My Life

The Struggles of Being A Bi-Polar Husband And Father

1926854_10204748987105980_6589370480234548589_n

It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was sitting down in my therapist’s office telling her a story about my child hood, she had tears in her eyes and was visibly shaken as I finished. She sat there staring at me and I couldn’t figure out why because the story I told her seemed totally normal to me, and I had never really thought about it any other way. Part of my therapy had been talking about my childhood and I had been reluctant and put it off as long as I could, talking about my child hood was one of the areas I had put off talking about as long as possible – it was just something I didn’t want to re-live.

We had a dog, a German Shepard named Musket that we had as a family dog since the time I was about 3 years old. I was 12 at the time and Musket had gotten lame and one day she just became unable to walk, she was alert and seemed normal but she couldn’t get up no matter how much she tried, and it became hard to watch. My parents never even considered taking her to the vet, maybe it was because of money issues or whatever, so Musket laid there for a few weeks. She stopped eating and drank very little water and was becoming increasingly weaker as the days wore on, and one day when I came home from school I went over to her and what I saw disturbed me greatly; a maggot was crawling up her back legs and onto her backside.

My dad came home from work a few hours later and Immediately went to him and told him what I had found, and he went inside came back out a few minutes later went into the shed and came out with a shovel. I went in after him and grabbed my own, I had planned on helping him dig her grave, she was the family dog and I didn’t want him having the burden of  having to bury her alone. He went into the backyard and started digging her grave, but what bothered me was that he was digging the grave within eyeshot of Musket, and as we dug, she watched. Being 12 at the time I really didn’t totally understand the physiological impact this must have had on her, but it haunts me to this day 25 years later. Once the hole was dug, he told me to go into the house, and I went in and waited, preparing myself for the gunshot that was to follow, as it’s not uncommon where we were from to put down a dog in this way. But as I sat there and waited I didn’t hear a shot, and as the minutes passed I still heard nothing and began to wonder if he had a change of heart and decided to not go through with it and take her to the vet and have her put to sleep; shortly after however he came in through the backdoor. I looked at him and asked him if he had shot her because I hadn’t heard a shot, and he told me no that she was too good of a dog to shoot – that he had buried her alive.

Being a father that is bi-polar is not easy. Did events like this help trigger the mental disease inside me? Yes. After much therapy I have learned that events and trauma suffered during childhood and early adult hood is most likely the direct cause and what triggers the disease. It’s hereditary, and it lives dormant inside you like a raging monster trying its best to emerge and breathe on its own.

Finding the right balance of therapy and medications are key in helping me live a somewhat normal life, but it takes a lot of work and can be extremely taxing, and makes everyday tasks at times very challenging. Surprisingly my mental illness has rarely effected my ability to be a father and raise my children, I can only remember a handful of times when the monster inside of me managed to escape. One time I was in the car backing out of the driveway, I had recently decided I was going to stop my medications and my son was in the backseat and I literally screamed at him for doing something that normally wouldn’t have bothered me, I instantly felt ashamed and apologized as much as i could but the damage had been done – the next day I went back on my medications.

Luckily I manage to have extreme patience with all of my kids. I rarely raise my voice and am totally against spanking them, and that is solely based on how I was beat as a kid and the fear I had whenever I saw my father and I didn’t want that type of relationship with my children.

My marriage hasn’t been as easy and if I hadn’t of found my soul mate and the perfect person for me  I would have been divorced, alone and miserable. She is my rock and quite honestly without her I may have killed myself years ago.

I used to curse God because I couldn’t understand why he would do this to me – I just couldn’t understand why life for me was so hard. Over the years I’ve lost countless relationships with more people than I can remember and I just felt tired and miserable and alone all the time. I’ve since come to terms with the way I am and even though I struggle with this illness everyday, I no longer put the blame on anyone else.

I’m always in fear that this illness will be passed down into my children, and sometimes I think I see similar patterns in my son’s behavior but maybe I’m over thinking those things and they are nothing but my imagination, but I can’t help obsessing over it. The only thing I can do is be the best father that I can and create the best foundation I can as a family and never turn my back on any of them. I didn’t have it so easy, my childhood was scarred with fighting, abuse and fear and I was in a prison I escaped as soon as I was able to. There was no love, bond or friendship, my father has never to this day told me that he loved me, and I’ve never hugged him, we shook hands and I called him by his first name. I tell my kids daily that I love them and hug them and spend time with them as often as I can.

I don’t blame anyone anymore, I was dealt the hand I was meant to have, and maybe the reason is I’ve had to sacrifice so that my kids can have a better life and a safe environment to grow up in, and it’s a sacrifice I’m very happy to make.

My therapist tells me that it’s very rare and very hard for someone with my illness and past to break the cycle and become a better father than what I experienced as a kid, and with that I thank god every single day.

