As a child, it was hard to understand why my parents’ emotions seemed so unpredictable – sometimes they’d be so happy and energetic and other times completely drained of energy. Even as I grew up, things never got easier. It took me quite some time to realize that my parents were living with bipolar disorder and to learn how to handle their changes in mood.
It can be overwhelming because you don’t have control over the situation or what your parents are feeling on any given day – though of course there are coping mechanisms you can use. For starters, don’t take anything personally. My parents’ words and actions may come from a place of anger, but that has nothing to do with either of us. Accepting this is important for both your emotional well-being and theirs.
Communication is also very important; when possible, talk openly about anything that’s bothering you and make sure to voice your opinion in an accepting way (so no yelling!). It can help diffuse tension and ensure that everyone feels heard even in the midst of difficult conversations. Additionally, try to recognize when things get too much for you and step back without feeling guilty about it. Taking care of yourself should always be at the top of the priority list!
Living with bipolar parents isn’t easy but it has taught me a great deal about resilience and compassion while helping me develop the patience needed to navigate through complicated situations. It’s not something I would ever wish upon anyone but now that I’m aware of it I strive to make these situations as comfortable as possible for everyone involved.