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Mental Illness in the Family

Taylor Arthur
For years, I looked into the mirror, and all I could see was my bipolar disorder. I felt worthless. I wondered every day if my family would be better off if they just quit loving me. Maybe everyone would be better off if they forgot to feed me, forgot to look for me, let go of fighting for me. I believed the lies my bipolar disorder told me. I spent all my time and energy staring into a mirror that was lying to me. But now I know that it is possible to put down that mirror. It is possible to find self-love and acceptance when I refuse to listen to the lies of my mental illness, and instead look to the people who love me to help me define my self-worth.
Taylor Arthur
If you are a member of a family dealing with mental illness, you'll probably agree: dreams of a perfect Christmas hardly ever come true. We look backwards to before the mental illness, wishing, once again, for a life without meds, doctors and the mental illness rollercoaster. But looking backwards instead of focusing on the present sets unreal expectations for the Christmas at hand. The best gift you can give your mentally ill loved one this Christmas is not more unrealistic, nostalgic expectations. Rather, focus on making choices for this present Christmas that will help move your loved one and your family further down the road of recovery. 
Taylor Arthur
I think I know the best gift the mentally ill can give their families this season.  It’s Christmas time again. I’m trying so hard not to get swept up by the tinsel and twinkle lights that, frankly, it’s a little depressing.  Christmas without my usual hypomanic buzz feels like an arranged marriage, instead of my usual love affair with this season. But this year I'm giving my family something my hypomania can't. I'm taking charge of my illness to make certain my bipolar 1 disorder doesn't wreak havoc on my family's special moments. After all, peace is the best Christmas gift I can give my family (How Not To Take Bipolar Hypomania Irritability Out On Others).
Taylor Arthur
Giving thanks is hard when your family is a mess. When I started thinking about writing this Thanksgiving post, I almost wrote my manager to let her know I’m not qualified to write about mental illness in the family. Do you know why? Because I feel like a fraud. My family relationships are not all cleaned up and pretty like I'd like them to be. Rather, the messiness in my family amplifies as we make plans for the holidays. I want to wave a magic wand and make all of my relationships work, if only on these special days. I know what it's like when your family is a mess and it's hard to give thanks.
Taylor Arthur
Planning ahead for mental illness during the holiday season is tough, but it is doable. I could almost feel the whisper of hypomania pulsing through my veins last weekend as my family and I rolled through the Starbucks drive-thru. I squealed with excitement as the green aprons passed me my steaming red cup. As I sipped my cup of eggnog and espresso, I couldn't help but hope that my usual upswing was on its way. I look forward to my Christmas high--to actually feeling good--all year long. Christmas is so much fun. But is hypomania really a good thing for my family (Effects Of Bipolar On Family And Friends)? How can I navigate through my bipolar disorder to have a magical and peaceful holiday season? How can I plan ahead for my mental illness during the holidays?
Taylor Arthur
Before I had my babies, I imagined that I would be the perfect stay-at-home mom, and despite being a parent with a mental illness (bipolar 1 disorder), I thought I could keep everything normal. I planned to arrange play dates, work out, make all of my family’s food from scratch, keep the house clean and decorated, while still reserving enough energy for some saucy romance with my husband. My kids deserved to  have a normal childhood, no matter how crazy their bipolar mother was. I was determined to not allow my bipolar disorder to interfere with my mothering.
Taylor Arthur
Mothering with an invisible mental illness is challenging. I know you couldn’t see my mental illness when you were sitting next to me at “back to school” night. You couldn't see the bipolar medications I swallow twice a day or the 14 years of therapy that have equipped me to behave so normally. You can’t see my bipolar 1 disorder, but sometimes I wish you could. I'm mothering with an invisible mental illness. 
Taylor Arthur
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.
Chrisa Hickey
Tim has announced that when he turns 21 next summer he wants to move out. I can’t begin to explain all the ways that frightens me. Except for this past February when he knew he needed a few days inpatient, Tim has been stable for just over a year. I never, ever thought we would get to this place. He even spent two straight weeks alone with my parents in July, helping them with chores around the house and playing miniature golf. He hasn’t been able to do that since he was nine. Moving out means Tim will have to be responsible for all the things he doesn't realize he relies on us for, and for all the things he is responsible for now, but I remind him about almost daily. We can teach him these things, yes. But what we can’t teach him scares me more, namely, how to keep him safe out in a world that may automatically assume he’s dangerous, and may be dangerous to him because he trusts too much.
Randye Kaye
Two things happened last month that stirred me to revisit an often-examined question: Am I too involved in my adult son's life (Ben has schizophrenia.)? Have I "stolen his manhood and his rights" by insisting on treatment for his schizophrenia? One reminder came in the form of a reader's book review on Amazon.com for Ben Behind His Voices, calling it a "Testament to Abuse of Power and Parental Authority," the only one-star review in a sea of 5-star praise and gratitude. Clearly, a man with an agenda, so I didn't take it too personally, but this is not the first time I've been called an over-involved parent. On the other hand, I've also been criticized by others for not "stopping" Ben from dropping out of high school, for "allowing" my son a period of homelessness in Idaho and "letting him fail" when he gained and then lost five different jobs after he returned.