Mental illness has been a taboo subject in my family since I was a little girl. It probably has something to do with my parents being immigrants and just the general stigma surrounding the thought of someone being "crazy." Which is why I didn't even bother telling my parents that I knew something was wrong with me.

After I had my first baby in 2016, I was struggling—big time. Dishes piled in my house, I never cooked and I could barely shower. These all sound like normal difficulties for first time mamas but something just didn't feel right. I was a literal zombie going through the motions of motherhood, and hid in my safe little house away from any interaction with the outside world as often as I possibly could.

I eventually accepted that I had postpartum depression... but that was just the beginning. Having had depression before once, I accepted it and decided to give my old coping mechanisms a try. I threw myself into working out, writing and exhausting myself to the point where I didn't have the energy to be sad.

And that worked... for a little while.

Until I was unexpectedly pregnant again at six months postpartum.

Once I got over the initial shock, I experienced a gallbladder removal surgery at 21 weeks pregnant, cholestasis of pregnancy while I was on bed rest and preterm labor at 31 weeks pregnant. Then I was in charge of taking care of the infant baby version of the energizer bunny.

When my second child was born, I hit rock bottom. He was a challenging baby. He hardly slept and he cried—a lot. I felt like a horrible mother for the first couple of weeks, and then like magic, I was fine. I was taking care of my two under two, like a pro. I felt like I had everything under control. Like there was no better mom than me.

Until a week or so passed and I was barely able to get off the couch to feed my toddler.

I was up and down, up and down—and then so down I felt like my family would do better without me. This is when I realized that I needed help, and so I went to therapy. Therapy was my only option after months on Zoloft, as prescribed by my gynecologist, did nothing but take the edge off.

Eventually, after putting off the appointment, I finally caved because honestly—I was almost out of meds. I needed that refill to function and take care of my children and I had no choice but to talk to someone.

The first few appointments went well enough, and then my life changed when I got a diagnosis: bipolar disorder.

It was like putting on glasses for the first time—everything made sense. Now that I had a diagnosis, I was finally put on the correct medications to stabilize my mood and really be there for my children at my healthiest.

Being diagnosed as bipolar helped me realize that my children would not get the best life I could provide until I took care of myself first. It makes me a better mother to see a therapist every week and take medications every day in order to show my children that mental illness is not the end of the world.

For me, a proper diagnosis and treatment was the beginning to a better life. And now? I'm proud to be bipolar.

I'm proud to show them that having a mental illness does not make me weak.

That I am still strong, smart, and brave.

My diagnosis allows me to be free from the constraints of self-destruction and self-hatred with not being the perfect mom.

I am human.

I am worthy.

Having a mental illness makes me a better mom, because every day I fight for my family. Every day, I choose to try to be my best for them because I know that I'm teaching them the importance of taking care of themselves first.

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Raising a mentally strong kid doesn't mean he won't cry when he's sad or that he won't fail sometimes. Mental strength won't make your child immune to hardship—but it also won't cause him to suppress his emotions.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. Mental strength is what helps kids bounce back from setbacks. It gives them the strength to keep going, even when they're plagued with self-doubt. A strong mental muscle is the key to helping kids reach their greatest potential in life.

But raising a mentally strong kid requires parents to avoid the common yet unhealthy parenting practices that rob kids of mental strength. In my book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do, I identify 13 things to avoid if you want to raise a mentally strong kid equipped to tackle life's toughest challenges:

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