What having a bipolar parent taught me

I’ve only written about it once and it’s my most read post. The views are mostly the result of internet searches on the subject. I am not a mental illness blogger by any means and yet they land on my site using search terms such as:

“If I’m bipolar is my child”

“Does my bipolar father hate me”

“Living with bipolar mother”

Every single day since June 2012, these searches come in. Questions in the form of emotional bricks carried in search of information, comfort, and healing.

There is a general pattern in the questions until I read this one:

“What did having a bipolar parent teach you”

I never thought of it in that way. Until I did, and it’s taken me over a year to write this.

As a young child, having a bipolar parent taught me to feel insecure. This resulted from unknowing the emotional parameters I would wake to. It could be a day of general stability. It could also be a day of unpredictability, irrational behavior, or verbal abuse.  My parent’s emotions varied widely and the variables needed to produce positive emotional outputs were unknown to me.

I woke up and the day could lead anywhere. It could bring shopping and ice cream. It could also bring the contents of my bedroom being thrown out the window from the second floor as I get off the bus from school. It could end in another extended hospital stay.

Growing into my “tween years” having a bipolar parent taught me anger and detachment. Why didn’t I have parents present in my life?  Why were their actions so out of the norm from what I saw around me? Why did I always feel like the enemy?  These were questions without answers. As I grew, I started to piece the answers together myself. I started to comprehend the verbal abuse and language used towards me. There was a pivotal point at this time in my life which I was able to examine the environment around me and know that I was the only one looking out for me. I was it. If I was going to make it through this, I had to mentally detach from the unstable and chaotic environment. I was 10.

The anger from my teen years stayed with me through my young adulthood but I felt more in control of my life due to detaching at a young age.  I had friends, I made life plans, and I was going to make it. Dammit.

As an adult, having a bipolar parent taught me longing, sadness, and acceptance.  Though I hadn’t lost a parent to death, I was sad that the relationship will never be what I wanted. Getting married, having children, bonding over common adult experiences was not going to be my reality. I grieved the relationship that was never to be had.

Eventually the mental illness would progress to the point where the only choice left was acceptance. This is how it is. I’ve grown to know people who are mentally ill are not in control of most of their brain process. They do not choose to be that way. They carry their own emotional bricks without the foundation of knowing how to process them.

And that’s what I’ve learned.


Based on responses I have received, I have decided to write more about growing up with a bipolar parent here. 

237 thoughts on “What having a bipolar parent taught me

  1. This post honestly made me tear up

    My mom has bipolar but will never go to get help with it and my father’s a druggie who’s never here. Her excuse is “I’m a woman and women have mood swings”

    Every since I was younger, she was abusive but called it discipline. I remember a time she was manic and my room wasn’t clean so she grabbed me by the hair and pulled me into my room and pushed me against the wall with her hands wrapped around my throat spewing hatred and spit flying into my face. At the time, I was only in fourth grade.

    Now that I’m a junior in Highschool, things are less physical and more verbal. At least twice a week I’m called ungrateful or lazy. When my mental health problems surfaced (depression, anxiety, self harm and an eating disorder) one minute she would be trying to help me and tell me she loves me and is proud of me, while the next, she saying I’m doing it for attention and that she “didn’t sign up for this”.

    She was dating the man she cheated on my dad with for almost 8 years until she cheated on him with her current boyfriend and some other guy. Her current boyfriend (who she is also cheating on) and her always get into yelling fights and she hits him and I’m pretty sure he hits back because I’ve seen bruises all up her arms and legs. They fight every fucking day and are locked in their room all day screaming and breaking things. I have 3 brothers (2 are from my moms ex BF) and a sister in that house. I have another (half)sister but my dad and his girlfriend failed drug tests and she was taken from them. I can never have a stable convorsation with her but when I hide in my room from her, I’m “antisocial” and “lazy” or “ungrateful”.

    I’ve thought about just packing my things and leaving but she keeps promising to get me to get my permit but then let’s me down by saying nevermind and I have no one to help me out with getting a job because I have no car or ride to get anywhere. We are poor and stereo typical trailer trash and it sucks. I feel like I can’t escape and that I’ll never be free from her.

    She says her problems are worse than mine and belittles me on a daily basis. I vent to my boyfriend who is the only person who has always had my back and stuck with me when I was in and out of therapists offices and residential treatments for my problems cause by my home life and trauma from when I was younger. He knows more about me than any therapist or any human being on this planet.

    I try to avoid home at all costs but she’s becoming suffocating again to where I’m being restricted on where I can go like she used to be when I was in middle school and I could never see my friends and was stuck home with her and her hatefulness.

    January of 2018 is when I can legally leave but I’ve been waiting for so long and i don’t know if I can deal with being here any longer. It affects my schooling, mental health and relationships. I’m tired of being her punching bag and not being about to stand up to her. Anytime I do, I’m put down and not allowed to have a social life and I rather bite my tongue than lose my friends or boyfriend.

    If anyone has anything to help, it’d be greatly appreciated. This is my first time looking into what other people have been through and trying to relate and not feel so alone. Sorry this was so long, I’ve never really been able to vent this out all at once before, only in small pieces but thank you for reading if you did ♡

    • As someone who went through the same thing with my mother and sister all I can say is that it is hard, but you need to focus on your future and I know you have been absorbed into this, but you need to set goals for yourself and once you get an education nobody can tell you anything. You need to build your own life up, even stay with your bf if you can. 2018 seems like far away, but you are a strong young woman and will make it.

    • My husband is bi-polar and I have a young daughter. What you are experiencing is NOT normal. You are not alone and God is watching over you, don’t understand why you have to go thru this? I understand. Your inner strength is your power. We don’t understand why we have to endure this, why me? God has plans for your strength, give away all your stress, he will build you a force field to protect you. You are not alone.

    • Kayla, when I was a teen, I lived day by day focusing on “when I turn 18, I can leave.” I thought many times about suicide, but I knew that was a permanent solution to a temporary problem and I deserved to find happiness in life. Besides my grandmothers, two things really helped me through it all – faith and my education. I’ll leave the faith part to you, but concerning the other – I knew working as best as I could in school meant getting into a four year school with dorms, getting a scholarship, and getting out of that hell hole. I finally did, and I became a teacher just to tell other young ppl like you, you can make it and here’s how to get out. For my students with writers’ hearts, I also tell them this. Remember, in all good hero stories, the hero has to overcome great challenges early on, which serve to grow him or her into the hero he or she needs to be. On the other hand, background characters usually don’t face as many challenges, in comparison. The fact that you have dealt with so much already should tell you this – you weren’t destined to be a “background character” in life that bumps along without any major impact on the world. No, you are going to do wonderfully great things on the other side of this road of trials. I won’t lie, it’s not ALL happily ever after like in the stories…but it’s pretty close. ;)

  2. I am now 23 and dealing with this on a daily basis.

    My dad does not live with me and I live with my bipolar mom, and 2 siblings. She ignores the crap out of me and speaks to me indirectly through my brother or sister. When her family visits, she complains about me all the time. I have told her that I hate living in this house and I want to leave (but I am not by the means to do so right now) and she has despised me more ever since then. I have a boyfriend who I always complain and vent to and he has been very supportive. However, lately she has been disrespectful to him, treating him the way she treats me. I am afraid that this affects our relationship. People are starting to notice how rude my own mother is to me and they always ask me in private if I am okay. I feel that this has been such a challenge and it just gets worse every day. It has changed my life and made me become an insecure, adult who is afraid of her own mother. I battle with depression as she conatstantly puts me down on every single thing I do. Sometimes in the middle of a happy day, tears would roll iut of my eyes simply because they have been kept in for too long.

    I have no idea how to move forward and I am just surviving each day.

  3. Thank you so much for your post. You described so succinctly what my experience was like as a child. It is often so difficult to put to words what my experience was like. When i begin to talk about specific situations from childhood it sounds so crazy and so out of context. I realize that could be a title from my life, “crazy and out of context”.

    My mother is the bipolar parent and my dad was very absent when I was a child. He is now deceased. She is still living. The sense of loss you spoke of came to me at a young age in waves and still does to this day. I would find surrogate maternal role models along the way (from the age of 5 on up) via the mother’s of friends, only to have my own mother squash them out of jealousy. She became so difficult toward the other mothers that I seldom heard from or saw them again. If I did it was usually a polite or awkward interaction. I felt embarrassed and often assumed it was a reflection of me. That somehow I was the reason they stayed away. Despite being described as “adapts easily” and “popular among her peers”, I felt incredibly alone and disconnected from most everyone. I now joke that i was a great “pretender”. Pretending everything was normal and fine. Nothing to see here!

    I too became detached and left home at 16. i made something of myself and moved far away from my mother. I’ve been unsuccessful at reaching true acceptance though. I find it in phases, but it is often that I’ve simply buried my feelings to appear “fine” about everything to make everyone else more comfortable. I’m seeing a counselor for the 8th time in 10 years. I’ve not been able to stick with it for more than a few months. I’m committed to sticking with it this time and working toward acceptance. I avoided friendships with females for most of my adult life due to trust issues. To this day I have one true female friend (who is more like a sister) and many acquaintances throughout my career who have tried and failed to establish a strong friendship with me. I joke that i am unlovable, but the truth is i have built a huge wall and at this stage in life, people don’t have the capacity to break through it. It’s my responsibility to do that. I hope that I reach the stage or strength you are at right now.

    Thank you.

  4. This page is the ONLY thing helping me through such a hard time in my life right now. I am an adult child of a bipolar, 52/50 and manic mother. I’ve dealt with this situation my whole life as most other on this page have. My mom was not unbearable until the last few years, and now that I am pregnant she is attacking me and trying to hurt me and my family. My mom and dad split up when I was in 6th grade and that’s where her disorders began to progress. She was the one who cheated on my dad which made him furious and abusive to both her and myself, so he decided to kick us out. A few years later, my half brother lost his arm in a motorcycle accident and the slippery slope got even steeper for her. It is now about 7 years past my brothers accident and considering I’m her “love baby” I feel like she thinks as though she is losing her last child to my fiancé. She called my whole family and told them how she wants to kill my fiancé and wants my baby dead. Then she proceeded to say that she was going to get a gun and shoot up everyone at my baby shower. I still invited her to go. It was horrible for her to be there considering her dramatic episodes and telling everyone how she has been sleeping in her truck and taking baths in the park. Did I mention she’s a meth user but hides it? Great mix for someone battling with mental disorders. Yeah, so she was at my baby shower pilled out to prevent her episodes and passed out in front of my friends and family. Now that I’m three weeks away from giving birth, I’ve had to block her phone number again because she sends me long, crazy text messages that upset me all day long… Literally about 20-30 per day. She is upset now because I told her that my fiancé and I want her to wait outside until the baby is born because she will make me frustrated and do nothing but talk shit to my fiancé the whole time… Plus he is so uncomfortable around her due to her comments about him and the baby. I know that it’s hard to tell your own mom that, and I’ve been crying endlessly about it but I cannot continue this cycle of being so upset and worried about my mom walking into my house and shooting me or my baby.. And to be honest even my own dad and sister think she will. The hard part is deciding whether or not I should call and have my mom mentally evaluated in the psych ward to save all of our lives or let things just be because she might end up coming out of that evaluation even more upset than what she originally was. Not to mention, I would have to live with the fact that I was the reason my mom was not there for the birth of my first child. Being pregnant and being put through the ringer with your own mom is the worst feeling ever because you just want her to be there.. Ya know? My story sounds so concise and not bad now that I read it back, but how much do you really want to vent about in a short story? Lol it makes me feel a bit better, though :)

    • Wow, we are very similar. I am now 33 and have 3 kids and had to cut my mom out of me and my kids life’s completely about 5 years ago because I did fear for our safety. I could go on for days about it, but all I can say is you have to do what’s best for you, not her. She is an adult no matter what mental illness she has and ultimately your goal is to be healthy yourself. I think if she threatened to shoot people then I would turn her in for sure. If something were to happen you would regret not doing that. I’ve had to deal with rude comments shaming me for cutting my mom out of my life but no one knows what went on and how she treated me and ruled my life. Like you I’d get 30 texts a day and she would manipulate me into feeling sorry for her and the cycle would start over and over again. You cannot set boundaries with a bipolar person. So for me, I had to just end the relationship. It was very hard but in much healthier because of it.

