#ItAffectsMe

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yes, I have a blog.  but that doesn’t mean that I am public about my diagnosis.  my parents and fiancé know that I am bipolar.  I’ve told some of my close friends, and that’s it.  no one at work or at many other facets of my life have any idea that I struggle with and manage my mental illness everyday.

people are spreading awareness of mental health with #ItAffectsMe.  as someone who is so closeted with this aspect of my life I find this movement both fascinating and liberating.  it makes me feel proud to disclose my bipolar disorder to others and possibly be more free with how being bipolar affects me.

does that mean I’m updating my facebook status to feeling blue and living with bipolar disorder?  probably not anytime soon.  but this simple hashtag gives me hope that the negative stereotypes of bipolar disorder and mental illness may become a thing of the past.  one can hope…

until tomorrow…

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limbo…

I often get the feeling like I’m in limbo.  Almost a floating sensation.  I’m in between things – moods, places, experiences.  I never really feel present.  Somehow I’m someplace else.  Not quite myself but never someone else.

This in-between state brings out the worst on me.  I become my “other” – snappy, angry, shrill, rude, harsh, judgemental.  Everything at once that I can’t control. I feel broken.  I hurt those who love me the most.  My head hurts and my heart breaks.

I make bad decisions.  I spend too much.  I eat too much.  I drink too much.  I don’t sleep.  All I want to do is sleep.  I’m groggy.  I’m grumpy.  I’m impulsive.  I don’t think about the consequences of my actions; not because I don’t want to – I can’t.

If I had cancer or MS everyone would be understanding.  They’d make me casseroles and bring magazines for me to read when I’m blue.  If it was something that people perceived “happening to me” then they’d give me the benefit of the doubt or say what a poor girl to be going through this.

I don’t have control.  I can’t stop it.  I fight for control everyday.  I am conscious of my bipolar condition.  I take my meds as prescribed.  I make a schedule and stick to it, even when I don’t want to.  I parent, I cook, I clean, I work, I write, I breathe, I live.  Bipolar is a part of me.  It makes me, me.

We are all broken and trying to put together the pieces.  I want my pieces to shine a light for others to see, for B to be proud of.

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The diagnosis…dant dant da!!!

I went on for months feeling depressed and out of control all at the same time.  Add some anxiety and a little alcohol self-medicating and you got yourself a crazy cocktail.

But I digress.   I know I need to talk to someone so I scheduled a therapist appointment through my insurance carrier (which I recommend all women do if they feel out of sorts post baby).  As part of the intake process and in order to get anti-depressants I had to meet with their psychiatrist.  I’ve never been to a psychiatrist and had no idea what to expect.

So it all began with me sitting across the desk from this very nice man who appeared to be in his late 60s or early 70s and was either Egyptian or Indian.  That’s all I could focus on – where was this guy from?  He has a diploma for medical school on the wall but that’s from SUNY.  His accent…what kind of accent did he have?  I can’t place it. His name is so innocuous.  Why can’t I figure out where this guy was from?

Oh what?  I’m sorry, I missed what you were saying.  Yeah, the appointment went something like that.  He asked my a series of questions:

  • Yes I do have periods of prolonged sleep followed by unexplained insomnia.
  • Yes I do have anxiety that is heightened by stress
  • Yes I do have impulsive activity – including wild spending sprees and risky sexual behavior.
  • Yes I do have racing thoughts and speak very quickly
  • Yes I have had overly long periods of sadness
  • Yes I am extremely irritable.

OK, I know what you’re thinking – this girl is a mess! And while you’re not wrong, I thought everyone experienced this.  I was just a little more depressed then normal and need something to jump start myself so I can take care of B.

Well apparently this doctor wants to be thorough and gives me a real diagnosis – Bipolar.  38 years old, been like this my whole life and now you’re telling me I’m bipolar?  You mean I could have been working on this all along?

Good grief…

Until tomorrow…

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Now that I know I’m really crazy, what do I do?

So apparently I’ve been crazy as far back as I can remember.  Great! Having a kid, who likely will be plagued by having a mentally ill mother, is how I find out I have a room reserved in the nut house.

Bipolar.  What does that even mean?  It’s such an ugly and loaded word.  It’s used to make fun of people, to demean people, to label people.  I don’t want to be in any of those categories.  I don’t want to be labeled.  I want to be functional, competent and self-reliant.  I want to be a caretaker and role model for B.  I feel like being bipolar will be a stigma in being a mom and a person.

I even had a friend tell me – well you’re a gemini so that makes sense.  Huh?

