My Life as a Bipolar Mom

Cristina Fender, 34, of Austin, Texas, is an aspiring writer, blogger, and mother of two who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006. Each and every day Cristina struggles to manage her condition while taking care of her family. Though Cristina's approach to treating bipolar disorder isn't for everyone, her story vividly demonstrates how elusive stability can be for people with bipolar.

I think the hardest job in the world is being a stay-at-home mom with bipolar disorder. Im 34 and married, and I have two girls, ages 2 and 5. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder on October 2, 2006, while pregnant with the second baby.

Im a compliant patient, although I still feel crippled by my disorder. I duly take my medications—lithium, Geodon, Ambien, Xanax, and Prozac—as prescribed by my psychiatric nurse practitioner. The various meds calm my mania, even out my moods, and ease my depression, and they allow me to sleep most nights. I see a talk therapist, too.

Despite all this help, there are days when I cant get out of bed because Im in a deep depression or didnt sleep at all the night before. Sometimes Im unable to do anything other than get my kids fed. When Im too depressed to function, I tell the girls that "mommys sick." At the other end of the spectrum, if Im in a manic phase, I frantically work on other projects around the house, and the TV is my babysitter. It's because of my children that I can get up in the morning and attempt to function at a somewhat normal level. Getting out of bed when your Geodon causes sleepiness (yet prevents mania and psychosis) is a feat in itself. I down two Frappuccinos just to get going.

After my 2-year-old goes down for a nap at 11:30, my anxiety creeps in. Im restless, pacing, and I feel like Im going to explode from the inside out. Anxiety makes my skin crawl and I almost claw at my skin to get it to stop. I usually take a Xanax, which calms me down.

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Lead writer: Cristina C. Fender
Last Updated: April 23, 2009

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