  5. This post has really helped me. My mom has bipolar disorder, PTSD & anxiety. I have always been more mature than other people my age & im guessing it’s be I had to be when I was little. She’s always been medicated & slept a lot. She’s either asleep & depressed or highly manic. I’ve learned to keep my heart guarded bc she has hurt me so much. Any time she hurts me I keep it to myself bc anytime I’ve addressed it & it turns into a giant disaster. She’s so irrational & erratic. Sometimes I get so jealous to see other women my age out doing normal things with their Moms that mine can’t/won’t do. Or to see other kids go spend weekends with their grandparents & mine can’t bc my mom is medicated and has to sleep & an extended stay stresses her out. I’m trying to be understanding but man it’s hard sometimes. Praying everyday for guidance & patience. ??

  6. I became the parent at 5. We were evicted, homeless, no utilities. At 15, my job helped to support us, my car was our car. My whole life I aided her emotionally and financially. All the while having cycles of abusive talk. She taught me to be insecure and that no one wants me. I fought to overcome those in therapy. I always wondered what was up with her. At 7 I understood things she didn’t. My therapist said she sounds bipolar. Its slightly but they all act the same. My mom is 62. She isn’t gonna get help. We are fine then she explodes on me for some perceived slight. Ignore me for weeks, months, years. Then out the blue talk like it never happened. I know now she has mental issues but it doesn’t make it easy but more tolerable. At first I thought it was intentional and it made me angry,but know I know better. I love her and she did the best she could. I know she loves us. I hurt that I will never be accepted by her. I’m the enemy no matter what I do. Sadly my brother is her twin. He never shuns me though like she does. I know it’s not her fault and she fell through the cracks ad did we. She gets frustrated because she wanted to do much more, but she made sure we were clean and fedand loved. Granted, we didn’t always feel loved but we would see glimmers of it with feeling at rare times. Now that she is older, she can’t hold it together like she could so the fits of anger are more often and last longer but kids always love mama.

  7. Dear Martha, thank you so much for this post which I came across as I was walking through the streets of London in tears from a verbal bashing from my dad. I really struggle with it and feel like he hates me and that I can’t do anything right but reading your blog has helped incredibly. I know all those feelings you describe – the sadness and hopelessness because there is nothing you can do to the shape or change the relationship even though you desperately want to feel closer to them. You are absolutely right about acceptance, it is the only way to deal with the hurt and mixed emotions. Thank you so much for being brave enough to write this post and give something back. You’ve thrown me some hope and understanding when I really needed it, thank you. Xxx

  8. my mother spends money so recklessly. She is never content. If she lives here, she wants to live there. If she has this, she wants that. My brother used to help her but now he died. I can’t afford to help her financially. I have begged her for decades to save her money. I don’t know where she can move that she can afford. I sometimes think life will be easier for the family when she passes away.

  9. This blog is of great comfort; reading that many of us who have lived under the pseudo guidance of a bipolar parent tended to have to parent or raise ourselves from a young age. That has always been a struggle for me to explain to even my healthy parent, who my brother and I did not live with until I was 12, he was 16. Of course guilt lingers on my father, and in myself for him not ‘saving’ us sooner. Whatever those reasons are, I’m too afraid to ask, because I don’t want my dad to re-live the pain, the assumed guilt. My mother married an abusive man who beat her and my brother throughout the eight years of Thor marriage. My brother was forever damaged, lived his life with my mother; they shirked each other from the harshness of the world. She kept him from living a life of his own.

    Fast forward to age 32 for me, my mom was hospitalized in a psych ward when I was finally told she had been undiagnosed bipolar for most of her life, and continues to go untreated. I have successfully been able to keep my distance, while avoiding telling her how her illness and actions have impacted me, because it would destroy her.

    My brother passed away one month ago. His 45th birthday would have been tomorrow.
    I receive calls from my grieving and I’ll mother telling me I am all she has. Out of fear of hurting her, I put her off, say I’ll try to see her soon, and I love her. But, I am afraid I’ll be sucked back in. I have severe guilt about not showing up for her during this time, and feel selfish about it. Again, I feel all alone, as I did at age 4 onward. I accept she is ill, I accept she is my mother who I have found with slit wrists at age 7 & had to call 911, I accept the many times I found her passed out in various rooms in the house on the floor due to a seizure disorder rat may or may not have redulted from elcectro shock therapy her shitty husband signed her up for, I accept that I need to place distance between us. But today and the rest of her grieving period I cannot accept the guilt I feel for this distance I need i order to feel sane. I feel like I’m 7 years old again at age 41.

  10. I met a man with schizo and learned his gf was bipolar. I back away form them fast. I tried to be around them for the sake of the kids. CPS wont do much and yet there has been abuse. seen my sis in law lose her kids due to her mental illness and then friends daughter. If you are a child you have the right to peace. you can ask for help via a friend counselor and then you can try to emancipate in your teens. that said parents stayon your meds. seek help. friend daughter she was arrested for neglect. court order to stya on meds but now she lives with her mom who has basically raised her kids. i beg you parents get on meds stay on them. you leave fear and pain for your kids when you are not. I do not care if you it is not your fault you were born with ME but it is your when you neglect your children. It is traumatizing for them and some are left with fear and anxiety and life. One child of their has tried to commit suicide the other is now in a juvi jail. He acted as he had seen his parents. The other lady both her kids have been committed to the pscyh unit more than once for attempted suicide and attacking others. The kids that care and walk away from this and not dx with this or repeat the abuse themselves or harm themselves are lucky. I am here as someone who has seen this. I had an alki mom and all 3 of us have studied psychology to understand the what and why and we either try to help others avoid what we endured or we avoid them. I m praying if you are reading this and not on meds you seek them and a good dr. For the sake of the kids. If not then at least go on birth control.

  11. When I was younger, I didn’t realize that my mother had a real problem. I’m 27 now.

    I moved out when I was 18, because my boyfriend insisted I move in. I would go to his place all the time, crying, raging and shaking with pain or maddness. I couldn’t understand why someone would talk to me how she did. She still does. She’s stubbern. I’m living with her again and it’s strange to experience this shit again, as an adult.

    I am grateful for finding this blog, with others who sat in their room crying because of your parent screaming at you, not allowing you to have a conversation, not trying to improve the sitation, not letting you have a voice, not respecting you.

    She’d yell, not budge, then I’d walk away and she’d come knock on my door, ask me kindly if I wanted to go get ice cream or shopping. She’s not diagnosed. She has always been this way, but it got intolerable when she was going through menopause. I’m a very rational person. I was diagnosed with social anxiety and depression when I was 15. I don’t do well with being yelled at and put down. It was never her goal to help me learn and grow as an adult. All she did was scream, control, put down. I assume she is bipolar. If she’s not bipolar, and mentally healthy, and just a really mean person sometimes, my relationship with her has damaged me. I don’t feel like my situation compares to most everyone else, but it’s been a huge burden in my life to feel constant disrespect from my mother. I love her more than anything, and I know she loves me, but how could she talk to me the way she does? Why doesn’t she give me respect and talk calmly with me? Why does she shut me down when I try to take the high road, and calmly let her know that she doesn’t need to yell, I’d like to talk to her about it(whatever the problem) and have a positive result? WHY ISN’T THAT POSSIBLE? until she sits down and feels like a fucking jerk, then apologizes and tries to get on my good side. I’ve told her how she talks to me makes me feel, I’ve told her that is is damaging our relationship. Until I can afford to move out, I can’t get away. She is a wonderful person, but she has this side that totally fucking sucks. I don’t think she talks to anyone else the way she talks to her family members. It’s hard to deal with someone that refuses to be rational. She glazes over and is a stone of stubbern controller, end all be all. Why does she let herself get so mad? I gotta remind myself that mental illness(if that’ truly her issue) isn’t a choice.

    • I am currently 15 years old. I was diagnosed with anxiety and OCD earlier this year. My dad is bipolar. Im obviously young but I have been dealing with this for as long as I can remember. My dad is one of the best people I know, when his bipolar doesn’t take over. My dad has called me terrible names over the past years and it sucks. I feel terrible about myself when I’m around him 90% of the time. But I always remind myself “this isn’t him, MY DAD would never treat me this way if he was in control.” Nothing anyone says will make me feel better and it doesn’t take away the pain and suffering. But just remembering that can sometimes help take the blame off your parent.

    • I’m 21 and I deal with a lot of shit because of my mom. Idk if she’s jus krazy or bipolar but no one can be happy but her. If she’s not happy when she wakes up she’ll get up extra early to slam everything and cuss at me and my sister while we’re asleep! Calling us both names and things unbelievable.i got kicked out at 16. She said don’t come back and so I didn’t for a year and more. She called out of the blue asking for my newborn saying she misses us. I moved back in the next couple weeks. My mom inherited this house I stay in from my grandma in 2012.(r.i.p) If anyone tries to tell her anything she picks a fight and says get out of my house, or its my property get off or I’ll call the cops. She’s done so before and I’ve gone to jail for it. I went to jail because she came home going bipolar and krazy picking on my 17 year old lil sis and getting in her face calling her a slut and saying she’ll beat her ass I was asleep meanwhile and woke up to this. I tried to prevent this from happening and stop it and I got involved trying to protect my sister.Long story short she lied to the cops about everything and told my little sister if she said anything they won’t belive her and she’ll beat her ass. I still live here trying to set myself up to get out and I’m halfway there, but it gets worse everyday. Your stories make me tear up because I no its not jus me alone like always trying to figure it out on my alone and cope with the scars left physically and emotionally. But best believe my son will not get that treatment from his mom or me I will not let his happen.

    • I’m going through the same shit. I’m 32 have been dealing with a bipolar mom since I was a teenager. I’ve only been in and out of my parents because of the way my mom gets. Now that I’m struggling trying to get back on my feet after an abusive relationship, I’m forced to move back in. Everything before I came over was just fine until my first day back in. All my mom had to say to me was all negative and pretty much that I’m a pos that can’t be trusted when I have NEVER STOLEN FROM THIS FAMILY. My last relationship, my gf at the time, choked me. Then when I was going through all the emotions and trauma of being choked, my brother gets drunk and just keeps poking and prodding at me til then he eventually arm choked me. So I bit him. My ex roommate who has a anger problem got in my face and did same thing my brother did. But according to my mom, it’s all in my head. Why the he’ll would I make something up so traumatic as being choked???? Now it’s, I can’t even get a cup of coffee in the morning or eat breakfast before she just goes in with putting me down. But no, I’m just the problem child. I don’t know what else to do. I’ve spent the day in my room hardly eating to avoid any lashing and hurting things my mom wants to say. It’s truly fucked with my head. I don’t know what else to Do? My dad doesn’t seem of any help as he’s just barely hanging on to keep everything together

      • My mom also known to say exaggerated truths, while trying to convince my dad to kick me out multiple times. If I don’t agree or do what she says, then God almighty, I’m a pos. Im just so self centered person she ever met she says. So hurtful. But I can never get a day or nothing. Cuz what she says goes.

  12. Hi,

    I am a bipolar mom and an adult daughter of a bipolar mother. I am here to give you a ray of hope.

    My story is not as dramatic, possibly because I don’t recall as much because I am busy raising my kids. My mom was a single mom and did what she could with what she had. I’m quite sure that my perspective has changed over time and that I shared what you guys are going through now with the feelings of abandonment and confusion and such but as of now I understand.

