Single parenting is one of the most difficult things a person can do.
Not only are you responsible for maintaining a home, paying bills and balancing a budget to survive, you have to do it while raising another person who looks at you like you're the world. You have to set an example, be strong, help your child learn and put his or her needs first.
Having bipolar disorder is also one of the most difficult things a person can suffer with. You wake up every day with a fight between good and evil going on inside of you.
Some days aren’t so bad. You find yourself smiling, happy and at peace. Other days, however, finding the strength to get out of bed is your biggest accomplishment.
The depression days can be crippling. You feel helpless, worthless and pointless. The darkness seems everlasting, and you can’t find a single highlight to make things tolerable.
Now combine the two.
Being a single parent who suffers from bipolar disorder is something I have personally struggled with for the past eight years. There are days so dark I barely have the will to live, but I have to. There I days I just want to lay in bed and cry, but I can’t.
I have to get out of bed, fight the monsters, choke back the tears and get to work, so I can afford to pay for my daughter’s music lessons and school lunches. I can’t show her my suffering.
Finding the balance has never been easy.
She is my reason for getting up every day. There are days I feel like the world around me has crumbled. I feel like I'm under attack, and I am so stressed I can’t sleep.
Those are normally also the days she won’t get out of bed without me fighting her. Then, she decides to take a 45-minute shower, and has me rushing out the door so I can get her to school on time.
There have been nights where she goes to cheerleading practice after school, and I take that hour or two to sit in my car alone and just cry. She can’t see me fall apart. I never want her to see me suffer with this disorder.
It is important to me that she has a strong female role model, and that person has to be me.
I have reached out to friends and family, sought professional therapy and taken medication, but nothing ever really helps. The waves still come in every day.
Some days -- the good days -- those waves are small and tolerable. I feel happy and balanced. I have energy.
I feel on top of the world. I am mom of the year and I am at peace. Other days, it’s a tsunami and I'm drowning.
People who don’t suffer from this have a hard time grasping and understanding the feelings.
I have been told so many times that life is just hard, and I simply have to deal with it. Everyone has troubles and problems.
What they don’t understand is when you're a single parent, you don’t have the down time to process your feelings. You don’t have someone to help you alleviate the stress, do some of the errands or help with some of the bills. It all falls on you.
The world is on your shoulders, and some days, it crushes you. In addition to the stresses of everyday life, your own brain is telling you you’re worthless.
The struggle with this is a never-ending battle.
If you know someone in this situation, reach out. Be the light they never knew they needed. Your kind words could be the only reason they smile today. It could mean the difference between life and death.
There have been many times I have had those dark thoughts and feelings, but knowing my daughter needs me keeps any actions at bay. She is my light and my beacon. I need to be her strength.
Be strong and fight. People are depending on you.
I promise you will get through it, no matter how bleak the outlook seems. Things do not stay dark forever.