So what do I do now?  I’m feel like I’m medicated out of my face trying to find the right cocktail of pharmaceuticals to manage my mood swings.  I’m also seeing a very nice therapist.  Talking to someone about my thoughts and feelings, even my fears is so freeing! I’m slowly starting to float up above the water that I felt dragging my body down.

I need to get myself out of this funk.  If I’m going to get a handle on this bipolar thing I’d much rather be in a manic episode and get some shit done rather than being all depression girl.  It is what it is, now what? How can I learn more about myself and manage this condition.  I can’t bury my head in the sand I need to take action.  Right?

More tomorrow…

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Is this postpartum depression?

I know lots of women get the baby blues.  Me, on the other hand, has suffered from depression most of my adult life.  I was scared shitless of postpartum depression and asked my OB for Zoloft in the hospital right after I delivered B.

Yet, I feel off.  I don’t know if it’s new motherhood, lack of sleep, postpartum depression – whatever you call it, I feel off.

I cry for no reason.  I cry because B cries.  I cry because I’m tired.  I cry because I feel fat.  I cry because I’m a shit mom.  I cry because everyone would be better off without me.  I cry because I am soooo happy.  I cry because I’m in love.  I cry because I feel lucky to have my partner and parents taking care of me.  I cry because we are out of milk…

So is this what postpartum depression feels like?  I’m angry and sad and restless all at the same time.  I sleep for a week straight and then have insomnia.  Is this what being a new mom is all about?

More tomorrow…

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Why are you crying now?

As I look at my baby girl I can’t believe she is mine. She is the most perfect little being I’ve ever seen. Then I think, I hope I don’t fuck her up…how is she going to be ok with me as a mom?

I feel like I’m spinning out of control. I can barely stay conscious enough to take care of her let alone myself. How am I going to do this?

Am I good enough for her?

Would she be better off growing up without me?

These are the thoughts that race and spin through my mind as I stare at this perfect baby girl…

All I want to do is sleep…

More tomorrow…

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Was giving birth really this easy?

I knew from the day I found out I was pregnant my daughter was going to be a stubborn as I am.

40 weeks pregnant and no baby. I begged my doctor to induce me. I loved being pregnant but I was so done. My feet look like sausages. I’ve never been so swollen and so uncomfortable in my entire life.

Luckily my doctor agreed to induce me on my due date. I was so excited that within 24 hours I would meet my daughter. The hospital called early every checked in at 2 PM on Sunday, March 23, 2014.  My baby girl is finally coming!

The nurses started the medication around four and I had contractions often on for the next few hours. They let me have a snack before 10 and I settled in for the evening with my iPad and book thinking it could be any time that the baby would come. The contractions were strong but nothing that I couldn’t handle. I fell asleep for a few hours and woke around 2 am when my nurse came to check on me.   I wasn’t really progressing and the nurse was concerned that if I didn’t take an epidural since I was in pain I wouldn’t be able to get one the next day. So I caved. I took the epidural.

The anesthesiologist came in around 4 AM and gave me my epidural. It was literally like the lambs stop crying. I was the most relaxed I had been in weeks I felt great. I have the best sleep of my life that night and didn’t wake up until my doctor came in to break my water at 8 AM. But the baby wasn’t coming.  Mt doctor broke my water, started some medication and told me he would be back later in the day to deliver the baby.

To get me progressing the nurses, who were AWESOME, used an exercise ball between my legs to open me up.  By 2pm I was 6cm dialated.  I tried to relax and take it easy but I started to feel really uncomfortable, like I was burning.  I told my partner that I felt like it I pushed the baby would come right out.  He told me I was crazy.  Nothing new there…I yelled for him to get the nurse.

Luckily for me crazy wins because when the nurse came in to check me, a mere 20 minutes after her last check, I was 10cm and ready to have this baby.  Call the doctor! Mom, don’t push! Call her parents!  This kids is coming pronto!

At exactly 3pm, without my doctor, my daughter Brooklyn Rose came into the world.  I have never felt that level of joy and love instantly swell in my being.  Although labor was by far one of the easiest things I have ever done, being a mom and keeping it all together is definitely the hardest.  I wouldn’t change anything in this world.  🙂

More tomorrow..

 

 

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Feeling great pregnant…

Swollen, check…

Back pain, check…

Tired, cranky and feeling like a blimp, check…

Yes, I was a normal pregnant woman. I had all of the cravings, eating too much, needing sleep, and general uncomfortableness. Otherwise being pregnant was the best time of my life.

