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Bipolar

Question:

Hello Schwartz,

I was mentally and physically abused as a child until I was 17 years old. I have never been able to hold down a relasionship. I was depressed and was always crying.  It was just normal for my little girl to see me this way.  I used to lose my temper so quickly with her and shout and I am very ashamed to say that I slapped her too hard a few times. I could feel my mother in me, my mother abused me. I frightened myself and got some help. Things did get a bit better but I still lost it sometimes and I would lash out when she was rude to me as a teenager.

I would never hit or slap a child now. When she was 17 she took some drugs. It turned out to be a mix of different things. She has never been the same. She has been diagnosed as having bipolar.

Is it my fault?

She won’t go for help as she is afraid of taking medication. The last she was perscribed it left her feeling suicidal. I wish I could help her.

Is there anything I can do?

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Answer:

To answer your last question first, no, you did not cause your daughter to have a bipolar disorder. That disorder is the result of an imbalance of the chemicals in the brain and usually runs in families. However, you know that hitting and yelling at a child does them no good. You are aware of this as your mother was abusive towards you. This also runs in families. However, it’s not because of genetics but because we tend to repeat with our children what was done to us. Abuse usually results in children growing up to have low self esteem and self confidence, as you well know from your life. Having said this, please understand that, with help, she can control her bipolar disorder and overcome her other psychological issues. This is true of you, too.

Clearly, you feel worried that your daughter’s problems were caused by you and that is a good reason for you to return to psychotherapy for yourself. You have been through so much turmoil in your life that you deserve a chance to have a better life for yourself. In the end, each of us are responsible for our lives and that means that it is up to your daughter to improve her own and not blame her mom. You need therapy to help you stop blaming yourself. No parent is perfect and all any of us can do is live fully from now onward.

Bipolar Disorder is controlled with medications called mood stabilizers. In my experience, these particular medications do not cause someone to become suicidal. Quite the opposite, they help stop the mood swings from deep depression to mania and prevent suicide. There are now several mood stabilizers and if one does not work then there are others. With medication and psychotherapy people do quite well in controlling this disorder providing they do not drink or use drugs.

What you can do is encourage your daughter to go for help. Her life can greatly improve with mood stabilizers and psychotherapy. In fact, this is also true of you. However, you cannot force her to get help. In the end, it’s up to her.

Best of Luck

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