Friday, 15 May 2015

Parenting with bipolar

Tips on how to cope with being both bipolar and a parent from someone with the disease.

Life can be hard when you are someone who suffers with a mental health problem.  Anyone who suffered from Bipolar disease can tell you its a struggle but what do you do when you find yourself at a point in your life were you are not just responsible for your own well being but for that of your children too? 

 Being a mum or dad living with the illness can bring with it a whole new set of challenges and as a sufferer myself have decided to share with you some things I have learnt along the way in a bid to help you overcome things you may face and share with you some advice that I hope will help someone out.

Don't let people scare you out of getting the help you need.

Realizing the importance of this step for me was a turning point.  Some people may try and discourage you from getting the help you need once you become a parent.  On more than one occasion I was told that if I spoke to someone about my health concerns and went to a doctor or mental health team I would run the risk of getting my children taken away.  Asking for help will not result in getting your children taken away. Most of the time parents suffering with mental health are not a risk to their children and taking the first steps and reaching out for help in its self displays responsibility for your health and is often seen as a positive and healthy move on your behalf.

I Hate it when others try to stop someone suffering from receiving the help they need by scaring them this way, as a matter of fact I would say in the long run you are more at risk if you do not seek help. Make that appointment with your doctor or psychiatrist and start the process to finding a healthier happier you.

Never let people tell you that asking for help means you have failed.

For a long time I genuinely believed that falling behind with housework, having a tearful day or just generally needing support meant that in someway I had failed and was weak.  Sometimes we can't just "brush ourselves off and get on with it" sometimes its just not possible to "keep doing because we have to".  Sometimes we need the helping hand of another person to pull us through and that's okay.  You haven't failed and you are not weak.  You are normal. You are a human being not a robot and sometimes we all need a helping hand, maybe having bipolar might mean we need it a little more than other people but never be made to feel guilty for that.  You did not choose to have a mental health problem.

If anyone tries to make you feel guilty for needing help remember a mental health illness is sometimes no different to a physical one,  We all know it would be wrong to tell someone in a wheelchair, or someone with a physical disability that they are a burden or pain in the ass for needing support.  You are no different and you don't deserve to be made to feel guilty for needing help sometimes.  Remember that!

Sometimes its okay if your children see you cry.

There is this strange thing I sometimes here when being told how to manage my illness by others and that's never to ever ever let my children see me sad.  I've thought about it, and I think that is pretty rubbish advice.  Obviously excessive negative emotions displayed in front of children are not healthy however you are only a human being, and sometimes human beings need a good cry.  We would never teach our children that their emotions are something to be ashamed of so why would we do it to ourselves?  If you have one of those tearful days where the tears just can't wait until after the children are asleep then don't hold it in.  let it all out.  Explain to your children that sometimes grown ups need a cry too, and that it is okay. Make sure they know they have nothing to be scared of and that they are not to blame.  Sometimes when I'm feeling down I find it a good opportunity to talk about and teach my child about emotions.  Yes mummy/daddy feels sad right now, sort of like when you feel sad because you dropped your ice cream or scraped your knee.  You will feel much better later on because tears are temporary and completely normal.

Always tell someone how you are feeling.

If you live with a partner or spouse its always important to keep them updated on how you feel both for their sake and your own.  They can keep an eye on you, monitor you and be in sync with your emotions whilst you can rest a little knowing someone is aware of whats going on inside your noggin. My husband and I have got to the point were we almost have code sentences for me to explain my feelings.  If i say to him "i'm feeling I'll today, as in sad" he knows I'm probably feeling a lot more than just "sad" but its easier to say.  Tell someone if your thinking is fuzzy or if you feel confused, irritated, or snappy.  Don't hold it is because that is when you will end up snapping.

Try and use your manic episodes to your advantage.

If you are a little like me you will probably find in this time you find house work is a breeze and you have bundles more energy then you usually do.  I am an absolute nightmare for starting several projects and Ideas.  You can utilize this in my opinion and use this time to get out the arts and crafts with your kids,  Do some painting, make some arts and crafty bits and do some baking.  Get yourself out and about if you can for walks, visit friends, go to the beach, park or whatever is close to where you live. Silver linings to these things can be found!

Always remember having Bipolar does not define who you are as a person or as a parent.  It does not by default make you less or a parent or less of a person than anyone.  No one is perfect.  Remember to make time for yourself and that we all fall flat on your faces sometimes and that is okay.  If this helps just one person then that's good enough for me.

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