I am a woman, I am a daughter, I am a sister, a mother and a sufferer of Bipolar disorder.
My children are my everything, in my darkest hours they are my only reason for pushing through. Without doubt, they are the reason I am still breathing; I’d be nothing without them.
Of course that doesn’t mean it is easy; parenting is never easy, no matter who you are you will make mistakes… I love my children and I try really hard to do what is best for them but I get it wrong a lot, as my own parents did, as we all do…
I never wanted to be that person, the sick mother, the mother who who needs more parenting than the children do, whose children are essentially carers – but here I am in that very position, at least some of the time.
One of the most wondrous things about children is their ability to discern and react to the emotions of others, we all do it but children just seem that bit more in tune to the world around them; imagine then, that you live with someone with Bipolar disorder, a person whose moods move with the rising and the setting of the sun – every time you wake up your mother is a different person, with a different set of expectations, needs and wants – a whole different set of capabilities. The promises of yesterdays mother mean nothing if she was in a high mood and is now in a low… They feel what I feel, they are stuck on this rollercoaster with me. All of the crazy, manic plans that I make affect them when they don’t come to fruition; is this the way my children will look back on life? A series of unmet promises? A childhood of too much responsibility because mum couldn’t cope… I am terrified that my children will grow to hate me, to resent the pressures that they have been given undeservedly… I wonder if I am ruining their lives, I wonder if I am doing all I can do for them.
My daughter has such a massive personality, she is loud and confident – sassy and stylish, she knows her own mind and strives for what she thinks is right – her personality is so huge that it often shrouds my own and so she takes over a lot (in an attempt to help me), she speaks for me, she organises for me – more often that not I will speak up and tell her that it is not her place to speak for me and I will then force myself to be the responsible one but sometimes, at my weakest, I let it happen.
My son is also very confident but in a much quieter way, he is a very laid back little man and is quite happy to let things just happen and so I don’t feel as though I put so much responsibility on his shoulders. But still they both see me at the worst of both of my moods. How can they, as children, understand these illogical shifts in mood – what if they think it is their fault?
Bipolar disorder and children are so similar – unpredictable, inconsistent, full of highs and lows – both can be rewarding at times and painfully harrowing in others, both need managed carefully.
I worry constantly about what my illness does to my children… but this is the only life I can offer them and I suppose the best I can do for them is keep trying, keep moving, keep breathing…,