Bipolar News

March 18, 2005

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Girl's mom thinks she left the area

St. Louis Post-Dispatch; 3/16/2005; TIM BRYANT; Of the Post-Dispatch

The mother of a 13-year-old Lincoln County girl missing since Thursday said she suspects her daughter has somehow left the area.

"My gut feeling is telling me she's not in the area," Shannon Tanner told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Without her medication for bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Bianca Piper becomes disoriented and may hallucinate, Tanner said.

Bianca normally takes medication twice daily, her mother added.

"I think if she was out of her familiar area, she wouldn't recognize where she was or know how to get back," Tanner said.

Bianca's father, David Piper, said he believes the girl is within 100 miles of her home west of Foley.

Piper, a truck driver from Fredericktown, Mo., and Tanner divorced in 1993.

About 200 searchers continued looking for Bianca Tuesday. Authorities planned to maintain the full-scale search for at least two more days despite finding no sign of Bianca. Investigators said they had no evidence of foul play.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, of Alexandria, Va., is featuring Bianca's disappearance on its Web site, www.missingkids.com. Anyone with information about Bianca may call the group's hot line at 1-800-843-5678 or the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department at 636-528-8546.

Two retired law enforcement officers who work for the center's investigative team are working on Bianca's case.

Bianca has brown eyes and curly brown hair. She is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 185 pounds. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, white tennis shoes with purple stripes and a gray hooded sweat shirt.

Tanner said Monday she regretted leaving the girl to walk home alone Thursday night in a family dispute over the dinner dishes. Bianca disappeared after Tanner drove her about a mile from their home on a gravel road and dropped her off with the hope that walking back would give her a chance to calm herself. Mental health counselors had suggested the tactic, Tanner said.

Bianca, an older sister, her mother and Tanner's boyfriend, Jim Felt, live in a small frame home situated among rolling hills and widely scattered residences.

Tanner said that Bianca, as a result of her mental disorders, works at a second-grade level. Bianca talks like a normal 13-year- old but lacks social skills needed for close friendships, her mother said.

"If she's not safe, I hope they find the person who did any harm to her," Felt said. "I love her, too."

(Copyright (c) 2005 The Post-Dispatch)

Moms battle the blues

The Record (Bergen County, NJ); 3/15/2005; TOM DAVIS

Months before my mother died, a psychologist asked my father what started her "downhill slide."

He thought for two seconds and came up with an answer. "I think it was when Thomas was born, 30 years ago," he said.

Right then, I felt this sense of guilt and uneasiness. Me? Was it my fault? "No, it wasn't you," my father assured me. "But maybe it was the trigger."

I'd heard this kind of story before. A seemingly stable mother loves her children, loves her husband. But she becomes depressed, self-loathing and unhappy - usually right after childbirth.

My mother suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder. But before I was born, I'm told, she was quite functional. Could postpartum depression have been what ultimately pushed her into a life of obsession and despair? We'll never know. But those who know something about the illness are frustrated that the public still hasn't g.phped how destabilizing postpartum depression can be.

Many times, it strikes people with no history of mental illness. But experts say postpartum depression can help unwrap or magnify whatever underlying disorders were there already. If left untreated, it can lead many on a path of self-destruction and public humiliation.

Acting Governor Codey recently nearly came to blows with a radio talk-show shock-jock who ridiculed Codey's wife, Mary Jo, for revealing her long struggle with postpartum depression.

The radio station, New Jersey 101.5, has since offered its "full support" to the statewide mental health awareness campaigns. But the station initially resisted, accusing the media of spinning "a sensationalized one-sided story to the public." Its initial response was typical of those who don't accept the fact that many women experience post-pregnancy physiological changes that alter the way they think and act.

This is what Suzanne O'Malley has discovered. She wrote a book that researched the Texas case of Andrea Yates, whose illness may have caused her to drown her five small children.

O'Malley says that as many as 20 percent of women suffer from postpartum depression or psychosis - the latter a more serious form that caused Yates to "break with reality" and commit murder, O'Malley said.

"She in all likelihood had an underlying diagnosis, which is bipolar disorder," said O'Malley, a member of the Harvard Medical School Program in Psychiatry and the Law. "She was misdiagnosed and then mismedicated" before the deaths.

O'Malley has committed years of research to the Yates case, and she's one of the few who has had direct communication with her. Her reporting was instrumental in getting a Texas appeals court to recently throw out Yates's convictions in three of her five children's drownings. Yates remains in jail while prosecutors seek a rehearing.

What she's discovered is something that's been long suspected, and sometimes ridiculed: Postpartum depression and psychosis may be the product of hormonal and chemical changes that take place with pregnancy. Brain scans apparently have shown differences in a postpartum brain from other brains, O'Malley said.

Besides showing the obvious signs of postpartum psychosis, Yates also had a history. After the birth of her fourth child, Yates attempted suicide. Medication seemed to ease the illness, but she tumbled into despair again after the birth of her fifth child.

"One of the things Andrea Yates wrote to me is, 'Don't say [in her book] it's like a dream. Say it's like a nightmare,'-" O'Malley said. "Those who have been depressed know what that feels like."

While many ridicule Yates for excuse-making, O'Malley credits Mary Jo Codey and others for putting their reputations on the line and bringing credibility to a subject that's difficult for many women and their families to reconcile.

"God bless her [Codey] for being honest about it. There are plenty of women who keep it to themselves," O'Malley said.

Unfortunately, my mother never felt compelled to talk about herself and her problems. So, in my family, we'll never know for sure.

Copyright 2005 Bergen Record Corp. All rights reserved.

Search Continues for 13-Year-Old Mo. Girl

AP Online; 3/15/2005

Dateline: FOLEY, Mo. Perplexed authorities said Tuesday they can't rule out foul play in the case of an emotionally troubled 13-year-old who vanished last week after her mother, saying she was following the advice of counselors, made the girl walk home to cool down.

Shannon Tanner has not seen her daughter, Bianca Nicole Piper, since she said she dropped the girl off about a mile from their home Thursday evening, gave her a flashlight and told her to walk home.

Bianca, who suffers from attention deficit and bipolar disorders and takes medication to help control mood swings and aggressive tendencies, had refused to do the dishes, Tanner said.

Tanner said mental health counselors had recommended she let Bianca walk off her anger. Bianca has been in counseling since she was 4.

"It was a bad choice on my part," a tearful Tanner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I wish now that I had told her that I love her."

"As the days go by, we realize that the hopes for a happy ending are dimming, but our searchers are keeping a positive outlook," said Lt. Richard Harrell with the Lincoln County sheriff's office.

Nothing so far in the investigation would suggest foul play, a kidnapping or a runaway, Harrell said Tuesday, adding, "we can't rule anything out." He said the family has been cleared and is not suspected of wrongdoing.

Tanner said she first tried the walking tactic the previous night, when Bianca became upset about doing her homework. The girl had come straight home. On Thursday, Tanner said she dropped her off a little farther away on the same route.

After seeing a green sport utility vehicle pass by, Tanner said she went back once to tell the girl not to take a ride from anyone. Then she drove home. When she did not return within the hour, Tanner retraced the route and then contacted the police.

"I was worried before then, but when it started getting dark and snowing, I got really scared," Tanner said.

The search has involved hundreds of people, and fliers have been circulated in several states and Canada.

Copyright 2005, AP News All Rights Reserved

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