My friend’s mom is bipolar, and I was curious as to how it would be for someone who is bipolar to raise a family. I have heard that people who are bipolar have many manic-depression cycles, how can a person manage this and be emotionally supportive of their children at the same time?
I want to begin by saying I am bipolar and a single mom, so raising my family falls on my shoulders alone. However when I fall (and I do fall) I have a few supportive family members who are there to help me even if they don’t understand me completely.
Being bipolar in the first place is hard and comes with a lot of big responsibilities. There are doctor’s appointments you CAN’T miss, medicines you not only must take but you also must NOT run out of, and then there are the episodes that you must TRY to control. There is a battle lost before it begins, which brings us to the point at hand…… Bipolar with a family. The biggest responsibility of them all.
First you must learn to juggle. (What? What does a circus act have to do with bipolar?) Well, the better you are at juggling multiple responsibilities, the better your going to be at dealing with the pressures of raising a family while dealing with bipolar. It’s a matter of keeping it all from crashing to the ground around you. And believe me I’ve had my share of crashes.
I’ve had a mental breakdown before (resulting in the fact that I am unable to work anymore), lost everything and had to move in with my mother to help me take care of myself and my children. This happened about three and a half years ago when I was going thru a very hostile divorce and fell into a major depressive episode. But I climbed my way out, slowly but surely and I’m stronger today for it, with lessons learned and a new outlook and appreciation for life. In the middle of that depressive episode however my oldest daughter (7 yrs old at the time) 9yrs old now, was diagnosed with early onset bipolar disorder w/ psychotic tendencies, and has now also added, ADHD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), Major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. So not only am I managing MY bipolar and trying to raise my small family but I am trying to raise a mentally ill child as well.
Like I said it’s all about juggling. Do I drop the ball sometimes? Sure I do. I am only human. I do make mistakes. Like trying to work when I know I can’t, big mistake. I was unable to get out of bed for a few days. But like I said, I have a wonderful mother who, although she doesn’t fully understand why I am the way I am, she does except me the way I am and she is always there when I need her. It does get stressful in my house, seeing how me and my daughter are pretty much just alike already attitude wise and then throw the bipolar on top of that just adds fuel to the fire. But for the most part my two daughters and I have a great relationship. I’m very involved with both of their classes at school. I have good communication with both their teachers. Plus WE have great communication. We talk about anything and everything. There is nothing that we hold back, feelings, fears, hopes, dreams, disappointments, plans. I even discuss most decisions with them and get their input. I also listen to their opinion on things that involve them. We discuss things in my house like adults. I give them all the love and support they need (although on my “off” days sometimes I may seem distant) and they give me unconditional love. Most importantly I have taught them to be independent thinkers, to have a mind of their own. Also, I have taught them from a very young age to be independent women. My oldest daughter (9) can use a microwave, get stuff out of a refrigerator like drinks lunch meat, yogurt, fruit, & she can wash dishes, dress herself, take a shower, and take care of her sister in all the same ways. My youngest daughter (6) can get stuff out of the refrigerator, dress herself & take her own shower. I’ve taught my oldest daughter since she was just a baby how to take care of herself (even before I was diagnosed with bipolar) and her sister just has followed suit. Because I want them to be independent women who don’t have to rely on anyone else, plus it helps me being a single parent and now with the Bipolar and not always being top of my game. On my “off” days it helps knowing that they can somewhat take care of themselves with just a little guidance from me.
It isn’t easy raising a family with Bipolar. It is literally a new challenge every day. There is a surprise around every corner, especially when, not only are you bipolar but you also have a bipolar child. It is one big Roller Coaster ride sometimes. Sometimes it makes you sick at your stomach, sometimes it’s so fun it takes your breath away, but more than anything I wouldn’t miss it for the world.