying to help.

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