Tag Archives: Parenting

Bipolar Parent

Greetings friends, how are you doing in these wee hours of Friday morning?

Me? I’ve been both better and worse. Thursday had hours I enjoyed… then it crashed and burned as only the day of a parent can do.

When my three kids were young I had impressed even my ex-mother-in-law (let’s call her Kathy) with how well behaved and just good all around people my children were. Now, we are being stalked by rough and naked emotions that have always existed (that would be me, Bipolar parent) but are now beyond my own mind and have grabbed hold of my youngest.

I thought I was a good person growing up. I felt as though I were a likable person, yet I didn’t have many friends. I was lonely much of the time and kept my own company out on our small ranch with my horse, dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, cows and the occasional ducks.

I was a shit.

Seriously. I was a short, freckled shit. Today my mother and I can look years back and point to much of my careening and completely out of control behavior and emotions and say, “That, that right there!” And recognize it as full on Bipolar Disorder presenting before I even had my drivers license.

In short – I was angry all the time and blamed everyone one else for everything. My depression and anger were crushing me and the only name I could give it was – sin. I was a practicing Christian and all those “evil” emotions were clearly not of God… but that’s a topic for another time.

My youngest and his regular doctor decided that he does not have the highly genetic Bipolar brain that I’m still learning to embrace. Anxiety. Depression. Mania. Mood swings. Irrational behavior. That’s Scott, my “I’m a psych major. I already know how to deal with anger and anxiety.”

Scott is transitioning from my second daughter, Sydney, to my second son, Scott. (Incidentally my father’s name was Scott.) Scott is undergoing hormone treatment. He wasn’t always easy to talk to about things that he felt “attacked” him. Now he’s so much more difficult.

I despair.

He turns 21 this Saturday. He’s angry and bitter and is working so hard to make people not like him that I just want to sit down and breathe like I’m having a baby all the time. He and his wife are both psychology majors who it seems aren’t studying behavior.

Odd.

Scott sounds just like I did. If transitioning changes him into the sex his mind believes him to be, then I will continue to try to learn and gain deeper understanding. However, he’s a grown man (he says) and I expect him to at least respect me.

§ On Father’s Day Scott thanked me for being both his mom and his dad growing up. §

What I will not do is accept from him the same behavior at 21 that I had at 14. He has tools around him to teach him about what’s running loose in his little grey cells. Me – religion, animals, and hypnosis.

The weight of his relentless ill-will and violent anger crushed me at dinner. It was like fighting with my dad, but I was the reasoning one (yeah, no. My dad wasn’t good at being rational when angry either.)

Top the whole bloody mess off with a leaking red cherry on it and you have a self-entitled disrespecting second son.

I’m not having it anymore.

Being a parent with Bipolar is terrifying literally every second of that child’s life for me. With Scott acting like the individual (did I mention pressured speech?) that he clearly isn’t I have no clue how to even begin to help him to stop yelling into my face that I should shut up because I’m not listening.

Huh?

Parenting the twenty-something kid today is a massive challenge for this Bipolar mom. I have been charged with the crime of trying to build good family memories. I have felt despair and anger towards Scott. These are not the memories I want to build. We’re going to work this out, but I realize that I will very possibly react like I have Bipolar Disorder while we do it.

I can do this. I can figure out my part in healing our relationship. Be loving and kind… and forgiving.

However, Scott is a grown man and if he does not have Bipolar Disorder or some other explanation for his behavior, then he’d better watch out. I corralled the three of them through their teens by myself and while not properly medicated for my illness.

Respect me as your mom.

Respect my illness.

Respect yourself and get help if we just can’t talk it out.

I really wanted to go old school, like back to when I was a kid, and wash his mouth out with some nasty bar of soap like Dial or Lava and spank him with a wooden spoon. Two if the first one breaks.

Sigh….. parenting never ends, not really. My mom is still my mom. Who else would she be?

Scott, baby? YOU! It’s time for YOU to shut up and listen.

Bipolar – Stoned Siblings

I just got off the phone with my youngest child and I’m heartbroken.

He says he tells people all the time what a badass I am. He’s a psych major and he now understands a tiny bit of what it must have taken for me to raise three kids with my illness. He tells people how I raised them sick and even had a knee replacement, twice. It’s a good story to tell people to get them to buck-up. He tells them to get over themselves. Look what my mom did.