    She did spend most of her time away from my sisters and I. I did raise myself, but I did get this far; I’m 35 and have a PhD in psychology. On top of having served my country so I have definitely moved past it all.

    You can move past all of this. It will take effort but it can and will happen. I personally found that when I left home for the Air Force the hardest part was knowing that I was happy and thriving. I constantly had to combat the guilt I had of my mom not doing the same thing. It took almost a decade until I accepted that I couldn’t live for her. You must do the same. Live.

    • Hi thriving!
      I am so happy to hear your story.
      It’s incourageing.In my up bringing my mother had grown up with other issues besides her bipolar which I wonder if her trauma caused her bipolar?
      I really do.
      I have some issues withe sadness and PTSD but not giving up dream yet.
      Maybe a late bloomer,but non the less.
      May we feel connected supported because it does help
      At least me

  13. Hi, my name is Kat.I have never once publicly wrote my experience…but seeing these stories made me realize that these are the only people who will understand me 100%. I need advice. I don’t know what to do anymore. My mom was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 20…it runs in my family as both my grandparents had it. My mom has been following Christian Science Church since I can remember. This has affected my mom as she wouldn’t take her medication because she believed God would heal her without the medication. Her symptoms definitely showed up. Then, she went to live at the hospital from when I was 6 to 10. She got out into her own apartment. Yet after living there three years, she had problems. She started smoking cigarettes again. She stopped taking her medication. She went bankrupt. And while this happens, she’s buying me presents and expensive gifts while she can’t work. She once bought me clothes with her medication money. She went to live with a group home for a few years but then they decided she should live someone else. My dad let her live with us, despite my protests. I’m 18 now, about to go to college, and the past two years have been the worst they have ever been in my life:
    She still follows the religion, which she uses as an excuse to rarely the her bipolar meds.
    My mom got diagnosed with diabetes because of her obesity. However, she barely ever takes her medication for it and her blood sugar is above the charts. She doesn’t care, she eats whatever she wants.
    My mom spends her money like crazy. She leaves at 7:00 in the morning and comes back at 11:00 pm. She goes to Martha’s Vineyard, 2 hours away and all these expensive places. She spends money she doesn’t have. SHE TOOK OUT MONEY FROM MY FAMILY’S INSURANCE IN ORDER TO PAY FOR FOOD/GAS/ETC. She has also called me, asking me to pick her up in the middle of a highway because she ran out of gas. She has gone to restaurants without money, and then the waitress “feels bad” so they give it to her for free. she has also done this with clothes. However, this just last week my mom GOT ARRESTED because she didn’t pay the bill. Whats WORSE is that she LIED to me and said it was because she was parked in the wrong spot. Oh, and another thing, my mom has multiple unpaid parking tickets in her car because she parks in handicap places and basically on the side walk because she cannot walk far and has a hard time breathing.
    My mom also has developed scarring on her face from the diabetes. She picks at her face everyday. It honestly looks like she has chicken pox. its worse when she puts MilK, ORANGE JUICE, whatever she is drinking on her face and body to “cool herself off” and then drinks whatever she is drinking again.
    then…the absolute worse experience I never thought i would share…
    Because of the diabetes my mom has developed a urinary problem where she cannot hold her bladder. She has gone on the couch, in her room, on the floor, in her car, etc. My whole house smells from it. I bought her adult diapers but she won’t wear them. She doesn’t even wear underwear. I can’t even sit on my couch anymore! I don’t know what to do! do I buy another one? just so it can’t get ruined again?

    i have talked to my mom 10000000000x times about her health but each time we end up in a fight. Ive honestly been crying every night. I know my mom doesn’t take her meds(bipolar and diabetes) and that she doesn’t care. Ive called the hospital 4 times and other organizations these past months but they say she needs to voluntarily go to the place herself and WANT the treatment. what do i do? The doctor called my dad 3 times now and said her blood pressure was above 400 these past 3 months. She could have died any moment then.
    please please please help me know what to do. My mom does love me. But honestly I have no relationship now with her because all we do is fight about her health. Today she said she didn’t need me or my brother. That I was the devil taking away her spirit.
    My dad says she wants to live her life to fullest, spend her money, and die..
    I don’t want my mom to die. Im honestly breaking down crying as I type this. I know i have no relationship with my mom and that she takes advantage of everyone. I know she borrows money from people and never pays them back. I know she smokes and acts like everything is ok. But i miss my real mom. We had a relationship when she was in the hospital and she started her apartment. She was taking her meds. Yeah it wasn’t perfect, but it was something. Now she always lies to me and theres honestly a part of me, I really really really really really hate to even whisper, that I hate. I hate her treating me like this. I know its not her but I just can’t do this anymore.
    The rest of my relatives are selfish and won’t do anything. my dad won’t do anything. They are divorced and he says he is just giving her a place to live. My brother just stays quiet. Is there a nursing home or something she can live in so they can make her take her meds? My mom has been to the hospital 4 times the past 3 months and they can’t keep her there. but i can’t bear to have her stay here anymore. I don’t have to see her die. She is dying while she stays here. and she doesn’t care. please…even an organization to call.
    Im sorry for the long post…thank you for giving me the courage to post my own story.

  14. It is very hard to put into words, let alone comprehensive thoughts, what it is like to experience this.

    It makes me so hopeful when I realize that others are out there who have experienced this too. Those who have not just don’t understand the lack of logic- or why everything comes down to serious emotional and abrasive commentary.

    I feel like I’m “walking on eggshells” anytime I interact with my bipolar mom and aunt. It it’s really scary. I’ve tried to describe it to others as like living with someone you love, and who is amazing- but similarly to silly exorcism movies, they suddenly will become fixated and irrational and almost as if they aren’t there anymore- but something dark and awful is. I know that sounds stupid… but it is the only metaphor I’ve found that shares the horror of it, and also how truly scary it can be when anger or irrationality or aggression appears out of nowhere, at a level of 100.

    I am 25 years old, and I live in NYC- 3000 miles away from my family. What I’m learning, is that distance doesn’t solve this problem, and there is no solution. Running away is just as bad as confronting it. It seems like there is nothing to look forward to. I have accepted the fact that my mom, like many other bi polar moms, will never be able to be a healthy grandma one day, or be a positive role model. That when it comes time for big things, like a wedding, or buying a house, etc… that it will always be a negative situation and hurtful.

      • I thought it was only me who was experiencing this. Although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one. The guilt and worry about if I say the wrong thing is almost too much. Especially as I am now very ill myself (physically) my sister has always walked away from the situations and I feel so abandoned, Mum is an exceptionally loving person, but that makes the demon when it appears all the worse because I know it’s not her, I cannot even begin to describe my father and our upbringing. Just want to find peace, and I love my Mum so very much it hurts to know that it will always be that way. It seems to be when the terrible things I’ve had to experience, and are going through, turns out to be the times when that awful illness appears. She has done so very well over the last 20 years to keep up with medication, but I can see when things take are beginning to take a downturn-but if I try to help her make sense of things, it makes it worse. Which makes it a million times worse for me. Painting a smile on my face etc. making sure don’t say the wrong thing in case it makes her have an episode again is very very hard. I lost my fiancé in an accident, at first just fine, then the demon took over and she strangled me, going through lots of operations at moment and can see that demon appearing yet again. I believe that stress and worry brings it to the forefront. How long can you go on fighting with the person you love most in the world whilst they’re being taken over by this awful demon of an illness.

  15. I’m 18 years old and headed off to college. My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was around 6. She had always been unstable- accusing my father of having an affair, fighting with my aunts, uncles and verbally accusing me of being a whore (when I’ve never even had a boyfriend or party or do anything dysfunctional). My friends would always ask about where my mom was in school events and wanted to know who raised that great daughter– little did they know that mother was someone distant and far from what they expected. It got easier over the years when she began medication, but I’ve never had that normal relationship with my mother. My older brother is abusive; a high school dropout who scowls my parents even though they help him. My mother treats my brother like a monarch with no regard for myself or my other 2 siblings. My older brother treats her like shit– but she still does what he wants because according to her he at least talks to her. I stayed distant from my mother because I never knew how she was going to be. I gained my own independence around 10 years old. Since then I’ve been the one to cook,clean and help pay bills all while studying and doing well in school. My brothers and father all count on me for help and going away to college in terrifying me. My mother even brought a dog as an impulse one time and now I have to take care of him. My father is old– well into his 60s, and though he was really my mom and dad growing up, it’s still a strain on him to deal with my mom. I wish my mom would just go away. We sent her off to see her relatives in Mexico every year and I know it sounds selfish; but those are the best days. I’ve always felt like my mother wasn’t there–so her physically not being there doesn’t even make a difference.

    • The last part really resonates with me..about how her not physically being there doesn’t make a difference. I know exactly what you mean. I applaud you for taking good care of your family. I do some of the time, but sometimes I honestly run from it and go out to just not be home. I honestly hope you can come out of this stronger than you went into it.

  16. These stories have made my heart swell with empathy and strength. I’m 18 years old, I also have a bipolar mother; I feel as if i connect so deeply with every single one of these posts and the original post. At this age, I’m looking straight ahead to my university life, away from home (which starts in September, providing i get my recommended grades) which I have been so impatiently waiting for during the past 5 years. The end of my raging, unstable home life is so SO close! But the times are getting worse. My exams start in 10 days and I’m on the edge with my family situation and I really don’t know how i’m going to get through the next few months.

    My mum desperately doesn’t want me to leave, because as she knows i’m not going to come back – once i’ve flown the nest, there’s no hope of me coming back for good. I do not get along with my family, because of my mother’s bipolar. However, she’s making things a lot worse than they should be, and it seems rather blatantly deliberate. She’s refusing to fill out any student finance forms, delaying any situation for university, refusing to co-operate to take me to any of the open days (earlier on in the year) and because of this, i’ve had to make a blind choice about which university i would like to go to. I just hope i’ve made the right choice.

    This blog has made me think of all of the memories that I intentionally blocked out from my child hood, the days of waking up not knowing what the day will bring, whether she would find a cup of water in my room, consequently empty the contents of my draws on the floor and trash my room. There were days where things were so bad that i’d pack my bags (as a 10 year old) and leave, just walk… Until i was found by my friend’s mum who always seemed to take me back to that hell hole. Even now, when I leave the house, i could be gone for days without questioning – and i know any 18 year old would die for this freedom, but really, all i would die for is some love and some support for my unstable, unpredictable, horrible, uncaring mother.

    The hardest part of this is, i can see the end. I’m on the home stretch, which seems thousands of miles long. It’s getting longer because my mum’s constantly putting hurdles in my way – today i came home from sixth form to find my older brother (who is a pathological liar, a drug addict, a thief, manipulative, immature, violent child) at my house, with no warning – which she had previously promised me she would give, because of the amount of emotional distress he causes me because I have cut him out of my life and haven’t yet been able to deal with it – because of being so busy studying. She then drops on me about being unable to help me get any resources for my university accommodation – plates, mugs, stationary, bedding etc. and told me that i have to provide it for myself. This is further complicated by the fact that I haven’t been able to have a job since August 2015 because of health complications (IBD). I was majorly ill for 4 consecutive months, therefore missed out on many many lessons and i’m still aiming to leave for university this year. There’s no other option. I cannot stay in this emotionally abusive home.

    At one point in time, i had to get my school involved, which i found highly embarrassing, because she wouldn’t give me money for the bus to and from school. The school ended up giving me money and my mother verbally abused my head of year over the phone. After this, and after having some authoritative figures involved, they (and this page) made me realise that this situation is not normal, it’s not healthy and i should get myself out of it as soon as i can. For my own good, i cannot wait to cut off my mum. She’s had too much of a negative impact on my life and I will start my own family when i’m older, and i will vouch not to be like her, my biological dad (who left at the age of 2, no contact for 9 years and then in and out of my life like the summer months), or my older brother.

