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.
Eventually 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.