Bipolar in the Family
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SUBJECT 1Hello. This is our family vacation. We're on our way to Rapid City. We're almost there. There's mom.
SUBJECT 2This is the first time we've really, really talked--
SUBJECT 4As a group.
SUBJECT 3I think I had a great childhood. I don't know if it was normal, per se.
SUBJECT 1Well, let's go outside.
SUBJECT 4I remember your birthday party was the first time we kind of realized that something was wrong.
SUBJECT 3I think it was fifth grade.
SUBJECT 4Fifth grade--
SUBJECT 3Yep. That's my first memory of it, too.
SUBJECT 4She didn't go because she was sitting in the recliner in the living room. And she, like, wasn't there.
SUBJECT 2I was very, very bad. I was, like, psychotic.
SUBJECT 4It was just kind of almost like a catatonic look.
SUBJECT 3And I remember when we came home, you were still in the chair. And I think they called the ambulance to come and take you.
SUBJECT 3And so that was probably the first time I ever realized something was wrong, like mom was sick.
SUBJECT 2I wasn't diagnosed until my son was born, which was after the girls. That's when it really affected me. I was hospitalized 13 times in 15 years.
I just felt like when I was depressed, I wasn't being a good mother. When they wanted to go somewhere, I didn't feel like taking them. They went to school-- back to bed I go. I'd stay in bed all day. They'd come home. I'd get up. I wasn't there for their homecoming, for birthdays. I feel bad about that.
SUBJECT 3When you're depressed, you have a hard time cleaning and doing those sort of things. So I cleaned the house so that she would feel comfortable enough. I think I spent a lot of time trying to either make her happy or make her comfortable.
I always felt supported, like my mom was there to talk to. It just felt like you didn't want to give her too much.
SUBJECT 4I remember her being like, I can't do any of this, and then going back upstairs. So we wanted to keep the house clean as much as possible.
If she did come downstairs, it wasn't like she was just going to go right back upstairs. There's nothing else she has to do besides just be down here with us. I forgot about all that.
SUBJECT 2When I'm manic, I do come up with big ideas. I started the Batavia City-Wide Garage Sale.
SUBJECT 3And you did that radio show for a long time.
SUBJECT 2Oh, I forgot about the radio show.
SUBJECT 4Well, you were the president of the PTO, too.
SUBJECT 2Oh, yes.
SUBJECT 4She's sweet. And she's likable. And then you dial all that up when she's manic, and she has an idea where she's like, this is the best idea ever. People buy into that.
SUBJECT 2When I was manic, I felt like I was a better parent, now that I think about it now.
SUBJECT 3Usually, how you can tell when you're manic-- the speech gets really fast. I love you. You are so sweet. Everybody loves you. When she's on the verge of getting manic, a little bit of that sweetness goes away.
SUBJECT 4There's more of an edge to it, like, yup, she's manic. Yup. We hear it. We know it.
SUBJECT 3Did you get a package from QVC on your doorstep?
SUBJECT 4Right. Yup.
SUBJECT 3Yes, we did.
SUBJECT 2I love to shop. And that kind of goes along with the bipolar. I buy them a lot when I'm manic.
SUBJECT 4Some of the stuff is great. But I remember you sent me and Rob this huge porch swing. Do you remember that?
SUBJECT 3Sometimes it's hard to tell. Most of the time, you just like sending us stuff.
SUBJECT 3But it's when it becomes, I think, extravagant, then I come over here and I also see that you have several boxes.
SUBJECT 2I'm divorced. And I think that that was a big thing.
SUBJECT 4I remember a lot of arguments about money. And that's kind of typical between husband and wife, like my dad just seeing all these packages coming and being like, we can't afford this. But she just would keep going.
SUBJECT 2They're very good daughters. They are my support system. They are the ones that I go to. And now my ex-husband and I are very good friends. We are grandparents to our grandchildren.
SUBJECT 3You need to have those people in your life who are like, you're not answering the phone. I'm coming over. We're going to deal with this.
SUBJECT 2I understand more. And I listen to them. And I realize that they love me. And they support me. And I don't take it the wrong way.
SUBJECT 4I feel like we have a much more understanding of mental illness than a lot of people out there. It's a disease. It was not her choice. This is a medical condition that she has had to deal with. So to feel guilty for something that you can't control is a waste of time.
SUBJECT 3You did absolutely everything you were supposed to or could have done. You took your medication. You saw your doctor. You advocated for yourself.
SUBJECT 2Thanks. Thanks-- because I sometimes feel so guilty to hear them say that makes me--
SUBJECT 3We love you.
SUBJECT 2I know.
SUBJECT 3You did a good job.
SUBJECT 2I can't believe how well they turned out in spite of--
SUBJECT 3Maybe because of. Maybe we learned some life skills that are important, like empathy, like support.
SUBJECT 4We are very good in crises, too.
SUBJECT 3We are amazing.
SUBJECT 4Both of our jobs-- like, we are the people to go to. So that's a positive spin on things.
SUBJECT 1There's [INAUDIBLE]. Let's look at the road again. Well, talk to you later. See ya.