    My children will never feel the way I do about my mum, I can’t have them cry in their rooms every night because of me. I can’t have them feel unloved and useless. That’s not the way things should be.

    Although this may not seem much to everyone on here, she’s given me so much grief and so much emotional abuse / blackmail over the years (that hasn’t been explained) that it’s driven me to total exhaustion.

    ps. i’m sorry if parts don’t make sense, i can’t bare to read back over it and cry any more than i have done writing it.

    • Hi there! I just wanted to let you know that I read your post, and I really genuinely hear everything you said.

      I’m a young woman, a few years older than you (I finished college in 2013). When I went away for college… it was the most empowering thing that ever happened.

      You will find yourself and build a community around you that is healthy, maybe for the first time ever in your life. Remember to stay strong, be independent, and make your life what you want it to be :)

      It will be hard- your relationship with your mom will still be very difficult and you might feel guilt. Especially since you will now likely have to hear about it remotely/ phone/ etc.

      The only real piece of advice I can offer is to make very good friends and relationships, who support you and are understanding about your situation. The stronger your own life is, the better you will be able to grow healthily throughout college and beyond.

      • Hi anonymous,

        Thank you so much for your reply. It’s people like you in this world that should be treasured.

        Reading through this, sometimes twice a day for the past 2 weeks has made me so motivated so work hard for my exams and to ignore my home life as much as possible.

        I’m so appreciative for your kind words, so thank you

        Emma x

    • Hi,
      i just read your post..and I am honestly so sorry. I never realized how much other people went through…I thought I only had it bad. I’m going off to college too and I also have a bipolar mom. I also leave without warning just to get away from my house. However, instead of a mom who doesn’t care, my mom does. But to the point where it’s bad. She buys me things without having any money or using her medication money. She doesn’t take care of her health. She says she cares about me, yet she literally almost has had heart attacks from her lack of care for herself. I didn’t comment to tell you my life story, I just wanted to say that your not alone…thank you for making me feel not alone.
      Hopefully college will be better for the both of us!

      • Hi anonymous,

        To be honest, everyone’s experience of a bipolar parent is as bad as the next. One experience that you may have and find relatively easy to deal with, i may have and find it excruciating and difficult.

        Since i’ve been researching about bipolar parents I’ve noticed that money management is a huge hurdle in their lives – my mother finds it very difficult to understand what is a necessity and what is not. Some days i come home to new kitchen appliances or bags of clothes for herself – yet all we have in the fridge at home is yogurt / fruit. I guess an up side for this is that we (when we go to university) have a grip on how money works and what it should be spent on and hopefully a better life in the future because of this situation.

        Thank you for the reply, it is really appreciated and it keeps me motivated when people tell me that i’m not alone (because I don’t hear it often). All we have to remember is that this situation is not normal and it’s not healthy.

        I’m really sorry to hear about your situation and I really do feel your pain.

        I hope your exams go well and trust me, your future is bright!!

        Emma x

  17. I recently dated a girl for six months who was a child of a bipolar parent. She had a mood disorder, suffered from highs and lows herself, and always wanted control. Previous to me, she had already lived with 2 men by the time she turned 29 and tried to have them buy her engagement rings. Both left when they didn’t want to. She felt a sense of loneliness. She became depressed when her grandma died and became verbally abusive and depressed. After a month, I asked for a day off in which she responded by breaking up with me 48 hours later. As someone who loved her, my heart aches for all of you on here. You see the problems that are caused and can see the irrationality in their decisions. After a month, I never had heartbreak over it, just sadness, wishing for happiness.

  18. All of your stories break my heart.

    The children living with broken relationships, physical and hugely psychological damage.

    The parents with a feared disease.

    I’m 33 and a mother of two. I have bipolar 2…I google searched “kids living with Bipolar parents” and was led here. I was searching in hopes that I might catch anything in my actions that I need to change or talk about with my kids but WOW! I was unprepared for all the pain…

    Our lives are different I see my doc every couple of weeks, take my meds, and love my kids. I also have an amazing husband. It is because of my children and husband that I will try pill after pill, endure an unfathomable amount of side effects, keep journals of my moods, stay at home to minimize stress, and buy really comfortable bamboo lounge pants (not on a buying spree). And I think it’s because of Jesus we have peace in our home (other than singing, dancing, and playing husband… Oh yeah the kids too).

    But I have been really depressed lately and maybe a bit hypomanic (I’m lucky and have mixed episodes) and I was forgetting how blessed I am, and what I was fighting for and against.

    So thank you all for your stories, for pieces of your hearts. I will use them to love my children well. Your stories are not in vain I will always remember them in moments of weakness, or deciding to drive to the hospital and pay for the parking and do the walk of shame to the phyic ward. When I make the call for help, or just to decide it’s a French toast and movie night.

    Thank you

    I pray for peace in your relationships with your parent(s) suffering with bpd.

    • Please never reply to yourself or situation as “a walk of shame to the phyc ward”.
      I have not posted about my mother and her BP and split personality, too painful after she just abused and attacked me. I just found this website and saw your post.
      I wish my mom would be like you, taking responsibility for who and how she is, care enough to get help and do anything in her power to give her child a great life. You should be proud of yourself, I wish my mom would do that.
      My mom targets and abuses me in every way about anything and everything. Life is utter hell with her abuse and its 24/7.
      If you ever feel shameful, please remember you are doing the right thing to get help, it’s the mothers that don’t that should feel shameful. Like my mom.

      God bless you and the strength you have to get help and live in the truth. Your kids are lucky to have a mom like you.

  19. I’m a 30 something adult and still struggling with a Bipolar Father. Your words rung so true to me that they moved me to tears. Thank you for expressing what I have struggled my whole life to put into words. Maybe now I can explain why my relationship is the way it is with him to others…I have hope

  20. One thing people need to understand is it doesn’t have to be like this if they or others will get help( yes I know alot will not go, or just won’t take their meds.) I have bi-polar however growing up with a severely bi-polar grandmother. I was willing to get help because of the things I saw Grandma do. I’m on lots of meds and work closely with my physiatrist. Because of this I lead a virtually normal life. I have children, but I have ask them and so have others if mommy’s sickness has ever hurt them. They say no, and I have them in counseling so they can talk about it and how it effects them. Because of the care and work that I go thru nobody believes me when I confide in them. Please do not judge us all the same. Better yet don’t judge us at all. Some people should not be able to keep their children if they aren’t willing to get and stay on help and meds. No child should go thru this. My one big regret is that my son was diagnosed with bipolr last week. This makes me cry, but I know that I’m uniquely qualified to teach him how to handle things and live the best life he can!

  21. I can truly feel what you’ve been through because that what’s happening to me actually.

    As a little child, I didn’t notice that my mom was ill. I remember that I was really scared of her. She never beated me but she was very tough when she was mad at me. She abused me verbally very often and was a bit violent towards me. Waking up on every morning, my mother’s behavior was unexpected, she could be very sweet and two hours later, she’d turn insulting me (“foolish kid”, “idiot”, “stupid girl”…and so on).

    I felt also injustice because my mother used to spoil my little brother. I remember once a day when I am 7, preparing for a date with the family, she were angry and she had to brush my hair. I had very long hair at the time (until my back) and I felt her anger though her movements because she brushed it so violently that my head was shaking upside down. I lost many hair that day.

    Then, I can remember another tough memory as being a child when my mother did an emotionally blackmail to me. She did it so many times until now but that one was really horrible for me. I argued with her so she stopped talking to me and she ignored me during two weeks, and was spoiling my little brother instead in front of me on everyday, telling him “you’re my child unlike your stupid sister”.

    During my teen years, I’ve made many friends and I met my best friend. I told her many secrets included this. And I felt lost, because my mother was kind and stopped to mentally hurt me for many years; she even told me that she tried her best as a mom love her child equally.

    However days came when my brother turned to his first teen days too, and he was an horrible teen at that time. He was violent towards me and my mother and asked my mom for every single thing he wanted or he would insult her and beat her. I began to understand that my mother were depressed since a very long time.

    So I felt miss-understood because in these times, she would continue to be sweet with my violent brother and to verbally abuse me behind.

    Three years ago, it was the toughest times I’ve ever been through. My brother calmed his anger down and started to be nice to me and to my mother, but my mother ended to be more depressed than ever.

    I had to do everything right or I’d be insulted by her, every little mistakes counted especially my bad grades. She once told me that I’ve better not be born because she endured too much pain to give birth such an idiot child.

    I started to be afraid of her behavior on everyday and I felt depressed too. My psychologist finally taught me that my mother could have a bipolar disorder.

    Last year, I tried to be in coma because of her words, after arguing with each other she told me that I’d never be her child anymore and that she’d tell to my grandmother that I am a mean and useless girl so that grandma would never see me anymore (my mother is an Asian immigrant so my grandmother speaks a language that is only understood by my mom. I’ve been raised by my grandmother while being a young child when my mom and my dad were going to work). I swallowed medicines but I just ended to sleep for 15 hours and the rest of the family just thought that I was sick.

    My mother went to be physically violent towards me too, last year she even tried to choke me because I was making too much noise while drying my hair.

    I felt anger and I wanted to move in another town just to escape her and to not see her face anymore. I wanted to build my life, last year.

    Now, I’m just 18 and I feel sad too. My mother is ill now and feels tired but it seems that she keeps abusing me verbally and doing blackmails very often, even though I’m all grown up.

    I’m living in the capital of my country, letting my brother, my mother and father through their divorce affair behind me in the country side. But when I’m going back home, I’m still arguing with her on every week end and I’m still wondering if it’d ever stop.

    So now I’m trying to make plans for my future and the desire of escaping her hasn’t changed, because I just want to make my life in another country which she wouldn’t know about now…

    Until my mind changes about it.

    I’ve never thought about sharing my story until I’ve read your article. I felt that my relationship with my mother’d exactly look like yours…

    So I wanted to tell mine too.

    Thank you…

    Ps : I’m not an English speaker, then sorry for the mistakes.

    • I can relate to you in the same exact way, my mother is Asian & I had a brother til he lost his life in a car accident

    • oh my….I am so sorry you had to go through that! reading your story makes me realize how bad things can get…my mom does a lot more self harm than to me… stay strong

    • This is my first time here, and I just wanted to stop by and say that I really understand and can relate. My mom does this with my sister and I and the difference in the way she treats both of us is so big that even people on the “outside” of our family can tell sometimes. We’re Indian, so I definitely understand the difficulties that our Asian culture brings… I feel like Indian people are so against even acknowledging mental illness sometimes! Thanks for sharing.

  22. I have 2 small kids with a bipolar husband. We only found out about his disease less than 2 years ago after his many mania episodes.

    I know that’s how my husband grew up because he had told me the stories since we met, and he has longed for a normal relationship with his mother for a long time. Since she barely goes to doctors, she has never been diagnosed for bipolar disorder. So throughout his life, no one in the family knew what was wrong with her.

    Now, I seen the scars and the psylogical pain that was imprinted on my husband growing up with a bipolar mother.

    So my questions to you that grew up with a bipolar parents is – Are my kids better off growing up with divorced parents or with teaching and counseling, they will be able to grow normally?

    I really like your input in here since you experience what my husband has experience.

    We have been doing therapy together with him and the therapist gives little feedback on this matter. I know ultimately is my decision and I’m okay taking psylogical abuse, but I do not wish that to my kids at all.

    I love my husband and I am very patient and compassionate about the disease. It’s a disease and that’s not who he is in my mind, but in order to be a greater parent, I was wondering which one would you rather grew up with, divorced parents or with a bipolar parent?

    I greatly appreciate your input.

    • The real question is whether you can provide a stable and secure environment for your children to grow in. That is the priority. Can you do that while he is in the same household? I suggest you talk to a child psychologist about what is best for your kids. I was much happier after my parents divorced because I no longer had to deal with the unpredictability and volatility. It was a huge relief off my shoulders. I was 14. But the early damage was done already.

