Parenting With Bipolar Disorder Part 2: Moods & Responsibility

CORRECTION: Title should be “Parenting with a Mood Disorder Part 2: Moods & Responsibility

Brooke Borton shares with us part 2 of her series on parenting with a mood disorder. Read more about Brooke at the end of her post!

In my time as a parent battling with the opposing forces of depression and mania, I’ve had to face the fact that regardless of my mental state, I still have responsibilities to my loved ones.  My experience with bipolar disorder involves an amount of self-hatred that results from slacking on my responsibilities and disappointing people over and over again.  Sometimes it’s a cycle I can’t seem to break.  Extremes of mood can cause an otherwise considerate person to make choices that are self-sabotaging and damaging to relationships, and more often than not, the bipolar person doesn’t realize just how damaging until it’s too late.  I’ve found myself wondering how on earth I could have made the choices I’ve made.  I’m trying to refrain from calling my actions “crazy,” as I don’t wish to be labeled as such, but in the most basic definition of the word, things I’ve done in my past could appear crazy to the average person.  I realize now that I was someone else entirely when my moods would swing from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Holding onto who I really am beneath the dark cloud of manic depression has to involve a constant evaluation of my actions, reflection on the past, and how my actions affect others.  When I’m really high or really low, that filter can disappear, and the next thing I know I’m either spending all our money or withdrawing completely from my family. Often the things I do in one mood cause the actions I do in the other mood—for example, spending all our money during a manic episode leads to the guilt and shame of a depressed episode.  This is not healthy for my relationships, and it all comes down to remembering my responsibilities even in the most extreme of my moods.

The following is a list of things I believe I am responsible for, starting with getting professional help.  Some of my responsibilities are as basic as getting my kids to school on time, or tasks that I share with my husband.  Whether I do them or not is greatly affected by sudden mood swings and can either decrease or increase my family’s stress.  It’s important to me to do what I can to lessen the stress placed on my husband and children as a result of my moods.  I don’t expect perfection from myself, but I do expect progress.  Every time I do the responsible thing, I celebrate a small victory over my illness.

I implore you to read through this list of my responsibilities and take note of those we have in common.  Think about how your completion of them is affected by your mood.  Maybe there are areas you can improve, even if you are not afflicted with bipolar disorder.

  1. I am responsible for seeking professional help for my illness, making it to my appointments regularly, and being honest with my doctors.
  2. I am responsible for being open and honest with my loved ones and asking for help when I feel my responsibilities are being negatively affected by my mood.
  3. I am responsible for owning my mistakes, asking forgiveness, and offering sincere apologies when necessary.
  4. I am responsible for getting my children to school every day, on time, and helping them study for tests and complete homework and projects.
  5. I am responsible for preparing three nutritious meals a day for my family.
  6. I am responsible for keeping my house clean and healthy.
  7. I am responsible for doing the laundry so my family has clean clothes to wear, and keeping our kids in clothes that fit them.
  8. I am responsible for the grocery shopping.
  9. I am responsible for maintaining our budget and keeping track of bills and upcoming expenses.
  10. I am responsible for the care of our pets (food/water, litter box) and enlisting the help of my kids as part of their daily chores.
  11. I am responsible for taking out the trash.
  12. I am responsible for keeping in touch with my friends and with my family (many of whom live out of state).
  13. I am responsible for instilling confidence and self-esteem in my children by parenting peacefully and making their emotional needs a priority.
  14. I am responsible for being honest, even if it’s embarrassing.
  15. I am responsible for my debts.
  16. I am responsible for being courteous to those who offend or anger me.
  17. I am responsible for showing sincere appreciation to those who selflessly give their time to help me.
  18. I am responsible for setting boundaries with people in my life who are toxic to my well-being or the safety and well-being of my children or my marriage.
  19. I am responsible for keeping my marriage vows and cherishing my husband.
  20. I am responsible for how I act in response to stressful people and situations.

What responsibilities do you have that can be affected by your mood?

Brooke Borton enjoys life at home with her husband, two girls ages 5 and 7, a newborn baby boy (as of April 30, 2013), and two cats. She and her husband celebrated their fifth anniversary in October, shortly before her 30th birthday, and their favorite holiday is (of course) Halloween. She attended Adrian College and JCC, studying English, Spanish, and nursing, and plans to pursue her degree again only after her tenure in the ever-busy position of stay-at-home mom. Brooke has worked in various professions including retail management, fast food, medical transcription, and medical reception, and managed her own photography business for three years before making the choice to stay home indefinitely with her young girls. She thinks the best way to learn is through trial and error and “just jumping in.”
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