Nothing–I mean nothing–depresses me more than seeing my kids afraid of me. Nightmare visions flood my head as I see clip after clip after clip of small faces crying and looking terrified or confused because they got yelled at and don’t understand why. It’s impossible to get a two-year old and one-year old to understand that mommy is not mad at them, but rather mad at herself because she can’t keep herself in check. I make things worse, yelling at them more, saying they’re not stupid and know why I’m yelling, when in reality, they have no idea. However, I can’t blame them for crying out of confusion or fear, because I should know better.
I remember once, for several weeks, my son would not come near me. He wouldn’t talk to me, wouldn’t hug me, no kisses, and no smiles. Every time he saw me, he would run away and hide. That broke my heart. It should not be that way. But it was. It took me admitting that I needed help, and getting it, to get my son back. I lost his trust, and it took mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety medications to mellow out enough to be able to gain it back. Once I did, it was the greatest day ever. My son just walked up to me one day, hugged me and patted me on the back. I cried like a baby because it meant the world to me to have his trust again. Ever since that day, I have done everything it takes to make sure I never lose his trust again, and to make sure I never lose my one year-old’s trust.
For months, I went to therapy and counseling. I learned how to let things go instead of being a Micromanaging Mom. I learned how to back off and let my children be children. But the hardest part was learning to not yell. I yelled a lot. I never spoke to my babies, I always yelled. When my therapist told me that because I yelled more than talked it was considered child abuse, I broke down. I was the victim of verbal abuse in prior relationships; I never in my life thought I would do it to someone I loved.
With his help, I was able to speak nicer and talk to my children and family. That brought along with it better communication. Which, in turn, brought about fewer expressions of fear and confusion from my babies. I learned breathing and meditation exercises to help keep myself in check in sudden situations.
I stand by experience, trial and error, in order to get the help I needed to make sure I see don’t see those facial expressions ever again. If you have Bipolar Disorder and you’re dealing with this same situation, start by helping yourself. If your baby is affraid of you and won’t come near you, that’s a sign to change things before you lose not just trust, but also respect. Find what sets you off and either avoid it or learn to work through it so it doesn’t have as much effect on your life. The outcome is so rewarding with hugs, smiles, giggles, and kisses. It makes you see that it’s a journey worth taking.
– Marrissa Marlweb