Being two of the most common chronic disorders adults face in the United States, it’s difficult to be a parent with Fibromyalgia, and it’s much more difficult when you have a bipolar spouse. This gets even more complicated when you add three small children to the mix. The list of dos-and-don’ts for families like this is unwritten yet long and far from simple.

But don’t worry. There’s always hope, and here’s a general list of dos-and-don’ts that can turn the struggle into a challenge.

DO BE OPEN About Everything To Your Partner

The number one key in maintaining a healthy relationship within the family is open communication.

It’s true that love conquers all obstacles, but love can also be tested in a family with physical and mental disorders. So it’s best to be open to each other about your struggles while coping with each other and yourselves.

Learn To Manage Your Stress

Stress is the number one enemy of a healthy mind. Identify your stressors and get rid of them completely. If not, try to limit your exposure to them. This helps to make sure that your mind is stress free.Stress_depression

Challenge Negative Thinking

Do away with pessimistic thoughts and focus on the positive ones. Burdening your mind with negative thoughts do not do you any good, and rather builds up more stress.

Limit Unhealthy Habits Like Worrying

Worrying is one thing that causes wrinkles to form in one’s forehead. Stop worrying about unnecessary things. If they are important, do something about them instead of just worrying.

Always have a counselor by your side. This is especially true when you’re parenting small children.

DON’T Be Afraid To Tell Your Children

It’s normal to feel like you might not be there for your kids like any parent would, and normal to be afraid of what they might think. But children are emotional sponges that can absorb everything, and they can get a nuance of what you might be feeling or whether you’re hiding something. Explain your disorder in simpler terms. They’ll appreciate this and see you more as a person.

DON’T Pretend Everything Is like It used To Be

This is especially true for a bipolar spouse, whose moods are often manic and unpredictable. It’s normal to feel grief over the loss of someone you thought passed away, despite them living and breathing right beside you. But focus on the now. Let yourself grieve for a little while, and then slowly get back to reality in the healthiest ways.

Expose yourself to sunshine. Take a short walk outdoors. Keeping yourself holed up in your room and darkness gives way to depressing thoughts. Besides, your brain needs vitamin D in order to function properly.

Try exercising, yoga, and a having balanced diet as a family. It’ll take time, but you’ll be surprised as to how these simple things can help you and your partner cope and be better parents.

DO Give Each Other Some Space

This cannot be important enough. Having Fibromyalgia with a bipolar spouse is already draining and stressful on its own; so give each other some space every once in awhile. Set a schedule as to when you’ll have separate “me” times, and don’t be afraid to tell your children that you need to withdraw and have a break for a few days. (If that’s at all possible)!

You love each other, but you have to think of yourself too. Remember: you can’t give what you run out of.

Parenting is challenging enough, and it can be even more challenging with a physical or mental disorder. But with open communication, space, and regular check-ups mixed with therapy, everything’s possible.