      • Divorce.

        My bi-polar mother ran away with myself (aged 6) and my 3 younger siblings and hid in a cottage for several weeks during her first real episode. We were taken from her by police when she attended a doctors appointment and was taken to hospital until my father was notified of our whereabouts (she was taken to a mental facility for a “holiday”. My parents got divorced and the only real reprieve during my childhood was knowing that I only had to stay at mums for the weekend. during the week I had a normal life at dads.
        I am now 23, my mother has since remarried and divorced again with numerous engagements and unstable relationships. Much to my disappointment I now have a younger sibling in her sole care as his father literally left the country after they split. He feels like everything is his fault, hes stupid, he can never do anything right because thats all hes ever known.

        without much more detail I am now going for custody of my youngest brother in her sole care at present so that he has the childhood he deserves as there is no escaping this for him and he needs to know its not normal and its not his fault.
        My younger 3 siblings dont remember much of my mothers initial kidnapping and constant slandering of my father and family and that is something ill be forever grateful for.

        Your children deserve a loving parent and a stable home, something that no matter how much you try and convince yourself I can guarantee a bipolar parent will struggle to provide this. they will not accept that they have made a child feel guilt or sadness or worthlessness, a constant denial and battle within themselves.

  23. I really appreciate everyone who has shared. I am 28 years old and have dealt with my mother being bipolar since I was about 8. I remember being a sensitive loving child who didn’t want to wear socks with her Christmas dress and my sister trying to protect me from her which only got her slapped upside her head with a aerosol hairspray can. I remember being soo happy when my parents divorced thinking wow finally mom and dad can be happy again. And I remember not understanding why my mother tried to beat me up when I asked her to take me to the doctor at 17 because I thought I broke my foot. I have always been the one to bottle up the emotions as I didn’t want to cause any outburst or be a burden to anyone around me. And have been border line ready to lose my mind as the last year and a half has been every weekend with hundreds of text messages and phone calls. I recently have asked myself regularly why she hates me soo much and have battled thoughts that maybe it wouldn’t be the worse thing in the world if she did OD on pills this time. Fortunately I have clung to god who is always with me. I am not in any sort of therapy but realizing that is a good resource for me and my husbands sake. We have to take care of us. I don’t blame her and I love her with all my heart but cannot give her my whole life and sanity. I cannot be a disconnected mom to my son because my mother wasn’t there for me. Thank You to everyone for sharing I was just about to scream here at work as the text messages started from her and the warning message from my Aunt. I am grateful to know I’m not alone. God Bless you all in your battles.

    • Trina,
      I hear your story, mine has been the same. My mother has just died and the last 3 years of her life have been blessed by medication and I have had the mother I have longed for my entire life. I am the sensitive child in the family, was verbally abused and my mother hit me a lot.

      I have only stood by my mum as my Christian faith has sustained me. I have often wanted to sell up and move away. I have hated her and loved her. My children now in their 20’s have grown up knowing their nana had a mental illness and they loved her regardless as children do. Gods grace has enabled me to care for her and recognise those symptoms.

      I have learned late, but can I say, please make your boundaries, your children come first, her demands on you and your time could bring resentment. When I plucked up courage and made the rules, things got better, my mum needed the boundary too. My own family needed my time and my mum was robbing them of that. It took me 12 years to work how to handle my mum. I knew I had to make changes or I would be in the mental hospital or dead, instead of her.

      I decided to visit my mum once a week and only talked on the phone once a week. I didn’t respond to any txs or late night phone calls, and her messages of blackmail. I chose to just ignore or delete them.You do not have to have be bullied anymore. This is setting the boundary, and i would not feel guilty or sorry for doing this. There would be no more manipulating or controlling behaviour from my mum put on me.

      The rest of the time I was released from thinking about her. You are not responsible for her actions, her thoughts, her demands. This leaves you free to share and care more easily. I gave mum my time when I was with her and stuck to my plan. I have never received the love of a mother, but God has provided other loving older women for me to model from and love.

      Now my mum is in the loving care of Gods arms and I know he has sustained me throughout my life and I am grateful for the new life lessons I have and continue to learn everyday. God does give us the mother that is right for us, and we will eventually understand why.

      May God bless you in the struggles, sustain you when you are sad, angry and frustrated. He’s always there, holding your hand and he loves you deeply. You are never alone.

      • You are absolutely right. Boundaries are so important. I am 32 and just had my first child back in January. My mother has bipolar 2, and we’ve always had a stormy relationship. Growing up, she did most all the things you would expect; she was verbally abusive, physically abusive at times, delusional, impulsive, would stop taking her medication when she was feeling “normal”, and was rather gifted at emotional blackmail. Although I don’t know for sure, I do believe she had/has abandonment issues as she’s always wanted our relationship to be enmeshed. I started to draw boundaries once I was in college. Of course, she constantly tested them.

        Now that I am a mother, I have had to draw more boundaries. I simply will not allow her mental illness to affect my family nor will I allow her to steal my joy anymore. My husband and I call it a “meritocracy”. If my mother respects our boundaries, she gets to see her grandson. If she doesn’t, well, then she doesn’t get to see him. In many ways, having a child has made my life so much easier. My values have gotten stronger, more clear. I just don’t have time for emotional crap anymore.

  24. Wow this site has opened my eyes. For the past few years I have had little to no-contact with my mother and siblings due to some crazy ass shit that went down at my dads funeral and there after (mania) and all of the previous crazy/mental drama (it felt like I was living in ‘Eastenders’ a soap show)

    I think for a very long time I have been analyzing my life and actions to see if I was sane. Was there something different I could have done differently? I know she is a good person excluding the disease and that she didn’t choose for it.

    I have said there is a place in my life if she speaks to a therapist …which she refuses to do.

    This killed me for a long time, I wondered why a mother would choose to stay out of her daughters life -what had I done wrong…but now I understand it’s the disease.

    There were some pretty horrific things that happened to me whilst growing up and I asked her why she didn’t protect / support / help me. She told me she was sorry but she was in a bad place. I was very angry about this as it sounded like the biggest cop out ever.
    But now I understand it’s the disease.

    As much as it hurts me not to have my family in my life, it hurts more to have them abuse / neglect me.

    Nor can I watch them abuse or neglect themselves or others.

    Until I read this website yesterday, I used to be sad for me.

    Now I am sad for her and my brother and sister who display similar symptoms,my sister is 33 and still lives at home- she always irritated me growing up as she always had mood swings and I never understood why my parents didn’t tell her off for them as they would me.

    I really feel as though I am seeing the light regarding all of the drama.

    It’s not me.
    It’s not them.
    It’s their disease.
    The disease needs medical attention.

    I can’t fix the disease.
    Neither can they without medical attention.

    I love them, but without medical attention for the disease, I can’t be a part of the drama surrounding the disease.

    God bless you all for what you have been through. And thank you for your honest words as you have shown me the light.

    Sending you hugs and whatever strength I can.

  25. Thank you. I don’t feel alone in this anymore. My mom was diagnosed bipolar in 2001.its been one hell of a ride with her. We never truly understood what was wrong. She spent most of my childhood in hospital. Even with the meds she can be a truly difficult person to live with. I find that unless she is angry with somebody her life is not complete. She loves picking arguments and she will never apologises when she is wrong. Today is yet another classic example of being treated badly because of something I didn’t even do. At this point I do the cooking, cleaning, shopping, driving and still I am told I am selfish and never do anything. I am at my breaking point. I love my mom and I feel like I have been robbed by the disease.

  26. I have read through each and every one of these stories. I could have written each of them myself. Though Bipolar Disorder is different in terms of treatment for each individual, the affects the disorder can and will leave the hearts of loved ones pierced by the demonic daggers with which the bipolar seems to never be without.

    I hadn’t recognized the demons as a child but, the instability, constant moving, multiple step-fathers, constant crying, yelling, and whaling, along with bouts of severe depression began to make some sense (if you will) while researching the behavior of my mother some 30 years later.

    The youngest of 3 children, I was the one who always looked out for Mom. I was the compassionate one, I was the one who comforted her at night (when I was a child), I read Her bible bedtime stories. I wrote poems for her and tried so hard to understand her, to feel what she was feeling, to make her a happy person, to make her life a happy life. My siblings? At times they would shut her out. They stayed involved in social activity, school activity, church activity or stayed in their rooms. She seemed to show them so much more love than she showed me. Now I believe the reason for that was that she had my love but, needed to gain theirs. Among the 3 of us I ended up sacrificing everything to provide care for her.

    There is so much more to tell of all that has transpired over the years. the hatred, the anger, the being in bed for one year straight, then popping out of bed straight into super mania, spending 70,000.00 on nonsense, blaming everyone around her (especially me, as I was closest), spiraling back down and into bed for two years straight and now again in a super manic phase (worse than the last) has finally taken its toll on me. I’ve nothing more to give. I hear her whaling, yelling, screaming and I’m numb. I’ve no compassion left. I’m exhausted. I too have arrived at the end…the point where the only option available is to leave her in her own sickness. Can I? Am I capable of abandoning her the way she abandoned me so many times? I never thought so…I thought I was the strength, the pillar. I am so weak, I can barely stand…

    • I deeply relate to you and to everything you’ve wrote. I understand each feeling, each word and each letter.
      I have the same dilemma over and over again – after everything he has done to my late mother, who passed away because of him, who had a hell of a life with him, after everything he has done to me, devastating my childhood, my youth and my present, should I simply let my bipolar father with his illness he anyway denies he has it, or should I simply move on and never look back?
      I am, too, exhausted, I lost any hope that things will ever be different, I loved him so much but he drained all that love from me, leaving just anger and hatred (he himself hates everything around him and seems to have a great pleasure to destroy and torture everybody around him), so why is it so difficult to simply move on and don’t care anymore? He cannot be helped anyway.
      No, please don’t get weak, do not feel weak, keep your strength, BUT KEEP IT FOR YOURSELF.
      After all, we all have the right to live our own lives, we all have the right to be happy, and no one, but no one should ever carry on its shoulders, an entire life, the burden of another. Even if that another is a mentally il mother if father.
      Wish you happiness, and please try to make yourself your number one priority.

    • Karalyn~ You truly need a break. You are as important as your mother and matter just as much! She needs to go to a facility that can care for her medical needs. My own mother has bi-polar as well, so I understand your pain. At some point, it becomes necessary to live your live and choose happiness.

    • I have bi polar and I am a mother. Please look after yourself and take a break. Your own mental health is important . I am blessed to have my mother who looks after my own children when I am really unwell. Talk to a counsellor about how you feel as it will be confidential and you don’t have the extra worry of other people finding out. I hope you are ok.

    • Omg. I can relate. I hlam the youngest of 3 and it seems I am the one always dealing with my mothers manic epelisodes. My sisters have no relation or connection with her except me. Because i feel so sadden with the life she has. Her sickness burned bridges with everyone that she now has NO family. I do understand that its her sickness and not her, but i try to do anything to avoid her. But when she is in her manic stage she tends to find me and im the only connection she has when it comes to helping her. Growing up was an emotional roller coaster. I never new how my day was going to be. My sisters were always in there room or invloved in school. I was the one always with her and saw and herd a lot of things i shouldn’t of. I AM ALSO THE PAITENT ONE. Finally, my parents divorced and i ended up living with my father while my sister moved out with friends. Thankfully we all have stable, secure lifes and we are all married. Although, my sister have not spoken to our mother in over 12 years and I just saw ger at the hospital 2 days ago for a 5150. I dont know how to deal with it. I get so angry and emotional and dont know how to react to her. I know she is unstable and can live with me, but i do not want my kids to live the life i grew up in. So i refuse to let her move in. At the same time i feel sad and guilty for not helping her as much as i should. Am i wrong?? Am i a horrible person?? How do i deal with this?

      Iv been googling bipolar since 2 days ago because now i am an adult dealing with this and ran into this website. Thank you all for sharing.

