Recently Diagnosed Bipolar Mother

My mother had her first true manic episode earlier this year. I knew something was really wrong but I was out of state listening to her on the phone. I called my sisters and father and grandmother and it took them a little longer to agree - they thought I was being critical of her. She donated a very large sum of money to a charity which was uncharacteristic for her. They applauded her and thought she was doing a good deed. I have no problem with philanthropy but her motivation seemed more compulsion than generosity.
She has been pretty good taking her medicine but it has been awhile and although she's no longer manic or super depressed she's very unhappy with the side effects and perhaps unhappy with the diagnosis. Her family wants to be supportive but they are enmeshed so she is the "identified patient" now which she doesn't enjoy. She looks to everyone but professionals for advice, either she is seeking out what she wants to hear or she distrusts professionals. This is very strange to me because her bachelors was in psychology and for a brief while she was a school counselor. She has very intense anxiety and is anxious that taking Zoloft will make her manic again - a possibility but not a likely event.
I want her to be happy. I want her to enjoy life. I hope that perhaps in confronting this illness she may actually move to a more healthy point than she was before she went manic. I worry that she'll never be able to enjoy my daughter as a grandma could. I worry that this will ruin my parent's marriage. I worry that she will never find a good mix of meds or will be unwilling to comply because it means admitting she is sick.
As of yet she doesn't have a lot of insight into her thoughts. She thinks she is worthless or a bad person or without talent or guilty but doesn't see this as depression. She thinks doctors don't know anything and it is all a crapshoot. She thinks she didn't need to go to the hospital the first time because "they could have talked her out of" her mania at home. She thinks I have bipolar not her. She thinks the medicine is what makes her unhappy or gives her anxiety. Her sisters think that just one manic episode doesn't make you bipolar. Various people people in the family think that she doesn't have an illness just stressful circumstances or that one year on the drugs will cure her. My Dad blames her spending so much time on the internet reading blogs or my sister for getting bad grades and worrying her mother. Her sisters (my aunts) think it is because she was going to move away and was scared or that she was home alone for much of the day. She thinks she wouldn't benefit from counseling.
She tends to see conspiracies in coincidences. Both of my sisters and a co-worker of my father were all watching "west wing" from Netflix. To her this meant that Netflix was pushing west wing on people. If someone from her same background is voted on or off of dancing with the stars or american idol she sees significance in that even though she refuses to participate and vote. She sees ulterior motives in everything that people do or say to her.
My sister and brother-in-law told my husband and I that she was pregnant a bit later than everyone else. I thought this meant that since we were out of state we weren't on their minds. My mom said it was because I didn't have kids so she was scared to tell me because she was afraid to. This notion bothered me much more because it implied that people censored themselves around me out of distrust of me and that it was consciously done rather than inadvertent lack of consideration. Looking back this says more about my mom than anyone else because my mom would not want to mention pregnancy unless I was pregnant. That is like only inviting married people to a wedding or people with birthdays that day to a birthday party. A bit crazy no?
Her bipolar is not extraordinary but it is unusual. She was in her 50's when she was diagnosed which is on the older side, she had ideas of reference but not some of the more "typical" aspects of mania like speed talking or promiscuity. My sister attributes it to menopause but I haven't seen much science on that.
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Aug 17, 2010