About Me

JenniferMarshall

I used to spend my days as an agency recruiter for creative types and then spent several years in corporate recruiting. But I recently traded in my resume reading skills to pursue my passion: writing. This is where I’m honing my craft and documenting my life. Right here on my blog for the whole world to read.

I am a 35-year old wife and mother of two young children. Almost nine years ago I suffered my first manic episode and several months and many doctor’s appointments later was finally diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder – type 1.

I’ve had four hospitalizations within five years – two before any diagnosis was reached, and two more because I was trying to protect my newborn son (postpartum psychosis) and my unborn daughter – and all were because I was unmedicated at the time.

I have learned so much from my journey thus far and hope that by sharing my experiences I can help other women who may be wondering if they’ll ever be able to make their dreams of a family a reality. You can – I am living proof that it is possible. I take medication and have regular appointments with my psychiatrist and therapist because these are my responsibilities to myself and my family. My incredible support system helps me to live fully and I attribute a great deal of my success to their encouragement over the years.

This blog is my way of recording my progress, of keeping myself accountable and healthy for me and my family. My goal is to eventually publish a memoir, and I am taking steps towards becoming a more polished writer. Last year I wrote an e-book, Find Your Brave – a manifesto, and it’s available for free on Snippet.com {use the code: FREEBRAVE}. Along the way on this writing journey I hope to help fight stigma and inspire other young people who are struggling with the same feelings, fears, and insecurities I was at one point. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just need to keep fighting hard to get there.

Email me at: jennifer@bipolarmomlife.com.

{Photo by Julie Fischer McCarter, Shoot Photo Inc.}

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  1. I will be in a very similar situation as you in the near future. When I was pregnant with my son, I wasn’t aware that I had bipolar disorder. Pregnancy seemed to agree with my brain (that time anyway). I was emotional, but in those 38 weeks, I was never suicidal. However, from the moment my son was born, I took a hard blow. I suffered with postpartum psychosis for six months before I even was clear headed enough to know that there was something seriously wrong. It took me three months from that time to get into an office, get a diagnosis, and start treatment.

    The last two years have been a very rocky road. I can see that we’re coming to some level ground. My medicine is adjusted well. I have gotten on track with the most fulfilling career. My husband has done the same and has been greatly rewarded for all of his effort. My son is in Early Intervention. We can finally pay our bills. And now, more than anything, I want another child.

    I’m so glad you found me and I have made a connection with you. There’s a rhyme and a reason for it. I have a feeling I’m going to need your help when I get off of all of this medicine to try to have another kid.

  2. You are not “just average.” You’re a terrific writer who writes about something very difficult. I’m proud of you and what you’ve had the courage to accomplish. I’m going to add you to my blog roll because, like your friend said, people to need to hear what you have to say. It’s important for my readers to see all aspects of bipolar disorder and mental illness.

  3. I am really excited to read your blog! I went through postpartum anxiety/ocd and it was the hardest thing I have gone through. I love that so many women are willing to share their stories. Amazing what you are doing :)

    • Thank you Andrea! I was excited to have found your blog last night via Twitter. I look forward to reading through your story and continuing to follow your journey. Keep in touch!

  4. …i am finding SO much inspiration through blogs like yours and other moms who live with bipolar. i lost the urge to write a while ago;as a journalism major i thought it would be something i did every day…i hope to regain the motivation and love of writing again. i am a sahm of 3.5 yr.old twins, married 10 years(to a saint) who has held my bipolar hand and truly saved me from complete insanity! cheers to us- moms, survivors, wives, women!! xo

  5. Hi, I’m the,Mother of a 22 yr old daughter who is bipolar. She,was diagnosed while in High School. She refuses to medicate. Now, she is the Mother of my beautiful Grandson who is one year old now.
    She can barely take care of him thirty minutes before she’s about to lose it. She has no patience with him. She and the Father no longer date, but he does see his son regulary.
    I feel like I’m having a break down trying to take of my Grandson and deal with my daughters illness. She drinks every weekend, that she doesn’t have him. Her mind stays scattered on seeing men, the color of her hair changes weekly. Although she is a Cosmologist, I’m surprised she’s not bald. She shops and spends money she doesn’t have in her budget.
    I need some advice, I can’t get her to go back to therapy. She gets very defensive if I try to talk about her bipolar illness. Thank you for your time.
    Mishele Daves
    d.daves@yahoo.com

