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Care for Yourself

There is allot involved in the care of a child who is diagnosed with bipolar. Supporting your child requires changing your own expectations of what home life should be like, working through disappointments and processing grief as you may feel some loss of hopes and dreams, and making enormous adjustments to your own daily life routine. Much of this is not talked about, and often parents feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they even have feelings that they need to work through. However, working through all of these feelings and emotions about having a child diagnosed with bipolar is both healthy, and necessary. In fact, it is in the best interest of your child for you to find a safe place and a healthy way to work through this issue. With that said, dump any notion that there is any shame or embarrassment here. Join the fight against stigma, and seize this moment to open to a new and wondrous journey. As you move through your feelings and emotions while adjusting to a life that you had not imagined; you will also want to engage in parent self care often.

While you are busy with developing a family and home routine that supports your child while also meeting the needs of the rest of your family, working with your child’s doctors and therapists, and learning about everything bipolar, you will want to take some time to sort out what your own needs are. Remember, you must take care of yourself, if you are going to be taking care of others. Your own mental health, emotional health,  and wellbeing are essential to your child’s well being.

Some parent self care ideas:

· While you may be bringing your family to family therapy sessions, and your child who is diagnosed with bipolar to his or her doctors, consider getting some supportive therapy yourself so that you can work through any feelings of loss, fear, disappointment etc. in a safe an private setting with someone that you trust will be supportive. This may or may not be your family therapist.

  • While you are creating a predictable routine for your child, and working out schedules with your family member, consider carving out a short period of regeneration time for yourself each day, and a longer period weekly. See if you can work this into your overall family schedule.
  • Complete a life inventory and assess your own personal goals, revise your own personal mission statement, and evaluate what groups and activities support your goals and life mission. Eliminate obligations that are no longer support your current life needs or your future goals.
  • Join a support group. Find a support group for parents who have children with bi polar disorder, or with mental illness. You will find that you are not alone, and you might even be surprised how healing and balancing this can be for you.
  • If you can afford it, get help with housecleaning an/or other responsibilities to free you up for doctors appointments etc. You might be able to find, or co-create a network of parents who can support you with child transportation, shopping, and other chores. By participating in mutual support where one person might help out with after school care, while the other person routinely picks up certain items from the store or dry cleaners… etc… you can find a way to mutually benefit all members of the network support group while optimizing everyone time.
  •  While co-creating your mutual network support group, consider including 3 people that you can call for emergencies and 3 people you can call to talk to when you are feeling overwhelmed, or emotionally drained. You can also volunteer to be that person for someone else.
  • Include in yourself care plan the activities that truly regenerate you and make you feel balanced. Activities for your regeneration time can range from simply taking a nap, to reading your affirmations, to praying, to getting a massage, or watching a favorite television show or movie after the children have gone to sleep. Write a list of activities that work for you.
  •  Consider writing out your own self care plan that includes your support network, who to call, etc. Sometimes this helps you organize in your own mind how you will proceed to include self care into your hectic routine, and it might motivate you to remember how important it is to take care of you.