Being a Bipolar mother.
Posted by bipolarsoulblog
14th May 2016

Parenting is a charming, hard, uproarious, absurd and hugely rewarding experience. Some days sparkle, others leave you feeling both physically and emotionally drained and in need of a crate of cheap wine. Some days my daughter and I go exploring all that the coast has to offer, picking flowers and looking for wildlife. We do craft that always turns out hilariously wrong, we paint sea shells and make our own picture books. On other days we stay in our pyjamas and I put on a movie for an hours peace, we play on the Wii U or do a jigsaw; the less I can get away with doing on those days the better. Some nights I'll cook an extravagant, healthy dinner and we'll dine alfresco, other nights we'll order in a pizza and sit in front of the TV scoffing our faces with delicious calories. I don't believe this pattern of parenting is strictly unique to bipolar parents by any stretch of the imagination, this is generally just what nurturing a child is all about. Of course, you get the super parents whose children only ever eat kale and never watch TV, and certainly never pretend to be tigers and eat mud whilst only answering you in roars. And that's great for them, really, I'm at all not envious.. But on the whole I do think parenthood is basically swings and roundabouts, and choosing your battles wisely.

So where does mental health fit in to this? Well first of all, my daughter believes I currently have what must be the worlds longest chest infection and that's why I've not been at work. So fundamentally, I'm lying to my daughter, going against the one thing I try to instill in her above all else; honesty. Of course, I'm doing it to protect her, she is only 6 years old. Although undoubtedly wise well beyond her years, with this comes great empathy on her part; she has the kindest soul and knowing that her mothers mind is unwell without having the maturity or capacity to truly understand it at 6 years old would crush her. I have no idea when I will eventually tell her, if at all. In years to come, this whole journey may be irrelevant to our relationship and pass on only anxiety, or it may not. Which in itself leads on to the element.

Perturbation, on my part. Bipolar is hereditary. As she grows, I would be devastated for depression to dampen her maverick personality, her free spirit that so desperately seeks adventure. She is the light of my life, her thirst for knowledge and her vivacity and love for the every day is not only enchanting but inspiring. She speaks with such animation and thought, I could get lost in listening to her chatter for hours on end. Despite this, through my own journey I now know that treatment is not only possible, but successful. The chance that she has for developing Bipolar is small, around 10%. Yet this is what originally sparked my interest in writing this blog, about being open. If she were to have any mental illness, I would at least hope for it to exist a more accepting and understanding world. Speaking openly is difficult. Yet I would shout my illness from the rooftops to anyone who would listen if it were to teach my daughter mental health is nothing to be ashamed of.

Lastly, the day to day of being a single mother with bipolar. I can't say it varies greatly from my original description above. Perhaps the highs are higher, which to my daughter is nothing short of fantastic; I'm more energetic, fluid with money and full of unfunny jokes. The depression, which lasts so much longer, can be inauspicious. It's hard going. Yet I'd lived with it for so long, as if it were an old, unwanted friend, I'd learned to simply disregard it and carry on. Of course, there has been times where the mask has slipped and I've unnecessarily lost my shit over something unimportant, but what parent hasn't. My biggest regret is allowing my numbness to go on for so long. I feel as though I should have got help sooner, so I could appreciate life with my daughter without simply going through the motions from an earlier age. I have obviously always loved her unconditionally, but depression is the demon that purloins your feelings and stows them away in to a seemingly ineradicable box under lock and key. I've been exceptionally lucky with the support from my family with my daughter and just about every other aspect of my life, without them any hope of recovery would have been near-impossible. I know there are people out there struggling without a support system, with no one to tell them to go and seek help, but you must. Even if medication isn't for you, there are so many therapies and lifestyle changes that can be made to increase your chance at happiness. Everyone deserves that shot. And you can be a fantastic parent and a great role model, with or without a mental illness.

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