Bipolar Disorder,  Healthy Lifestyle,  Mental Health,  Mom Life,  Outspoken

Being a Mom with Bipolar Disorder: The Diagnosis that Challenged and Changed Me Forever at 36-Years-Old

I initially hesitated to write this post – about being a mom with bipolar disorder – and have been stirring over it for months now.

I know that some of my family members & dearest friends are going to be reading this, which is a large part of my hesitation.

However, in order to fully come to terms with something in your life that has been (and will forever be) life-altering, I truly feel that you must face it head-on, even if that means sharing it despite your hesitation or fear of judgment from strangers, family members, friends, or anyone else in or outside of your life.

being a mom with bipolar disorder

Realization

I am a good mother. I am a good wife. I am a good daughter. I am a good sister. I am a good friend. I am a good teacher.

I have bipolar disorder.

I can be all of these other things and have bipolar disorder, simultaneously, and still know that I am a good person – despite my mental disorder.

Bipolar disorder is only one part of me; it is not all of me.

It has taken me 6 months to come to terms with all of this and to come to the realization that I can be all of these things together – and not just my mental disorder.

My Personal Story – Briefly

Though I will be writing a separate post detailing every single aspect of my personal story and journey with bipolar disorder, here are some current up-to-date facts about it:

  • I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder Rapid Cycling in September of 2020.
  • This was initially something I simply considered and thought of as “logical” because of the fact that a family member of mine has it as well, and did not surprise me when hearing the diagnosis.
  • The gravity of the diagnosis did not hit me until November of 2020 – and when it did, so began my most severe major depressive episode to date.
  • I was previously diagnosed with Depression at age 20, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at age 27, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at age 33.
  • It is thought, by my psychiatrist and therapist, that my Bipolar II Disorder is both a combination of PTSD as well as heredity.
  • It has taken 4 months to receive the right combination of medicines and dosages to be completely stable (although stability is used lightly here – because someone with Bipolar Disorder is never truly “forever stable“, yet they can be medicated to achieve the best possible stability within their disorder.)

Who I Am Writing this For

I am writing this post for women (specifically mothers) who have bipolar disorder (or, really, any mental disorder) and who feel as if they cannot be open and honest about it – with their partners, their parents, their siblings, their friends, their co-workers, and anyone else in their lives.

I am writing this so that maybe, just maybe, this one little blog post will reach one person in this world who can read it and then understand and know that it is ok to have a mental disorder and it is ok to be open about it, and that having a mental disorder does not make them a bad person – by any stretch of the imagination, whatsoever.

Having a mental disorder is not something that we need to feel ashamed of.

It is not a secret we need to hide from others nor keep inside of us.

What a Mental Disorder Really Is

Mental disorders are illnesses. They are health conditions. They are impairments. But they are exactly like any other illness, health condition, or impairment of the body; mental disorders simply derive from something inside of your brain – versus another organ within your body.

There is no difference between bipolar disorder and, say, diabetes. There is no difference between bipolar disorder and arthritis. There is no difference between bipolar disorder and heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, etc. These, and bipolar disorder, are all health conditions – and should be treated as such.

Being a Mom with Bipolar Disorder (Specifically Bipolar II Disorder Rapid Cycling)

What does being a mom with bipolar disorder mean?

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means time spent in the bathroom, with the door shut, crying my eyes out – sometimes for reasons known, sometimes for reasons unknown.

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means worrying whether or not my son will inherit this (often hereditary) disorder – and worrying how he will respond to me the day I explain my disorder to him.

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means worrying about the future, constantly. It also means worrying about the past, constantly.

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means questioning everything I do or say around others, especially around other moms:

  • “Am I acting normal?”
  • “Do I seem normal?”
  • “I am not normal.”
  • “Maybe I am acting normal.”
  • “Should I just tell them about why I may be acting oddly?”
  • “Am I even acting oddly?”
  • “Should I just act normal?”
  • “I don’t know how to act normal.”
  • “I don’t even know how to act.”

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means having comorbidity (two or more disorders or illnesses occurring in the same person). Thus, being a mom with bipolar disorder also means being a mom with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and phobias. (You can read about all of these mental disorders, and others, by heading here and searching for each of them in the search bar.)

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means having to wipe down my kitchen countertops every single time I enter the kitchen and every single time I exit the kitchen – no matter what (even if that means taking time away from my son), because that is one of the many ways in which my OCD manifests itself.

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means that I am so consumed with worries about the future (whether that means the near- or distant-future), that I very rarely can stay in – and enjoy – the present. Having a lively, happy, active, joyful, funny three-year-old makes my inability to enjoy the present feel like a dagger through the heart most days.

