Life With a Bipolar Parent
It has been almost six years since my Mom who was Bipolar passed away. Sometimes in families they like to sweep the mental illness under a carpet, it can be tough growing up with a bipolar parent when you never know how they are going to be day to day.
My earliest memory of something being different about my Mother was when I was five or six years old I was staying with an Aunt and Uncle and I really didn’t know why but it was ok since my older cousin was paying attention to me and it seemed fun to be somewhere else for a change.
Well one day I see my Mom riding down the street on my small bicycle and my Uncle was yelling at her for riding it all the way from the city just to see me. At the time I didn’t know she was in a psychiatric hospital and apparently she had busted herself out and wanted to see me.
There was never a dull moment with my Mother, you never knew what she was going to do and if she wanted to do something she was going to make it happen no matter what. My Dad would be at work most of the time so when she had episodes I would be shuffled around. Back then they used to call it Manic Depressive and then later it was called Bipolar.
I remember a lot of yelling in my house and I also remember crying a lot hiding under my bed, I guess I felt safe there. When I was a little older when my Mother got sick I was able to visit her at the hospital. I remember seeing people sitting there talking to themselves and trying to hurt themselves, thankfully my Mother was not one of them. She told me did try to commit suicide one time by slitting her wrist but she was hospitalized and they gave her shock treatments. Something they did back then thinking if they erase her memory she would get better.
The funny thing with shock treatments is she didn’t remember being married but she knew she had a Son. I can’t even imagine going through what my Mother did. She was always fun to be around when she was having her highs, she could stay up round the clock dancing. I know because I tried to get her tired by dancing with her for hours to some disco tunes back in the 70’s and the only one that passed out was me….
I wish people were not so afraid to talk about mental illness back then, Mother never wanted me to talk about it to anyone. The thing is when I started going to school some of the kids knew anyway because their parents must have known and told them so I was always getting into fights because of it.
I remember this one bully kid calling her crazy and saying some other expletives so I decided it was a good idea to throw a rock at him while he sped away on his bike, hit him right in the back of the head and knocked him off his bike. Yep I got in trouble…..
On December 23rd of 1981 we got a call that my Dad was in a bad crash up in the state of Maine so my Uncle and a police cruiser came by and gave us a ride up there. Unfortunately my Dad passed away before we arrived.
We ended up moving from Millbury back to Worcester to live with my Memere and Pepere in a 3 decker my Uncle owned. A 3 decker is a house with 3 apartments, one on each floor.
We eventually moved into the second floor apartment, it was comforting having family there since my Mom did have episodes over the years after my Dad passed away. I can remember one episode where she moved all the furniture to the center of the rooms and said there was snakes on the floors. In times like this I would stay in my bedroom as much as possible. This episode got so bad my Memere had to call the police in order to get her admitted to the psychiatric hospital.
I think I have blocked out a lot of the things that happened over the years and that is probably a good thing. My Mother was the best and most kind person at times and would do anything she could for anyone, people would take advantage of this and I would intervene.
You always have to remember it is a chemical imbalance in their brain, it is not something that needs to be swept under a rug or hidden in a closet and the more open you are about everything the better the person will feel who has to go through the constant mind battles each day. The sad part is people look at it like is something to hide, it is amazing to hear these days how many people are Bipolar and how they are dealing with it is so much better than what I seen growing up.
If you are living with a bipolar parent do your best to be understanding and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do for their health if you are in a position to do so.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my post on Life With a Bipolar Parent.