Living With…A Bi-Polar Parent

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Living with… a Bi-Polar parent is a very lonely life. You are there but you’re not really, they matter you do not if that makes any sense.

You are told you are selfish, as a child, if you do not feel sorry for your mother and do what needs to be done to ‘make her happy’. Those words have followed me all my life, ‘make her happy’. The happiness and well-being of the child does not come into play here in this relationship. The whole family unit is based on one person’s well-being and not that of the children. One persons mood dictates how the rest of the family feel that day. They say to be a good parent you must not be selfish, this is so very true.

You see you learn later in life that nothing can make them happy that you have no control over what mood they jump from each day.

Its either an extreme high which is exhausting and often comes with irritability and anger. Or a very low mood which drags the whole house down and again there is nothing you can say or do. The hardest part is keeping your mind at a distance protecting yourself so you are not brought down to. As a child it is very easy to experience the moods that your mother is feeling, like going down with a sinking ship.

As a child growing up in a house with a bi-polar parent there were days that are so dark. The mood of the house is dictated by this one person and it is the most difficult atmosphere to be in.

It was like our house on the street was the only house with a cloud hanging over it.

You now the saying no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. Imagine having a heavy brick sitting on your chest, and you cannot breathe. It is such an unhappy place to be, and as a child there is no escape. The only control I had over my life was to not eat.

There were nights when the shit hit the fan and she would leave. She would disappear for hours. Then accuse us of not caring; and not waiting up for her; not coming for her. Those nights as a child I spent peeking out my curtains watching every car coming up the road begging God to bring her home. That lump in my throat that knot in my stomach. Those feelings of being abandoned and left with a parent (My father) who at the best of times was unable to cope to, were the most frightening ever. Emotional blackmail.

Then there were the many hospital stays for some reason or another. The endless pills that were abused on a daily basis, this is probably the reason for the many rest stays in different hospitals. But being the eldest girl these hospital stays put tremendous responsibility on me.

I became the parent at twelve years old.

At this young age I was privy to everything that was going on. All those emotions were at times over whelming. At sixteen I was handed a new born baby because she could not cope, I became more of a mum than a sister to my two younger siblings. They use to call me Mam sometimes that is how much the roles were reversed. I tried to shield and protect them as much as a child can protect another child. But I failed. The damage has being done.

That is an awful lot to process as a child. But I didn’t process it because how could I, I was only a child. So each feeling of dread, sadness, fear, guilt, abandonment and wanting to escape so badly was put into different compartments only to be dealt with later when I to became a mother.

So what followed me into adulthood? Guilt, it was loaded on every day and still is to this day. Even to this day you are expected to create the perfect atmosphere for them, like putting on a show, because that’s all it is, it’s not real. They are sporadic moments of fake happiness.

So my choice has been to break the vicious circle, and be the complete opposite to my mother. The result? Well I may be over the top at times as a mother but they will only ever have feelings of being smothered and not abandoned. I have no relationship with my Mother and to honest I do not think I can we are so different she is a narcissist and me well I am a mother, a good mother.

Louise O’Gorman
Louise O’Gorman
I am a stay at home Mum and part time writer of articles and short stories. I am a fiercely independent forty something who spends her days massaging the ego of three young children. Only so I can create genius’s so I can retire and live the high life. Married to my childhood sweetheart the foundation to most of my happiness, on a good day the kids fill the rest of the happiness jar.