    • Hi Mishele. Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m sorry to hear you are struggling with your daughter’s illness. I was diagnosed a little later in life, but it was still a huge burden for my parents and husband at the time and those first two years when we were all figuring out what was going on and how I could best manage my symptoms. At 22, she’s still a baby herself. I wish I had better advice for you. For my family, I think they found strength in each other during that scary and trying time in our lives. I was not willing to take medication in the beginning either, but I finally became so sick of feeling so sick, that I was desperate to try something that could help me feel somewhat “normal” again. My best advice would be to continue to support her and be there for her, but know that she needs to be mature enough to know that she needs medication (if that is what her doctor recommends) and disciplined enough to take it as prescribed. For yourself, be sure to take time for yourself so that you can recharge your batteries. This is important so that you can have the strength to keep going. It’s a long road, but I pray in time she’ll be open to receiving the help she needs to get well. In the meantime, you may be interested in reading a blog of a friend of mine: momastery.com. One of her old posts spoke of strength: http://momastery.com/blog/2012/04/30/miracle-week/
      I wish you and your daughter all the best -keep in touch.
      Jennifer

  6. Hi, I’m a 19-year-old daughter of a bipolar mom. After she got married (28 years ago) with my father, he was already able to notice some symptoms. But her first episode was 11 years ago… She was diagnosticated as schizophrenic and had her first hospitalization (for about a month) and got better with a medication. About 3 years later, when she got divorced, she had her second episode. Still the same diagnostic, she couldn’t even recognize me or my older brother (it was a very difficult period of my life, at age 12, which I had to lie to her so I could keep my studies). She had another hospitalization at that time and got better taking with another medication. Since then, my brother moved to his own house and I was also able to notice some of the bipolarity symptoms like sudden change of behavior (good/mad), sometimes memories of one personality couldn’t be accessed by the other one. It was just an inkling because her episodes were all about schizophrenia, not bipolarity. So, she had another episode 8 months ago, when I decided to move to the USA to attend for a College abroad. I can say it was the worst one so far. When I left her house, she adquired the personality of a kid, besides his own. She kept calling my grandmother “mommy”, as I was used to call her. She kept talking like I was used to with her. But the worst thing, in my opinion, was when she went to the beach and walked there for the whole night and came back to home by the sunrise. It scared me a lot the fact there was nothing I could do at that point, since I’m miles away from her. But at the same time, I know that she wants me to keep studying to get a great job and build my own life. Well, she have had two hospitalizations and she was diagnosticated as bipolar. She spent about 1 month with intensive treatment at the hospital and now she moved to my grandma’s house. She has improved a lot since her last hospitalization, but we know that its a constant treatment and she cant stop taking her medication. Now I’m attending at college and I’m taking general psychology classes. The instructor asked us to do a research paper about mental disorders. We can choose any disorder we want and I decided to write about bipolarity and my own experience with my mom and I would like to know if you allow me to quote something from your blog. It would help me a lot! Besides the fact I’m already reading it for my own good. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, I really appreciate that.

  7. I’m really grateful I found your blog. For a few years my husband and I had decided not to have children because of the risk I might pose to them, now I’m 7 weeks out from being a mom for the first time! I’ve been medicated and in therapy for over a decade, but I am terrified of post-partum psychosis. My diagnosis was recently changed to schizo affective disorder from bipolar disorder, which has been scaring me even more. I’m looking forward to reading your blog and learning from your journey. It’s really comforting to know that someone else has made the journey and survived!

    • I’m glad you found me too! Congratulations to you and your husband! I hope you stay healthy and keep up with your meds and doctor’s appointments. It is possible to have a good postpartum experience – I did after my daughter’s birth because I knew what I needed to do in order to stay healthy. Thank you for stopping by to send me your thoughts. I wish you all the best with your new baby’s upcoming arrival and keep in touch!!

  8. I am so glad I found your blog! I love how you say it’s possible to be bipolar and have kids! So many people don’t agree and are even against it, and as a mother of three that breaks my heart. Looking forward to reading more of your blog! :)

  9. I enjoyed meeting you yesterday. I was trying to remember the name of your blog this morning so was happy to see you at Jodi Fur. I look forward to reading more about your journey.

