Real Dads Speak: Living With Bipolar


Part of my goal with Dads With Depression is to encourage Dad’s (and anyone else affected) to write in with their experiences battling the fog and, with their permission, repost them here for others to read, share and comment on.

The following story is a message I received via the Contact page this week:

“I suffer from Bipolar and have had 2 severe manic episodes in the last 5 years. One where I have been as high as a kite and ended up in hospital and last year I had the opposite where I wanted to end it all.

Last year was the darkest place I have ever been in my mind and on both occasions I have had to haul myself up back to some kind or normal existence.

I have found solace in yoga, my psychologist and psychiatrist and music.

I have been on a journey of “discovery” trying to ensure I look after my health and well being for myself but also for my wife and my two young daughters who mean the world to me.

I’m still coming to terms with the passing of my mother just before xmas (70 years old). I also feel like I’m at a cross roads in life as I hit 40 next year. I feel very lost as I try to loose site of who I have defined myself as over the last 10 years work wise and be open to other pathways that are opening up.

Being a father and trying to be a provider I do feel like a failure in my efforts so far….although I do think I’m a good dad:-). I am always very open that I have Bi-Polar and don’t hide in shame and rather talk openly.

I don’t actually regret the experiences I have gone through with my mental health as I now truly understand how I tick and who I am…that’s been a real journey and I’m wide open now in my life, more then I ever have to try and live the life as the real me.
Often mental health bouts that really knock you over seem to provide lessons to learn from and build on. I have had bouts of severe Anxiety which I went to the doctor about when I knew something wasn’t right. I have strategies that help me overcome a panic attack when it comes on.
Bipolar is a gift and a curse but it’s very miss understood… it’s the invisible disease. I’ll sometimes be shattered at the end of the day when times are rough due to the mental battles I’m often having to wrestle with my mind during my day.
My wife has been very supportive but to her own admission doesn’t understand mental health. I often find it very hard to explain to her what it’s like when you loose your mind and the fog comes over. You wake up and feel like crap for no reason what so ever.
We often hide (our emotions) and pretend everything is ok, but that’s when the danger strikes. It is clearly very hard to try and tell the difference to not being mentally well and the daily struggles/pressures of life where we can feel “down”.
You will know the difference, but how can that be explained so others can relate, I think this is so key to helping others.”
  1. Avatar
    KB 1 year ago

    The last question reminds me of something I have struggled to understand as well.

    I was adopted into a family at age one which had 4 biological children of their own. The mother had the idea that she’d be some idealised mother figure to save and soothe the poor child but wasn’t prepared for the fact that what she got was a traumatised child.

    As it turned out she became very violent and rejecting towards me, and it went on for years. She punished and beat me leaving me bruised and overwhelmed. Her “own” children did not get the same treatment and when she left my adoptive dad when I was 6 she took her children with her and left me behind.

    For a long time I tried repeatedly to show my siblings just how terrible my experience had been. They never seemed to really understand, even though they had seen me being beaten and had seen the bruises.

    In a defining moment with my psychologist he gently told me that “they would never understand”. It really made me cry to hear that, but it was true. How could they know having not experienced the terror?

    In the days that followed I felt a strange freedom. I’d realised what I was trying to achieve could not be achieved and that was actually ok. I know my siblings love me and they are supportive, just as my wife is. I also felt the same frustration towards my wife at her efforts to understand but not really understand the fullness of such an experience.

    In my experience I had to accept that people around me do actually try their best, even though their best sometimes doesn’t feel like enough. I imagine for them they probably sometimes feel a bit powerless to help – if they could somehow “fix” us I’m sure they would in a heartbeat.

    It has been a little bit freeing to have an unrealistic hope crushed, and it allows me to receive and accept others efforts a bit more fully.

    • Avatar
      KC 1 year ago

      Wow, such an honest and raw post above and KBs response to this is spot on.

      I have absolutely struggled with “WHY DONT YOU UNDERSTAND”…… of course they can’t and I think that starts that feeling of ALONENESS … where the cycle begins!

      It is absolutely freeing to step out of the “blame game” and into “acceptance”.

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