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My Bipolar Mother

Updated on January 17, 2016

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are much more than the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

Growing Up with a Bipolar Mother

Growing up with a Bi-polar Mother was very difficult. The good times were great and the bad times were horrible.

You never knew what you were waking up to. The happy Mother or the depressed, ranting Mother.

You learned to gauge by just one look in the mornings, that is, if you didn't hear it first.

Being the child of a Bi-polar parent, you strive to be perfect, you don't want to do anything that may "set them off". In my case, I always kept my room clean, there was nothing out of place. My Mother was very neat and organized, I believe this was her way of maintaining some type of control in her life, as she couldn't control her moods. Of course, this didn't work, because you are not the issue, though they make you feel that you are.

I recall one day, I felt that my Mom was teetering on the edge, so I did everything perfectly just as I had been told to do. She passed me in the hall and asked me something, to this day I do not remember what was said, I only remember trying not to make her mad. The next thing I remember was being slapped across my face. I asked "What did I do?" and she replied, " You gave me that look!"

Bi-polar can be varying among different people. My Mother had mostly deep spells of depression . She also had times where she would just scream, holler, rant and rave for days at a time, all the while holding my Father hostage until she was done.

She attempted suicide more than three times in her life. I don't believe she ever intended on actually killing herself, in most cases, she had set it up where someone would find her and save her and these attempts were usually when she could not control a person or a situation, mostly a man.

Most people with Bi-polar usually have some type of an addiction to drugs or alcohol , basically self medicating. My Mother was addicted to cigarettes and men.

By the time I was born, she had married my Father(husband number 3 out of 5) and had me(child number 5 out of six). Her first two marriages only lasted a few years, my Dad hung in there for twenty, until she cheated on him for probably the fifth time and married my first Stepfather. That lasted 3 years and then Step Dad number two was about 3 years as well.

When I was younger, she would never take meds, the Doctors back then had diagnosed her as Manic Depressive, they didn't call it Bi-polar back then. They wanted to put her on Lithium which required having blood drawn and tested frequently, she told my Father that couldn't be safe to take if they had to check your blood that often.

Finally when she was in her late 40s, she went on and off different anti-depressants, her major complaint was that they affected her sex life.

She is 75 this year and has Vascular dementia and lives with me and my family. She is on Prozac and it doesn't help. She still suffers from depression almost daily. And still has bouts with the ranting , raving that goes on for hours, though now, with the Dementia, she will just call out different names and be severely agitated and anxious.

Signs & Symptoms

A long period of feeling "high," or an overly happy or outgoing mood
An overly long period of feeling sad or hopeless
Extreme irritability
Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.
Behaving impulsively and engaging in pleasurable, high-risk behaviors
Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.
Having an unrealistic belief in one's abilities
Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
Increasing activities, such as taking on new projects
Being restless or irritable
Sleeping little or not being tired
Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
Being easily distracted

Walking on Egg Shells- How I felt as a child.

Walking on egg shells

Hush!Please, don't make a sound.

Rush to your room

nothing out of place to be found.

Tip-toeing so quietly

so it seems like no one's around.

Heart beating faster

it's all so profound.

Hide away quickly

or in her rants, you will drown.

Get Help!

One thing I've learned, if your a child of a Bi-polar parent, please know it's not your fault and it's not your responsibility . Seek out some support and help.

If you think you may suffer from this disease, I cannot stress the importance of getting yourself help. It's never too late and there are things that can help you.


Bipolar disorder cannot be cured, but it can be treated effectively over the long-term. Proper treatment helps many people with bipolar disorder—even those with the most severe forms of the illness—gain better control of their mood swings and related symptoms. But because it is a lifelong illness, long-term, continuous treatment is needed to control symptoms.

  • Medications- Different types of medications can help control symptoms of bipolar disorder. Not everyone responds to medications in the same way.
  • Mood Stabilizers- Lithium is one, and these types of medications are usually the first to try. Anticonvulsants are also used as mood stabilizers, such as: Depakote, Lamotrigine (Lamictal),
  • Other anticonvulsant medications, including gabapentin (Neurontin), topiramate (Topamax), and oxcarbazepine (Trileptal).

My Mother tried the Lamotrigine while in the Rehab center, it helped some with her restlessness but then she would cry all the time.


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