I am the Product of a Bipolar Parent

Once in a while I come across a post, status, or tweet that makes me stop cold.

It’s like I’m reading it as my 9 year old self.




Sometimes the writing makes me feel helpless.  Sometimes it makes me feel sad.  Sometimes I am able to be present and just want to reach out and hug that person.

It’s ok.

Someone is listening.

Someone is here for you.

Often, these people are moms.

I am too familiar with the above diseases.  My own mom is on the more severe end of bipolar.  Her life has been filled with marriages (3), divorces (3), in patient psychotic stays, many half way houses, and 2 rounds of electro shock therapy years apart, all types of therapies, and all the drugs in the world.   She has been diagnosed with bipolar, multiple personalities, anxiety disorders, and just about every other mental condition.

I read that list and know that by having a parent with these serious mental shifts has affected me.  Molded me.  Taught me to behave a certain way.

I am fiercely independent, have a desire for control over just about everything, competitive, and am very doubtful and mistrusting of others.

Oh, and I have a hell of a sarcastic streak.

Would I still be these characteristics if I didn’t have such an upbringing?

I often wonder if my own mom was scared that her children would inherit her mental illness.   Did these thoughts cause her to become unattached to me or was that just part of her illness as well.

As an adult, I have many questions.  Questions that will probably never be answered.    Questions that I will take with me to my death.

And then I see these mom’s online with their children.  Do those children have questions?

Why is mom in bed this month?

Why did mom leave in the middle of the night again?

Why does mom cry so much?

Why does mom go to the hospital so much?

Why doesn’t my mom give me hugs or tell me she loves me?

Did I ever make my mom proud?

I want to tell those moms that no matter what, don’t hide.  Be open.  If you can’t explain what is going on, find someone who can.  Find the thing that makes your kids laugh, do that often.  If you have to leave, tell them.  Hug your children.  Tell your children you love them even if you don’t feel it because some questions shouldn’t have to be taken to the grave.


I want to mention that as I sat down to write this I stuck in my headphones.  I always have to write with headphones.  It helps my chaotic brain focus.  I know.  Makes no sense.  Focus with more stimulus?  Yes.  Anyways, I must have left Pandora on from earlier and as I put them on the song “Fu*king Perfect” is on by Pink.   A sign?  I think so.

Follow up post:  What having a bipolar parent taught me_________

Growing up with a broken parent: Based on the responses I have received I have decided to write more about this topic here

73 thoughts on “I am the Product of a Bipolar Parent

  1. I want to start out by saying thanks for sharing this – it’s a really personal thing to type out on the internet. First off…id love to find out more about the point you mentioned about not feeling as though your mom was ever proud of you. What was your experience? That rings true in my head as well. Sure my mom was there as I was a child and was seemingly supportive of me but there were never any signs that she was specifically proud of any accomplishments…and she certain usually wouldn’t bring them up after they happened. To this day I don’t know whether my mom likes what I do or how I carry out my life. I could do some more work trying to find out by talking to her more – but I usually try to avoid that kind of thing.

    Second, about you feeling super independent and strong willed, etc as a result of being raised the way you were – how do you see this play out in your life? I have a really hard time trusting people enough to be easily vulnerable around them and to let them in. I’ve always been described as a nice guy that nobody can seem to get to know.

  2. It comforts me somewhat to know that I’m not alone. My mother has put me through hell for years, all my life really. She had some medical issues and I agreed to move back in with My mother and father in order to help with these issues as my father worked a lot back then. My mother has actually never been formally diagnosed with Bipolar but it runs in her side of the family. She has many of the symptoms. For months she has yelled and screamed, accused my father of cheating, threatened our lives in detail. It’s very mentally draining and our mental health is starting to suffer. Being laid off from my job and having trouble finding another job that suits me makes it even worse. After an all day of death threats and vulgar language and screaming, unfortunately the police got involved and without criminal charges she was taken into custody to be mentally evaluated. I’m stuck right in the middle of it. It’s my own fault too and I own that. I’m half afraid to leave my father alone with her because she has repeatedly threatened that she was going to make up lies if she needed to and accuse him of something he didn’t even do to get him locked up. It’s concerning to me after reading over how bipolar is diagnosed, it seems basically the patient has to be honest and up front with the doctor about the facts. She doesn’t even recognize she has a problem. If she wasn’t made to get evaluated she would have never went on her own. I know I need to get out of here as soon as possible but I hate to sever the relationship with my mother as running from problems really doesn’t help, plus it would leave my father in a horrible situation. I figure they will probably end up getting a divorce over her behavior. It’s really concerning to me how she will act when she gets back. Still it’s comforting to know I’m not alone. Thanks for your articles on the topic.

