Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition. In fact, the World Health Organization places…
Having Children When You Have Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder leading to extreme mood changes that make carrying out everyday activities difficult. The disorder is marked by times of great euphoria and energy, followed by periods of intense depression and listlessness. The symptoms can make those affected wonder if they will be able to fulfill the role of parent. In some cases having children actually motivates people to better manage their condition.
To start with, parents living with bipolar have extra motivation to stay on track with medication. When you are face to face with the enormity of the task before you, taking a pill that can help is a welcome relief, rather than a chore to be resented. The parent with bipolar knows only too well what life feels like when the illness goes unchecked, and how hard it can be just to care for themselves, much less someone else.
Another important part of self-care is guarding your regular sleep schedule. Maintaining a consistent wake/sleep cycle can make a world of difference in terms of symptoms. Since babies and children also benefit from a regular schedule this can be your family norm.
A healthy diet and regular exercise will also help to keep your symptoms in check. If you need to get help with the children in order to keep an exercise regimen, then don’t be afraid to recruit some extra hands. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends from your church or neighborhood will hopefully understand and be ready to offer support. When you practice proper self-care your disorder moves to the sidelines instead of taking over.
When you sense that a manic or depressive episode is starting talk to your doctor or counselor as soon as possible. Once the episode blossoms it will be hard to fill the role of parent. If depression takes over you may start to drown in feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. These are feelings every parent experiences at some point, but you will probably have a tougher time quieting the self-accusations. This is why getting in touch with your health provider is so crucial. It will help to have an outside voice reminding you that episodes don’t last forever and your feelings, though intense now, will eventually wane.
Because bipolar tends to run in families, parents often worry about passing the condition along to their children. However, if you will be careful to take your medication and follow a healthy pattern of symptom management you will find that it is not a condition that has to make you feel powerless. As your own confidence in your ability to cope with the disorder grows, so too will your conviction that life holds many joys for you including the joy of family. And if you can manage your condition, so too can your children.