Jessica: Her Mother's Accomplishments

Jessica explained, she is “just my mom. She seemed normal, totally fine.” Diane worked a full-time job and raised five childrenJessica, her older sister, and three older step-brothers. She first realized her mother took medication when she was around 10 years old. Her mother did not leave the house after 8:30 pm, because the medication made her drowsy and slowed her reaction time. Her mother’s medication schedule was sometimes a barrier in planning activities during her growing up years.

Diane worked full time until her recent retirement. She structured her life to help manage her bipolar disorder by eating a healthy diet; exercising regularly; keeping to a schedule; taking her medication regularly; and having a clean, orderly home. Jessica observed that her mother takes steps to continue her stability in daily life but wondered if her mother recognized when her moods changed.

She’s maybe been too hyperactive. There’s definitely times when I can see her acting manic versus more depressed. She uses one of those lamps in the winter months. She faithfully sits in front of her lamp every morning and reads for 30 minutes. She’s very good at knowing what she needs to do to stay level, but I don’t know that she necessarily knows sometimes what’s going on with her. She doesn’t notice she’s being manic.

She continues to see her mother often, weekly and sometimes twice a week. Jessica, her husband, and two children live in the same community, close to her mother. Sometimes her mother needs reminders to relax and talk with them.

“Like, mom, you don’t have to clean everything right now. You can just sit down and talk with us.” [Her mother says] “Oh, no--I’m just going to do the dishes real quick. It’s not a problem.” No matter what house she’s at, the dishes are done, so if you ever need your dishes done. . .

Jessica is proud of what her mother has accomplished while living with bipolar disorder.

I think my mom has always lived so successfully with her bipolar disorder. Once she took her medications, she just went back to the way she was before. She went back to work. She went back to doing things around the house. She was always very funny and very jovial and active and caring. She’s always been very reliable. People always say, gosh, I wish I had a mom like your mom.

She believes her mother has managed her bipolar disorder well, having effectively fulfilled roles as a mother, wife, and friend. She reflected, “It made me realize that people can live really successfully if they have the support and are educated.” She marveled at how in spite of the many life adversities her mother has experienced, she had done well with her life.

She married my dad at 24 and he had five kids and she took three of them. It was a really big deal. She had two more and lost one. She had a really, really hard life. She just did. Her dad left her family; he was a truck driver. He was in and out of their life, until she was 14 and then he didn’t come back. But she stayed connected through letters. She’s had a pretty tough life, but she’s done well. . . She’s happy and she’s healthy.

Jessica wondered whether her mother would have accomplished more if she had not experienced the challenges of living with a mental illness.

She barely passed high school, because she was in the hospital. But she did pass. You always wonder what she would have done. Would her life be different had she been healthy her senior year? Would she have picked up a trade? Would she have felt better about herself?