Friday, December 29, 2006

Me as a mother

I'm working on my book, an autobiographical account of my life with bipolar disorder and how God has been at work in me over the past 18 years. Today I'm trying to write about the topic of motherhood...trying to figure out whether my illness had any ill effects on my son's life.

My son is 33 years old now and seems to be ok. But I often wonder what it was like for him to have a mother who went through episode after episode: depression, mania, psychosis. How was it for him? Did I create hardship for him?

I know he was bullied throughout elementary school. I know that, at one time, he said that the kids had said something bad about his parents. He wouldn't tell us what it was they said.

When I asked my husband, he said I was a good mother. He says that the yelling and screaming I remember doing wasn't nearly as bad as I think it was. What a relief to hear him tell me that!

My son is out of town today, but I want to ask him when he comes home. I need to know. Things have been written about the effects of a bipolar parent on her children. Not sure exactly what they said - can't remember. Yet I know this is a topic that interests some people and I must write about it from the perspective of the life I'm living.

I know one thing, though. I did the absolute best I could. Life would not have been complete for me if I hadn't had the opportunity to raise a child of my own. Motherhood was a most important role for me, one I didn't treat lightly.

If my son's growing up years were difficult for him, I don't think they left too many wounds - none that I know of, anyways. My son is a creative man with high moral standards. He is a compassionate person. I love him and I'm proud of him.

8 comments:

Jon said...

It's obvious that compassion is a value that you've passed on, and you say he's a moral person also? Could you ask for anything else? It's plain to see that you did a GREAT job.

None of us are perfect parents, and that's what makes our kid's life interesting. That's what makes our kids unique.

Congratulations on raising a fine son.

marja said...

Thank you very much, jon. Those comments mean a lot to me. Maybe having a mother who has difficulties can actually prepare a child for life in the real world?

Dream Writer said...

I am working on the EXACT same post for my blog...being a Bipolar Mother and the affects it has on our children!

To be honest, it affected my mother's family tremendously!

You are a very compassionate, caring person and you obviously shared these traits with your son...

As Jon said there are no perfect parents...bipolar or not...

I did always wonder if you had children as I don't remember you mentioning it:)

marja said...

Interesting, Dream writer, that you're also working on this topic. I know my son did not turn out badly, but I still wonder: Did he suffer on account of me?

Dream Writer said...

Why would you think that he suffered because of you? I mean, you are married, right? To me, it takes two to raise a child...so we cannot blame "ourselves" just because we are bipolar.

Your hubby had a role in raising your son, too - so you cannot take all the blame if your son did suffer - which I don't think he did -

I know where you are coming from Marja - I really do - I could relate so much!!

I have four kids! And I am getting ready soon to post a "Similar" topic in my blog soon!

I've noticed with our blogs (Bipolar Planet) how we all feel the same way at the same time - we all think about the same things at the same time - we all are down at the same time - we are all manic pretty much at the same time - WEIRD!

Does it have something to do with the moon or something? :) :)

Anonymous said...

Marja,

Here's an interesting perspective. Not only am I bipolar- but I am a daughter of a bipolar mother. And I wish I could say that it was okay. Most of the time it was- but then some of the times it was so bad I had to live with my grandmother. I think it was difficult at first, but once I was old enough to separate my mother from the disease- it was easier. It wasn't my mother that said she hated me and wish she never had me- it was bipolar yelling that at me. It wasn't my mother who slapped my face, or threw all of my toys away, or threw my boombox down the stairs- it was bipolar.

It was difficult- as my mother can get psychotic very quickly without warning- and our extended family wasn't very supportive.

I will say this: now that I know that I too have bipolar- I hope I don't fall into her footsteps. Its not that I don't want to have children- but what if I can't manage my illness enough? I love my mom- but I don't want to put another kid through what I had to endure.

Oddly, has I have stated before: my diagnosis of bipolar did not bring us together- I believe that she has a lot of resentment of me, maybe its guilt. I don't really know.

I think my mom did the best she could- and she wasn't diagnosed until after she had me and my sister.

I'm still trying to figure out how it affected me myself. I'll think on that for a bit and maybe post a blog on it.

Dream Writer said...

Taymachelle - I could so understand what you are saying...My mother (I KNOW FOR SURE) is Bipolar but she was never diagnosed because she refused to go get help...she is in such denial that she never, ever, got the help.

My mother was a screamer, a yeller, too...but WE had a wonderful relationship when I was growing up...Now that I think back...I think that she was manic a lot!

Today - she has become an alcoholic! She is so bad with alcoholism that she is never sober! She is 61 years old and is so lost in her own denial and sorrows that the Alcohol is Masking the bipolar disorder.

Over the holidays...a lot of "Hidden Secrets" came out...the truth came out...she is so Darn Bipolar it is not even funny!!

Sorry Marja for taking over :)

But my point is - I, too probably would of thought twice about having kids or as many as I did have if I knew back then what I know now!

It is sad when family is in such denial about things that it truly screws things up for future family members.

A way to a healthy child is to have a healthy parent...even if that means having a Parent with A Mental Illness who TRULY takes care of themselves and gets the help they need!

marja said...

Tay and Dream Writer: I'm happy for this discussion. You're telling me things I wanted to know. I don't think I was as bad a mother as yours, Tay, but I can see from your story how it can be for a child. And I think I yelled and screamed a lot more than my husband remembers. And my son was a quiet, easy child to raise - that helped too. (not saying here that you weren't)

Tay: Was your mother under a doctor's care when you were growing up?

Thing with me is that I was, except for when my son was very young. I went for a period without any psychiatrist at all, though I was on an antipsychotic all the time.