Being a Mom With Bipolar
“You are SO cool, mom. Like, I don’t even have words to explain how awesome you are.”
A week later, I’m still savoring this. My oldest daughter is ten, and she really believes I’m amazing. She gushes about my coolness, both to me and to her friends.
Yep, I still have a few more years before she comes to the conclusion that I am the stupidest, lamest, most boring person in the world and when she grows up she wants to be ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LIKE ME.
I remember that feeling all too well. Like my girls, I was raised by a mentally ill mother. To say that this made my childhood difficult would be a gross understatement. My mother still won’t admit she’s ill, and never got the help and treatment she needed. I spent so many years vowing I’d be nothing like her when I grew up. I would raise my children my own way, I would live a completely different life, and I would never repeat her mistakes.
Don’t misunderstand – I have a tremendous amount of respect for my mother for raising me on her own, keeping a roof over our heads, and putting food on the table (our family’s finances were predictably precarious most of the time). And despite her many years of illness and instability, I have plenty of good memories of camping trips, drive-in movies, weekend hikes and board games galore.
She was never neglectful. I had new school clothes and home cooked meals and presents on holidays and birthdays. I read books and played outside instead of playing video games or watching TV. And above all, she instilled in me a deep love of language, music, reading, and making beautiful things. This passion carried me through so many difficult years, and defined who I am today.
But still, I’ll always wish things had been different when I was young. Sadly, I don’t have a time machine. Like my mother before me, all I can do is give my children the best I have to offer. Just as I did 20 years ago, I still swear to do things differently.
For me that includes taking meds and seeing a psychiatrist and therapist. I eat well and try to exercise enough. I make sure I have time to relax and do the things I love, and I arrange my life in such a way that I don’t run into too many of my personal triggers on an average day. I have a wonderful partner who supports me and helps keep me grounded.