Welcome to Homeschooler Spotlight! Each week I feature a different homeschooler and her blog. This week is Charity from Giggles and Grimaces. She's sharing how she homeschools while living with Bipolar Disorder.
Charity is mom, wife and blogger. She writes on her personal blog Giggles and Grimaces and is proud to contribute to Project Semicolon. She is settling into the homeschooling world as the family begins their second year of home education.
"How fast are my thoughts moving?"
"Am I over thinking anything?"
"Is my heart racing?"
I do this inventory every morning as I wake up. What is going on with my insides today? I think it through much as a person living with arthritis tests the pain in their joints as they prepare to get out of bed. These few questions prepare me for what may come at me throughout my day. I have gone through this review at least once a day for the last four years.
My hubby and I are the proud parents of three daughters, Caitlyn age 8, Sue age 7, and Patrice age 4. Patrice is the beautiful capstone to our family. She brought us much joy from the moment she was born. Her birth also brought Postpartum Depression (PPD) and Postpartum Anxiety (PPA). I was one of up to 25% of women who have Bipolar Disorder whose illness was triggered by childbirth.
So began my journey into a life with mental illness.
The early days were not pretty. I was still working outside of the home full-time and the correct treatment for my Bipolar was being elusive. Life began to improve the day I lost my job and became a full-time stay-at-home-mom. Nine months later I became a homeschooling mom.
Bringing my children home to school was natural, but not always easy. Bipolar Disorder does not follow the logic, I am happy so I am not depressed. Not at all.
I can be thrilled with my daughters' completion of a challenging project and yet be fighting suicidal thoughts with all my being. I can love that my little girl is now reading and be thinking, "my family would be better off without me." My thoughts and feelings can be deeply complex.
Some might wonder why I choose to have my girls at home. Why don't I send them to school so I can focus on the lies my mind tells and overcome them?
It comes down to what I believe about my children, my family and my mind.
My children were given to me to raise, not for the state to raise through public education and after-school programs. My family is strong and we all work together to attain the best for each of us. We are not solo people going through life, we are a family. We are a team. And, the last thing my mind needs or deserves is for me to focus on the lies. If left to my own devices, I would think of nothing else. I would think only of the negative thoughts, feelings and emotions. I would think only of how excited my brain is to complete all the house cleaning, all the crafts and all the shopping...right now. By having my girls with me, I am forced to live within the rhythms of our days. I am forced to consider what time we need to start school, what materials we need to cover and what my girls need for their learning styles and habits.
The needs of my girls get me out of bed, get me to take the medications that help my mind cope with the Bipolar Disorder, and get me to look outside of the world in my mind.
We do school according to our schedule regardless of what my mind is saying on any given day. I will admit school might look a little different on the days I am "up" due to the hypomania. Our activities get very hands on. We play matching games, learn sight words with hop scotch or add in one...or five crafts. Honestly, I try to do a great deal of my prep during these phases. It leads to me finding interactive methods of teaching via homeschooling websites or pinterest. I set out to find these activities and prep them during these up phases. When my mind deals me a day of slow thought processes and distracted activities, I utilize the activities my hypomanic brain had pushed me to find. During these times, I WANT to just have the girls sit and work quietly in books or worksheets, and we do more of that during these phases, but thanks to the preparations made during my up phases, we have games ready for our use. We have unit studies with lapbooks and mini books ready to go. We have videos to watch as they tie into our current classes.
Is it easy to pull in all the different thoughts, emotions and moods? No. Might it be easier to send my girls off to school? No. Regardless of what others see or think when they hear Bipolar Disorder, I am still the mom these girls were given. I still have their very best interests at heart. I still have a heart to raise them to be beautiful and strong women of purpose.
It is because of my girls that regardless of the mental inventory I do every day, I get up and give them my all. I give them the best that I have that day, just like any other mother.