What was your mom like when you were growing up?
My mom was always there for me. She was very social, good at balancing work, friends, volunteering, and still have all the time in the world for her family. She's pretty much the same as she was except she can't work at the moment and personally struggles with her Bipolar Disorder. No matter what life ever threw at my mom, she was still always the happiest person in the world. In fact, she almost raised me and my sister by herself and we would do multiple multiple activities together. The kind of mom everyone should have growing up.
What are your fondest memories of you and your mom?
My favourite memories are camping, fishing, and throwing me the best birthday parties in the world! I've watched how hard she worked when she balanced work, volunteer, going back to school (making the Dean's list) and still giving us everything under the sun (but not material things). It's great motivation for me to think about and continues to make me smile.
What was life like after your mom's Bipolar onset?
Stressful at first because we didn't get along for awhile. I had entered my teen years and was a little handful so my new emotions and hers tended to collide. It was hard feeling like I had to walk around on eggshells to avoid confrontation. It was time consuming to learn about Bipolar Disorder however, learning about it made it that much easier to rebuild our relationship. I think the hardest part was her not being her old self anymore and seeing her struggle. Now that I'm older and more mature, it's a lot easier to cope with and be able to be there for her because I am more knowledgeable on Bipolar Disorder.
What would you like to say about the stigma surrounding Bipolar Disorder and other Mental Illnesses?
I absolutely fucking hate the stigma!!! Sorry, but it's true! I do not understand how some people can be so ignorant, disrespectful, and stereotypical. I have seen my mom lose many friends because they think she is "crazy" (I don't like that word) and I think that is what irritates me the most. I do not understand how people can be so insensitive to a person who has a mental illness. If my mom had broken her arm or got diagnosed with cancer people would treat her differently. She would receive get well cards, flowers, or even a signature on her cast, but because her brain is sick, people distance themselves from her and forget who she is as a person. It makes me sick.
What are your mom's best qualities?
Strength. Being strong enough to admit her weaknesses. Motivation. Her constant drive to return to work is amazing. Her ability to take care of herself but still take care of everyone else. There are sooo many things that I can only name a few because she is the best mom and my hero.
What have been the major factors that have contributed to your mom's constant improvement?
My mom always envisions herself going back to the "Old Laura" and I think having that goal in mind is probably the biggest factor. Also, if it weren't for her psychiatrist, she may not be where she is today because he is the best of the best. I also can't forget about family. It is very hard for a husband, in today's society, to stick around and my step dad has been her rock and is a stand-up guy. It's also important that she keeps busy and she does that about 6 days a week so she doesn't lose her motivation.
What is one piece of advice you can give to a child who's parent has Bipolar Disorder or another Mental Illness?
A piece of advice I could give to a child with a parent who has a Mental Illness would be to educate yourself on the disorder and never stop being there for them because having a very strong support system, who understands Mental Illnesses, is a major part of their healing. Just never give up and love them unconditionally.
Laura Marchildon will blog honest and true posts about her real life experiences.