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any other bipolar parents out there?


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I've recently been put on new medications after a manic episode with psychosis that landed me in the hospital for 6 days. This is my first episode that my kids will possibly be old enough to remember. They are almost 4, 3 and 19 months. Obviously we're mostly concerned about our 4 and 3 year olds. All 3 are staying with grandparents until I'm doing a little better. I'm looking for ideas on how you explained your bipolar disorder to your kids? I don't know where to start or how much they'll understand but I feel like now would be a good time to start talking to them about it. 

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I also am bipolar among other things with 4 children i started getting really bad when they were10,8,6,and 3,we sat the oldest down and try to explain mental illness at an age appropriate level to her,for the young ones we just told them mommy is sick and the hospital is going to help her as they grew sadly i have been in the hospital many times the longest time was 2 months they are now 19,17,15,12 and all know what problems i have and why i had to go the hosp. i have been stable since my last hosp. stay, and now my children tell me how proud they are of me and what a good mom i am and they know i'm working hard for to stay healthy for them also myself,but talk honestly at an age appropriate level to your children that is route i went and they are able to talk to me or my ex about if they because we never lied or hid it from them they are comfortable enough to talk about it..Good luck

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I'm not a bipolar parent but I'm the child of a person with bipolar disorder.

My parents never told me about my mother's bipolar, they always said she was sick or visiting someone or just gone and I never knew any better. The only reason I ever found out she has bipolar was when one of my old psychiatrists was doing family history and asked her in front of me.

I was hurt that my parents never told me about it, I was angry that they were keeping secrets from my sister and I.

My only advice is to be honest, don't tell your kids lies.

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I've been IP once since my kid was born, and I don't think she was nearly old enough to actually remember it. She's not said anything about it. She's about six and this may have been when she was three, I think.

 

I just tell her that sometimes I might act kind of hyper and be in a really good mood and do lots of things, and other times I might be kinda sad and kinda grumpy and I'm sorry. I don't choose to be that way, my brain does it for me. I just said I don't get much say in it and I always try to do well, but it doesn't always happen. Because I've been bad around her before. I think she should know these things, I guess. I don't ever want her to think it's HER, so I tell her that's sadly the way my brain works and NO, it probably won't happen to her.

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The kids will have questions. Answer them truthfully. The thing you need to be careful about is just answering the question. Don't give details or long winded answers. Keep it short and to the point. If/when they need more information they'll come back and ask again. 

 

With younger kids, just saying that mommy was sick is good enough. Telling the kids that you're BP is fine but if you do, don't be surprised when the entire neighborhood knows. Kids can't keep secrets. They just can't. So, don't tell them anything that you don't mind all your neighbors, and parents that have kids in school with your kids, and teachers, etc. knowing.  You get the idea.  

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With younger kids, just saying that mommy was sick is good enough. Telling the kids that you're BP is fine but if you do, don't be surprised when the entire neighborhood knows. Kids can't keep secrets. They just can't. So, don't tell them anything that you don't mind all your neighbors, and parents that have kids in school with your kids, and teachers, etc. knowing.  You get the idea.  

 

So funny story about that. Just an example of why you may not want to tell your kids you have BP, specifically. When I was little (maybe 5 or 6) my parents told me my grandmother was addicted to Coca Cola. Well, little me decided to go around telling EVERYONE that my grandma was addicted to Coke. :lol: Embarrassment and explanations to people ensued. 

 

I'm not a bipolar parent, but I'm the child of a mother with major depression. She never told us what was going on, and so I spent a lot of time worried she was going to die (I don't why I jumped to the conclusion that she'd die). I also wondered if it was my fault that my mom was so sad. Basically, it was just really confusing for me. I agree with the others. Be honest and say that you are sick, that it's not their fault and that you'll be okay. 

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I definitely want to be as honest as we can but I'm still kind of struggling with too much information for their ages and having it be way over their heads to comprehend. I'm also concerned they'll eventually developing bp but hopefully they'll never have to deal with this. Thank you everyone for your suggestions! My husband is taking them out for ice cream to talk to them a little bit about it and then they're going back with grandma and grandpa. They need to work on developing meds that kick in a little faster. I miss my babies :( I don't want to scare the bejeezus out of them since I'm still having some hallucinations and panic attacks but today was better so I think I'm getting there.

Edited by littlemisschaos
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I'm not a parent yet, but this is a concern that I do have, to tell or not to tell? The point of children not being able to keep secrets is a very valid point because there are some people who just don't need to know. But honesty is important in a family so I will probably tell them regardless of the consequences. The only thing is that I don't want my jobs finding out, because of my career path, they would look down upon me and see me as incompetent and quite honestly too volatile and unpredictable to work. In other words and safety hazard and a liability. 

