This post is mainly for parents with children who have bipolar disorder. I wrote this as an adult (obviously), for my parents. Realizing everything I put them through. Thinking about how it must have been for them. Maybe reading this will help parents realize certain things. These are just a few things I suggest as a person with bipolar disorder all my life to parents of children with BD:
Don’t ever give up on your child.
Show as much support as you can, get educated on the subject, there is so much information out there now.
Don’t ever be ashamed of your child.
It is NOT your fault that they have bipolar disorder.
Don’t forget to also take care of yourself. If you are not well, then you won’t be well for your child. Take some “me” time.
Let them know that you love them no matter what, and that you will always be there for them. And actually mean it and show it.
The following is the letter I wrote for my parents:
Papi and Mami,
Where do I begin?
I was recently reading an article about Bipolar Disorder from a parents perspective, which made me start thinking about you two: my loving parents. I started thinking about how difficult it must have been, the first time I tried to commit suicide and thereafter. How confused you both must have been by my behavior. I am almost in tears as I am writing this. I feel so bad for putting you both what I put you through. Maybe you blamed yourselves, I don’t know. I just want you to know, it was not your fault at all. My behavior was all because of me. I now and have for quite some time now realized, you and Mami did the best you could. I know you both loved me very much and would do anything for me. Yes, sometimes things got rough and not everything was all rainbows and sunshine, we were quite the “dysfunctional family” but that’s just life. All the advice you both gave me was 99% correct. But of course, I did not think nor realize that then. I was a teenager and then young adult, I already knew everything there was to know.
I know back then, it must have been even more difficult than it is today. I was misdiagnosed as a teenager with severe depression. I didn’t understand what that really meant, and I know you both did not really either. It was never really explained to me. All I was told was I had a “chemical imbalance”.
Anyway, I remember when I was hospitalized, it was kept somewhat hidden as to the reason I was there. You really had no support, you had nowhere or nobody to turn to for help or advice on this matter, and I am sorry for that. I had and still have no idea what was going through your minds as to why I behaved certain ways. I (my behavior) probably scared the crap out of you both. I know we never really ever talked about it. It just kind of happened, and that was that. I know, if you both would have had some education on the subject you would have been able to feel more comfortable about it, and not sort of pretend everything was okay. This was over 20 years ago, when mental disorders were kept hush-hush, and had a stigma attached to it. Yes, it still has a stigma, but it is slowly (very slowly) improving. People are coming out and speaking up about it. Back then, not many talked about it. It was kept a secret hidden within the immediate family.
Where am I going with this? I am sorry what you both had to go through when raising me. I am not apologizing for my behavior, because my behavior was that of a sick person, I am just taking responsibility for my actions. I wish things would have been different, but they weren’t and can’t be. But everything that I have done and been through has made me the person I am today, so I would like to say “no regrets”, even though I do have a few. But again, had I not done those things, and made the choices I made, I would not be where I am today. And today, I am in a good place. I also have you and Mami to thank for that. You did your best, you taught me right from wrong, and most importantly you taught me how to be a good person.
I know I have been thanking you both for being such great parents for years, but this is something I hadn’t done, and thought that I needed to do this. I wanted for both of you to know everything I have just written. I decided it was time to talk about it.
I love you both with all of my heart.
I couldn’t have asked for better parents. If I had the choice, I would choose you and Mami over and over again.
With all of my love,