The Bachelorette's Jillian Harris Opens Up About Her Mom's 30-Year Battle with Bipolar Disorder

Jillian Harris knows first-hand what it's like to watch a loved one struggle with their mental health.

On Thursday, the former Bachelorette opened up about her mom Peggy's experience with bipolar disorder.

"My parents were always the hardest working most wonderful parents…But watching my mama struggle over the last 30-something years has been so heartbreaking and something I've never been able to openly share with you until now," she wrote on Instagram. "Mental health illnesses are one of the most complex and misunderstood illnesses out there. Unfortunately they still come with such a stigma which I'm hoping little by little we can help break down."

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Ever since I can remember, my mom has struggled with bipolar. My parents were always the hardest working most wonderful parents… But watching my mama struggle over the last 30-something years has been so heartbreaking and something I’ve never been able to openly share with you until now. Mental health illnesses are one of the most complex and misunderstood illnesses out there. Unfortunately they still come with such a stigma which I’m hoping little by little we can help break down. Today on the blog, my mom, Peggy… Who is such a warrior strong brave human… has decided to open up about her journey with mental health and where she is today. I’m hoping that this isn’t where the conversation ends. It’s important to take care of ourselves, take care of our brains, watch for signs when we are struggling… It’s important for us to be OK to not be OK, it’s important for us to talk about mental health, it’s important for us to watch for signs of friends and family and people who may be struggling. Our family owes so much to ourselves, my dad, my Aunty Patsy, friends and family who have stood by us and my mom for all of these years… The ups and downs. Today I am overjoyed and full of emotion to say that my mom has never been better… And God I hope it stays that way. If you are struggling with bipolar or depression… Be patient, be kind with yourself… Do not give up. Even after struggling with this horrible disease for most of her life… My mom finally found something that worked… So I repeat… Do not give up. And what works for one person may not necessarily work for yourself. Get help, be patient. You’ve got this. (Link in profile)

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She directed her followers to her latest blog post to hear from her "warrior" mom about her personal mental health journey.

"I'm hoping that this isn't where the conversation ends. It's important to take care of ourselves, take care of our brains, watch for signs when we are struggling…" Jillian wrote. "It's important for us to be OK to not be OK, it's important for us to talk about mental health, it's important for us to watch for signs of friends and family and people who may be struggling."

"Our family owes so much to ourselves, my dad, my Aunty Patsy, friends and family who have stood by us and my mom for all of these years… The ups and downs," she continued. "Today I am overjoyed and full of emotion to say that my mom has never been better…And God I hope it stays that way."

"If you are struggling with bipolar or depression… Be patient, be kind with yourself… Do not give up," she urged. "Even after struggling with this horrible disease for most of her life… My mom finally found something that worked… So I repeat… Do not give up. And what works for one person may not necessarily work for yourself. Get help, be patient. You've got this."

In the blog post, Peggy recalled exhibiting the first signs that she was depressed as early as 11 years old.

"At times my depression was triggered by situational distress and other times it was possibly just the nature of my forms of disorder," she said. "I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1990 even though there was most certainly some signs of it prior to my diagnosis."

She described a particularly difficult period when she was hospitalized with "severe debilitating depression" when Jillian was 10 years old.

"I remember the overwhelming sense of wanting to make this right for her and didn't want her to experience any more pain from this," she said. "It was extremely important for me to focus on my health for not only myself but for Jillian as well!"

With the help of her doctor, Peggy said she finally found the right combination of medication that works for her about a year ago.

"I am now in my sixties and feel as though I have a new lease on life, but if you asked me even a few years ago, I would have never thought that I was ever going to get better," she said. "Honestly, many times I had given up hope for a short time, but thankfully I didn't ever give up."

Peggy advised readers facing similar challenges to seek out a support system, find a psychiatrist they're comfortable with, start a journal, and try to take life one minute at a time.

"What has enabled me to accept my diagnosis it that there have been many high profiles and famous people who share the same afflictions as I do," she said. "Mental health knows no barriers and affects a wide variety of people, you are not alone!"

If you or someone you know need mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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