How is it for someone who is bipolar to raise a family?

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.

8 thoughts on “How is it for someone who is bipolar to raise a family?

  1. I truly relate to this post on SO many levels… as someone who was raised by a Mom who had depression during my younger years and manic episodes/psychosis during my adult years and also, as the Mom of an adult daughter who struggles daily with BPD. My daughter is great parent to her 16 year old son, who has also been diagnosed with BPD but it is a daily challenge for her to manage her own illness and that of her son. The emotions that most parents feel with regard to their children are often much more intense in a parent who has BPD. The anxiety that the average parent might feel can get out of control in those with BPD and can affect their sleep, etc. But then, the joyous times can also be greater! My daughter and her son have a bond that is, in many ways, enviable. They, too, talk about everything…listen to music together, enjoy “adventures” together, etc. But when they are at odds, it can be distressing. When her manic energy irritates and overloads his sensory system, things can get noisy, especially with regard to homnework, chores, etc. Or, when he is somewhat manic and non-stop chatting, but she needs to rest and try to reduce anxiety…well, that can be difficult as well. Since she lives with us, my daughter also suffers a lot of anxiety when she feels that she and her son are a “burden.” I have great compassion for my daughter, as I did for my mother. Thank goodness that the compassion helps me to get as much knowledge as possbile about everything related to BPD. That way, I can offer support when needed rather than just be another obstacle in life. Of couse, my daughter sometimes views my support AS another obstacle. lol! But that is another story. My daughter is an amazing “warrior-woman” who has waged a life long struggle with an illness she didn’t ask for. She never complains about the injustice of having to deal with an affliction that really isn’t visible to most people. She tries to find joy in each day and to learn from mistakes…what better example could one want in a parent?

  2. Wow Angel, youre a great mom! I dont think with my bipolar I was cut out for momhood,even though the door hasn’t been closed completely yet. THere is always adoption. Great post!

  3. Thank you so much for giving honest feedback to the question. Some people think that since you are diagnosed with any type of disorder, it is hard to raise a family. It is difficult to raise a family when you are considered “normal”!!! That is why family support is always a good thing to have, and you are lucky that your family is there to help out. It’s not a bad thing to ask for help when you need it. It was so refreshing to also see that you admit to falling apart sometimes. Everyone has their moments of losing it, but do not like to admit it. There are times when I know I need to walk away, but that doesn’t stop me from coming back. Best of luck to you and your family and thanks again for your point of view feedback.

  4. Thank you so much for the post! It’s very helpful to learn about Bipolar Disorder from someone who has the disorder as opposed to reading about it in a textbook. You provide so much encouragement to those who might be struggling in the same types of situations. I especially liked to hear that you keep the communication lines open between you and your daughters. I think that’s so important, especially as they get older. I’m also glad to hear that you are instilling positive ideas of independence in your children. Keep up the good work! Thank you for the post!

  5. Thank you for this post! It is an example of a real life situation that people have to deal with everyday. It is great to get a view of what it is like to go through raising a family, which is a challenge to anyone. I am very impressed with your resilience and continuous effort to keep moving forward and raising strong children. I am sure that having children is possibly the biggest challenge that one can take on. I like that you are raising your children to be independent and do things for themselves. That is so great! Thank you for sharing!

  6. There is an old saying “It takes a village to raise a child”. Im not saying You truly need a village these days, but I do believe that ever member of even the extended family plays a key role in the raising of a child.

  7. Thanks for your insight! It’s really great to get a parents perspective. As a first time father I am getting to understand the sressfulness of parenthood. Putting my child first has become a priority. I can also relate to how that time alone is so valuable. However I can’t imagine what comes along with a child having bipolar it continues to amaze me the stories I hear from parents with children who have disabilities. As a parent I feel like I would be helpless and lost. It is encouraging to hear stories like these and I admire you greatly for keeping up the fight and living your lives to the fullest.

  8. “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?”…. YOU CANT, DONT HAVE A FAMILY YOUR NOT STABLE ENOUGH, ITS SELFISH BEYOND BELIF, YOUL PUT YOUR CHILDREN THROUGH HELL ON EARTH AND THEY WILL HATE YOU OR IT. YOU WILL BE A MASSIVE BURDEN ON YOUR FAMILY, AND YOUL CAUSE THEM MASSIVE STRESS, AND THEY WILL HATE YOU FOR IT.

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