  27. I am 27 years old and also a child of a bipolar parent (Mother). She was diagnosed with the illness about 8 years ago, although looking back she lived with symptoms for much longer than that. She is currently in the hospital being treated for mania. She has had every symptom, including the most severe. It gets a little bit easier each time she has an episode, because we (my dad, brother, myself) know what to expect and we know that she will have periods of stability/clarity. At first she did not want to go to the hospital (she was angry with us for putting her there), did not want to take her medication because of the side effects, did not realize just how sick she would become during her episodes. Now she has a psychiatrist that she trusts, knows that she needs to be in the hospital when we say so, and is really good about taking her medication. As a result, we have had a lot of “good times” in between episodes. We always say that we know Mom, we know who she is when she is healthy and that is what gets us through when she is sick. Her manias usually last about 4 months and her depression about 3 months. She is a completely different person when she is sick. She is rude and hurtful when she is manic- it is hard to be around her and can be emotionally draining. She has left my Dad on many occasions and it breaks his heart, but he knows how much she loves him when she is well. She has done some truly outrageous things, things that have the potential to completely destroy us. She tried to buy a condo for half a million dollars when she was in the hospital, she has delusions of grandeur, thought she was a prophet, thought she was going to become a country music singer to name a few. She hears messages in music and thinks that deceased relatives are talking to her. When she is well she is scared of the illness, she cannot believe the thoughts that she has when she is sick and just how real her delusions become. It is a horrible, nasty disease to endure. I can’t imagine what she goes through. Each time she is sick I begin to grieve, when she gets better it is like that grief gets put on hold. I am just getting past anger, and I am beginning to accept that this is a big part of our lives and our future with her. I used to get very angry because she has been sick for some of the most important days/times of my life, including my wedding (mania) and the birth of my first baby this year (depression). She was not able to be there for me in the ways that I had always imagined and expected. This has caused me a lot of pain, but now as I look ahead I realize that she may or may not be sick and if she had a choice she would be healthy. As much as this illness has torn our family apart, it has also brought us closer together. We realize just how important we are to one another and no matter how sick any one of us gets (mentally or otherwise), the rest of us will always be there to support that person. I hope that every one of you can find a little bit of peace among all of the despair and destruction that is Bipolar Disorder.

  28. Hi I am a bi polar mom. I was diagnosed at 40 in which symptoms started when I was 37. My children at the time were 10,7,4. I was hyper sexual and went through many men while still married. Though always kind and loving to my children, I was often absent on vacations for over 10 years. I know this has left a mark on my children who are now 28,25,22. I see the traits that other children have wrote about in my children. Especially the oldest who wants to fix everything.

    The good news is I have been extremely stable for over a year and now on the correct medicine which I take faithfully. Unfortunately that does not effect the damage my children have endured. I am seeking ways to help my children overcome these obstacles from there childhood. The guilt is enormous. One thing to realize, the bipolar parent does not realize there doing anything wrong. What there doing at the time seems prudent and the best decision. Not a excuse, just an explanation into the mentality of the Bi polar.

    It is crucial that the bi polar person have a attentive, astute and knowledgeable psychiatrist. I was on many different medications over 14 years and finally checked myself in a hospital to get regulated. It is different for each person so its essential family helps in the process.

    All your input has helped me and helped me to see the depth of despair my children have felt. I feel God has brought me to this site to help me help my children. Thanks!

    • Thank you for giving your insights.
      I am a daughter of someone who is bipolar and have always wondered why my mom never felt the guilt for her actions. This has opened my eyes to a new perspective. I applaud you for taking your medication, as my mom never can faithfully. You have no idea how much this means to your kids. I honestly await the day until my mom realizes how much pain it causes me to see her spiral downwards.
      Good luck to you in the future, and thank you for your post

  29. And this has been so helpful. I am 27 and have been living with my bipolar mom and 16 year old sister for 2 years now. After moving across the country after being in a crappy relationship, then spending money to go travel, left broke and with no real work experience with a degree in English, I started working with kids with special needs (because I am just so good at helping people and not myself) which did not pay me enough to have my own place and a car. I have experience working with kids with autism that I have faith is worth its weight/time. Finally, I am leaving the country again! with my boyfriend to Vietnam for 6 months to teach English. I have faith that this move is my exit ticket, out of underemployment, and back on my feet financially, I am so excited

    Initially, I moved out here to help my sister, because I know how hard my mother was to deal with when I was in high school. However, I realized that my sister and my mom have a very different relationship than what my mom and I had when I was my sister’s age. My sister fights with her, its almost like they are the same person, maturity level wise. When they fight, my sister stands up for herself, but I see how tired she is after, and how straining it is to keep up with mom. For myself, I take the aloof approach, I don’t engage, and this leads to more rage, but its how I cope and I don’t know if its right.

    I am currently reading “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfieild, and he describes in the story how parents affect our battles for energies. There are several different ways people typically gain energy; interrogation, aloofness, or being a pity party. My mom was a combination of pity party and interrogation while I gained energy through being aloof. So in order to combat the energy battle, the characters in the story suggested to call the people out on what they are doing, so I did that last night, I said mom, “why are you interrogating me? Why are you so angry at me” it threw her off, then caused her to get defensive, then I walked away and went for a walk with GOD.

    Living with my mom in my late twenties, has been a spiritual journey. Through out her rage episodes I was there to protect my sister, but in reality I made things worse, since my sister would just cry while I was in protective mode, I matched my mom’s rage with my rage toward her sometimes, but other times I had to threaten to call the cops. Maybe I made it worse, or maybe it was all healing, I don’t know.

    I realized that I didn’t move there for my sister, I moved there to heal myself. It has been healing to be around my mother again, while she rages, while she puts me down, while she threatens to kill herself, while she has her “moments” of good times and calm times, it has all been difficult, it has also been something I am extremely grateful for, because I have more peace with our relationship, knowing that it wasn’t my fault that she kicked me out of the house when I was 16 when I needed her the most. It’s not my fault that whenever I needed a mother, she pushed me down. I am just thankful that I had the gumption to be stubborn, not let her get to me, and have a badass grandmother, and an aloof dad I could relate to.

    Byron Katie is very inspirational, The Course in Miracles has a lot of good comforting feel good tools for the coping box, and a meditation practice. A sangha or spiritual community is important to find peace. With all the chaos we have experienced in life, remember life is full of contrast and the peace is within us not outside of us.

    I have faith we will all be in peace.

    PS changing hope to faith is a powerful practice.

  30. My mom is bipolar. Being her daughter by cleaning up the house and helping her does nothing but make her mad. She holds on to the past and takes it out on others. She thinks I’m jealous and evil to her who try to ruin her life. I’m scared of her, can’t trust her, every move I make feels like I’m walk into a minefield. She can be nice to people while we’re are not home or with people but when at home or when no one around she negative about calling me lazy, having no life, I’ll get raped, how i’m ugly, a demon. I cried easily and a lot of times about thinking about running away. I don’t drink, smoke or any type of drugs. I mind my own business but she doesn’t believe me. Truly my feelings for my mom are breaking to pieces, she doesn’t like my skin color because I look like my dad’s people. I go to college but that doesn’t make her happy. When I look at other mothers and their daughters looking happy or on TV males me want that too but it’s impossible that will never happen. She says she loves my brother more and has a bonded with him and not me so I wonder why was I even born he look just like her skin color everything, her people. I’m 21 years old but I can’t take it anymore now she tells her family and friends that something wrong with me and I have problems but she doesn’t see it that she’s doing this to me.

    • I am 21 too, and my mother is bipolar. I still seem to grieve about not actually having a mom there for me, and I always loved watching how moms and daughters are on TV and how they act. The love and relationships that they have, I have always admired and wanted that for myself. I have even became obsessed with actresses, just because I wish they were my mom instead. I think that there will always be that longing and heartbreak. I know that it was God’s plan to make me stronger, and without him I would be completely lost. I have also wondered if I’m bipolar, or if I ever have kids, that they might have it, and I just don’t want to find out. Still my mom gets annoy and makes me mad, but that is just her condition and I look at her like she is the child and I’m the adult (since I was practically a kid). I have noticed that ive become controlling and detached, with anger and annoyance/heartbreak. I dont like showing my feelings, but for some reason I also like to see people hurt and feel. It seems like having a bipolar mom screwed me up emotionally, cause I don’t like to commit to realtionships. I had to grow up fast, cause of her. Though I’m an adult, I still feel like a child sometimes. I have recently just got to where I am trying to become her gauridan because I don’t want her to go right back to the hospitals or homes. To be honest she may be my biological mother, it doesn’t mean that she is actually my mom, cause I still don’t really have one or ever had one. I do remember a time when my mom gets sicker and stops taking her medicine, she calls me names and gets jealous of me, but all I can do is ignore it and forgive/forget. I feel more sorry for the ones that have this sickness because they can never live a normal life. So I pray for others like me going through this difficult situation, that you will learn to forgive and love. Don’t let this ruin or overcome your lives. Either get involved with act teams or simply get away by going to college, doing your best, and go places and be someone great. I can still say God is always good, and he helps me through all this sadness and craziness. Though when I do feel down about my mom, I still look up sites about kids who have bipolar mothers, and I like to see how we relate. So with that said, I hope this helps someone find God and love and acceptance. Godbless.

      • Its so strange that there are actually people who seems to be in the exact situation as you are right now. My dad is Bipolar since my birth so all I remember from childhood is having two different person twice a year. My dad used to have mania twice a year, those times of year I used to be scared as hell and thought it is the time of year when a devil comes to stay in my dads body. Being in a very small town back home me and mom never got what happens to him actually. I grew older I saw my mom and dad fight during his mania period. And I used to turn the volume of TV s high that I wont hear it. My friends use to ask me Is that your dad? Whats wrong with him and I use to feel so ashamed to call him dad. At the age of 10, I started thinking I can control him but I obviously could not. I use to scream as if he was a kid and I was his mother. I use to cry get angry to the point that my head would feel like exploding. I stopped talking to him when i stepped to teenage once as he said something stupid to my friends while he was going through cycle. And I remember when he was normal he cried in front of me and told me that how ashamed he was and if he could control this disorder he would do it, and he swear to god he does not remember or have control over things during the cycle. He is great person, I came to Canada for my college and he happily paid all the expenses for school and everything as he wanted me to be happy.
        He was never a dad like I wanted to be, he does not talk alot over the phone with me but I call him still. He did alot of things and I know he loves me but when I hear on phone now my mom saying that he spends alot of money or he did something he should not have. I get angry and wants to scream but then I feel is it actually his fault ?
        I am 21 as well now, people always tell me how mature I am and how brave it is that I decided to move to just opposite of the world I have lived. But this maturity came up with all the things I have been through as kid like anger, sadness, fear.
        I sometime feel depressed even now but then I read about the stories of all the people who had Bipolar parents. And I feel I am not alone and there are actually people who understand how it feels to go through this. I have not told to alot of people even my boyfriend feels like it can not be bad but I tell him everytime I know how hard it is to live with bipolar person. I just pray to God to keep me and my mom to be stronger and dnt ever let me forget even in anger that he has no control over it.

