Thursday, May 29, 2008


This posting is in response to an email I received. I want this blog to be an open dialogue with sharing from both sides. That is why I want to answer this on the blog. Smocked, first of all, I know exactly how you are feeling and the turmoil I am sure is a mixture of extreme love and exasperating frustration. I was very saddened when you wrote that your mother is "still" sick.
Here is the bad news first. She will always be sick. Every day when you get up she will "still" be sick. Bipolar does not go away. It is not cured. It is a condition that must be lived with daily until death. But, here is the good news. Bipolar can be maintained and controlled to an extent. I don't know what level your loved one is. My mother enjoyed the whole nine yards, so to speak. We saw and lived with the extreme depression (fetal position under the bed), to high manic episodes (running down the road naked at 3:00am with police involvement). This may sound very matter of fact on this blog, but believe me I never thought I would openly admit or discuss what my beloved mother was capable of doing. In my opinion, we need open dialogue for the general public to drop their shield of unbelief that regular Americans can live this way. There are hundreds of books written by the diagnosed person. Those books sell. People love to read about how crazy someone can be and the ridiculous scenarios they place themselves in. This is Monday night TV. If you read a few of them it is quickly tiring to read about their imagined fears. Quite boring if you ask me. When I wrote my book I got a lot of grief from some of the Mental Illness forums. In fact, I stopped attending or reading them. I understand that the diagnosed person needs sympathy. That is one of the problems. They get ALL our attention. The loved ones who are living with or taking care of them spend ALL their time with the maintenance of this "disorder". The family needs kindness and understanding as well. You are not alone and there are a lot of us out there but our stories don't sell as well as stark mania.
My advice to you? Learn patience. Meditate and take care of yourself. Your mother now is someone who needs you to watch out for her and care for her. Your mother's role on this earth is probably done as far as being your mother. You are the mother now and know that she won't live forever and there will be a different life after bipolar. Learn to enjoy your mother and try not to take everything so seriously. I used this poem at my mother's funeral.

Let nothing upset you;
Let nothing frighten you.
Everything is changing;
Patience attains the goal.
Who has God lacks nothing;
God alone fills every need.
St. Teresa of Avilla

I am not particularly religious, especially since I witnessed my mother constantly getting messages from God himself and acting on those messages. To each his own. But the comfort I found in this poem was the first four lines.
Good luck and please let me hear from you. Thanks for reading my book.



Carol said...

It is good to try to explain to people with "normal" families, that Bipolar (or any other mental illness, for that matter) does not only consist of someone who "does crazy stuff", it's so much more than that. Whether you have ties to a mentally ill person as a family member or as a spouse, or even as a good friend, your life is affected in so many ways that nobody even thinks about. I know I didn't, until my DH's Bipolar started manifesting itself. I had no idea. None. And I have a college education. I truly thought that "Bipolar people are either really happy or really sad, and when that interferes with their life, they end up in the hospital." What a trite little plan, huh? But nobody tells you about the manipulation, the deceit, the loss of cognitive ability, and how to talk to someone in a loving way, when they make absolutely no sense but are still convinced that they do.

Thanks for your blog.

Liz said...


Thanks for sharing your story. That is what I mean by frustrating. The bipolar person usually is not very much in touch with the real world and that is why they have a hard time making rational decisions. They are wonderful people when they take the proper medicine. Very frustrating to live with and share life with. Thanks again.