I didn’t even want children when I gave birth to my daughter, and became deeply depressed after she was born. I was barely able to support myself and my chronically unemployed husband on a secretary’s salary, no less a child. I thought at the time that giving birth was the worst thing I could have done. Yet in the big scheme of things, my daughter Blixy turned out to be the best thing to happen to me.
Thanks to Blixy, I finally grew up. Here was a real child who needed me to take care of her. It was time to stop treating my husband like a child and to take steps to make a secure future for myself and my daughter. At the time, that meant moving 3,000 miles back to my parents’ home, where Blixy and I lived until I could get a job, pay back old debts, and find my own place.
I’m not saying things were easy after that, but knowing that Blixy needed me helped to keep me more stable than I would otherwise have been. It wasn’t just my life that mattered anymore. The simple act of keeping a happy face in front of my daughter helped to keep me from breaking down.
At a recent bipolar support group meeting, we were talking about having children when you are bipolar. Everyone agreed that having kids helps us to be at our best even when we don’t feel like it. Sometimes “pretending” that everything is alright helps it to be alright. By having more than ourselves to worry about, we don’t obsess as much over every detail of our own emotional ups and downs.
Yes, it’s hard for our kids to have bipolar parents. But if we do our best to manage our illness, and talk to our children openly in an age-appropriate manner, I think there’s a great chance to have an even closer relationship with them than so-called “normal” parents do. Blixy and I have always been close emotionally, and now she is a mother herself and lives ten miles away. It’s fabulous to have my best friend live so near, and the two grandchildren are icing on the cake.
For more information on bipolar disorder in families, read GJ Gregory's Tips for Raising a Child With Bipolar Disorder.
Published On: January 24, 2007
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