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Introduction to Taylor Arthur, Author of ‘Mental Illness in the Family’

Hi, I’m Taylor Arthur, and I am so excited to be writing for Mental Illness in the Family here on HealthyPlace. Unlike the other authors of this blog, I am the mentally ill member of my family. My high school sweetheart, Jack, and I had no idea when we were married that I had a serious mental illness, and my illness almost ended our marriage (Bipolar Spouse: Coping With Bipolar Husband, Wife). But 16 years later, we are balancing bipolar disorder, marriage, careers, and children in a life not far from what I imagined on our wedding day.

Diagnosis with Bipolar 1 Disorder

When I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder during our senior year in college, we did not think motherhood would be possible for me.  My recovery was painful and slow. On psychiatric medication, I was unable to read or even watch television. I couldn’t count, couldn’t tell my left from my right, and cried uncontrollably all the time. I could barely make myself brush my teeth, let alone care for another human being. I stayed on my medication, kept going to therapy, and kept hoping that one day I would be healthy enough to be a mom.

Having Bipolar and Becoming a Mom

Taylor Arthur, new author of Mental Illness in the Family, shares her struggle with balancing family life, being a mom and the challenges of bipolar disorder.Before we had children, we organized a team of doctors who helped us make the many decisions we faced concerning a bipolar pregnancy. Could I discontinue my medication during pregnancy? What were the risks? How would pregnancy hormones affect my moods? Would I be able to take medications and breastfeed? How would we make sure I slept enough to avoid a manic episode? Would I suffer from postpartum depression?

In the end, we listened to our doctors and made the best decisions we could. We have two miraculous little boys, and one more in heaven. There is no right answer to all of these questions and no way to tell the future. But this I know: my boys are the best thing I have ever done.

Being a Mom with Bipolar

Still, juggling family life and bipolar 1 disorder is incredibly tricky. The needs of small children often conflict with my bipolar needs. I struggle to prioritize my own health and have suffered because of that. But, as time goes by, as I continue seeing my therapist and asking for help, I’m learning how to achieve this balance between my duties as mother and patient.

Here in the Mental Illness in the Family blog, I’m looking forward to delving into many of the difficult topics mental illness brings to motherhood.  There were so many times along my journey I wished I could have talked with someone who had succeeded in a bipolar pregnancy. I would have loved to have coffee with her and just pick her brain. So, that’s what I’m hoping I can be to so many women out there facing the same questions I did.

I want to encourage you, support you, and inform you as best I’m able. I don’t believe there is a right way to be a mom with a mental illness. Every woman’s body is different, and every family has unique strengths and challenges.  But when we share our experiences with each other, we can all benefit.

More about Taylor Arthur

I’m excited to share my journey with you, and to encourage you in yours.

Find Taylor on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and her blog.

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7 Responses to Introduction to Taylor Arthur, Author of ‘Mental Illness in the Family’

  1. Thank you Taylor, chewbetcha I’m gonna follow you here! What a wonderful think that women of childbearing age who have bipolar will have someone who can understand, advise, pray for, and support them! I am wayyyy past that unless God decides to name me Sara … but it is a delight and inspiration to know you. :D Continue following me, too! You don’t get out of that, that easily lol…

  2. Oh Kathleen,

    Thanks so much! Of course I will still follow you. Your blog always puts a smile on my face when it pops up in my inbox. My hope is that I can be for so many young women what I didn’t have: a friend who’s been through the struggles of pregnancy and motherhood with bipolar. I don’t have all the answers, but we can talk it out here on HealthyPlace.

    Blessings,
    Taylor

  3. Ruth Jackson says:

    Hi Taylor
    I am a stay-at-home mum of a six year old and 11 month old and i was dignosed with bipolar sixteen years ago. I’m excited to read what you have to say about balancing family and wellness especially as I’m considering returning to part-time work soon.

  4. Kathy says:

    Hi, Taylor,
    Welcome to Healthy Place! I’m so glad to have another mom on her who has bipolar disorder.

    I was diagnosed after all 3 of my kids were born, and now they are adults.

    Still it’s wonderful to be able to hear from someone who struggles to find the balance.

    Best!
    Kathy

  5. Hi, Ruth!

    I’m so glad you left a comment and am so excited to hear from you! It’s hard to find other bipolar mamas trying their best to balance health and family, let alone work, too. It’s a lot, and I don’t know about you, but it often feels like too much for me. But, we can utilize this space to talk about all of the goods, bads, and uglies of this journey we’re on. Please comment and let me know what’s working for you, what you’re wondering about, etc., so we can keep this conversation going.

    Blessings to you,
    Taylor

  6. Kathy,

    Thanks so much for the welcome! I don’t know about you, but I often feel like the only bipolar mom on the planet. It can feel very isolating, and I’m hoping this blog can be a place where we can meet and support each other and learn from each other. I know a lot of moms get diagnosed after they have their babies, and I’ll bet that was not easy.

    Please feel free to chime in, as you have gotten further in this journey than I have. I would love to know what you have learned along the way about balancing self-care and kid-care.

    Blessings,

    Taylor

  7. Emily says:

    I’ve been reading your columns and I love them! I’m also a mom with two little ones. Keep fighting the good fight!

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