Living With Bipolar Disorder as a Mother and Workaholic

04/25/2016 06:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How do women measure success? Is it by mothering and having a career? How do they carry out both forms of work to their satisfaction? What helps? What hurts?

This is a weekly series about successful women who participate in the workforce in a range of ways building their careers while mothering. These women fly under the radar of the media but need to be heard. They are silently successful and warrant recognition. They are compassionate, persistently hardworking women who deserve our admiration and offer advice to new mothers. Each week I will spotlight a different remarkable woman.

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Kitt O'Malley, currently a blogger of kittomalley.com and volunteer for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness struggled endlessly as she worked as an investment analyst for an entrepreneur while providing day care for her baby who she discovered had ADHD and migraines. This only added to her long, great effort at finding out that she had a Bipolar Disorder with serious depression.

After a year and a half of overworking with a high needs child, she fell apart and had herself placed in a psychiatric hospital. Following this difficult time, she came home on disability and found a balance where "I have both intellectual and emotional stimulation and am able to care for both myself and my son."

She recalls the pull to her child when she worked:

Just before my hospitalization,I worked late nights. At seven PM my husband would call, put my son on the phone, and he would ask me, 'Mommy, when are you coming home.' Yes, I was an workaholic. Often, I'd go home, make dinner, put my child to sleep, and return to the office or work from home. It was untenable and led to my breakdown. I was unable to do it all. Over time, I decided I need not do everything at once. I still have much to do, much to offer.

As time passed and her son became an adolescent, she discovered he thanks her regularly for the work she does. "Guess I did and continue to do something right, for I'm proud of the young man he is becoming."

Thinking about motherhood, she tells about her journey with suggestions for others:

Ever since my mother was pregnant with my sibling, I've known that someday I would be a mother. Without a doubt, mothering my son has been my most rewarding job. Each mother is unique with unique needs. Each child is unique with unique needs. I suggest that each mother figure out what works for her and her family. There is no simple answer.

Kitt describes how she has finally come to feel successful:

I feel successful now in my life. I have not always, even though I'm a high achiever in my nature. At this time in my life, the pieces seems to be falling into place. Struggles I had in the past, careers that seemed disparate, all make sense now, as if my past prepared me for this present. As we struggle, we do not always know what skills we are learning. Now, at fifty-two, my life is beginning to make sense to me, and I've only just begun!

Please leave comments for Kitt for her admirable journey and success as a mother.

If you would like to participate in this series, contact Laurie and she will be glad to include you.

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Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst with a recent book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior, found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Familius, as well as wherever books are sold.