I am a Parent & I am Bi-polar!

As with Alcoholics, children of Bipolar parents are at a great risk. The children are not exposed to a consistent emotional environment. There is also a greater risk of blaming the children for the disorder, putting the children into a guilt trip. We tend to be over-protective and yet at the same time unable to bond with them. For a parent it can be brutal as we distant ourselves from the child and at the same time know we are doing it. Being a BP parent, we may fail at providing an example of good parenting so as the child becomes an adult, he/she doesn’t have the tools to be a good parent themselves. All of this negative affect is generally only when the parent is not in treatment. If in recovery for Bipolar disorder and responding well to  treatment, the parent can be a good parent. If the bipolar parent is in a marriage/relationship with his/her partner, there can be a good balance.

When is it time to tell the children? If the recovery is in a good phase and the children are old enough, 10-12 is a good age, we can tell them about our disorder. I have talked to all three of my sons. Unfortunately, it was to late for my oldest son who is now 24 doesn’t talk to me. I was
not there for him during the “important” teenage years. I have been able to salvage the  relationships with the younger two.

Forgiveness is what it is all about for me. I have forgiven myself and so have 2 of my sons. Today I live a normal life as a parent. But I have worked hard to get here, but it is attainable! Medicine, therapy and a great support group and network has allowed me a second chance at
parenthood!

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Andrew is a DBSA Support Group Director for a Long Island NY chapter. He runs two groups for Mood disorder Sufferers and their families. He is also an administrator for a Facebook group for BP Disorder called Rockin the Bipolar coaster. He is 51, with 3 children. He was diagnosed Bipolar, when in his early 30’s. He also suffers from Paranoia personality Disorder and is a recovering crack and opiate (or simply drug) addict.

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7 thoughts on “I am a Parent & I am Bi-polar!

  1. I enjoyed your information and shared it with my daughter she just turned 13 and thinks she knows it all! Thank you for sharing your stories it helps to know your not alone! 🙂 I have major depressive disorder with high anxiety and panic attacks. just got out of hospital had nervous breakdown and had to get meds changed and increased for the hundredth time. trying to get use to them and hope they work! I have been manic for almost a whole month! I have been praying everyday for me and my family!

  2. YOur comments will help my good friend understand her 33 year old grandson who has just recently been diagnosed with BPD. He is a single father to a 4 yr old son. This family has seen much of the fall out from the illness, but are just coming to an understanding of the organic nature of it. The hope for a future relationship with your oldest son lies in the knowledge and understanding he should strive to gain as he matures. As you know, there is a chance that he could inherit BPD so he should be encouraged to learn all that he can. In my case, understanding and compassion have been the keys to improved relationships. I admire your activism and fortitude, Andrew. Your sons should be proud that you are coping so well with such a difficult illness.

  3. I’m not a parent but I have had to explain to kids that i care about bipolar,it is difficult to grasp. I think being open early as possible is the best thing.

  4. Thank you for the kind words. My oldest son is holding a grudge. The problem I had was my dad was never around for me when i was growing up. But his excuse was not drugs or BPD, he was a doctor and starting his practice. Worked 14 hour days. Never took me to a ball game or even played catch. But he did show show me his stamp collection and take me sailing both of which I had no interest in. i did the same thing to my oldest son, ignored him and only involved him in things that interested me……I am working on him, he will text me and call me when he needs something like money or girl advice!

  5. I agree, i did sit down with my youngest about 2 years ago (he was 11 then) and explained to him about all of my outbursts and manic behavior. But they dont fully understand at that age what “manic” is. He was more relieved that I actually spoke to him!

  6. y shouldn´t you try to explain earlier 10-12 seems a bit long… my children are 2 and 4, and have already been around for many of my depressed episodes, seen me locked up in a hospital… I tell them i don´t feel the way i should, i cuz i should be happy for having the best children in the world.. and that no matter how upset i get it´s not their or their mother´s fault.. it will pass and they know it, both of them the youngest one Matheo get´s a bit sensitive if i am leaving when he is around.. maybe he thinks I’m gonna go to the hospital every time, i dunno… But what i do know is how i should not go forward it´s to wait 19 years,, to tell them, then use the next 10 years to deny his diagnosis.. i have å high metabolism, revmatism, back pain, even cancer have been one of his excuses, now after my last breakdown i don´t even talk to him… since his action´s affect me whether it´s a positive or negative, and that is because i do love him… but i can´t have someone that dishonest in my life, get it? it´s those broken dreams or promises of the past or your denial, but take your time, be honest and take your time. don´t force him to accept you again, don´t be condescending when it comes to his problems, since it actually there the resentment comes from.. if it´s addiction, emotional or physical there are some issues that need´s tending..

  7. Thank you for posting this: I was diagnosed with BPD three years ago and now find myself in a healthy realtionship with someone I care deeply about. She knows about my illness and assures me that I would make a good father in spite of everything. It goes without saying of course that I still have some fears.

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