Son with Bipolar Disorder Interviews His Mom and Dad

Last Updated: 24 Feb 2019

People with bipolar are often unaware of the effects the diagnosis has on family and friends. Watch as Gabe Howard and his parents, discusses this together:


Gabe: Hello, my name is Gabe Howard with and the bp Magazine online community. For this vlog, I have brought along…my parents! Believe it or not, I am related to them. What we are going to talk about is if they had any inclination that I had bipolar disorder and how we got through some of the tough times.

So I’m going to throw it over to my mother, first. Mom, when I was younger, did you suspect that I had bipolar disorder?

Susan: No, I knew nothing about bipolar.

Gabe: And when I got sicker and sicker, did you think that it was any sort of mental illness? Or did you sort of side with Dad that you could punish these symptoms out of me?

Susan: Hmm, never really thought about it. We knew that you were either up or down, and we suggested counseling at that point.

Gabe: That is true, you took me to a psychologist when I was, what, 14?

Susan: When you were eight.

Gabe: When I was eight? But that was for lying, if I’m not mistaken, right? Now, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as an adult, I hid the symptoms for a long time because I didn’t understand that there was anything wrong.

Dad, you were definitely on the “we can punish Gabe into submission” train because you didn’t understand that there was anything wrong.

Gary: Well, I always thought that, if you do a strict enough punishment, they will correct themselves. But after a time, you have to back up, and figure out what is going on.

Gabe: So, one of the things I think people want to know is it’s not uncommon for this to happen. Many parents, and many families are like, “He or she acted out; we punished them; they kept acting out, and we didn’t know what to do.”

After you found out that I was sick and you thought back to all those punishments, how did that make you feel?

Gary: Not good. Because some of the punishments I did were way overboard. I thought it was just you acting up and not the bipolar.

Gabe: So it turns out that if you understand what is going on you can get to…

Gary (interrupting): Deal with it.

Gabe: Yeah, you can deal with it. A lot of times, what we talk about in mental health advocacy is it’s not about doing nothing; it’s about doing the right thing. I was lucky. I had a good, supportive family, and they have not yet abandoned me. I’m very grateful about that. In fact, I got them all on board with the clothing line.

So having a supportive family really allowed me to get better, and having access to medical care allowed me to get better. And that’s something that a lot of people don’t have.

So thank you, Mom and Dad, for agreeing to be on and the bp Magazine online community.

What I would like to throw out there for all the parents and everybody out there: what are some things that parents and family and friends can do to help their loved ones who have bipolar disorder to lead better lives? We have to bridge the gaps so we can all move forward.

So, I’m Gabe Howard with and I will see you next week, or next month!

All: Bye!

Learn more:
VIDEO: Bipolar and Families—Different Approaches to Help
VIDEO: Bipolar and Sugar: Ways We Unintentionally Sabotage Our Stability

About the author
Gabe Howard is a professional speaker, award-winning writer, and mental health coach who battles bipolar 1 and anxiety disorders every day. Diagnosed in 2003, he has made it his mission to put a human face on what it means to live with bipolar disorder. Gabe was the recipient of the 2014 Mental Health America Norman Guitry Award, placed second in HealthCentral's LiveBold competition, a PsychCentral 2014 Mental Health hero, was a 2015 WEGO Health Awards Finalist in the Health Activist Category, and received a Best of the Web - Blog award. Gabe is also the creator of the official bipolar shirt. He can be reached via or by e-mail
  1. Gabe, punishment plays a key factor in the development of our flaws. If your parents didn’t use punishment, didn’t use fear and control, were negative thinkers, you wouldn’t be living in the pain of mental illness, you’d be living in the freedom and happiness of your true healed authentic self. It’s parenting practices, not mental illness. Parenting practices of the narcissistic parent, including your narcissistic parents. If you want to advocate for mental illness, advocate for healing and radical change in traditional, antiquated parenting practices.

  2. Hello, My son in now 21 and currently hospitalized for the 5th time. This has been a journey for all of us! Especially my son to first admit and accept what is happening. I have accepted that he has this condition, but not until his this lady hospitalization do I understand he has to take his medication. I want to support his decisions in his process but it becoming really heard because when outside of his periods of Psychosis he is a DYNAMIC person, almost perfect. Straight A student in college, early admission to medical school, amazing citizen with no issues with the law, and amazing to everyone that knows him.

    When he is manic things start to spiral with his moods, and eventually leads to Psychosis and violent behavior. I feel at this point I need to protect him from himself, because he refuses to take the medication. I never wanted to make him because I don’t know what it’s like. But at this point I am looking into Legal Guardianship. Can anyone on the platform give me feed back or there thoughts. Seeing this video gives me hope. THANK YOU FOR SHARING!

  3. Thank you so much for this video. I have been diagnosed with bipolar since 14 and now im 35. I wish I would have seen this post when I was a teenager, it would have helped me and my parents understand what was happening with me. I thought I was just depressed nd acting out, but it turns out I have bad highs and lows.

  4. Excellent video. My husband has bipolar. You described his childhood to a T. Always acting out and getting punished. The difference for him is that his family members still view him as the odd ball out, the one who always messes up and is a bad person. They have not been able to come to grips with his mental health struggles and this is very difficult for me because I feel as though I bear a lot of the weight with no support.

  5. You are awesome!!!! ThNk you for sharing!!

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