Bipolar Disorder and Motherhood
Getting back in touch with my daughter and talking with her
almost every night for many hours has been wonderful. However it has put me in
touch more than ever on how I have hurt her in her life as she grew up.
No, I never abused her or anything close to that. I tried to be the best mother
I could possibly be. But you know what? That is very hard to do when you are
very ill, depressed, confused, disabled, raging, manic, etc.
She brought back memories not to hurt me but to help me to understand what she
has been through and she says she forgives me. Most of what she says I have
unconsciously buried but when she brings it up, I remember.
However, there is one terrible thing that I still do not remember that she
swears I did. Shortly after she moved in with her father at age 11, I remembered
that I couldn't get out of bed for 2 weeks and that I was severely traumatized
by this event. Looking back I think she made the right move and I tell her that
today. Anyway, she tells me that on the phone during that time, I told her that
I didn't love her anymore. That was very hard for me just to type.
The person I am today could not have said that. The person I was then? Yes, I
could have said that and I believe my daughter that I did say that. In fact I
was on temporary disability from Children's Protective Service at that time. I
actually had to go back to work and investigate child abuse and take children
away from mother's arms.
My daughter has even watched me smash a large apartment window with my shoe and
watch the police come and talk with me.
I have told all of you parents to lose your guilt, to carry on and reminded you
that you did the best you could. I thought I had done that but here I am
today realizing I have hurt my daughter more than I thought.
For those of you with the bipolar disorder or the BPD for that matter who have
children, if you are not getting help, please get help now. Your illness is
affecting your children, your parents and your friends. No, you are not a bad
person. You just need help and I always advise meds first and then therapy.
You may be so ill that you do not have a clue as to how much
your illness is affecting those around you, and how badly you need help. It is
very common for people with these disorders to be in denial of their illness.
Imagine what that would do for a small child?
What would it hurt just to go and have a Dr. evaluate you?
If you have the help of parents, siblings, friends, etc., use their help to
watch your children while you are getting that help, etc.
Should you feel like a horrible human being? NO! Remember - you have a disorder
that you did not ask for, did not want, is not your fault however it is your
responsibility to get treatment.
My daughter also tells me that when she was young, she felt as if she was the
adult and I was the child. I knew enough about family systems at that time and I
remember trying to never let this happen.
Who is the adult in your house? Keep your child the child.
Are you a "yes, but" person? Yes, but I can't afford it."
"Yes, but there are no good doctors in this town." "Yes, but I
have tried all the meds and they don't work." "Yes, but I don't want
to take medications." "Yes, but there is nothing wrong with me."
"Yes, but I get too sleepy on those meds."etc. etc.
What is a "yes, but" person really saying??? "I am not going to
get treatment and I am not going to try hard enough."
If you want to be treated, you may have to save money, you may have to travel,
you may have to put up with side effects, you may have to talk to a therapist
you don't want to talk to. You may have to come out of denial. You might have to
admit that you have problems. You may have to get a babysitter. You may have to
get off the couch and get busy. You may have to get to work the most when you
are the most depressed. You may have to get out of a toxic relationship(s). You
may have to stop using illicit drugs. Etc.
Every time you are about to say "yes, but" turn it around and say
"Well, I have had horrible experiences with meds in my past but I am going
to give it my all again because I am worth saving and all meds are
Fight hard for your child.
This article may trigger adult children of those with the BP who were hurt as a
child. Many state that they did not feel loved by their mother.
What I tell these "adult children" is that it is
extremely difficult to help them understand just how disabling this illness can
be. I lived from crisis to crisis for many years and living that kind of life
(an unchosen life that I was seeking help for) keeps one very, very busy just
trying to keep alive, to keep your head from drowning.
If you have the disorder very severely, you are fighting even
more. When you are this busy you have little to no time to tell the people in
your life that you love them and yes, you do and are capable of love. At least I
know I am and I believe that people with BP do love. I think we feel emotions
more intensely as we do not have control over our emotions. That part in our
brain is "broken."
My ex-husband loves very deeply but if you did not know him you would never
think that he was even capable of love. Why? Because he does not show it in a
traditional way. You will not get hugs or be told many times that you are loved.
You will however have him working two jobs, putting food on the table, roof over
your head, etc. This is how he shows love. He is a very "male" and
physical person - hunting, fishing, etc.
"Adult children" may not have felt the love from their mother because
the mother was constantly ill. We need to look at these mothers for different
non traditional ways for expressions of love.
I may get a lot of flack on this. Please. Don't write me.
When you have a really bad case of the flu, do you remember how you go inward
because you are in a lot of pain? You aren't much aware of the external
environment as you were before you got the flu.
The BP is like having the flu 100 times. We feel so much
internal pain and we are constantly looking for ways to fight this pain. We are
very busy people. We have a full time job just fighting pain.
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Copyright © Patty Fleener, M.S.W. All