Anxiety & Depression - The Beginning

What is Having A Bipolar Mother Like?

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Having a bipolar mother – what life is like.

Having a bipolar mother makes life…interesting, to say the least. I guess everyone’s experience is different, but mine is the only one I know.

If you’ve read my post on causes of anxiety and depression, I give some details of what it was like having a bipolar mother as a child. But I want to take the time to describe in more detail what it was like through my teenage years.

First, let me start by saying that my mom self-diagnosed herself back when I was a child. She knew something was wrong, and because of the lack of knowledge about mental health disorders, no one could really tell her what was causing her moods and behavior.

Doing her own research, she went to a psychiatrist and basically told them that she had bipolar disorder. I don’t know all the details, as I wasn’t present for her visits, but apparently they agreed, and started treating her with antidepressants.

 

having a bipolar mother

 

I use antidepressants in the plural form, because she would start one, and it would seem to help somewhat for awhile, and then it’s effects would sort of…wear off.

She would go back, and they would give her another to try. And another, and another. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many different antidepressants she has been on over the years.

Unfortunately, at the time, no one recommended any kind of counseling or therapy to go along with these meds.

She didn’t pursue it either, and I don’t know if this was because of a lack of knowledge and resources, or because it just wasn’t recommended.

As a kid, I didn’t understand any of it. It was only once I became an adult that I understood more.

Additional Diagnoses With Bipolar Disorder –

At some point, she was also diagnosed with having PTSD, and an anxiety disorder. Again, I’m not sure why she either wasn’t referred for therapy, or chose not to attend. These are all very serious and very intense mental health disorders.

 

 

bipolar mother

 

Then her personality itself has to be taken into consideration, along with these different diagnoses. Looking back, I can’t imagine what it was like for her. But I do know what it was like for me.

Growing up, having a bipolar mother was like…

It was like getting on a roller coaster ride for the first time, and realizing halfway through that you are terrified, but it’s too late to get off. So you’re stuck, and all you can do is pray that it’ll be over soon.

And as you’re riding, you don’t know what’s going to come next. So you’re waiting in nervous anticipation – will there be a huge drop, or will it spin you upside down? How much longer will it last?

That may not be the best analogy, but that’s the best way I know how to describe it.

She could be in a good mood, and be enjoyable to be around. Or, she could be angry, and all you could do was try to avoid her. Then there were times when she was sad, and she would cry and cry, and didn’t even know why.

Then there were times when I don’t really know what she was. Sometimes her behavior was so volatile and unpredictable, it was just plain frightening.

There were many times I thought she was going to hurt herself. It was very upsetting and disturbing to watch her when she would become extremely self destructive.

I remember her hatefulness and anger the most.

I think the hardest part of having a bipolar mother is that you don’t really have a mother. At least, not in the traditional sense of the word.

I do believe she tried, for the most part. But I also believe that the older we got, the less she tried. (As far as trying to be a “mom”.)

She was just so angry. I felt like she really didn’t like us. She made me feel like it was my fault that she was so angry and mean. When she was in this mood, there was no talking to her.

Just screaming and yelling and name calling. I’ll never forget the look on her face…this one time she was screaming at me. Her face was literally within an inch of mine, and she was so angry (I can’t remember why).

I really only remember her saying the words, “You little bitch”, the tone of her voice, and that look she had.

I’m pretty sure this was the beginning of when she started to feel comfortable screaming at me directly, calling me names, and blaming me for how she felt.

She would never apologize. She would just act like it never happened. The next day, she would be calm, like nothing was wrong. Talk to me like everything was perfectly normal. It was so strange.

To this day, when I hear that tone in her voice, even if it’s not directed at me, it still has an affect on me.

 

having a bipolar mother

 

As I hit my teen years, it only seemed to get worse. Between her unstable mental health and my newfound hormones, there were less and less peaceful moments.

I became an angry and bitter teen. I was angry with her, and I was angry with the world. And I was tired, tired of the constant chaos and instability.

I was tired of not having a “normal” mom. And the older we got, the more she talked about things.

Things my dad did in the past, how much she hated him. Things that just weren’t necessary for her to tell us, over and over again.

She would also tell me and my brothers that she regretted having kids, and if she could go back, she wouldn’t have had any.

She also ‘disowned’ me a lot. If I did anything to make her angry or set her off, she’d drop me off at my dad’s, and say that he and my step mom could have me. That I was no longer her daughter.