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means feeling ashamed of myself a lot of the time, and feeling ashamed of who I am in the relationship between my husband and I, and feeling ashamed of who I am as a mother (not to mention feeling ashamed of who I am as a daughter, sister, friend, etc.)

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means carrying around guilt a lot of the time: guilt about how much I have had to rely on my husband due to my mental disorder, guilt about the times I have had to be away from my son due to a depressive episode, guilt about all the times I have needed to talk to my friends and family about my mental disorder and the time I have taken away from them and their loved ones by doing so, and so much more.

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means spending more days than not simply wishing I did not have this disorder, or questioning “why me?”.

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means that there are some days where I physically cannot get out of bed and can do nothing more than lie underneath the covers – crying, or hoping that what I am feeling will pass, or fearing what the future will hold based on how I am presently feeling. The inability to get out of bed, when you have a three-year-old desperately wanting and needing you, again, feels like a dagger through the heart.

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means not knowing what the next moment or the next afternoon or the next day or the next week or the next month will hold. And, having a three-year-old makes this dread especially hard to live with.

Being a mom with bipolar disorder means having a constant feeling of uncertainty about my state of mind and my life and how both of these affect every single aspect of it and person in it. This uncertainty while being a mother (who is supposed to protect her child and be there for him/her no matter what) is incredibly and horribly painful.

For lack of a better term, being a mom with bipolar disorder is one of the hardest things I have ever experienced.

There is Hope

If you are reading this, and have gotten this far, you are probably wondering how much “darker” this can get.

Well, I am done with the “darkness” of this post.

Why? Simply put, because there is still light. There will always be light. So long as you do not give up, there will be light and there will be hope. Period.

If you are a mom (or anyone) who has bipolar disorder, please hear me when I say:

  • Through my darkest of moments, God was there for me. He always will be. Whether you believe in God or Allah or any other higher power, hold on to that faith because it will get you through the trenches of this mental disorder.
  • No matter who you are, there is always someone out there who can help you. That “someone” may be your partner, your parent(s), your sibling(s), your friend(s), your neighbor(s), your co-worker(s), your therapist(s), your doctor(s), someone who works at a crisis line, or even someone who works at your local hospital and/or emergency room.
  • Sometimes we have to experience the bad in life, so that we can truly appreciate the good in life. Never has a cold winter day snuggled up underneath a blanket with my son without a worry in the world felt so good since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Never has a morning where I have awoken with a smile on my face, being able to enjoy a warm cup of coffee while playing with my son – in the present – felt so good since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Never has a small piece of nature, sound, laughter, touch, smell, or internal feeling been so uplifting and pleasing – in a moment where I could truly enjoy it – since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

What’s Next

If you have made it this far, first of all, thank you for reading this post. I truly poured my heart and soul into it and I appreciate your time and attention to it.

This will not be the last of my posts regarding bipolar disorder nor the last of my posts on mental health and wellness.

Since receiving my diagnosis, I took 4 months off from writing and working on my blog & business.

Now that I am able to see and feel more clearly, I have decided to come back at a more leisurely pace – and this time with a different tagline to my blog: navigating mom life while attempting to destigmatize mental health issues.

So, there will be more posts like this one. But there will also be posts about anything and everything mom life: the best toys for children (of a specific age), my current favorite “mom” products, personal stories of my life as a mother, tips on organizing life & all that it encompasses, and more.

I would really love if you would share this with others via Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or any other platform you would like.

If you would like to join my email list so that you never miss a post, you can do so by heading here now.

I will leave you with one final thing – my favorite quote. Thanks, mom, for sharing this with me when I needed it most.

Thank you so much for reading. <3

-Leslie

being a mom with bipolar disorder
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Melissa
3 months ago

Thank you for sharing your story, Lesie. I know it’s going to help so many moms to open up about mental health and get help.

Natalie
3 months ago

Thank you for letting us all in on your very personal story. It’s quite inspiring to watch you very candidly expose something so very personal. Here I am, worrying about writing about “unpretty” things like marital trouble, my own mental challenges and more. Thank you for showing how beautiful it is to be vulnerable. Keep bettering yourself. You sound like you are on a great path to do so 🙂

Kendra
3 months ago

Thanks for sharing this with us, Leslie. Mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, GAD, Panic Disorder, Depression, PTSD, dissociative identity disorder, and paranoid schizophrenia have touched me and my family in one way or another throughout the years. I’m always here to talk to if you need a friend.