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The Reality of Bipolar Disorder — A Mother's Perspective

This blog post explores Clara's experience of mothering Mark, her son battling Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features.

By Mehmet Mercan / Edited by Mehmet Mercan

Updated November 24, 2023

Bipolar Disorder, formerly referred to as Manic Depression, is a chronic mental illness characterized by intense mood swings. These swings encompass episodes of extreme excitement (manic) and episodes of profound depressive feelings (depression). Manic states may involve euphoria, heightened energy, unusual irritability, excessive talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility, and a reduced need for sleep. In some cases, mania can even lead to psychosis, necessitating hospitalization.

In this blog post, we delve into Clara's journey as a mother raising a son, Mark, who grapples with Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features.

Mark's Childhood

"He had a troubled childhood," Clara recalls. Clara's family relocated many times during Mark's childhood, and Clara feels that Mark also didn't receive the paternal affection he yearned for.

Clara recounts, "For most of his youth, he desired to be with his father, to love and be loved as a son. However, he did not get as much attention as he wanted from his father."

When Mark was 12, he and his family moved to the US. Mark went to a boarding high school, further separating him from his family. He began showing the first symptoms of mental illness around this time, with repetitive behaviors such as obsessively washing hands and periods of depression. Mark's parents disagreed regarding the significance of his symptoms and didn't seek the necessary medical help during his adolescence.

The First Attack

Mark felt that his English was insufficient for a college education in the US, so he returned to his native country for university. The distance from his family, along with his earlier symptoms, caused Mark to feel more depressed, further impairing his judgment. His depression and his friends' influence led Mark to try alcohol and illicit drugs for the first time.

Mark had his first full-blown manic attack in the first year of college. Mania, in combination with illicit drugs, resulted in delusions and hallucinations to the point where he was no longer functional.

Clara says, "Eventually, his mania and delusions became so extreme that he attempted to jump off a building." Fortunately, he was stopped before he could. He needed to be hospitalized for a while before he could go back to his studies.

Post Diagnosis

As if his struggles were not enough, his parents went through a divorce, and his father left home, moving to another state hundreds of miles away. To cope with the additional stress, he resorted to self-medication through illicit drugs, hoping it would alleviate his symptoms. However, they did the exact opposite and exacerbated his symptoms to the point of more hospitalizations. Since his diagnosis, Mark has had six significant attacks and is still struggling with his Bipolar.

At times when he was non-compliant in the hospital, some of his doctors told Clara that as an adult, it was up to Mark to take his medication and stay in the hospital for the completion of his treatment, that it was "Mark's choice." It was also Mark's choice to quit his use of illicit drugs. Now that Mark was an adult, he was "responsible for his own well-being."

However, Clara hasn't lost hope in her son, always accepting him into her home and giving him a place to eat and sleep. Even to this day, his family remains his main support system.


Clara's interview and experience help us glimpse into the reality that is Bipolar Disorder and mental illnesses as a whole. This interview also demonstrates the importance of love and support from family in managing mental illness.

Through Clara's unwavering dedication, we are reminded that while Bipolar Disorder presents formidable challenges, we can positively impact the lives of those affected by this condition through love, empathy, understanding, and persistence. We are also reminded of the things we should be grateful for, as Clara recalls, "We were extremely lucky that Mark was properly diagnosed early enough for us to manage his symptoms. An early diagnosis and intervention is the key towards management of the condition."