I see that many of you still experience rages – isn’t the medication supposed to make them go away?

My son is 6 and diagnosed with mood disorders. We just started medication (risperdal) and things have been SO much better, but last night my son had a rage that turned into depression and remorse. We all felt so bad for him. I see that many of you still experience rages – isn’t the medication supposed to make them go away? I’m very worried that when he gets older these will become so dangerous for everyone in the family and my house will be trashed. I don’t know how to handle him when he’s in a rage, but I just want to keep everyone safe. Do continuing rages mean we haven’t found the right medication yet? Or is this just a fact of life with bipolar? I feel like I can handle anything that comes my way, but not these terrible rages!

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So I had a terribly rough day this past Sunday. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake this ridiculous depression. I had absolutely no reason for it. Life is good. I was spending the day alone with my husband. He was super supportive. And I religiously take my medications… But I was seriously depressed. On the verge of tears even. All for no reason.

This is how it is to live with bipolar disorder. I know I’m on the right meds because 95% of the time I’m stable. But unfortunately there is the sneaky little 5% that creeps up and washes over me. It’s like I’m standing in a shower of depression and I can’t figure out how to turn the dang thing off. I want to. My mind tells me my feelings are irrational. But I’m stuck. So I floated through the day inĀ  a fog of sadness, but I got out. I went to the store, I went out to eat, I spent time with my husband. We talked about how I felt and reassured me it would go away and by the end of the day, it had.

Rewind two years. ANY time a depression would creep up it would last weeks, sometimes months. I’d make irrational decisions. I’d sleep 18 hours a day. I’d cry for hours on end. And I wouldn’t talk to my husband about anything, let alone how I was feeling.

None of those things happened on Sunday. I still sunk into a depression, but I was able to work through it and let it pass while still going about my daily activities. (Of course that’s not always the case, but you definitely won’t catch me sleeping more than 8 hours a day. And anyone who can catch me crying gets a gold star cuz I refuse to do it!)

The same goes for raging.

We’ve FINALLY got PDog on a great little cocktail of meds. He’s finally able to sit still and choose his words. He makes rational choices and is even participating in school. (That in itself is miraculous!) But yesterday his sister made him angry and he blew up. He ripped up his paper and broke all the crayons within his reach. He plopped down on the ground and grabbed the chair, almost throwing it across the room. Luckily, since we’ve been dealing with this for so long, I”ve developed strategies to bring him out of a rage before it gets out of hand.

Then later that afternoon he was being punished. And by punished I mean I made him sit on the couch to “Think about his choices”. Next thing I know he’s screaming me, “You hate me!”, “You’re the meanest mom ever”, “I want to run away and I’m not going to bring you with me!”. All of this while tossing pillows and banging his head against the couch.

Now let’s rewind back about six months.

One afternoon, while he was home on Home Bound Schooling, he got angry and tossed an entire tote of crayons down the stairs followed by laundry basket, some books, a few toys. When I got upstairs he was crying and breathing heavily while throwing more things around and breaking some of his favorite toys. Next thing I know he’s punching himself. So I had to take him into a big open space in my room where there was nothing he could use to hurt himself. I had to hold him in my arms (and by hold I mean heavily restrain) to keep him from punching and kicking. He screamed and told me he wanted to die. He deserved to die. He even told me HOW he wanted to die. It took an hour to calm the storm.

Yesterday it took ten minutes. There was no self harm. No destruction of property (minus a few casualty crayons…I prefer that to a good hundred being chucked down my stairs). Not even a word about dying.

As you can see, you can’t stop the depression and you can’t stop the rages. But over time they get more tolerable and easier to manage. The medication does NOT take away our symptoms completely, it just helps us manage it with a clear head and rational choices.

I know that might sound discouraging. Maybe even depressing. But it’s not. There is nothing we can do to take our illness away. But we can do something to prevent it from getting out of hand. Even a diabetic can’t get through life with out episodes. And someone with heart disease still has to take meds and exercise, but they will ALWAYS be at risk of a heart attack. Some illnesses have no cure. Bipolar happens to be one of them. And that’s ok with me.

Would I prefer to not have bipolar? Absolutely. But that’s not something I have control over. What I do have control over is how I take care of myself. How I manage my symptoms as they come and go. And how I make myself aware that I’m always at risk of a depression or a manic episode, so I remain prepared. If you can do all these things for your son, as well as teach him how to do those things for himself, things WILL BE ok. I can’t promise that things will get better, but the more aware you are of what is happening, the less likely it is that they will get worse.

If ever you’d like tips on how to manage a rage/depression please let us know! It’s what we’re here for!!!

5 thoughts on “I see that many of you still experience rages – isn’t the medication supposed to make them go away?

  1. Marybeth, I think having tips on handling rages/depression is so important, you should consider adding a tab entitled “Helpful Tips”!

  2. Nina, thank you so much for the suggestion!!! I’ll see what I can put together. Maybe I will just do a follow up post to this and then put it in the FAQ section. Do you think that would work? (I love other people’s suggestions, it let’s me know how I can improve the site. So thank you so much for mentioning it.)

  3. What an awesome answer! I have bipolar II, so I haven’t had rage issues. But, with the little guy, that must be so tough! However, sounds like you’re doing all the right things. He’s made so much progress in such a short time! He’s very lucky. Great job Marybeth! Again!

  4. Excellent post…helps me understand childhood rages better. Now I have a question for you. There are times when I get EXTREMELY angry! I start stomping around house, throwing things, slamming dishes as I try to put them away (breaking some in process), scream & yell at inanimate objects….toaster, TV,refrigerator the shower…etc calling them stupid and bleep bleep blipitytibleep bleep….you get the picture. Sometimes there’s a trigger, sometimes not. Is this adult rage or am I just pissed off?
    Thanks =]

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