Mother and daughter enjoying the view on a lake.

Having Compassion for Myself as a Bipolar Mommy


Being a mom has its share of challenges. All of us have our own unique set of struggles depending on our circumstances. Well, this bipolar mama has a set of struggles for sure as well as a lengthy list of insecurities and worries that could probably wind around the block.

Experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety was probably the first nasty battle fought in this war of mine. I was fortunate I didn’t become psychotic and didn’t have to be hospitalized. Debilitating fear, pacing the house with dread, struggling to get out of bed and suicidal thoughts. These things make being a new mother even more of a tumultuous ride than the sleepless nights, milk stains and leaky diapers.

Fast forward to hypomanic times. Dancing around the house chasing the kids, having a blast doing anything and everything they want because I didn’t have a care in the world. Follow it up with the crash when they can’t get me out of bed to read a book to them and want to know what I was crying about.

I struggled to explain in “kid friendly” terms.

I disappeared to a hospital for a week with no obvious signs of illness. It was far away so the kids couldn’t visit, but they could call. I sounded fine, so why couldn’t I just come home? I told my oldest my brain doesn’t work right so I needed some medicine to fix it. Once it was fixed, I would be home. He seemed to understand.

Then, the unthinkable. Dad and the kids find me unconscious and the ambulance hauls me away. Another week in the hospital. The kids just know I was sick and I was at the hospital (adults know it as the psychiatric hospital) and they got to visit my bare room a few times. I got out on my youngest child’s birthday.

Good old-fashioned “mommy guilt” ain’t got nothing on what I’ve got.

Being in recovery helps me work on the guilt and shame. Compassion towards the self is important for mommies in general, but this bipolar mommy needs it in spades. Mistakes and missteps in parenting are exacerbated by my illness and will be handled and my kids will be OK. I just need to tell myself to breathe and learn from it all.

Even on my darkest days, I know my kids are always watching. And if they have to have a mom who has bipolar, at least they can have a mom who teaches them the meaning of strength and resiliency. They have one tough mama.

Follow this journey here.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Bipolar Disorder

little boy looking in a funhouse mirror

To the Person Who Said My Son 'Takes So Many Medications'

Sometimes, my son experiences tremors or other side effects from his medications. These can be debilitating to the point where he needs to come home and rest. Then, I’ll often hear the comment, “Well, it’s hard to tell which medication caused it. He takes so many medications.” This comment is not usually made with a sympathetic [...]
Large hole in an antique plaster wall.

What I Learned About Managing Bipolar Disorder After Kicking a Hole in My Wall

A couple of days after I bought new paint for my room, I kicked a hole right in the wall. I created what seemed to be a black hole in the purple (the color I picked out in seventh grade) wall next to my bed and the heel of my foot was covered in dusty [...]
Woman looking out sunny window in kitchen

How I'm Coming to Accept the Bipolar 2 Diagnosis I Never Expected to Have

“Hannah, I know you aren’t going to want to hear this. But given your symptoms, I’m almost positive you have bipolar 2.” I sat there, looking at the doctor, dumbfounded. No, no, that doesn’t seem right. No way. My mind was spinning, trying desperately to comprehend her words. In that moment, nothing seemed to make [...]
Happy woman at cafe using laptop

Going Back to School Wasn't Perfect, but I'm Still Here

Once I realized I had to take time off school because of my illness, I was adamant about going back right away. Fortunately, I found a program to help me get back to school and to support me when I got there. The program I found is called Fountain House’s College Re-Entry Program. It helped [...]