Storm at Sea Childhood Bipolar Disorder

This quilt has numerous pieces in many different shapes and sizes. The key to success is careful planning, exact cutting, attention to details, and above all, patience. When done correctly beauty and motion comes from seeming chaos.
Young Stephanie was definitely in chaos when she entered treatment. This 10 year old had been a good student, active in sports and school activities, and came from a supportive family. Yet lately she was off course. She had violent outbursts, complained about other children at school being mean and saying bad things about her all the time. Her moods fluctuated from being angry and full of rage to crying and wanting to die. She felt so unhappy about her life that she felt hopeless. Stephanie was suffering greatly from childhood bipolar disorder. She felt her life was in so many pieces and her moods were in so many shapes and sizes that she could never make anything go together! She was being tossed around in an angry sea of emotions. She needed help and quick. Stephanie was hospitalized so the doctors and therapists could begin some careful planning and so she could be in a safe haven until the doctors and therapists figured out how to calm the storm within her.

Bipolar Disorder is a biological and neurological disorder. Medication has to be meticulously administered and monitored. Symptoms come in different shapes and sizes and Stephanie and her team had to find out how to help her put the pieces in the proper order. Stephanie had to work very hard too, learning many coping skills, learning to stay healthy, and learning about her illness. Everyone involved had to learn patience. Her family was active in her care and learning. They loved her and wanted her to come home but they had to be patient too.

After a couple of months all the hard work paid off. Stephanie was much better, her moods were under control with the right combination of medicine, therapy and coping skills.
Stephanie went home and loved her new healthy life. She knew so much more about herself and her illness. She continued to work with her doctors, therapists and family to keep the sea calm and beautiful.

One Simple Block

I took a class that taught one simple quilt block. I dutifully made a bunch of them as did the others in the class. Then the instructor showed numerous ways to put the blocks together to form different designs. It expanded my view and inspired me.

As a cognitive behavioral therapist there are specific techniques I teach clients all the time. But each person puts them to use in very different ways. Some clients rely on the cognitive techniques, such as cognitive restructuring, focusing on facts or using positive affirmations. Others concentrate on physical techniques such as deep breathing, exercise, or modifying diet. Still others work directly on changing specific behaviors, such as being able to stop pulling their hair, ride in an elevator, or speak up in class. The result is that all of them use the skills in a different order to create their own unique life design. It is inspiring to see!

Through this blog I’d like to share some inspiring stories that I’ve seen in my 30 plus years as a therapist. The names, gender and circumstances have been changed to protect confidentiality, but all the stories are true. I decided to connect the stories to my quilts, which tell stories too and allow me to give back to others just a bit of what I’ve received from my amazing, courageous and wonderful clients.