Being a Bipolar Parent

Today’s post is by another one of my favorite bloggers, Iggy, whose blog is Color Me Bipolar

Living with Bipolar Disorder is a pain in the ass. But add a family to that, and you have a whole different ball of wax to contend with.

I am a married mom of 4. When I was officially diagnosed, I had 3 children and in my early 30’s. I got hooked up with the wrong kind of doctor, the kind that likes to over-medicate you. So the first 2 – 3 years, I was a hot mess. I was basically bed-ridden. I missed school functions, I couldn’t make dinner, I couldn’t help with home work. I was pretty much useless.

being a bipolar parentEventually I got used to my medications and got to a point where I could function. Sadly, I was not stable. My kids were still getting an angry mom most of the time. And for that I still harbor a lot of guilt. While on medication, I got pregnant with my 4th child. One wonders what happens when you are pregnant and on medication; do you have to go off of it or can you stay on it? I was taken off of some, some were reduced, and the less harmful ones I stayed on. I am happy to say that my daughter was born happy and healthy. She is 9 now, and shows no sign of damage. In fact, she is in the gifted program for reading, and accelerated in math.

I finally ditched the bad doctor and found a good doctor. My two oldest know that I have Bipolar. My two youngest don’t know, but take advantage of the good days; when I am manic or hypo-manic. I make up silly songs, serenade them in grocery stores, and do fun stuff. When I have my down days, they provide me with the sympathy I crave and take care of me by behaving or just being there.

My husband plays a large role in my care. In the beginning years, he was the parent. Picking up all the slack, while still holding down a 40 hour work week. Taking me to my doc appointments, picking up my meds. That means the world to me. Because when you are down, you really have no idea how you are going to live your life when you have kids to take care of, but are completely unable to care for yourself, let alone 4 kids!

Being a parent when you have bipolar is difficult to say the least. You really need to have either a great partner, or find the strength within yourself to push through the day so you can make your children’s life as normal as possible. There is no instruction book on how to parent. And there is certainly not one on how to parent with a mental illness. Two key factors to remember and live by: be kind to yourself and do your best. Love in unconditional. Your kids are going to love you no matter what.

8 comments on Being a Bipolar Parent

  1. What great (and true) lines: “…be kind to yourself and do your best. Love is unconditional.
    Your kids are going to love you no matter what.”

    My girls tell me they love me every day, even after we have nasty “tween” arguments, and I never take their “I love you’s” for granted.

    I went into my pregnancy having no idea it would trigger postpartum bipolar (bipolar, postpartum onset) and how I wish I knew I’d have it because I could have done so many things diferently. When my girls ask me if they’ll “get” bp, at least I can reassure them that since their dad and I know about how to live with it and manage it, we’ll be there for them with our love and support no matter what.

    Thanks for writing this post, and have a wonderful holiday with your beautiful family!

  2. Iggy, it makes me happy that you have a loving, caring family to support you. I do too. From support groups and reading blogs, I’m always surprised how many do not. I’m sure that being open and honest with your family helps. I’m certain you’re as grateful as I am.

    1. I am very lucky and I thank the universe that I got so lucky. I have a few friends that suffer from bipolar and have no support system at all. It is very disheartening, so I try to provide as much support as I can to them. That is what we should do, pay it forward.

  3. Parenting with Bipolar disorder is not easy, you are a superhero! I love your motto to be kind to yourself and do your best. It sounds so simple, but sometimes that’s not so easy. And you’re right, kids don’t need perfection, they need to be loved!

    1. I wouldn’t call myself a superhero, but I thank you for the sentiment. 🙂 Being kind to myself is a lesson that was very hard for me to learn, but I’m glad I learned it. Sometimes I forget!

  4. my then 17 y/o daughter (a year ago) and i had an argument which i don’t remember as i was psychotic and manic. since then she has not spoken to me. it is indeed true that parenting while bipolar is much more challenging. thanks for pointing out the challenges we face as parents.

  5. Thanks for this post. I think all mum’s have it tough. I’m a single mum but I have support from my mum. Sometimes I feel jealous of mothers whose partner has stuck by them in the face of bp. But I long for something I never had if I’m honest. We all have challenges – and Gracie is my gift and blessing. She gives me purpose. Of course it can be tough. But I think you’re right Bradley you’ve got to find your people. Maybe I should join book club this year?

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