I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder as a teenager. In my 20s I got married and had two wonderful children; a boy and a girl. My son is in his final year of university and has had a horrible few years. Last week he was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder as well. The thought that I did this to him is unbearable. I know that bipolar disorders are hereditary so he got it from me. How do I deal with the guilt?
This is a common feeling in parents of children with mental illnesses. When looking at the causes of a bipolar disorder (see CAUSES page) there are only theories and a genetic connection is one of them. However, this only accounts for 15-30% of children with bipolar disorders who have one parent that also has the disorder. Therefore, there are many other factors that influence the manifestation of a bipolar disorder. I know that this gives you more information, but that nagging guilt may still remain.
In a study of parents of children with schizophrenia, parents found that becoming part of a family or self-help group was an effective way for them to deal with their guilt. There are many great support groups for families of people with a bipolar disorder. Here are a few:
(see Care and Support page)
Just think, you have experience living with a bipolar disorder. You can pass on to your son, information that took years for you to learn. You can help him get his medication regulated and most of all you can help him get used to having a bipolar disorder. He is lucky to have such a caring and knowledgeable mom to help him through this trying time in his life.