I had coffee with a new friend the other day. We got to talking about our lives and, invariably, about our emotions. She told me she was bipolar, and I asked which kind. She said "the less bad one." "Oh," I said, "my mom has the 'more bad' one." My mom has been at my apartment for the last week, staying with me, for the most time we've spent together since I was maybe eleven or twelve. It sort of feels like the longest first date I’ve ever been on.
my dad has bipolar too, the 'more bad' one. you dealt with the nuance and raw humanity of growing up in a house with bipolar in such a sophisticated manner, the idea of a 'hero' being the witness felt so meaningful. being the sidekick. a metaphorical orphaning. talking about others to talk to yourself. feeling the world on your shoulders and letting it consume you until you stop consuming. everything written in this piece felt like it was taken right out of my brain and polished into friends at a late night candelit dinner discussing how parents sculpted us into our type of broken.
thank you for making me feel less alone, i too felt like i signed off a death certificate, at 16, and this made me realise that perhaps if the grief was two sided he'd know what my handwriting looked like or which city i lived in. its made me realise 16 was a child. this is so moving and healing and tender and i know i will return to this with journal in hand and therapist in mind
this piece is really special. my mother is also bipolar. its a form of grieving to get over the lost relationship and childhood you could have shared with her. the way you discussed was so poignant and real. you are not alone
Heart-wrenching piece, Eliza! So beautifully articulated.
My mom is not bipolar, but she is diagnosed with Narcissistic personality disorder. The parallels in our stories are rather uncanny... very similar ages and very similar traumatic events culminating into severe anorexia and the eventual decision to live separately from the woman I care most about but who has never once cared about me at all (the tragedy of NPD is that for being loved, I was always an orphan). I feel your pain in a visceral way. I feel connected to you through it. I’m 30 now, and I’ve had so much time to sort through it all. Although I cannot tell you that I am even close to being healed, I can tell you that because I started working through my pain at a young age like you, that I have successfully found ways to turn that pain into a wonderful compassionate and loving life that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I see that you’re successfully doing that too. I am so proud of you. You give me so much hope, you remind me of how capable people like you and me can be, of how deep love can be found through the wreckage of despair and mourning. We are connected to the pain of profound unfairness, of the injustice of child abandonment, and I think through that we can provide the world after us with so much strength and more warmth than was taken from us.
If you ever feel like talking, I am totally open to that. I’ve commented this before, but if you’re ever drawn to coming to Berlin, hit me up and I’ll show you around :) (I’m Canadian living in Berlin). Anyway, sending love. Thank you for sharing, as always ❤️
this is so special, thank you for sharing. As an only daughter of divorce w/ a mother who struggles with mental health, severe trauma, & brain damage as the result of a chronic illness, hearing about the pain others feel in connection to their relationship to their mother’s pain and the pain that has in turn bled into their own lives is weirdly comforting. sending you & all others who understand love forever and ever
Beautiful. You can feel Didion in this.
My mother is not bipolar but rather some other cocktail of undiagnosed mental illness and this touched a soft spot. Eliza since i first found your music back in 2019 you have always had an incredible way of articulating emotion but this is something else. I am just 2 weeks away from moving out for the first time and i see my relationship with my mother changing. I don’t quite have the words to describe it yet but the feeling you encapsulated in this peice is just that. spot on. thank you for this.
From one Scorpio moon with a mother wound to another, thank you for your vulnerability in sharing this. It's so tender and so beautiful. 💜💜
"There is no way for either of us to ensure that she will never have a psychotic episode again - if there was, we both would have sold our souls years ago to make it possible. There is no way to ensure what happens next year, next week, next hour, next moment."
All we can do is get up every morning, hold the pill bottles in our hands, and decide to take them. Forecasting out beyond that is asking too much. But next month I'll have been on meds for five years straight, and I got there one decision at a time. Thank you for sharing your story.
I always love reading your writing
this did indeed cause me to shed an ungodly amount of tears in the middle of a coffee shop. the defense mechanisms, the broken inner child, the attempt to form a relationship with your mom after years of distance... this really hit home. thank you for sharing this eliza, you are amazing.
Thank you for your brave and raw words, this has articulated such confusing and complex feelings that I have had growing up, with such empathy and compassion. My mum had severe mental illnesses when I was very young, so this feels like a validating hug to my inner kid. So so much love to you Eliza ❤️❤️❤️
I read this essay for the first time the day it came out. Since then, on days like today when my older brothers’ ‘more bad’ bipolar disorder gets particularly out of hand I read it again. It helps me feel less alone and takes some of the weight off my shoulders.
Despite our ten and nine year age gaps I have never been spared from erratic and chaotic. Often feeling more like their mother then younger sister. I swiftly became the third parent out of necessity. I drive and look for them, I call hospitals to see if by some miracle they have admitted, I call shelters and leave my number on their message boards.
I often think it is hard to be estranged but closeness is harder. A few months before I turned 18 my oldest brother and I didn’t talk for a year and a half. There wasn’t a blow out fight or any particular moment when we stopped talking. At first I didn’t have the strength to call, but then I started to feel a sense of peace that I had never felt. Soon a year had passed and a mix or intimidation and unwillingness stopped me from reaching out. I wanted to protect the life I had built when I left home at 17. I often wish we were close but i don’t ever see that being the case.
Hi, Eliza. I'd like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story and your experience. My experience with my father has quite a few similarities to this. Your mentioning of how viewing your mother as a person and not a symbolic extension of your pain helped mend things is literally re-wiring my brain right now. I wish you all the very best for this incredible journey. I hope my relationship with my father improves as well.
You're an incredible writer!
Hi, I need your assistance. My girlfriend has bipolar disorder, and I am struggling to cope with her constant mood swings, which can be overwhelming at times. Despite my love for her, I have researched extensively by listening to podcasts from professional psychologists like the one found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o1t_YHTlWc&ab_channel=AmericanPsychologicalAssociation and reading many articles, such as this one: https://datewise.org/why-bipolar-relationships-fail/. Nevertheless, I feel like our relationship is reaching a breaking point. Is there an established algorithm or a step-by-step guide that can help me live with her more harmoniously?
Thank you for writing this. My mom is mentally ill and I haven’t spoken to her since freshman year of highschool. I understand the feeling of watching your mom essentially die in front of you and realizing no one had been protecting you. The grief is real. This was so well written! Well done :)
this essay is so well written and deeply personal, thank you for sharing with us. i’m in tears x