Did you know the Dopamine royal family doesn’t stop at the queen? That’s right, there are two princes and one princess of dopamine as well. My kids are young, 8, 6 and 6 months. I knew early on I would have to talk to them about my bipolar disorder. It wasn’t until my oldest was 6 years old that it really came up.
I was mid manic episode being super mom cleaning, cooking, folding laundry, singing nursery rhymes and supervising a craft while on the phone with work when it happened. LA dropped a full gallon of milk and it exploded all over the kitchen. I snapped. Some serious manic rage came out directed right at my perfect little dude. He obviously didn’t mean to spill it, in hindsight I was only mad at myself for being too wrapped up in the other stuff going on to notice he needed help pouring a bowl of cereal. He was 6; it was my fault. My voice was too loud, my words too harsh. I was shaking and unable to contain all the emotions. About 10 seconds in his face changed. He was scared. Really truly overwhelmingly scared. He had never seen me like this. I am usually very gentle with my children. This was not the mom he knew. The look on his face brought me back to reality. How could I be yelling at my baby like this? How could I let him believe he did something so wrong that he deserved that reaction from me. Cue the post manic guilt and shame depression and tons of apologies, hugs and double dessert nights.
I decided in that moment my kids needed to know what bipolar disorder was, that I have it, and that my reactions are not always logical. I needed them to know it wasn’t their fault. That I would sometimes have mood swings, but they were not the cause of them. That’s a pretty heavy lesson for a 5 and 6 year old. I wanted to go about it the right way so, still manic, I did approximately 18 hours of light research and decided to order some (all) children’s books about Bipolar Disorder.
These are the books my kids and I found most useful. They teach about the basics of bipolar and that a child’s actions are not responsible for any adult’s mood, especially in the case of Bipolar. Both of my littles took well to the books and even my 5 year old understood the concepts. If you are a parent with Bipolar Disorder, deciding if and how to educate your children on the condition is difficult. Hopefully these books can help you. If you have any other recommendations or stories about letting your kids know you have bipolar please comment below. Thanks!
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