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I am a 29 year old woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 and also suffer from general anxiety and panic attacks. I have only been recently diagnosed but have been ill since I was a teenager. I tend to have mixed-manic episodes, hence the name of my blog. I am a regular guest blogger for Black Dog Tribe. I am not a mental health professional. I am just writing from my own experiences with mental illness. If you wish to use any of my blog content please contact me at lababup@gmail.com. Visit me on twitter @lababup

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mother's Day and World Bipolar Day

So everyone knows that it is Mother’s Day today. Apparently it’s also World Bipolar Day (who knew?). I thought that this would be a great time to write about my Mum and how she has helped me during times of my bipolar flare ups.Not everyone is lucky enough to have a supportive parent so I am really grateful.

My Mum has always been the strong one in my family. She holds everyone together. The rest of us always joke that her catchphrase is: ‘I just want everyone to be happy’. Her happiness seems to be completely tied up with how everyone else is in the family. It is very noble of her but also it worries me that she doesn’t look after herself enough.

It’s a shame that so many mothers put such little emphasis on themselves. Society expects them to be constantly selfless and maternal. Mother’s aren’t expected to be individuals with their own personalities, desires and needs. Of course they are just human like the rest of us. They deserve to be treated with respect every day of the year, not just Mother’s Day.

My Mum is a really interesting person. She is shy and introverted but at the same time full of personality. She is very logical and analytical and one of the most intelligent people I know. However, at the same time she manages to be completely daft and silly. She is one of a kind and deserves to be recognised for more than just her role as a carer.

Unfortunately my Mum has often ended up taking the carer role. She has always been there for me during times of crisis. When I was first having mental health problems as a teenager, I was fighting a lot with people in my family. I was irritable and depressed and taking it out on everyone. Within the family, it was my Mum who tried to keep the peace. She was the first to recognise that I was ill and not just being difficult. She was the one who pushed me to get help.

Over the last thirteen years of having mental health problems my Mum has been my main source of comfort. I am very thankful for the other people in my life who have also supported me but it is my Mum who manages to be the most patient.

When I am depressed she doesn’t get irritated but encourages to get up, get ready and exercise. She forces me on walks and makes me leave the house, even if it is just for a coffee. The rest of my family often get frustrated and down over my lethargy and low mood. This makes me feel really guilty. However my Mum almost always remains cheerful which helps bring my mood up, if only a little bit.

When I am manic, my partner and my Dad find it really difficult to deal with. I can completely understand why. I wouldn’t cope very well with someone running around the house, screaming and laughing and trying to play fight with me. It can be funny sometimes but often I am the only one laughing. Everyone around me is a bit creeped out! My Dad’s response is to get angry when gets matched with explosive rage on my part. My partner’s reaction is to get really sad and upset which doesn’t help. These are both natural reactions and so I don’t judge them for it. My Mum’s reaction is the most beneficial to me though. She tries to keep relaxed and just goes with the flow.

Mixed episodes are the hardest for everyone to deal with: the endless pacing around, the wailing, the psychomotor agitation, the screaming in terror, the paranoia, the desire to inflict violence on myself. I shudder to remember these things. My Mum sits with me as I pace around, just to make sure I am safe. She doesn’t try and stop my from moving or try and reason with me. She knows that these won’t help.

What my Mum does for me is amazing. She watches my moods closely, spends hours talking to me, often daily, and she organises my life to try and keep me in a routine. What is even more amazing is that she manages to keep on being her lovely self. She doesn’t let the bipolar drag her down, although it obviously affects her deeply.

I try to remember that she is not just my Mum and my carer. She is my friend and a really interesting person. I am grateful to have her in my life.

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