He was telling how great it has been lately for him when he spends time with his brother. They’ve been bonding, getting stoned, hanging out. (We’re in WA and it’s legal here.)

I was crushed.

I’m a mom. A parent. I’m weird… but I’m a parent. I’ve always pushed myself to be the best parent I could be. Suddenly, again, I feel like I failed. It doesn’t make any sense I suppose. It doesn’t really have to because I know how I feel and I FEEL like I failed them.

I know I’m being emotional. I am emotion. Always emotion.

I feel like I failed my babies. Why? Things have been going pretty well. They’ve been bonding when they’re high. Okay. Okay. I feel, like I failed them because they have to be high to bond. To relax around each other they’ve got to be stoned. So what. So what?

I was just having a great conversation with him on the phone. The longer we talked the more I realized that he was being the most relaxed talking with me that he’s been in a long time. Awesome! Right? Right.

I’m a good parent. I know I am. But –

Why do my kids have to be stoned to be loving?

It isn’t a big deal. It’s legal.

But why do they have to be stoned? Why stoned? Why?

I’m going to bed. I’m too tired to handle this. I can’t do effective damage control in my brain trying not to blame myself when I’m tired. I am blaming myself. I don’t feel like I did a good job raising them if they have to be stoned to be good people to each other, to me.

Again, I feel like I failed.

Should I get stoned too?

No…. not more drugs. Not stoned. Not me. I just can’t do that.

Bipolar – Weird Parenting

Greetings and Felicitations!

Welcome to you! (I’d say “Welcome to you all.” but I’m assuming only one of you is reading this post at a time.)

{I’ve started posting to my Weird Parenting blog. It’s for parents of 20 somethings and anyone interested in what in the world is going on. After you read this post, which is from the Weird Parenting blog, maybe you can think of someone you’d recommend it to. Or, if you have things to share with me to add to my content I’d love to hear from you.”}

I’m still a parent. I still have 3 kids… nope. I actually have 4 now. My daughter married her girlfriend just over a year ago. So that means I’ve gone from 2 daughters and 1 son, to 3 daughters and 1 son. Wait a second…

I almost forgot. Now I have 2 daughters and 2 sons.

And, I go to the same University as the new daughter and the new son go to too. 1 daughter is moving in with me next week. That will bring the animal count to 2 beta fish, 3 cats, my cattle dog Bailey (she’s a Kelpie), a bearded dragon and a bunch more fish. Oh, and the occasional live crickets to feed the dragon fella. Got all that?

And what about me? I’m about to graduate from UWT with a bachelors in creative writing (though I’m not certain I was entirely paying attention). Just to keep the kids on their toes I have Bipolar Disorder and PTSD. I admit this does make parenting a little weirder than it’s already weird self.

Have I mentioned I’m a parent? Yes, that’s what you’re here for, am I right? Yeah?

I won’t waste your time unless I find a rabbit hole. Parenting 20 somethings today is rough. Hell, it’s confusing and guilt-inducing and the dynamics are so strange that we’re glorying in Will and Grace and Roseanne coming back to TV. They’re like an old blanket that we cuddle with and don’t want anyone to know about (mine does NOT have flowers. It’s Captain America’s!).

I’m determined to make it through their 20’s with everyone intact (so I say as one her becoming him). Life is so very complicated. You know what else it is? It’s funny as hell. I mean my future was all blurry and stopped at their high school graduations.

It not once occurred to me that I would still be a parent after they all turned 18.

Wow. There’s so much for us to talk about.

And I really want to hear from all of you. Think of me as that strange lady next door who always gives you sugar when you run out and never asks for it back.

I’m gonna buckle up. I’ve no idea where this ride is going to take us.

There is one really important thing you should know about… I’m going to fight like hell to make this our best decade ever!

Later my friends. It’s past my bedtime.

Bipolar – Remembering Our Past

I need you to understand that I in no way discount what anyone has gone through. Things may be exactly as you recall them. This post is meant merely to ask the reader to consider things.

