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Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

On Having a Bipolar Mom #2

April 7, 2012 1 comment

In my last post I talked about having a bipolar mother, but I didn’t really talk about it. All I did was offer some dry facts, but I didn’t do much in the way of analysis. In this post I hope to correct that situation.

As I tried to get across in the last post, none of us is merely the symptoms of our disorder, and my mom is no exception. Part of the job of writing an article like this is trying to separate my mom the person (the much larger part of who she is) from my mom’s bipolar symptoms (the much smaller part).

I was self-centred as a little kid, and I never once questioned that my mom was 100% committed to me, or that she loved me. My mom had a (very) explosive temper, but she got her anger out of her system quickly, and moved into to forgiveness equally quickly. I was deathly afraid of my mom’s anger, but I rarely stayed in trouble for very long. My temper is similar: explosive and intense, but quick to extinguish and to turn into reconciliation.

As a kid I was oblivious as to whether my mom was having a good day or a bad day. I remember her laughing a lot. When she was feeling good she used to laugh at everything. I think she went to a lot of effort to shield me from what she was going through. Looking back I can remember four or maybe five major derepressions, one of which she was hospitalized for. Her bipolar cycles seem to be fairly long.

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On Having A Bipolar Mom

April 6, 2012 1 comment

I didn’t know my mom was bipolar until I was in my late 30s, some years after I found out I was bipolar myself. My mom’s diagnosis was manic-depressive, so when I told her I was bipolar she didn’t make the connection immediately.

This post is one of understanding and forgiveness. I think my mom did a much better job of carrying on than I did, with much greater adversity, much worse meds, and much greater stigma.

I think my mom already had a suicide attempt and a diagnosis of at least depression by the time she was in her teens. She got pregnant with me at 18 and married my father, who was 20. Because it was the 1960s, she gave up a promising career as a ballerina (she studied alongside Karen Kain).

My father was killed in a construction accident (at my mom’s father’s construction company) when my mother was 20. So she was bipolar, widowed, and with a child at 20. She got depressed and she tells me now that her doctor recommended taking a vacation, which she did. No lithium or other meds. Just a vacation.

At some point she decided to take her own life. The details I have are sketchy, but she left me with someone, and made the attempt, which thankfully failed. She tells me she made three attempts overall in her life, and at the moment I can’t remember the details of the third, but I think this one was the last one.
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