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Learning that I'm bipolar made me a better mom

It was like putting on glasses for the first time—everything made sense.

Learning that I'm bipolar made me a better mom

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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This year many of us have a tighter budget than usual given (looks around) everything that has happened. Coupled with the uncertainty of what Halloween might look like, many of us are reluctant to spend money on brand new costumes that our kids will outgrow by next year. I get it. But I also know that many, like me, love Halloween so much. I thought about skipping the celebration this year, but that just feels like too big of a disappointment in an already disappointing year.

That's why I started looking into alternative costumes—something my kids will be able to wear once the clock hits November, and maybe even hand down to siblings and cousins in the coming years. At the same time, I'm not a DIY person, so I wanted outfits that didn't require any sewing or hot glue. Last year I attempted using one to build my son's Care Bear costume, and of course, I burnt my hand.

So with some creativity (and the brainpower of my colleagues), we came up with these costumes that are both fun and practical, made with items that your children will be able to (and want to!) wear year around:

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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