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Tre Herzog

from Bothell, WA

My youngest child was different from birth. Where my older son slept through the night by six weeks old, my daughter had constant sleep issues. My son could sit and listen to a whole story, my daughter had to move around during story time. The older she got, the more wired she became. She had nightmares, horrible anxiety and difficulty learning. By the time she was in second grade, it was obvious there was something severely wrong.

She was diagnosed with ADHD and treated with a stimulant. Instead of getting better, she got worse. Within three months, her weight dropped from 65 lbs to 54 lbs, she had even more trouble sleeping. She began having panic attacks and severe paranoia. Her treating pediatrician then started her on different antidepressants. One made her physically violent, the next one made her severely depressed.

I started looking for answers. A call to my youngest sister-in-law pointed me in a new direction. She was taking psychology for her teaching degree and they had been talking about childhood onset. During the class, they went over the symptoms and she thought of Trysta. I started researching information and took her to a diagnostic psychologist. He diagnosed her with bipolar, ADHD and anxiety. Two months later, she saw her first psychiatrist who added panic and ODD to her diagnostic list.

That was four-and-a-half years ago. Today, Trysta is 13. She takes five medications to control her symptoms and allow her to function as "normally" as possible. Not only does she deal with the psychiatric issues, but through more testing we discovered that she also has multiple learning challenges. Don't let that fool you. This is one intelligent child. She loves school, even though she struggles. Math and science are her favorite classes. She loves her friends and animals. She participates in a special after school program for at-risk girls which focusses on teaching them about science, math, technology and engineering; she likes knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, gymnastics, soccer and many other activities.

She still has her moments. Stress can throw her into depression, but she has a lot of support and gets through it. I don't know how long this stability will last, but we enjoy every day its here.

Looking back, what could have been done at the time to improve the situation? Treatment, medication, a different approach, or understanding from others around you?

Looking back, I wish I had known about getting true help. Most parents don't know about "Child Find", a part of the IDEA law that requires schools to evaluate children as young as three years old for possible disabilities. Had I known that it was possible for kids to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder and been aware of the symptoms, I would never have allowed a trial of stimulant medications until she had been thoroughly evaluated. Knowing family history would also have been helpful. Both sides of our family trees are riddled with different psychiatric disorders, drug and alcohol abuse. Hindsight is always 20/20.

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