This Bipolar Life: What to Write?

I sit down to write and yet nothing comes out. Nothing of substance at least. I don’t even know where to start anymore. I’m trying to figure out my identity above and beyond my bipolar and that’s scary. It’s hard. It may even be one of the biggest challenges I will ever face.

I know that just picking up the pen is the first step and then it’s the first line which then becomes an intro. But even that feels daunting at the moment. Sometimes it just seems like my entire life is taken over by my bipolar and that’s all I feel like writing about and then I have times when it’s not and then I’m stuck.

Do I still write about bipolar? I mean, it is a bipolar blog right? But what if I want to write about how my day went or how the kids were being right butt heads, or any other number of things that have nothing at all with being bipolar.

That said there are some bipolar topics I still want to tackle, like how it’s portrayed in the media and how it affects children. I’ve written some about how it has affected mine but at this point that is now their story to tell and I am going to head back to the drawing board for that info.

I will tell you that the new therapist I mentioned in the prior post has made mindfulness very important so I’m trying to do this with as much care and attention to detail as possible.

Mainly though I just want us to have fun. So, who’s with me?!?

“Hey mom…”

“Hey mom can you…?” or “Hey mom I forgot my…” or how about, “Hey mom, can you make me…?”

Sound familiar? To moms around the world I’m sure they do. The amusing, or frustrating, aspect of this behavior makes us laugh with hilarity. I had to put a pillow over my face to hide the giggling when they were younger.  Alternatively, I would walk away in annoyance, which happened more often than I’d like as they got older and my meds failed so often it became an awful experience for us all.

So what happened to the little boy who wanted to know, “Why” and, “How do”? He grew up. He became a man. Wounded by my upheavals. Still innocent in some areas though, life hadn’t worn him down yet but he had grown nonetheless, right before my eyes. While I wasn’t even watching. I couldn’t. I literally couldn’t. It wasn’t a won’t. It was a can’t. I work on forgiving myself every day.

It wasn’t all one way or the other though, I took them to the library, the Science Center, the Zoo, dancing penguins, numerous parks, playing in the snow, visiting with family, play dates, hours and hours of indoor play (for those times when I really couldn’t go outdoors). We even hung a swing inside just because of the times I just had to have the kids  play indoors. But hey, at least I found a solution! We bought one of those small slide toys which seemed to address their activity concern. On a related note we had tons of fun when bipolar me took them to the ocean, Mt Rushmore, and tons of road trips to random places.

From the other perspective though, there were so many concerts I couldn’t make it to. The number of mornings I couldn’t get out of bed to say, “Have a great day!” were so numerous I just lost count and still feel like crap about it. I was not always a nice mom. My bipolar often reared its head, forcing me to take time away, say things that were not always kind, make promises I couldn’t keep. Forget to make appointments and then forget to keep them, racking up hundreds in “missed appointment fees”. At least once my kid missed the first day of school because I’d mis-read the calendar and forgotten. I don’t get after my kids about being cleaning their rooms because I just often don’t have the energy to fight the battle. In fact there are dozens of battles I just choose not to fight.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my children, I really do. Every damn one of them! I worked hard to bring them into this world and will love them forever. All of that being said, raising them has been both the most difficult and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Snuggling baby heads suddenly become “Wet me dewit” and that turns into “I’ve got it mom.” quickly switching it up, “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.” once they hit about 18. Of course, 18 is precisely when I worry the most. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mom on this one.

Now that the kids are nearly grown it’s a bit different. I evaluate whether they really mean what they’ve said/done. Are they old enough to understand their choice? Mine are. Are they ready for the consequences? Mine aren’t. At least not for many of them.

Me? I’ll be right over here. Ready to catch them. Flaws and all.

Random, Crazy, Disorganized, and Awesome…the Early Morning Teen

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With school of teenagers coming up head this throwback of a post seems perfect:

Okay, even adults don’t want to get up at 6am to leave the house for work so why on earth we would create a system that requires the moodiest of human creatures to do so is beyond me.  That said I am always impressed that they manage to do so reasonably dressed and in usually decent moods.  They are, however, rarely fed.

Continue reading “Random, Crazy, Disorganized, and Awesome…the Early Morning Teen”

TBL: An Open Letter to My Children

I know it’s hard. I know it’s unimaginably difficult to live with a parent who sometimes quickly vacillates between the ups and downs of life.