 

One of the kids I used to babysit knows what I have, I felt she was old enough to hear it and she has a family history of mental illness and other special needs so it's not like she was a complete stranger to it, her sister has autism, her dad has depression (her parents also know what I have). I told her because she was telling me of some things she was experiencing, and I had noticed some things in her and I asked her about it. She has ADHD (not diagnosed), and I see signs of depression (I watch her carefully for signs of self-injury) though she tries to keep that a secret...I can smell it from a mile away and I do what I can for her. 

 

Anyways...that being said, telling them is always a good idea, and letting them know that it is NOT their fault.

 

My goal is to be stable enough to be off meds, and THEN get pregnant because I do plan to breastfeed (extended) as well.

Edited by Crazymusician0704
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I am a single mom to two girls - ages 13 and 11. Phew.  It's hard.  They have been on the receiving end of my irritability and objects flying.  And when they were little, they knew what it meant when mom said "Would you go turn on my bed?" (the heated mattress pad).  It meant that mom was going to sleep for hours and they would get lots of cereal.

 

 You are so fortunate to have some family nearby to help out.  I just about went inpatient around a month ago.  For 4 months I have been having a wonderful swirl of rapid cycling mixed episodes. It took some  huge arm twisting to have my mom travel 800 miles to come and spend a few days.  She thinks the whole BP stuff is crap and that we just need to think pretty thoughts.  Likewise for the drugs.  The ex was willing to take the kids on his days of course. I warned him that I might be going inpatient. 

 

It's hard with kids, but they know, they get it.  My 13 year old always gives me a heads up when my behavior is a bit off.  It is useful for mood charting.  Don't worry about your kids.  Kids are resilient.  You do the best you can. I just always told them the same thing I tell people that don't know about the BP. " I have been sick and not doing well."  Mom was sick.  That was it.

 

I don't just have to deal with my own mental illness, but my 11 year old has: developmental dyspraxia,  learning disabilities is every subject, communication disorder, a severe anxiety disorder ...... and I can go on and on and on.  Right now it is the communication disorder that is causing the greatest issues in our house.  so we have to contend with that as well in our house.

 

This same daughter said one day, "mom, I'm worried that some day you will get so sad and kill yourself."  It blew me away that she said that. My response?  " Has mom been saying stuff like that?"

 

She said "No, but I know that happens sometimes and I know that happened to your friend."

 

so don't worry so much.  keep things on their level.

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I definitely want to be as honest as we can but I'm still kind of struggling with too much information for their ages and having it be way over their heads to comprehend. I'm also concerned they'll eventually developing bp but hopefully they'll never have to deal with this. Thank you everyone for your suggestions! My husband is taking them out for ice cream to talk to them a little bit about it and then they're going back with grandma and grandpa. They need to work on developing meds that kick in a little faster. I miss my babies :( I don't want to scare the bejeezus out of them since I'm still having some hallucinations and panic attacks but today was better so I think I'm getting there.

you are worrying to much.  Just tell them you were sick. things will gradually unravel as they get older.  It certainly did with mine. I did educate my daughter about her disabilities early on ( age 6 or so) and those she came in contact with ( school etc.) helped her be a better advocate.  But with the mental illness, most of the time my kids don't care... just as long as I am not too crazy.

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I haven't sat down and given my children a lesson from the DMV-IV about the qualifications of BPI with psychotic features, but the both know I'm sick and it largely has to do with being crazy.  It's just a thing with them, part of who I am, they rarely even think about it  unless I'm way over the edge.  My son, who lives with me, is old enough that I told him that when I'm sick that he 1.) should not have to take care of me, I'm the adult, I do the parenting and 2.) he should not have to take a bunch of shit aimed at him simply because I'm having a bad time, if that happens then speak up.  

 

Oh, and never act ashamed about MI around them, they'll take clues and leads from you.

 

If you feed them, put some clothes on them and most importantly, let them know they are loved, wanted and cherished, after that you can pretty much drop them on their heads and they'll be okay.

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I don't really care if she tells other people. I don't want word to get out, but if it does, that's how I would want it to, honestly. And people will think what they think. Only reason I'm not open about it to the general public is that people can be insensitive morons about shit like that and I don't really get OFFENDED by this, but it does annoy me.

 

That being said, I remember when I was in first grade and they were teaching us not to do drugs. They did mention that the nicotine in cigarettes is a drug, so I ran up to my teacher telling her that my mom did drugs, but I didn't mention that it was just the cigarettes, so they had a meeting and everything with her over that. Kinda funny. Mom never touched an illicit drug a day in her life.

 

So yeah, kids can misinterpret things and say the wrong thing, absolutely.

 

Mine doesn't tell people things, for the most part. If I tell her not to say anything, I honestly belive that 9 times out of ten, she won't unless she forgot. She's good about that, for now.

 

I think the kids should know to a certain degree, The biggest thing for me was explaining so that 1. It didn't really scare her and 2. She had a basic understanding that if I was acting really strange that it had nothing at all to do with her.

 

Think it's a good idea to tell them. I'm happy with the way I told her. She understands well enough. Hiding it isn't going to help anything, really. I don't think so anyway.

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