Being A Bipolar Mother with a Bipolar Child

There is this moment in motherhood where you know you’ve screwed up. You know it the moment it happens. The words leave your mouth.

Listen to me you little brat, stop acting this way! I swear to god I’ll ground you for life!” 

“You don’t love me!”

“You’re right…” voice dripping with sarcasm no ten-year old can understand. “I guess I don’t.”

You see the tears, but don’t care for some reason at that moment. Trapped in a void of nothingness. Just anger seeping from places you least expect. And although you hear him crying from his room, hurt by your words beyond repair. You feel no guilt. No shame.

All you feel is… tired.

Mood swings up. Mood swings down. How do you explain that to a child who is trying to find their own emotional stability and from a parent whose less than stable? It’s impossible.

He wipes my tears. Tells me he loves me one moment. The next, he’s screaming the hatred he feels consuming him from past the walls where I sit.

This is life with a bipolar child.

Two constants and yet different parallel worlds. One aging and one just embarking on their future destination.

Can I help him?

Of course, I can. I know the routine. I know the signs. That twitch on the back of my neck that comes screaming with irritation that develops so swiftly you almost don’t recognize it, but because you’ve seen this demon before rear its ugly head, you immediately know the coming crunch ready to fall on you.

Sometimes you’re able to brace yourself, breathe in slowly and gather your strength to push through the darkness that threatens to swallow you whole.

Other times no amount of light can persuade the demon to run and hide. It shows itself whether you want it to or not, hurting those around you without limitation. Whether you mean to doesn’t matter.

What follows is the regret and pain you’ve caused.

The medication is a mask. A prolific tow rope to help swing you through the highs and lows. It is not a cure. It never was. There is no cure. Only the will to try to make it through each day, and teach him the same.

I pray he sees through the destruction, the love so deep and fraught with emotional boundaries that break open and sweep me away. I pray he understands my loves intention to guide and not hurt, to give strength, not promote weakness, but that goodness dwells in my heart despite the ugly shadows that surround it. 

“I’m sorry baby, mommy shouldn’t said those things.” Heart swells with pain. 

“It’s okay, mommy. I love you!” His smile breaks open wide and the darkness settles away. Replaced with the fear and insecurity that this job, this blessing I’ve been given along with the damages I’ve been wrought with will overcome me that I’m alone. 

Maybe you haven’t had screwed up moments like this as a mother. Maybe you are the perfect parent — God Bless You. I don’t know. All I know is that for me, living medicated day in and out as a bipolar parent. Life is full of surprises. Some that are so great you want to bottle them and hold on to them forever.

And some… you wish you could erase like an etch n’ sketch!

Have you ever said something to your child you wished you hadn’t said?


  1. Linda March January 13, 2016 at 2:59 am

    Some hard emotions when you have those swings between anger and love. Everybody has been there at some point and want to leave it behind. Doing that constantly it’s going to leave marks in time. But being in familiy and knowing the condition would help him develop with a stronger character.

    1. Jodi - Site Author January 13, 2016 at 8:25 am

      I hope so Linda, I know for me growing up it wasn’t easy. I am always honest with my kids, and I apologize something parents don’t often do, but we all make mistakes and are human, I try to make them realize that nobody is perfect. Lest of all parents. We are learning as we grow.

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