        • wow super inspirational…i honestly hope you’re dad is ok now and is stable.
          from the child of a bipolar parent to another

      • In the very midst of a recent outburst of manipulation , threats & she even tossed in some abuse , my mother . about 3 hours later now , it’s all calmed down on her end , she went out to her friends , had lunch , came back . my end is just locked away in my room quietly crying . crying out of confusion , frustration , anger , oh my too many emotions to articulate if i even could . I feel sorry in ways . Ways that I can hardly wrap my mind around . She hurt me , why do i feel sorry for her . Then I realize the illness itself , thats mostly at my for front . Its too much sometimes . I take care of her , I have mental illness of my own , but i’m mostly capable , severe agoraphobia , ptsd & severe depression that she knowingly will pick at to satisfy her attention . I get up everday to take care of her , even if i don’t want to be here anymore . I don’t know if she notices , genuinely notices , she might – but my heart says no . her actions are so harsh . Being pushed & shoved , knowing i’d never do a thing to harm her , she gets away with every bit by fear mongering , calling every friend in her short book to tell her ” story ” to . It’s horrible , I try to find my own peace . . shes louder than my thoughts sometimes , i’ve grown with such insecurity . A three years ago , I found Buddhism was one of the best mental practices for myself in a general sense , my own depression , the air i felt i can’t explain but it helped with the separation of her illness & her abuse & her kind actions . A year in I got ill , at 24 & 83 pounds , her antics every day still . Its officially a year later , I’ve made my body healthy again . While taking care of her , because shes incapable of taking care of herself . I’m trying to find my peace again , but as i said – shes loud . It’s hard to say how i feel to anyone i know , Most never believe what I say because even to me a lot of it is unbelievable . I’m here out of purely not having a clue to do anymore my heart is torn . I relate to so many stories on here . My heart to all of you .

    • I know the insanity of this reality. It is like Alice in the Rabbit Hole. I grew up with a mother who has bipolar. At the age of 6 I knew if I did not take care of myself, no one else would. I am now 50. My mom still refuses to even be checked for this disease. It is still all my fault the world is so terrible for her. But it has become more tolerable for me now. Lots of positive things come from this… First I used this to make something out of myself. Having a parent like this will teach you hard things in life at a young age that greatly help you to navigate life when you are older. Normal setbacks do not effect you! You learn to be good at triumphing in terrible circumstances! Second, I learned to read people very carefully and accurately. Most people are so unaware of what others are thinking or doing. Being around this causes your antenna to grow very sensitive to others around you. Be thankful for learning these lessons that many do not ever learn. But- Do not allow what is said in the manic stage to become your identity. Find your identity in the Lord! He made you fearfully and wonderfully! Talk to Him about all your problems and ask Him to help you love your mom in spite of all this. Finally, be careful not to look for a person in your life who will make lots of “terrible circumstances” or want you to be their fixer. In other words, be careful who you choose to date and marry. Do not ever date one who needs to be fixed. I think when you grow up this way, you are good at fixing things and helping people. Do it as a vocation but do not allow it to be your life calling in marriage,

      Remember the problem is not you. It is the disease. Seek professional help for both of you that can help you love your mom in the best way.

    • Gabriela, Your story made me so sad. What you describe is how I lived with my mother since my 20’s and now I am 58. It is a difficult disease because I always wondered why my mom was nice to others but so mean to me. That is the disease, meds help my Mom when she takes them. She has been in hospitals and then takes the meds and then she stops, but now she is old enough that she has to take them but recently ended up back in the hospital because the dose needed to be increased. I moved away from my parents 30 years ago and it was great. But now my Dad passed away (he was a saint to put up with this) and now she has moved by me for me to take care of her. It has been a difficult time but I do the best I can and I do not let her get to me. That is what you have to do, get her to a doctor, get a thick skin, tell her when her comments hurt you and above all do not let her make you believe any less of yourself. I am a strong person (maybe because of this) but I get counseling to help me deal. It is sad because I love my mother and I will take care of her as long as she tries. I have told her that if she stops taking her meds then she is going to live in a senior home. Hope this helps you in the future.

  31. I have atarted reading a lot about this topic in the past 5 years, and it does really help with the confusion and guilt that I have felt for most of my life. My mother was “sort of” diagnosed with depression and bipolar behaviour when I was 12 or so… Some idiot doctor at that time told her that hers was a “reactive” type of depression, as she was able to somehow cope with holding a job and holding her life together. As a result, she was in denial, never did one day of therapy, no meds. Her behaviour fits 100% with bipolarism and with what most of you describe here, and it has taken me years to understand this condition and how to deal with it through reading. Her marriage fell apart, my father left when I was 14… everything fell apart. My relationshop with my father was undermined too, by her manipulation and by the fact that he refused to have any form of contact with her, so I served as intermediary through their divorce process, lwhich lasted 8 years (lawyers, disputes, house and money were lost). I am 38 and at 25 I moved country (I went to the other side of the planet). I know now that 80% of my migration choices were due to my toxic relationship with my mother, my younger brother followed me a few years later, we now live close to each other, and 20.000 km from home. One thing I can share is this: by leaving, I have somewhat managed over time to recuperate something, which can be described as a civilized relationship with her. By jumping the boat and saving myself I have managed to mend myself enough to tolerate her and to “be nice” to her even through her irrational bursts and the uncertainty of “what is it going to be today”. I see her on Skipe regularly and talk on the phone. I will soon go back home to visit for the first time since I left. I can honestly say that had I stayed, my relationship with her would have been impossible, I probably would have cut all ties anyway. So whenever I feel guilty for being far away, for having ” abandoned her” as she likes to point out quite often, in fact I know that this is all that there can be. As all of you here, I have had to grieve the lack of a normal relationship, the lack of a figure who was supposed to be wise and who can guide. I have stopped confiding in her and started detaching emotionally from her from a very early age, in order to protect myself. In a sense I feel it is like being an orphan, that is the way I have accepted it. Many people loose a parent, I have lost mine in this way. But I am a lucky orphan, as I can occasionally enjoy our conversations and see her at her best, imagining what it would be if she was always like that, imagining taking her out for coffee on a sunday… I find myself watching mothers and daughters or fathers and daughters going out for lunch and I feel guilty, as I have removed myself from that possibility by migrating. But this is what I had to do to survive and to preserve my sanity and my marriage… For me my mother is like a black hole, I can gravitate around her at a distance, but I can’t get too close, or her mental condition will suck me in too. It is not her fault, but I can’t change that, and I have decided I owe myself more than that!

    • Thank-You for your very healthy and realistic view of what it’s like to have a bi-polar parent. I’m 30 and for the past 4 years my mother and I had a “good and somewhat healthy” relationship, but two months ago she had the third worst manic episode that I’ve seen. I played a big role in the first two, but this last one has caused my stepdad to leave her and I’ve distanced myself as well. It’s been so difficult, but we have to set those healthy boundaries. I so badly wish that I could help her, but it’s started to really effect my sanity. Thankfully, mediation and yoga have really helped me over the years. Sending everyone love & light. I hope that the study and treatment of mental illness will quickly improve in the nearby future.

  32. She loves me.

    She birthed me.

    She gave me away.

    A foster child, adopted, abused,I escaped but the twisted version of love and beauty I know brought me back to her. Back to her ways.

    She gushes with compliments moments when she is not “sick”.

    We laugh. She appears through her illness and she is gone again and the monster is back. I am confused at her condition. Plagued with severe depression.

    Battling a psychiatric oppression.

    They try to make me her.

    Mother’s shadow precedes my every move.

    Fear, anger, jealousy, and lack of reciprocity have dominated my personal relationships. We were just laughing. We were suddenly crying. We were tangled in our pain, like Southern Cali rain. It never happens but way up high, nearer to the peak it

    drizzles daily.

    My life with her is standing between the drops invisibly.

    Live. Shine. Grow. Hold fast to your faith. God will never leave you or forsake you.

  33. We believe my mother is bipolar. My older sister has been diagnosed with,. My mother is verbally abusive to an extreme on her bad days to the point she says she wishes she would die, or she should just kill herself. She screams until she literally can’t breath. I am 33 and I am at my bare ends. My husband, myself and my four kids moved in with her after my dad passed away 2 yrs ago. I don’t know what to do anymore. It’s to the point I just set in cry and want to leave her to try and fend for herself. She is a huge minipulator. She has this awesome act she puts on in front of people outside of the house. Makes it seem like we are mean to her or she is the top notch loving parent. Then at home jekle shows his teeth. She has even went to telling the kids they are dead beats and calling them names. I don’t see why she can be so mean then ten minutes later as if nothing was ever said, or doesn’t remember saying things she did five minutes earlier. Just a word of advice would be so helpful at this time.

    • My father is clinically diagnosed bipolar w/ severe anxiety & anger issues. He is OCD as well and displays similar behavior to what you’ve described. I am not a mental health professional, but I am an only child dealing with this destructive person who I am supposed to look up to.

      2 thoughts for you from my experience:

      1) As a child of a bipolar person, you cannot underestimate the damaging affect their behavior has had on you and your ability to make healthy choices in relationships and life in general. While many of us children live seemingly healthy, fullfulling and well adjusted lives on the outside, the person on the inside will always struggle with insecurity about trusting their own voice. Here’s a test: I bet you that if I asked you, what your gut tells you to do about your mother – your gut already has the answer, doesn’t it? But what immediately begins to happen is your head talks you out of it, giving you excuses about why that road is impossible or unloving? This self talk is damaging and completely conditioned in us – taught to us by the bipolar parent that all decisions are to be regretted or to be torn down later by a shifting wind. We learned to be weak decision-makers. But way deep inside – there is a small, tiny, little voice and she does know the right way. Spend time listening to her. Turn up the volume on the little gut voice – empower her to help guide you out of the excuses and into solutions. You have options and suffering anew at the hands of your mother’s mental illness is not the only one.

      2) Please know and trust that every moment your children spend living in a home with this type of behavior being tolerated is teaching them to tolerate this type of behavior. Your children need support to cope. I am sure you do all you can to offer what you can, but I very strongly recommend you consider professional help for them as well. It can be as simple as mentioning to their pediatrician on their next visit the situation/stress they are under at home. Your pediatrician can be a fantastic source of encouragement for you and guidance in helping your children.

      Your post shows me you are a loving, sensitive and conscientious person. You are struggling because you have love in your heart for your mother. Now I challenge you to also be courageous and be willing to separate your love for your mother from thinking you MUST accept her way of living. She is controlled by her mental illness, but you and your children don’t have to be. You are not betraying her by considering your options.

      1) Talk to your own medical professional about what you are facing at home. Ask for some help for yourself. Please trust me, it will be more useful than you can imagine.

      2) Work to increase the volume on your gut:
      – make a list of how you feel about living with your mom
      – how have you seen living with your mom affect your children
      – how has living with your mom affected your marriage
      – list what you would like to do about the situation ( this is a wish list – not what you think you can do or what you will do. This is just what do you WANT to do.)
      – survey your family and ask how they feel about living with her and what affect they feel it has had on them individually.
      These lists will help you hear yourself and begin putting confidence in your choices.

      3) Your mother needs help from a professional trained in caring for people with these chemical imbalance issues. You cannot be a good enough daughter to fix what is chemically off in your mother’s body. She likely needs medication. But a medical professional will have to help you there. Often times, bipolar sufferers cycle through periods of being on their meds and then coming off their meds until a crash forces them back on. This can be debilitating for the suffererand the family who loves them. A medical professional can offer help there too.

      There are so many other things to share here. I only hope that this will help you in some small way. I understand your pain and frustration and at times, confusion. You are not alone. I suppose the overarching theme is, please reach out for help.

      As a final caution: being children of bipolar parents can at times cause such a load for us that we too face bouts of depression. If you ever have thoughts of harming yourself or anyone else, please reach out for help by calling 911.

  34. I just had a baby. I am bipolar. I comply with every single thing my psychiatrist tells me including Meds that often have really crap side effects. I rarely ever talk about it and people outside my network of friends/family don’t even know I have it. I’m a teacher so I’m afraid of the stigma.

    I wrote all that to say that what you are writing is so disturbing to me. I can’t imagine not taking care of myself because if I don’t the people I love most will suffer. They still do occasionally but it’s very rare and caught quickly. I’ve had about 3 very serious episodes in the past 10 years.

    The posts on here are the reason the illness is so stigmatized. As I lay here snuggled up next to my beautiful baby girl I promise her with all my heart that I will take care of me – so she can have the best mom in the world.

    As a parent with bipolar disorder I can sincerely say that having this illness in no way diminishes my love for my baby. I choose to make wise choices for the sake of my family but I’m so sorry that many of your parents did not.

