“What does a parent of a bipolar 23 yo do when she finds out that her child is writing checks from parent’s account and lying about it?”
That’s a tough one. Forging checks is a felony, and lying is just plain wrong. My answer would depend on your history with your child. You do not state whether there is any remorse or if this sort of behavior is typical. At some point a 23-year-old, with or without a mental illness, needs to take responsibility for their life and their actions. Having a mental illness does not give a person a green card to abuse, steal, lie, manipulate, and the like.
Aside from the obvious action of hiding your checkbook, it seems to me that you have two options.
One: You can try to reason with your child. Let him or her know that this is unacceptable, that the money must be paid back, and that future acts such as this will result in an arrest. Then FOLLOW THROUGH with your threats if your child’s actions don’t improve.
Two: You can turn the matter over to the police. If these sorts of things have occurred repeatedly, this may be your best and only option.
If your child is acting this way purely as a result of manic reckless behavior and he or she is not being treated, or is refusing treatment, then things could spiral downward pretty quickly. Criminal behavior could escalate to outside the family. Treatment intervention is probably necessary. Unfortunately, the fastest way into the mental health care system is through our justice system—often help is only provided once an arrest or a series of arrests occur. Sadder yet, our primary mental health provider in this country is our justice system. And they do a lousy job of it!
Having said that, I would try your best to get your child the help he or she needs without getting the police involved. If your child is in treatment, talk to the practitioner about what’s going on; maybe they can provide some guidance. I wish you the best with this sad situation.