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To My Girls, From Your Mommy Who Is Struggling With Illness

My sweet girls,

I wrote this while in the hospital a few weeks ago, but I am posting this later, now that I am back home again.

I am so sorry I had to leave again. At least, this time, it’s only for a few days – I hope (note: it lasted quite a few weeks on and off between mid-May and the end of June). I know it isn’t easy for you when Mommy has to leave like this, even though we try to explain the best we can. We know you try to understand the best you can at the tender ages of 9 and 6.5, but it’s a complicated concept for little girls like you.


I really wish I could do better and be better for you, that I could make it all better. Stop all the ups and downs, backs and forths. Be normal – for your sakes. You don’t deserve this. You don’t deserve my mood swings, my temper, my stress…especially when we try to change my medication to counter unwanted side effects. And when I’m stable on the rights meds, you don’t deserve those side effects, like tiredness, drowsiness, low stamina and lack of concentration. You don’t deserve a zombie early in the morning, or a comatose Mommy on the couch by 8:00 p.m., or a Mommy that sometimes has to say no to activities because she can’t muster the energy or concentration to do them on a particular day. We tried a few times to change my medication to make those side effects go away, but nothing else works for me, and I always end up in a terrible mood episode and in the hospital for weeks on ends. We’ll just have to make do with those side effects.

You deserve the moon, and so much more. I wish I could give you that. You deserve a normal, healthy family. A Mommy who has it all together, who does all her chores, who can keep the house at a minimum of cleanliness and uncluttered-ness, who bakes cookies, brings you out, has energy and is not anxious. Who has an infinite amount of spoons to spend, all day, every day. Not just 10 or 15, or even five sometimes. You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells every so often because I’m going through an episode, even a short one.

I feel so guilty sometimes, for all of this, and so much more. I feel like I come short as a mom, because of my illness.

But I love you so much. So, so much. Never forget that. Even when I screw up. Even when I need to leave for a bit. Even when my mom, Mamie, needs to take over for a while. It’s never your fault. It’s not. Never forget that, ever.

My hope is that, even though this illness can be genetic, you never have to battle with it yourselves. That would be ideal. But if you do, hopefully you will have tools and knowledge from the get-go that I didn’t have to help you out, and maybe they’ll even have better treatments out there by then too. And if you don’t get this, then like my psychologist told me the other day, there is still some positive that can arise from out of all of this. One day, you will understand all of this better, and you will develop coping tools and empathy you might otherwise not have had if you had never experienced all of this. That’s one thought to make you think right there, isn’t it? You will understand others better, be more patient, be more empathetic and know there’s always more to the story that what appears on the outside. That’s definitely positive, and I hope you do gain that knowledge.

I love you. I love you.

Often, I wish I wouldn’t have to make you struggle. But I know you’ll be able to understand better and better as you get older, and things will start to make more sense to you. My treatment might get better too, as they discover new medication. I tried changing them twice so far, with disastrous results, but who knows what the future might bring.

As a family, we’ll get through this.

In the meantime, I am sorry for the pain I may be causing you…but I love you.

A version of this post originally appeared on Bipolar Mom.

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Thinkstock photo via Liderina.