I know because I’ve lived it. It was my reality. For years. And now it’s yours. For better or worse, this is what you get. Frankly, I think I’m a pretty rockin’ mom all things considered, although feedback from my kiddos may vary.

Loving me is one of the easiest, hardest, and most worthwhile things you will ever do. I am completely worth it and the reward is priceless but the effort is sometimes harder than you will ever imagine and for that, I am sorry. In retrospect and in advance.

For what, you ask? Well for the reality of living with a parent like me. Who loves deeply, cares passionately, is fiercely loyal, and damn funny but at the same time sometimes very sad, exceedingly happy, and generally somewhere in between the two.

You’ve seen me as you’ve grown and you know I don’t tend to do the “let’s get on an airplane and take a vacation!” kind of mania. In fact, you know me well enough to know that when I’m going to Goodwill it’s probably because I need some sort of retail therapy. You also know that when I’m up in my room reading or doing artwork that I’m trying to find my center and occupy that space. Not that you know what that means yet but I want you to know that I understand.

I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to have a parent disappear and not really know why they can’t just “come out and play” but rather are held back by the invisible restraints of overwhelming depressive states. That I occupy these spaces for mere hours at a time makes them no less difficult for you. I get that.

I’ve been there. When you’re not really sure which version of your parent you’re going to see that day. When you’re smiling and happy and then they say something that unintentionally takes the wind out of your sails. When you’re sad but they’re in a disconnected space at that point so they don’t always notice.

I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to cry and hope that your parent cares enough to understand. Hope that they’re even in a space to. To not be certain and yet crave it so deeply that there is no other way for you to live and love, just this. Careening with hope and caring with the desperate wish for a parent who is whole, present, loving, and predictable.

I’ve been there. I am sorry about the predictable and whole bits, those will never be me, not in the way you’re looking for. I am whole. Just not the way you hoped I’d be. I am present. Most of the time. When I can’t be, I have a whole village present for me just in case. I am most definitely loving, deeply and without apology. I love you and always will.

I’ve been there. As for predictability? Well, it’s never really been my thing and who knows? When you grow up it might not be yours either. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

I’ve been there. It’s hard sometimes but I promise I’m worth it.

XOXO/Mom

 

This Bipolar Life: How I Survive Life With Teens

First, I live in a crazy house. I have a 15yo, a 13yo, and a 12yo who thinks she’s 14 so really I have a home with insanity built in. As you know the Teen is a unique animal that is capable of changing from “It’s cool” to “Nothing works and life is awful!” within the space of an hour. I am surviving the madness though and believe me it’s a unique challenge to do this with bipolar. My inclination is to push back and away, to keep the madness of their mood swings from getting too close. I did that once before and it cost me dearly for years. I am choosing to do it differently now but it’s not all sunshine and roses, I assure you.

There are days when all I want to do is put in earplugs and hang a “The Mom is Not In at This Time” sign around my neck. However these things tend to have a detrimental effect on our relationships so instead I listen. To everything. The arguments, the laughter, the seemingly endless video game sounds that permeate anything I’m trying to do.

I make sure the kids know if I’m having a bipolar mood swing. Generally they know before I do and at least the oldest (at home at least) will ask me what’s up, which is a good cue that something is off. I swear I take more time outs than I ever gave them when they were little. I find my most effective solution is taking time away from the never ending stream of noise and activity (which I would much rather have than the opposite) by sitting in my room listening to soothing music. You know, something like Metallica on speakers, turned up to 11 of course.

Some day these kiddos are going to be gone and I will be conflicted, feeling both freed and sad at the new distance. I know because I’ve been there already. My oldest is already married and off across the country pursuing his dreams, something that makes me proud as heck but breaks my heart on occasion.

As it is they are each already moving past me and I see the distance forming as if it were a slowly moving fog shifting its way between us. I can sense their individuality increasing and their abilities to function without my intervention constantly surprises me. They are often stronger than I give them credit for and manage to successfully bounce back from challenges faster than I ever could.

In the end I am surviving the teen years by remembering that they pass all too quickly and practice gratitude for the moments I do have. Yes, even the cranky ones. Someday I know I will give anything to return to these days so I try to be present for the time being and appreciate the smiles and hugs when they are given (rare occurrence in the average teen) and save the earplugs for another time.