    I wish you all peace and love always.

    I wish your moms and dads did that. I know what the meds can do but the benefits outweigh the risks. I tell people being on meds is like wearing sunglasses on your brain. It’s all a little shaded but your life is beautiful.

    • Dear Bipolar Mom,

      Your words of love and caring for your child are so encouraging and helpful to me and I am sure others who read it. Motherhood is full of sacrifices. Carefully staying on your meds and making adjustments when needed is possibly one of the biggest sacrifices you make on a daily basis. Let me speak for those in your life who either say it too rarely or don’t know the struggles you face and say, “Thank you! And you are deeply loved and respected right back!”

      Also know that many of us children of bipolar parents know that you did not choose this illness and it in no way defines your love or concern for us. Like so many things in life, we can only do the best we can with what we’ve got. The simple fact that you have sought treatment and are willing to stay with it shows your strength of character, depth of love for those around you and determination to be healthy. Strength, self-sacrificing love and determination – what other life lesson could a parent teach a child more valuable than that!?

      P.s. Congratulations on your new bundle of joy!!!

    • The illness is not stigmatized. The reality of living with a parent who is bipolar is just that – a reality, that needs to be faced. Of course having BD does not mean you do not love her child, you do. But it also means that in most cases such parents are not able to provide stability and care for their children.

    • I honestly love that last line. I hope you keep true to your promise. As a daughter of someone who has bipolar disorder, that’s all any child can ask for. I wish my mom kept to her promises. I hope you never let that go

  35. I am 66 years old and I’m done with this disease. As a child mom was just depressed but kept a clean house, my brother and I clothed and fed. Dad worked late every other night. Her mood swings became apparent when I was sixteen but I just shook it off as her having a bad day. Mom was just demanding and wanted the best for us or so I thought. When I was 28 she had her first episode where she had hallucinations, delusions of grandeur and paranoia. It was awful as the police came and took her to a hospital. I have lived a life of saving her from herself. She is in her 80’s now and has had many bouts of mania in which she was list or got on an airplane and went somewhere else. We had to find her and again put her in a hospital. My dad is gone and my brother cannot help as he suffers from depression and paranoia himself.i am worn out and in the last ten years have been seeing a therapist to get some resolution to all this. What I have learned that I can pass on is this: Save Yourself. Get into therapy or a group that can make you feel like you aren’t losing it. My therapist asked me who was there for me as a child and I realized it was just me and thank goodness I was a strong little girl. I’m angry at her disease . I’m angry that I was dealt this hand, but also know it could have been worse. I’m greatful that I had the motivation to save myself. It may be late in my life but I’m armed with the ammunition of knowledge and coping tools. If you have to see that parent who has this disease and its mentally straining for you see them with someone else by your side. Or do the minimum and only see them for a few hours. I’m not going to abandon mom. I’m going to be better at taking care of me .

  36. I hate my mother. I hate that she is so selfish. She won’t take any responsibility for this disease. Her psychiatrist tells me that she treats tons of bipolar patients who take their meds, and take responsibility for their actions. She says my mom is selfish and never progressed past the age of a teenager who just wants their own way. My father was a saint and kissed her ass for 52 years, until he died six years ago. I am an only child, so Mom thought all the responsibility of her would now go to me. I have pushed back, tried to set boundaries, dealt with her crazy mania, hoarding, and her lows where she doesn’t want to shower, eat, drink, or make any attempt to get out of bed. She has tons of money, and won’t spend one dime on a caregiver. When I hire them, she fires them, or calls the police on me and them. Even her doctor tells me to just walk away and pretend she is dead, but I just can’t do it. Right now she won’t get out of bed. She tells me she isn’t sleeping, eating, drinking, or doing anything but stare at the wall and worry about every freaking possible thing that can go wrong. No matter what solution I give her, she won’t do anything I ask. The doctors and lawyers tell me that I cannot get guardianship of her because she is too smart, and can manipulate people into thinking she is not that bad off. God I just wish she would die. She has had cancer SEVEN times, 60 chemo treatments, and 60 radiation treatments. My husband says she is so mean, even cancer is scared of her.

    • Aww, I am laughing and crying at the same time for you and understand. This is a very evil disease. If the disease would make them all bad, it would be acceptable. The problem is, it manipulates them also. One very calculated moment is great and the next is hell. Evil, evil, evil disease.

    • Thank-You for your honesty. I’m 30 and finally said those same words to my boyfriend today. My mom and I have had some really good memories, but for the most part she’s been a very child like & selfish person that wants everyone else to take care of her. She’s now 70 and is currently in a very bad manic episode, where she’s gone off all her meds, even her very important heart meds and as a recovering alcoholic, has started drinking again. She could easily die, because of not being on her heart meds and drinking, but she does not care. It’s some what comforting and heart breaking to know that I’m not the only person thinking these things. I of course want her to get better, but I don’t want the suffering to continue on either end. Sending you all love & light.

  37. Thanks so much for sharing the more I read the more I nodded and cried…. Iv had a pretty bad day and to top it off a terrible night and several arguments with my mother who is bipolar…. I was also diagnosed two years ago so I have been learning and coming to grips with this terrible illness myself. My mother on the other hand is completely different to me and has turned into a complete nightmare. She used to be pleasant but now is awful, short tempered and extremely abusive. She abuses anyone espec family, picks up butts, dresses like a homeless person and doesn’t present herself well at all. She treats me like crap when no one is around. Her family for years have kept their distance and now I know why. Shes false really fake doesn’t listen at all and is self involved treats me like shit and is really ungreatful. I feel like I have been dealt a crappy hand and pine and wish for a normal relationship with my mother that all my friends have life is so unfair! Lord give me strength… thanks for the venting space and for reading.

  38. Yeah. My mother is bipolar and it is rly difficult sometimes to cope with the verbal abuse and her out of the blue actions and emotions. I have to remind myself that it is the disease that’s causing it (mostly) and that soon, it will all be over and as long as I am respectful and polite and sorry for “my actions”, she’ll go back to being nice. I am 14 years old.

    • Claire, hang in there. It is NOT your fault. It is not you that is causing this and just because you are linked by blood does it ever, and I mean ever, your responsibility for her actions. If you haven’t, you need to talk with someone about this and continue to talk about it with; your Father, a friend, a teacher that you trust, a family friend, an Aunt or Uncle,…. My heart goes out to you as I speak from experience as my Mother is bipolar.

    • Hello Claire,

      You are right when you say, it is the disease that’s causing it (mostly). The challenge for you will be understanding that while you are likely a typical rebellious teenager (smile), your mother’s reactions to your behavior may fall way out of the boundary of normal or reasonable. You will struggle with showing respect for your mom, at times when she is clearly out of control or obeying her when she is completely unreasoning. You will need support and help from a trusted professional or more emotionally balanced family member or adult who can help guide you with coping mechanisms. Do you have a guidance counselor at school you can reach out to? I bet you there is an adult you know that you do respect and would feel more comfortable talking to about this. Please do so. Girlfriends can be helpful to vent to at times, but you also need help.

      I am sorry that at your age you have so much on you. You are not alone. Feel free to reach. Use your voice!

  39. Thank you. Ugh the heavy heart. My mother died with bipolar meds related issues. There are few voices so plainly speaking to the pragmatic consequences that occur when you have a parent who you love but have to grieve.
    Present but not present.

    Thank you

  40. After reading some of the replies it’s clear to me that i have to try to accept my father.

    i went through life thinking it was normal everyday to have someone that goes to one extreme to the next. Growing up i was confused and now 19 years old i have resentment and built up anger that needs to be resolved.

    • Try with your Dad, but please take care of yourself. Have boundaries that he is not allowed to cross. Keep your dignity, and try to have a sense of humor. Have friends you can laugh with, and perhaps talk to. Have an exit plan if you feel you might need one. Be kind to yourself.

  41. To author,

    Every detail of your post was so relatable that I feel like I understand who I am as an adult more now through your revelations. Mental illness has a such a social sigma that I have never opened up about my experiences with my bipolar mother to anyone. Thanks to your honesty, I feel brave enough to write about my unique perspective because of my bipolar mother for medical school applications.

  42. This sounds exactly like my life … I love my mother dearly but now I’m 31 it’s taking its toll. I’m desperately trying to find acceptance (with the help of counselling) as my own health and well being has taken a major hit because all I want to do is make it better and I can’t. I long for a ‘normal’ relationship with my mum but that’s never going to happen…

  43. I’m reading this blog and these posts in order to prep myself for what my daughter may go through later on in life. I hope I can get some advice. I am not bipolar, and did not grow up in a home with any bipolar family members. My daughter who is only 9 months old has a father who is bipolar, and suffers from PTSD. Him and I are not together and live separately. I’m so afraid of my daughter being hurt by him, not only mentally but physically. His moods change like day and night. Just a few days ago he was a loving father and today he told me “I won’t miss any sleep if I never see her again” he then proceeded to say “fu@k your child”… I’m afraid that if I let him stay around she will suffer and will feel like his moods/feelings are her fault. I don’t want my child to be without her father, but I dont want her suffering, and constantly feeling down. Do some of you wish that you were able to spend less time with your bipolar parent? Or maybe wish that your parents were separated so that you had that “safe place” to go? Do you think she had a better chance of becoming bipolar herself by spending more time with the bipolar parent? Sorry, I’m reading all of your post, and I want to do whatever I can to protect my baby, and give her the happiest life possible. Thank you.

  44. *sigh*
    I love my mother…but everyday I feel a piece of myself dying from taking care of her.
    She was diagnosed with bipolar when I was a baby & my life has been rocky ever since.
    I’m currently in the 5th year of my PhD program…& in typical fashion, she lost her job & is staying with me…so now in addition to having my own stress with finishing school, I’m strapped with the financial responsibility of taking care of someone who doesn’t appreciate it & can take care of herself…
    I used to wonder why my aunts & uncles distanced themselves & now I get it…I don’t have any personal space & my personal relationships have deteriorated from taking care of her. It’s frustrating b/c while I understand her disease causes this…I don’t understand why she’s never fully accepted the diagnosis & constantly blames others for her issues. It’s frightening…b/c a lot of it could’ve been avoided…but that’s another story.
    I’m strongly considering distancing myself after this…I wanna live a normal life, get married, have kids, strive in my career…& I don’t feel like I can do that with my mother in my life. Sad but true.
    I’m glad there are blogs & forums like this to vent…it helps the people taking care of the people with bipolar cope…

  45. I don’t want my nieces baby girl to go through this. She is in my home safe for now. I will move heaven and earth to stop it but also to keep their relationship together!

  46. Growing up I didn’t understand what was going on, I actually thought it might be normal. I was never allowed to stay at anyone’s house to see how other people lived to see that it wasn’t. It wasn’t until my teen years that I realized that the life that I knew was far from the norm. Unfortunately, it seems to have gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I see the relationships that so many people have with their parents, see how their parents act with their children and want that, but know that I will never have that. Instead I have the father that drinks to deal with the wife that screams at him for losing his job, for being older and now finally being able to draw social security. I deal with the mother who drivers by my house late at night like she is doing a drive by. A mother who holds every mistake that you made since you were six years old against you. But forgets the argument she started yesterday. I try to understand the things she went through as a child, the abuse from her father, the rape. But we all have to suffer?

  47. To the author,
    This story of yours made me cry. That doesn’t happen often. I totally understand when you said you were essentially scared and unsupported as a kid, dethatched as a teen, and angry as an adult. Taking the psychology classes have set up the understanding for anger, how my dad doesn’t deserve the enduring terms of father and dad. I know what you’re going through. For me though it’s just now beginning that I’m moving from detachment to anger. Haven’t yet expressed my anger and disappointment to my father but I feel very close to doing so. I cried reading your post, but it helps to understand what I’m going from someone who’s already gone through it. Thank You

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