Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention topics that include prescription medication, abuse of medication, and addiction. The information found in the article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have.
Many people experience mental health disorders, and that doesn’t make them incapable of being great parents. Learning the ways that your mental health disorder affects your mood, behavior and way of communicating can go a long way in your ability to parent. If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you may be curious to learn ways to combat negative thought patterns, and how to be a good influence on your children.
Education is fundamental for both you and your family in effectively managing bipolar disorder. For more articles on bipolar disorder, and how it affects a person’s thinking and behavior, check out these resources from BetterHelp: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/bipolar/. You’re not alone in your experiences, and having a better understanding of how this mental health disorder affects you can make a lasting difference in your ability to parent effectively.
Understanding Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that is defined by severe swings in mood and behavior. These are defined as “manic” and “depressed” phases. People with bipolar disorder may go through periods of time where they feel a surge of energy and interest. They may begin big projects, or try to make big changes in their life. They may also seem especially engaged and dynamic with the people around them, and it’s during these manic periods that children of people with bipolar disorder may feel that their parents are fun and exciting.
Unfortunately, these manic phases are often followed by periods of depression. A person with bipolar disorder may seem to suddenly switch into a state of low energy and low self-worth. For people who cope with clinical depression, it can be difficult to get out of bed and take care of responsibilities. These periods of time can be especially difficult for children to be exposed to, as they may feel confused, neglected and unable to grasp why their parents have become emotionally distant.
Though it can be difficult for people with bipolar disorder to assess their mood swings as they occur, bipolar disorder is highly treatable. Some psychologists may suggest a combination of talk therapy and medication. Having a strong support system around you can also help you feel more comfortable working through your symptoms and understanding the specifics of your disorder.
Explaining Bipolar Disorder To Your Kids
Though younger children may not be able to easily grasp the concept of a mental health disorder, or how it affects a person’s behavior, older children may be ready to learn about how it affects you as a parent. Gradually opening up the conversations around mental health can help you and your children gain a deeper understanding of how your mental health disorder plays a part in your family dynamic. It’s up to you to decide when your kids are ready for these important conversations.
One important reason to have these talks with your children is because there are genetic links with bipolar disorder in families. Many parents will have children who also develop bipolar disorder, and having an awareness of how it can affect a person will help children notice symptoms sooner rather than later. These conversations can also help your kids feel comfortable reaching out for support if they are struggling with their own mental wellbeing.
Open up these conversations with patience, kindness and warmth. It’s important to give your children the opportunity to ask questions, and take time to assure them that having a mental health disorder doesn’t affect the amount that you love or care for them. Family counseling can be a great option for parents and their children as they work through the dynamics of mental illness in the family.
With the right treatment, you can continue to be an excellent parent to your children, regardless of whether you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Speaking to a licensed therapist can help guide you the right direction, and give you the opportunity to understand your disorder on a deeper level. Treatment options can help you manage your bipolar disorder, and feel more emotionally stable on a day-to-day basis.
About the Author
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-
related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health
resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with
mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.