It’s extremely hard and takes a lot of work to be a good father and husband with being bi-polar and takes a very strong foundation to survive in. My advice to anyone who suffers from this illness to surround yourself with people who love you and be as strong as you possibly can, its the hardest thing you will ever have to face and the effects it has on your children will only go as far as you let it, but we can overcome and change the future of all those around us. Do not be embrassed, ashamed or feel sorry for yourself – be proud of you who you are, keep your head high and let nothing stand in your way.

Remember, if we stand together long enough, they can never knock us down.

 

Related Posts

15 comments
Kimberly Bolaños
Kimberly Bolaños

You are a brave, strong, wise soul. Thank you for sharing your story. That took some guts, and touched my heart. There are a lot of us out there.

Tiffany McDonald Shaw Stephenson
Tiffany McDonald Shaw Stephenson

Today you touched my heart dearly...I have category 2 bipolar disorder I found out 2 years ago...I lived in a very very bad environment as a toddler until 7 years of age do to my birth mothers addictions...I was abused physically,mentally and sexualy.. When I turned 8 I got put into foster care until 18...my homes were not all good and I lived in many many homes...after getting out of my last FCH I moved to Idaho to get a new bigining in life..I found my wonderful hubby...I was 21 when we got married and then 7 months later I got severly that caused me to be paralyzed from my hips down I got put into a wheel chair for 3 years...during that time I was told that I had sever PTSD and depression that at a. Few points caused me to think of suicide but my hubby stood by me and I got the help I needed...they finally told me about having Bipolar disorder and I am on good meds that help...I do have two wonderful toddlers..one girl age 3 one boy age 18 months...they are a great reminder of why I try so hard at life and at being the mother that I never had...my sickness is a daily challenge...I have learned to pay attention to my moods and if I started getting snappy at the kids or hubby I take a step back....my sickness is heradatary...my mother, both brothers and grand parents have it....you are so awesome I can see my self in this post of yours...thank you for putting it out there.

Kerbi Seabolt
Kerbi Seabolt

I saw my sister Kelli Molck commented on this. I'm a mom of 2 that has also been diagnosed with bi-polar. I think it's amazing that there are willing to fight for control of their bi-polar for their kids. Unless you've been through it, you do not realize how hard day to day can be sometimes & our kids are the first to suffer, and our significant others. I have been medicine & therapy free for 10 months now & it is a battle sometimes but something I wanted. I commend you for having the strength to face this & be as great of a father as possible!! You're kids are lucky!!

Kelli Molck
Kelli Molck

My mom is bipolar and she left when I was 2 bc she couldn't handle 2 2 yr olds and a 4 yr old. She is the driving force behind my motivation to never give up. I refuse to be like her. I applaud u for every day you work to deal with it and u work to be a good day and husband.

Jeff Dyke
Jeff Dyke

Mike I'm a stay at home dad of 3, an am sub bipolar. I feel you, keep it up man. You're awesome

AnneMarie Greenfield
AnneMarie Greenfield

Both my father and sister suffer from bi-polar disorder and I am so grateful to you for writing this. My father refused to be medicated and so my childhood was interesting to say the least...lol My sister chose to not have children as she struggles to manage her condition. Thank you for sharing!

Diane Silva
Diane Silva

Wow you are an amazing person to share this and it just shows how far you come and dude you are breaking down that cycle everyday and good on you for that cause it ain't a ride in the park. It's amazing what love from your wife and children can do to you and make you do a 360 degree change.

Diane Silva
Diane Silva

But most of all props to you for acknowledging and taking control of this mental disease cause that alone is huge

Cathy Creswell
Cathy Creswell

I have read your blog out of amusement, but now I love you like a brother. I too am bipolar, but spend most of the time fighting the depression. I'm on meds, and they alone make life possible. My husband is a saint and supports me and cares for all of us. Like you I am determined to do better than my parents, my Mom in particular. She went without an antidepressant and drank to self medicate, as well as prescription drugs such as valium and cough medicine. She was difficult to live with, being emotionally prickly and easily brought to rages. I am SO PROUD OF YOU for fighting your daily battle and for being honest and accountable. The principles of AA are good ones to follow, admitting being too weak to fight your illness on your own you admit being powerless seek a higher power to help you, and seek help from others to stay accountable. Hang in there Daddy Fishkins, there is help and we are here to have your back.

Stephanie Yost Hicks
Stephanie Yost Hicks

My ex-husband is Bi-polar and refused to help himself. He currently has severe mental health issues and it worries me. I am so glad you recognize the importance of meds and therapy. Your kids are blessed because of you and your ability to be a man and do what you need to do. Much love Mike! Keep on being you!

Beth Linkous Rodney
Beth Linkous Rodney

I think it is great that you felt you could share your experience with everyone not many people would.

Becky Cahill Wedhoff
Becky Cahill Wedhoff

You're amazing. thank you for being brave enough to share your illness with others, too often people feel the need to hide their mental illness.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.