One of the great troubles with Bipolar Disorder is that we tend to ruminate what we view as the horrors of our past. We think we remember all the times we have been depressed and felt like we wanted to die. We think we remember the charge the mania gave us and may long for the positive influence we think we remember happening. We may be paralyzed by thoughts of our past in which we hurt others and maybe tried to hurt ourselves. If any of this sounds like you, listen closely to this:

There are three things that are known about memory that I want you to know.

  1. People can recall events that never happened.
  2. All memories are inaccurate to some degree.
  3. Identifying false memories may be next to impossible
    (Psychology Today, June 2016, pg. 21)

It may not be necessary to crucify yourself on the altar of regret. It is possible that you do not remember the past as it actually happened. I have found these things to be true in my own life. I think I remember being mean to my kids and speaking unkindly to them as I wallowed in my anger and depression on a daily basis. Anger was my friend and I was angry every day and I felt I took it out on my kids.

But you know what? My kids and my family don’t remember it that way. My kids, who are now 18, 21 and 24, remember me as working hard to be a good mom and always loving them. They don’t remember me being abusive. It’s three against one. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I was a good mom. They all seem to have turned out to be good people. I need to believe them. That guilt crushes me at times. I’m choosing to believe that I wasn’t as bad as I recall. I was a good person.

Bipolar sufferers feel emotions more intensely than other people. We remember incidents where our world has crashed down around us because that’s what we remember feeling at the time and so that’s what we feel now as we think about the past.

We may think we remember the situation even being worse than it was. Another person may remember the same situation as not being quite as dire as we do. In fact, we may be remembering an incident as more intense and devastating than it was. We may even be remembering something that happened in our head, that we think happened, that never did happen. Can you imagine that? Maybe you are a better person than you think you are. These things are true for all people, but I’m talking about us and our magnificent emotions.

What I want you to understand is that you and I, we should cut ourselves some slack. Our memories are never perfect and unless you have proof that what you remember happened or felt actually did occur, relax a little. Maybe we’re not as horrible as we think we are.

I have “memories” of being a horrible mom. I “remember” saying things and not doing things that amount to neglect or even abuse as a parent. I’ve asked my kids and my family about some of the bad things that I “remember” doing and saying. Generally, they all agree I wasn’t the horrible parent I think I was.

The kids are glad they grew up with me and not their father. That means a lot to me. He’s not a bad man, but they say they would have hated me if I’d let their father have them.

Even though I truly was in a deep depression and on a manic high most of their early lives they love me and want me in their lives. I run in a mixed state so you never know how I’ll act. I recall letting especially my youngest get away with more things because I was afraid I was being too sever with her. My older two say I did let her get away with too much. At least I remember that correctly.

On the other hand, maybe you are remembering certain things correctly and you were horrible. In that case I hope we can learn from those situations and find ways to keep them from happening again.

My message: Try to cut yourself some slack. Consider the three things we know about memory and apply them to yourself. You and I are probably not at horrible as we think we are.

I hope.

Bipolar and Self-Image

One of the worst things you can do to destroy a person’s self-image and their ability to believe in their future is to tell them that the thing they love to do isn’t something they can successfully do. Let’s say I decide to go to college to learn how to do something and in a conversation about it your mother of all people, says, I don’t think you can make a living doing that.

Ouch. That hurt. Being bipolar and feeling feelings more strongly than your average person means that the hurt she caused cut much deeper than if she’d said it to my brother. I feel like I’m doing pretty good, but that hurt.

When confronted, this particular person said they didn’t say it and started in on how I always misunderstand and this and that. Fortunately my son was sitting there and heard her say it to me. She couldn’t get out of it. She was caught in her lack of belief in her own daughter. It cut me to the quick. It felt really badly. Now I get to choose what to do about it. I’m not going to just react. My feelings are hurt of course. What I’m going to do is dig in and prove her wrong. I can do this.

I have three kids. Let this be a lesson to me to not dash their hopes and dreams on the rocks of my disbelief. May I always encourage them and support them.

I have a main purpose that I have chosen for my life. A main goal. A magnificent obsession. I’m not going to let anyone influence me and fall into the pit that was my past. I’ve fought too hard to get to the point to where I can think clearly enough to plan for the future. A few more months and I’ll be reaching my next goal… if I can just stay focused.

It’s sad when I need to take a chill pill before I spend time with my mother.