And then after a day or two, she’d want me to come back home. Having a bipolar mother was difficult on everyone. She did not make things easy for anyone around her.

She would also occasionally go into these catatonic states. She would just lay in the bed for days, without talking, moving or any type of reaction. Her eyes would even be open – but nobody would be home.

Honestly, I could go on and on, but this is a basic idea of what my life was like growing up as a kid, and having a bipolar mother. I’ll talk more about what it’s been like as an adult in another post.

It’s taken a lot out of me to write this, and to think back on the memories of my childhood. Time to take a break, and focus on something positive.

I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable; I am an original. I’m not falling behind or running late. I’m not standing still: I am lying in wait.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda

I hope this will help others to understand the consequences of improperly treated mental illnesses. I believe she wouldn’t have had such severe symptoms if she had been properly treated.

Did you grow up with a bipolar mother? Or a bipolar father? If so, what was your experience like? How does your Bipolar parent continue to affect your life? I’d like to hear the perspective and experiences of others. I’ve often wondered how many others grew up the way I did.

 

~ Jess

 

having a bipolar mother

 

 

 

 



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6 thoughts on “What is Having A Bipolar Mother Like?

  1. Living with a bi polar mother has sucked. I feel sometimes some people don’t understand. When we were kids we never knew anything was wrong. But this got crazier as we got older. Bar hopping. Leaving me at home with the younger kids. Bringing home different guys all the time. It wasn’t until my brother found her after she swallowed a bunch of pills we knew something was wrong.we went through many different diagnoses and medicine before they’d find one that worked. But then it would wear off and have to find something different. We’ve went through thinking one of her boyfriends was poisoning her when he was use carpet deodorizer on the carpet. We’ve had her throw the phone across the street and in the tub. Because she thought there was a bomb in it. And even now she still buds into our adult lives. Tries to break up our relationships. She’s has also started self medicating on top of her medication with beer. Which is a no no.

    1. I am so sorry you’ve had to go through that. It’s hard, anyone who hasn’t experienced it has no idea how much it affects your life. Especially when they don’t want to do what they need to do to help themselves! I’ve learned that there are some people you just can’t help, not if they don’t want to help themselves. I hope it will get better for you. <3

  2. Oh my gosh. I am 28 years old and just have came to realize that my mother who raised me as a single parent, is bipolar. Every experience you have mentioned I literally have been through. And I totally understand there are thousands more unmentioned, and how much this must have taken out of you to even write. I did not know how similar a bipolar parent could be to another. For they seem so unique. It blows my mind right now. I could go on for days, but I just wanted to quick comment and thank you for your blog because it really hit me that I am not alone in experiences I gone through as a child.

  3. Wow…Hey Jess…thank you for your blog.
    I am 50 this year and am still navigating this mother/daughter relationship with my mom (69yo) having a proper diagnosis and treatment since 1988. I think I have been the caregiver since elementary school noticing my mom would have a week of depression after a couple weeks of manic behavior prior to the diagnosis.

    I will say that she has been diligent about taking her meds and has not been hospitalized since 2000.
    However, having said that…there were 3 occasions where her anxiety and triggers superseded her meds but she fought the threat of being committed to inpatient treatment.

    I have recently blocked her phone calls and text messages because she is not happy with the boundaries I have set to see her twice a week. I am an only child with a a spouse in the medical field. I forward everything to him when I can’t handle the communication style my mom uses to express herself.

    I continue to mourn the mother I will never have to ask for advice or seek comfort while raising my own children. I cringe when I hear “Why doesn’t your mother live with you?” or “She’s the only mother you will have, you should call her more.” “You’re going to miss her when she’s gone.”
    There are few people whose absence brings me peace…this is where I am at…

    I know for a fact she had a horrific childhood and trauma imposed on her that I wouldn’t wish on anyone but I cannot meet her expectations. I am getting heat from her siblings and my church. My husband has witnessed those 3 occasions mentioned earlier and he has my back for which I am grateful.
    I hope you are continuing to make progress in your self care.
    Thanks again for sharing your journey.

    1. Thank you, I hope you will be able to find peace with your situation. I know how difficult it is. And people who make comments like that just don’t understand, because they haven’t lived it. I’m thankful for you knowing you have a supportive husband, that can make all the difference in situations like this. 🙂

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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