One thing I have to mention first in this article is that a husband/wife team have to stick together on every aspect of raising their children. Raising them will have different levels of difficulties and having several children only adds to stress, but it also adds to rewards. There is a huge difference between typical teenage behavior and behavior that is symptomatic of bipolar disorder.
A bipolar teenager will display both, and it may be difficult at first for parents to tell the difference. As a rule, it is usually a matter of extremes. For example, it is normal for teenagers to feel sadness and heartbreak after a break-up. They may cry, call their friends and perhaps even believe for a while that they may never be happy again.
Yet they bounce back in a reasonable amount of time. A teenager with bipolar disorder, on the other hand, might fall into a deep depression, isolating themselves and crying for weeks or even months on end. They might turn their unhappiness on themselves and say things like, “I’m worthless and unlovable” or “I would be better off dead.”
They may even try to commit suicide. The same is true for irritation and anger. During an argument it is normal for teenagers to yell, slam their door and even tell their parents, “I hate you!” But they will usually come out for dinner a few hours later feeling better. A teenager experiencing a bipolar disorder mood swing, however, might not be able to calm themselves down for a very long time, and their response can be much more extreme.
They may become paranoid or psychotic, think their parents are out to get them, or even end up in the hospital. It is known that childhood bipolar disorder can complicate family matters, but did you know by just how much? It is estimated that the stress of raising a child who is bipolar can have a 40-percent negative impact on marriage, leading to divorce.
It is also suggested that bipolar in the family can account for a 40-percent increase in family conflict, including the results of reduced time that parents spend with siblings of bipolar kids. Additional stressors may come from the increased expense of services and supports, including medication, hospitalization, or therapy.
Then there’s the stress that comes of being ever-vigilant in ensuring that everyone is safe, and that your child is not a danger to herself or others. Perhaps you’ve already experienced these or other situations. As a parent, you may feel as if finding balance within your family is solely your responsibility, or that maintaining some semblance of “normalcy” (whatever that is) is your obligation alone.
This kind of self-imposed stress can lead to severe guilt and remorse, depression, and overexertion that can erode your own physical and mental health. Stay on guard with what is happening with your connection to your spouse. You two have stay intact for each other as well as for your Bipolar teen.
Communication is key in any relationship, especially one that is being tried and tested by a critical upheaval that can be caused by the child who is bipolar. When couples don’t communicate, the risk is greater that misunderstandings, miscommunications, assumptions, and blame will prevail.
You may have already experienced this kind of friction, and your upset may, at times, make you feel like you’re living with an uncaring stranger. All of your children are going to be attuned to any stress you project…especially your very sensitive bipolar child.
It is important that you and your spouse establish some of your own communication guidelines to minimize the times when you’re feeling unsupported and in need of help. When you are both able to alternate in compensating for the physical and emotional needs of one another, you are better able to foster individual and family resiliency.