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Bipolar Disorder and Parenting Part 3 | Magical Shrinking
Mommy and Jack

I could be a much better mom to Jack. I’m aware of this, and while I don’t like it, I think it’s something I need to admit. He deserves for me to continue working toward being a better parent to him, and I’m doing it.

Bipolar disorder complicates every aspect of my life. I don’t have stable moods, even on medication. As I’ve mentioned, my tolerance for frustration and patience is extremely low. At times it feels nonexistent. There’s a razor thin edge between me being in control and out of control emotionally. The inconsistency of my moods and their unpredictability upset me.

Think of the combination of what I’ve described above with a child. A baby, toddler, preschooler, and at this point, Jack’s in Pre-K. Lack of patience with a child doesn’t work well. I have to check myself over and over with him to make sure I’m being appropriate.

Ever since Jack was born I’ve felt inferior as a parent. He attached well to Jason first, and Jason was his primary caregiver from the start. He is arguably still Jack’s primary caregiver.

This makes me sad. And it makes me feel crazy. What am I lacking? That’s been the question over the past few years. What don’t I have for Jack? Because I love him so much. He’s my sweet, sweet child who overwhelms me with joy.

I’m not a nurturing person. It’s not part of me. I wanted to be one so badly when Jack was born, and felt horribly deficient. If it weren’t for some great books about postpartum depression I found on Amazon, I would’ve thought I was the only mother in the world to feel so pathetic.

Over time I learned a valuable lesson. It’s possible to love someone deeply without being a great nurturer. I didn’t believe this was feasible for the first couple years of Jack’s life, but now I can see it’s true.

What I’m learning is that it doesn’t take much at all to “nurture” Jack. In my head I made it harder than it had to be. I don’t need to fawn all over him and cuddle with him constantly. I do like to cuddle with Jack on the couch, but he’s all over the place and climbs on me, so when he chills a bit that’ll be better.

Here’s what Jack needs from me. A smile. Sometimes I catch him looking at me while I’m working on something and I smile at him. He smiles back and comes over to me where I can give him a hug and a kiss. He needs me to acknowledge him and respect him. To snatch him up unexpectedly and give him kisses.

This advice was given to me a few months ago:  make sure to give Jack a hug and a kiss everyday and tell him I love him. I do that. More than once per day.

Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Nothing in my life has ever been so challenging. But to have such a precious little boy makes it all worthwhile.

I’m a pretty unconventional mother, but it’s okay. I am not my bipolar disorder and I won’t let it steal away the things that are most special to me. I’ll do everything I can to keep my emotions regulated. And I’ll make sure my family knows I love them. My affect isn’t always congruent with the way I feel. Hopefully knowing these things and trying to practice some mindfulness will help.

 

 

 

Comments
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A few things . . .

I've lost your post where I was reading your first chapter. I wanted to say that I was up to page 35 and was really getting into it! Very interesting way of coping and the writing was very fluid and drew me in. As a therapist, I've never really heard anyone articulate such a vivid alter ego as a child; I found it fascinating.

I did just read the post re. sending your therapist a letter. I say GO FOR IT. I believe it would be a true gift for him to see in black and white how positively he touched your life. We don't often get that type of concrete feedback.

Re. this post re. parenting. It is always HARD. Be kind to yourself. My technique/advice: ACTING. Sometimes we don't feel like that person we want to be for our children. I used to consult with pre-k's and I would tell the teachers to pretend they were walking on a stage, put on a smile and their sweetest voice and BE that positive person for those children no matter what was going on in their lives. Having children from 22 to 6, I wish I would have done that more consistently. It's tough that we frequently give strangers more consideration when we are in foul moods than we do those closest to us.

And above all: again, be kind and gentle with yourself. Guilt comes with parenting. Don't let it consume you. It's a sign of how much you care.

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Thank you!

I appreciate your comment on a few levels. First, let me put this link up for you so you can read the rest of the first chapter. I appreciate your feedback, because it was really difficult to open up and be so honest about the "AU." It's always reassuring to hear that someone feels it worked. 

 Ch 1:  http://www.christianewells.com/ch1 

I did decide to send the letter, by the way! I will post about that again I'm sure, regardless of whether or not he calls me. I had an emotional session with my current therapist about it last night.

And as far as parenting goes, I'm going to take your advice and be kind and gentle with myself. AND to act, even when I don't feel positive. I'm certain you're right about that, and it's a little thing for me to do. Thank you so much!

 Chris 

 

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FALL of UNQUIET MIND (Bi-Polar)

Smiling IS hard. My dearest person in my life is always sayin, "Smile." I think I am. I do love her but the smiling says it so much better than the telling. Earlier, when it seemed I was in control of my life the smiles came much easier; manic me always has a smile on my face. But as my bipolar became better controlled so did the facial expressions; sometimes like a zombie. I still cycle frequently and badly. Very highs, very lows. Right now is worse, allergy season which feeds sleeplessness which feeds mania which feeds sleeplessness well you know the picture. I haven't read your first two chapters. I'm going to try to find them. I admire what you are doing, raising a child, I couldn't put myself through it; going to LasVegas for a day was more stimuli than I could take. No, I did not love it and never want to go back. I hope you can appreciate the following haiku, as I write to ease and focus my mind. I write about the illnes in a different way.

Silhouetted words,

Syncope in fog lit light.

Fall, unquiet mind. 

 

 

 

 

Syncope in fog lit light. Fall, unquiet mind.-daw

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Thank you

I actually lived in Las Vegas for 4 years, and it was the absolute worst time of my life in every way. Especially bipolar disorder. Just disastrous. I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling right now, that's so hard. No doubt that raising a child is tough, I gave it a great deal of consideration before I went for it. It's worth it, though, despite the challenges. 

Thank you for the haiku. It seems to express what you're going through very well, and I can relate. Good luck to you.

 This is where you can find chapter one of my book:

http://www.christianewells.com/ch1

Take care,

Chris