'Reclaim Your Life,' says Mom of child with Manic Depression

Mother-author offers advice for surviving being a parent of a bipolar child.

Mother-author offers advice for surviving being a parent of a bipolar child.

Being the Mom of a child with mental illness is a tough calling that nobody knows better than Judith S. Lederman, author of The Ups & Downs of Raising a Bipolar Child: A Survival Guide for Parents (Simon and Schuster), and mother of a child who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a.k.a., "manic depression," at the age of eight. She calls for moms of children with mental illness to reclaim their lives. Lederman took her own advice and lost 80 pounds during the course of writing her book and makes time each day for self-care.

"While every mother has difficult challenges to face, the mother of a child with mental illness too often plays the martyr," explains Lederman, who co-wrote her book with child psychiatrist, Dr. Candida Fink. "These moms feel overwhelmed. The illness is not one they publicize and so they lack support. They frequently must deal with hospitalizing their child, criticism by a public that just doesn't understand the nature of mental illness, and because mental illness is a congenital condition, they often come from family situations where they've had to deal with abuse and denial. All in all, it doesn't make for a Happy Mother's Day."

Lederman offers the following "makeover tips" for mothers who are dealing with mentally ill children:

    • Find support wherever you can get it—and that goes for emotional as well as physical aid. Talk to sympathetic clergy, a neighbor, or your child's schoolteacher. If you can afford to, pay a therapist and work through your issues as a mother and a woman, one by one.
    • Reclaim yourself physically. It is easy to fall into a punishing pattern when you are overwhelmed by your situation. In a word, don't. Instead of reaching for the cookies, go for a long walk or join a gym. If you can afford to, hire a personal trainer to get you started on an exercise regimen.


  • Watch your sugar intake. Sugar is addicting and while we may find it comforting in the short-term, it actually will bring your own mood down. Any mom who is used to monitoring her child's mood, should also be very aware of her own moods. Cutting the sugar can actually give you more energy. And the mom of a mentally ill child will need every shred of energy she can get.
  • Stay in the No-Martyr Zone. Make up your mind here and now that no matter how difficult your child is, you will not enter a self-destructive mode of thinking. Face your challenges without self-pity. Remember that if you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to be the best for your child.


APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 24). 'Reclaim Your Life,' says Mom of child with Manic Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 28 from

Last Updated: May 23, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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