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To My Little One, From Your Mother With Bipolar Disorder

To my little one,

Right now, you’re 9 years old. You’re starting to understand the world, starting to know about so many things. What you might not know is I have bipolar disorder. You’ve heard the word, heard me talking about it, but I know it’s hard to understand — even for adults.

What you do know is I get sad sometimes. Other times I bounce around the house having just you and me dance parties. You know sometimes I just don’t have the energy to cook, so we’ll order a pizza. Sometimes I don’t have the energy for anything and you’ve learned how to be independent, to entertain yourself with books and video games. Other times we’ll spend hours running around outside, or take on big art projects. You know that every night I have to take my medication to help me function.

What you don’t understand is how much I hate my moments of weakness. When you ask me to play and I can’t get off the couch, or when you want to go to an event and my anxiety is holding me back. I hate these moments when I’ve disappointed you. I want you to know I feel guilty about these moments. I want you to know it’s not that I don’t want to do these things, it’s that my illness is always going to be a shadow in my life. I want to give you everything, as most parents do. The difference is I have a disorder, in my brain, that prevents me from many of these things.

Being a mother with mental illness is hard. Though it’s a challenge I happily face, I know I’ll never be perfect. But I’ve come to accept my condition, I hope when you’re older you can find that acceptance too. That you won’t only remember the bad days, that you’ll cherish the good ones. And most importantly know none of it is your fault. It’s a disorder, not something I chose or want. Please learn about mental illness and educate those around you, and share your own experiences to help others.

I often worry you might have to deal with my mental illness in yourself. That I might have passed on my own battles that you’ll have to someday fight. If you do, I want you to know I will be your biggest ally. I try and will continue to try to be the best mother I can be for you. I hope in the future you can forgive the disappointments, learn what is healthy, live a stable and happy life and know I love you completely.

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Thinkstock photo via djedzura.