Balancing Motherhood and Multiple Mental Illnesses

I’m lying in bed again, wide awake as my fiance and daughter snore beside me. Sleep is again elusive, so I get out of bed and pad down the stairs. In the kitchen, I drink cold water and stare out of the kitchen window. This night is familiar, and it takes me back to so many other nights before it.

As I stare out of the window, relishing in the quiet house, I remember how these nights usually ended. I glanced down at my hands, remembering how they ached from cleaning constantly. I could still feel the sting from the chemicals like it was yesterday. I could feel the soreness in my shoulder as I remembered pushing and pulling furniture into place.

And then, a glance at the garage door makes me remember how I would stand outside, watching the stars and dripping sweat from my latest nightmare. The night was always a chance to let my feelings out, knowing my son wouldn’t see how I was really feeling.

Now though, it’s different. These nights I stand in the kitchen with a cold cup of water are very different from how they used to be. I have a young daughter now, and I am much more stable than I used to be. Having children and two mental illnesses can be hard to handle.

My 9-year-old sleeps upstairs. My 8-month-old sleeps soundly, blissfully unaware of how I used to be. Parenting and struggling with my own diagnosis was hard. It was hard to fight my own symptoms while juggling life and trying to be the best parent I could be. I needed patience and understanding. I lacked those while I was unmedicated and newly diagnosed.

But now, it’s much different. I have a lot more tools in my toolbox. I am taking a medication that helps keep me in check. And while I will always go up and down on the rollercoaster that is bipolar disorder, I do not go as high or as low as I used to. The post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is manageable, too. I have medication that helps me sleep at night and therapy to keep the nightmares away.

But nothing is perfect. Stability is not perfect. I still have struggled when life gets too hard and sleep evades me. But looking at my children and knowing how life could be makes me grateful I have those tools to help me. Without those tools, I can’t imagine the kind of mom I would be. Those tools help me be a better version of myself.

A heavy sigh makes me turn around and walk back upstairs quietly. I slip into bed next to my daughter and snuggle close to her. I’ll need my sleep for the day ahead. This isn’t the perfect stable life I’d imagined I would have when I started taking medication, but its the stable life I’m glad to have.

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

Thinkstock photo via Liderina

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Bipolar Disorder

20 Surprising Physical Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Because bipolar disorder is considered a mental illness — most people focus on how mentally taxing the ups and downs of manic and depressive episodes can be. It may also be common for people to talk about the signs and symptoms, and not what it actually feels like to go through them. But the symptoms [...]
young woman wearing yellow shirt in front of blue wall

How My Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis Helped Me Come Out About My Sexuality

June for some may be considered the start of summer, but for others, June is also known as a special month signifying more than just sunshine and warm weather. Pride Month has just passed, and as a member of the LGBTQI community, it means something very special to me. A part of that reason is [...]
portrait of a woman.

To the One Recently Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder

I know it’s hard. I know how heavy it can feel, to be in a doctor’s office or a hospital and be handed a label that doesn’t yet make sense. It can change you somehow. Before you were just you, an individual of your own making — and now they have named you bipolar. Maybe the stigmas [...]
Male psychologist sitting next to his female patient and asking questions what seems to be the trouble, writing personal information necessary for filling in medical card, history case

5 Reasons Why I Stopped Going to Therapy for My Bipolar Disorder

I got my first hint that I might be ready to stop therapy when I realized how little I was going. Over the years I have scaled down from weekly sessions to biweekly. Then I noticed, I’d been going about once a month. I’d been forgetting appointments, showing up on the wrong day, oversleeping or [...]