Let me begin by saying I completely stopped taking my medication once I knew I was pregnant.  My doctor and I thought it was best to stop my meds cold turkey it was the best decision I ever made. I felt like I was in a complete state of homeostasis. I felt normal. I felt balanced. I felt happy. I’ve heard that women who have mental issues or have chronic illness feel great when they’re pregnant. I was definitely  one of those women. I didn’t take one medication other than the occasional time when I was pregnant. But I felt happy. It was the oddest thing ever for me. I didn’t have mood swings. I wasn’t angry all the time. I didn’t take one medication other than the occasional tylenol when I was pregnant. But I felt happy. It was the oddest thing ever for me. I didn’t have mood swings. I wasn’t angry all the time. I wasn’t crying for no reason other then my roller coaster of normal pregnancy hormones. I felt good. Is that wrong?

Looking back now I wish I was pregnant all the time. It’s the best ever felt in my life. Especially without medication.

At the end of the pregnancy I was ready to be done and hold my baby more than anything. But I felt good. Just ready to have the baby. The joy that I felt when I met my daughter for the first time was the most intense and overwhelming feeling I’ve ever had. I never knew that such love existed.

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The day I found out I was pregnant…

When I decided to leave my ex husband I knew I wanted a child.  I researched clinics for artificial insemination and speak donors.  I knew I had a small window of time to get pregnant.  I knew I could always meet a guy later.  I decided to date a little and have fun.  Then I met Kip.  I never expected to fall head over heels about someone, especially so quickly.  We started dating and felt instantly attracted to one another.  There was a real physical connection.

We decided to wait to sleep together.  That was new for me.  I’d always been impulsive, even sexually. But I loved that Kip wanted us to have an emotional connection too and so we waited.

I decided to go back on the pill.  I didn’t use birth control with my ex and never got pregnant.  He already had 2 kids so I automatically thought there was something wrong with me.  I thought the pill would be a good back up plan, just in case…

So we waited 2 and a half weeks to have sex.  We went out with a group of Kip’s friends for a birthday.  We laughed.  We flirted.  We drank. We went to Kip’s and finally were intimate and it was amazing.  I knew I was falling in love.

The following weeks were a whirlwind.  We saw each other everyday.  We sat up late at night and talked.  We kissed.  We made love.  We danced.  I met his friends.  It was everything I dreamed of in a relationship and more.

Then I realized I was late.  Like 3 weeks late.  There was no way I could be pregnant, right? I was 37, never pregnant, on the pill, in a new relationship.  Being pregnant would be cray, unreal, and a dream come true.

I snuck out of my parents house at 7am and went to the grocery store to get a pregnancy test.  My stomach was doing so many somersaults I had the runs.  Surely I wasn’t pregnant.

I got got home and peed on the stick.  There is was, a plus sign.  I was knocked up.  Still in shock and certain that the store brand test had a greater margin of error I took another  test.  The same plus sign popped up.  Pregnant.  After throwing up – not sure if from the news or the onset of morning sickness I called my doctor convinced I had the flu.  It was July…

well the doctor confirmed it – congrats! You’re at least 5 weeks pregnant.

Crap! I got exactly what I prayed for..,what am I going to do now?

 

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As good a place to start as any…

My daughter turned 1 last week.  She is the greatest gift and hugest joy that I could have ever imagined.  I never thought I’d be so lucky as to finally be a mother, let alone to such a wonderful, sweet and kind baby.  However, my journey to motherhood was long and odorous and one that I could have imagined.  Getting here, one year into mommy hood is the lens through which to look at myself, my failures and my triumphs.  It’s been a difficult journey but one that I knew I’d have to take to gain the ultimate prize, my daughter.

I was married before I met my daughter’s father.  It was a tumultuous relationship, paved with control, anger, violence and abuse.  We were together for 8 years and married for 6.  Planning my escape from that marriage was the light at the end of the tunnel and paved the way for happiness and new beginnings.  I was a mom in that relationship; my first foray into parenthood.  I was, however, a stepmom.  While I love my stepsons immensely I knew it wasn’t the same sort of fulfillment id find parenting my own child.  The boys already had a mom and dad.  I was playing the role of an extra in their lives and didn’t always feel like I fit.  I wasn’t content.  I wasn’t fulfilled.  I knew my exhaust and would never make me a who,e parent; that coupled with the emotional and physical abuse I endured made me realize I had to get out.

Why am I telling you all this? I need to explain my journey to where I am today and the roller coaster motherhood has created for me and the soul-searching it’s awakened in me.  I need an outlet to talk about and process my feelings and share my feelings in the hope that I might reach someone else so they don’t feel alone or crazy in their journey ad I have.  I am spinning and crazy most days filled with self-doubt and manic compulsions but I need to share to help me realize I am not alone.

Until my next manic momday…

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