    • Thanks so much, Amy!! I enjoyed meeting you too and remember reading a bunch of your blog posts when I first read the cast list for LTYM-DC. You did such a wonderful job reading your piece. Your story was so important, as were all the pieces that the show highlighted. Thank you for sharing a part of your life on stage yesterday. It was such a pleasure to talk with you, albeit briefly, after the show. I look forward to following your blog, too.

  10. It is so incredible how similar your story is to mine. It is very nice to find someone with a positive outlook on parenting and living with bipolar. I look forward to reading your memoir someday! I too love to write and make a career out of writing. Most days it is bliss.

    Keep sharing your positive energy! It’s so refreshing :)

  11. Hi Im currently 5months pregnant and was diagnosed bipolar a little over a year ago, since I got pregnant I am off medications and things are going well. I am a little worried about after I give birth if things will change, or if I will experience manic episodes again. before I was on medications I had many manic episodes but after taking medication for a year and having no symptoms it seems unreal to have one again, and worry I wont be able to recognize or help myself if I do have a manic episode after I give birth. Any suggestions on what to look out for or how to make a plan of action in case a manic episode comes along? I worry since I am a single mother and will be the main provider of this baby. I am living with my mother so will have a little support but will mostly be at home alone with the baby.

    • Hi Alisha! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I’ll email you privately with some recommendations (such as stay on meds, work very closely with your psychiatrist and therapist, etc.) but I just want you to know that you can do this. You’ll be okay as long as you continue to work hard at staying healthy. Be honest with yourself, your doctors, and your support system – your mom, most importantly – so that you can stay ahead of your symptoms. I wish you all the best with your new baby, and please, keep in touch!

  12. You are brave. Thank you. I will be back to read more. I too have a story and blogging has been an important tool of healing. Someone I love was diagnosed at 15 yet lives in her twenties reckless and untreated with two dear children…it is painful to watch…yet I choose to hope.

    • Thank you for stopping by, Stephie. I hope you’ll read more and if you find something that may help your friend, you’ll pass on my blog to her. I write to show people that there is hope.

  13. Jenn, you are courages. I cannot begin to imagine what your life must be like. I did not know what really bipolar really mean. I know my son had a friend. Her mom is bipolar and the grandmother raised them. She never talked about her mom. Thank you, now I know a bit more.
    Blessings,
    Patricia

  14. Your blog is so amazing. I am not bipolar, but a pregnant ADHD mom of 1 and pregnant with number two. I love your candidness and belief that mental illness doesn’t define a person.

    • Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words, Kim! Congratulations on baby #2. And yes, I am so passionate about spreading hope and the message that just because a person lives with a mental illness, it should never define them. Best wishes for a smooth delivery. Having two is amazing and such a blessing.

  15. I feel we have a lot of similarities…I’m also 34 and I have two young children age 3 and 5. However, I have not been diagnosed with BD, but my mother had her first full blown episode that put her in the hospital when she was 36 and I was 15. As I draw nearer to her age I live my life plagued by fear that I too will get it. What I love about you is you share happy, positive, normal experiences. I loved your friday night pizza post. My psychologist says I’m too old to be diagnosed with bipolar, but I don’t think that is true. I wish I could know for sure if I am going to get sick.

  16. Thank you for this. I have suffered for almost 30 years with this monster & have gotten progressively worse I now am getting the proper help. I raised my 2 boys like this & I was not the greatest of mother, ending up giving them to their father thinking he could provide better. He didn’t. But I’m grateful my sons now 27 & 26 1/2 adore me support me, and a husband who stands by my side as well as my faith & participation in my congregation & their love & support I hope to have a lovely picture of myself proudly sharing my story. Thank you for introducing me to this site. I am now a grandma & want to be the best I can be.

  17. Pingback: Blogs About Maternal Mental Health - Hormone Soup

  18. I been dealinh with bipolar,ptsd,depression..im havin a hard time stayin on my meds n seeing a dr..i has a manic the other day when i was on vacation in front my sin n thats when i realize i needed help..any advice