Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coping with Death of Loved One When Bipolar

My last post, in mid-December, was titled "Bipolar? How to Survive the Holidays." It turns out that it wasn't me who had trouble surviving the holidays, but my mother.

My mother, at 67 years of age, had an aneurysm burst in her brain in the 22nd of December. She passed away after a week of unresponsiveness in the hospital. She hadn't even been sick. The family was looking forward to celebrating Christmas Eve at her home. I'm still in shock, and miss her so much.

As an only child, the tasks of making medical decisions for mom in the hospital, arranging the funeral and settling her affairs and estate all fall on me. These sad practicalities on top of all the grief. It's been a couple of rough months for me and my family. The kids were very close to mom, and we are slowly trying to help them cope and work through their grief.

Grief + Bipolar Disorder =
Having had bipolar disorder for decades, I know that, when loved ones are in critical situations, I rarely fall apart, but instead go into autopilot and do what I can to help out and manage the situation. Thankfully, that's what happened again. That being said, I can't say enough about how crucial it is to STAY ON MEDS when faced with stress and chaos (and the rest of the time as well).

Bipolar Medications and Change of Routine
My mother lived about an hour away from us. And there were several times when I had to race up to her hospital or stay overnight in her town. On at least two nights, I either did not pack anything, or forgot to include my meds when packing, a dangerous situation. My advice for anyone with bipolar disorder is to always keep a little bit of emergency medication in your car, purse or wallet, somewhere that you have access to all the time, so that if you don't remember to bring your medications with you when traveling, you still have an emergency stash to carry you through.

In addition to the possibility that missing a dose of bipolar medication will precipitate a manic or depressive episode, people with the disorder and more vulnerable to manic depression when under stress, sleep deprived or during a change in routine, making it especially important to take meds during hard times.

Moral of the story for those with bipolar disorder...doesn't always seems to revolve around having bipolar medication? If you are not on any, get a prescription for appropriate meds. If you take meds for your disorder, remember to ALWAYS take them, particularly when life goes haywire and you need to hold yourself and family together.

Love you mom!


  1. My brother passed away Monday. He was 32. I have been diagnosed with bipolar since I was 23 after I had my first son, but really think I had bipolar since around 18. The medicine I'm on now has not been working as well as the risperidal, see with the risperidal I gained 70 pounds, so in September I tried seraqul xr, and joined weight watchers. I had a few tiny manic moments, like high sex drive, and talking fast- but I was able to recognize them. Anyway I've lost 20 of the pounds so far and my brother Greg was so proud I was doing weight watchers! I'm still in disbelief!!! Anyway my mother had an aneurism too, she found out about it two years ago and had surgery last June, I am so deeply sorry for your loss!!! My mothers brother and two other sisters had aneurysms too. My uncles burst while at work and he was like a block away from the hospital and he survived with no issues, he was 47, the doctors called him their miracle patient! Anyway so after that one of my aunts had a scan and she had one, then my other aunt had a scan and had one then my mom had one!!! My oldest aunt had the surgery but suffered two strokes! She is handicapped now but her children and husband help! And my moms surgery went great my mom is 53, when mom was getting ready for the surgery I was very manic so my doctor upped the risperdal, I gained 10 pounds but it was worth it! So needless to say I just wanted to suggest to you and your family to get checked out and make sure you don't have one. We thought maybe Greg died of an aneurism, he smoked since he was 18, but we found out it was alcoholism. He was a binge drinker. Had a good job, apartment and a beloved Mercedes but on the weekends he would drink. Anyway I've really found it helped to get involved. I really wanted to help mom by telling some of the family so she didn't have to do it all, she said no at first but changed her mind and let me tell my Aunt Terry. It was horrible, she screamed on the phone! So I drove to her house she lived about 15 min. Away and we cried together, I really needed that, my mom has trouble showing her emotions and hates crying, so I really needed this. Oh and when my mom told me she came to my house and I fell to the floor screaming- I thought it would be dad, he has a stint in his heart- I never thought Greg!!!!! Anyway mom spent the night, I have two sons that she adores so I think she needed them! Anyway I wanted to scream more but couldn't with her there, so I went to see my therapist and got there a half hour early to scream in the car I had a range of emotions! I wanted to be dead and be with him I didn't want him to be going through this alone! I hurt myself in episodes but thought of him every time I wanted to grab my keys and cut myself. My therapist helped imensly, she told me this is the time I have to be strong, my mom and dad are going to need my help and even if mom says no to something that makes sense I can do it! I thought since I'm her only child here she's aloud to control me overprotect me, whatever! I can not imagine what they're going through! Anyway I will keep my meds in my purse that is such a good idea! Thank you so much! And I'm so sorry for your loss!

  2. Hey there, Im sorry for your loss. Im looking for advice--my mom died unexpectedly two weeks ago of a heart attack--she was bipolar and had become unable to hold a job and function because of her depressive states which kept her in bed for days. I'm still in college, and she was living with her mother, sister, and brother in law across the country. She was living with them because she had been abusing her medication with me, which I found out she was doing with them. I always tried but was never able to keep her on a stable med. schedule--How do I cope with the feelings of self-anger and guilt/ wishing I had done more? Thank you so much!