  3. I really appreciate your pieces on the matter. My mother is bipolar and she refuses to see it. She does not take medication for it. My heart often hurts because being even in the same room with her is so stressful. She has such a self-centered mentality and there are so many things from my childhood I am having a hard time forgiving. I am 26, and I have major control issues, trust issues and dating was very difficult for me. I am finally with a wonderful man, but even trying to include her in our wedding planning is so hard because she is making it her own and trying to control the entire thing. This is getting harder, because as I grow I wish I had a mother like other women who they can talk to about woman stuff. A mother that I will trust to be the cozy, sweet grandmother to my children. But things will never be this way. I am having such a hard time accepting this. My heart is still always hurt from her and I feel alone. I feel like any time I try to reach out, others just don’t understand. Because of this I stay away, and I don’t really have friends either. I am thankful for my love. But sometimes wish I had girlfriends who understand me.

    • I could have written all of this myself. I am 39 and my heart yearns for a mom capable of being a mom to me. It hurts so much to know that I can’t have the love and support that every daughter deserves. My only hope in life is to give my children what my mom can’t give me… a mother.

  4. I knew my mom was different when she beat me for calling her Mother. She held my head with her hands screaming and spitting centimeters from my face. Don’t you ever #$&^^^%$ call me MOTHER, cause I know in your head your calling me a Mother F*&^er. I will admit I was being snotty when I said Mother but at 7 I had know idea what a Mother F*&^er was. (this was the 70’s) I’m 47 now and just 13 years ago my Mom was diagnose being a manic depressive. Hell, we kids knew growing up that something was wrong with her but she told the doctor and my Dad that we were bad kids. So we grew up thinking our Mom hated us and all her problem’s was us. I would like to tell you that we all turned out well but that would be a lie. Prison,Drugs,prostitution, you name I’m sure one of us has done it. I am the middle child of 3. I see my sister and brother’s life in runts while my mother talks bad about them cause the way they raised their children. It’s always on the tip of my tongue to say because of you Mom. I want to scream at her and tell her she KILLED her children’s spirit. But I don’t because she is 70 now and I don’t want to hurt her the way she hurt me. When the past is brought up she always says she does not remember. I still have scars on my body that my Mother did when I was young. I was taught to lie about the bruises that were all over our body’s. She told us many times growing up that if we told anyone we would be taken away and put in a home. When my sister was 14 she started talking to a counselor and choose to go to foster care. Lord knows we had plenty of warning sign’s (many hospital visit’s of bruising and stitches) but in the 70’s and 80’s you could abuse your children. No one ever HELPED..I have prayed many many year’s to forgive my Mom but I still see the damage that she has done..

  5. Thank you for writing this. I’m 37 and have felt so alone on this topic. I felt as though I was reading something I had written. I came across this post as I was researching ‘how to tell your bipolar parent their parent has died’. Of course, I couldn’t find anything. Luckily I came across this post and I felt this wave of relief during one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever had with my mom who has bipolar. I received word today that my grandma died. Now, it’s up to me to tell my mom her mother is dead. My mom is in the middle of an ‘episode’ (for lack of a better term) and I’m struggling with telling her. I don’t know if I should tell her before or after the funeral? They haven’t seen each other in many years, but my mom loves her so much. i just know she’s not in a good place at all right now. Ugghh! I’m sorry for rambling. Thank you again for this amazing post.

  6. My bipolar mother has treated me horrible as long as I can remember. Today I’m 46 with no self esteem and every thing that happens I’m quilt reddin My mother let me know daily she didn’t want me. I haven’t spoke to her in 7 months now and I’m not scared anymore.

  7. My whole life has been fucked up by my mental family, and I am so mental and now my kids are mental, and the whole world is MENTAL, I will die from mental anguish because nothing makes sense

  8. Hi,

    As I am reading your posts – fear grips my heart. I am 30 years old. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Type 1, rapid cycling, four years ago. Also TLE, borderline personality disorder and anxiety disorder. I have a 8 year old son from a previous relationship, and a 10 month old baby girl. I have been married for 2 years to her farther now. He has such a good heart, but does not understand my disorders at all. The last 4 years I have been in Psychiatric facilities 4 times. Despite my mentally unstable history, throughout my pregnancy I was fine. Went psychotic the last 4 weeks before her birth, but luckily I have been walking a close path with my Psychiatrist and Psychologist the last 3 years, I was monitored decently, and my little princess was born normal, all smiles. After her birth I was fine – no signs of relapse or depression or mania. I see my Psychiatrist every 3 months, and psychologist every 2 months. I live in constant fear that my children will inherit this disorders. And I want to ask you who have grown up with Bipolar parents – what can I do to make it easier for my children? I am a very loving and good mother. I studied Psychology, but can never practice because of my history. I understand my disorders completely, know the signs of relapse, and try to manage my emotions and impulses to least affect my family – but sometimes I do fail. The irritability and anger and hyperactivity of a manic episode, sometimes comes so unexpectedly. I do not get physically abusive, and will never break down my children emotionally. I just want to do what is best for them. I do not want them to have to write about Bipolar parent and the scars it left…..

    SO please, feel free to let out your anger, your questions, your hurt towards me – as if I am your bipolar mom/dad. I want to learn from others mistakes.

    Thank you,

    Broken healer

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