Thursday, November 8, 2018

When You're a Mom Living with Bipolar Disorder

Unlike a lot of people, I can't remember the exact date I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression around the Summer of 2009 and a year later, when it didn't go away, BOOM! Bipolar II.

I'll never forget when my psychiatrist at the time put that on my shoulders and said...See you next month!

With PPD, you get better, it's Science. With BP, it's a life sentence, also Science.

So I sat in my car ugly crying and soaking in the plan of attack, which was medication at the time.

My son was only 3-4 months old and I was determined to nurse him for the first full year of his life. This meant the medication I put into my body had to be safe for him and proved to be a challenge. Somehow we got through it and I even went beyond my goal of a year.

I have three sons...24, 19 and of today, I am 41.

What's it like being a mother with Bipolar Disorder? It means that you can't hide everything going wrong from your kids. Especially the older kids. Hiding in the bathroom to have a good cry creates red and puffy eyes. This isn't something you can hide, and that's okay. Hopefully, when the time is right, your kids will be told about your illness and be made to understand it. Mine do.

Sometimes you order pizza because cooking seems so far fetched.

Sometimes you let the dust settle where it is because the depression is too heavy (or order in a housekeeper once in a while).

Sometimes you sleep in, or just lie there, then make your way to the couch and curl up for the rest of the day because that's what you need in that moment.

Sometimes you make excuses for not going on outings, but sometimes you force yourself to get dressed and do it anyway because it means a lot to somebody.

Sometimes (this is my main indulgence) I order my groceries online and have them delivered.

Sometimes I put on make-up and a cute outfit and people think I'm okay. They'll say I look good and to them, I probably do. But also, sometimes I'll go out in the same clothes I wore to bed, no make-up and unwashed hair. If I'm around people I know they sometimes get it but mostly not and it usually doesn't strike up a conversation. People are afraid to talk about it.

Sometimes (the older kids) will talk to each other about how mom is doing without your knowledge and it makes you super glad that they have each other.

Sometimes (the younger ones) will hear you crying and come give you a hug and ask if you're okay. I usually reply that mom isn't feeling so good today in her brain and feels sad right now. I'll answer questions that follow or I'll accept a second hug. My son knows how to distract me and will ask to play a game with me and it works.

Sometimes I apologize to the kids for how I'm feeling then realize that it's not my fault that this illness landed in my lap.

Sometimes Everyday  I hold onto hope that my kids aren't cursed with being Bipolar. It wouldn't be their fault, it would be mine and every other relative who also has it. It would be on us.

Sometimes or if I'm honest...More often than not, because I've been depressed now for over a year (not that I crave hypomania, the crash is just too far down), I think about writing my goodbye note and walking out the front door forever.

My little family is too precious to have followed through.

Sadly and scarily, I do know that's how I will go out.


Disclosure: My psychiatrist is aware of my thoughts and we're working on finding the right treatment plan (as of two days ago). 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Doctor | Patient Conversation (Trigger Warning - Having a plan)

Psych: So, how have you's been two months since I last saw you?

Me: I'll be brutally honest with you if you promise not to lock me up.

He stares into my eyes and his face blanks out followed by a single nod.

Me: I don't want to breathe anymore.

Psych: Do you have a ....?

Me: Yes. I have a plan.

Psych: What's the plan?

Me: A few weeks ago as I was leaving home to come to work, I grabbed all of my pills and an unopened bottle of vodka. Lots of pills and lots of alcohol.

He sat back and let out a breath of air. His eyes had anger behind them. He was disappointed in himself for not seeing me for so long. It wasn't his fault.

Psych: What stopped you from carrying this out?

Me: I called my husband and he talked me down. I also talked to a friend who did the same. This doesn't mean shit, by the way. I think about this everyday. When I'm in my living room sitting on my couch and look to my right, the cabinets holding the contents I need are right in my view. I want to take them and go for a walk. Would I look at them? Would I swallow them? I'm not sure. What I'm sure of is that it's been a year of severe depression and I'm over it.

He got real serious now...

Psych: One of three things have to happen. Seroquel (which I've been fighting as I've been on it before), intensive outpatient therapy or, once again, ECT.

Me: You've really have to stop saying those letters, are they your favorite or something?

I had done ECT in the past, twice, and the only thing it left behind was my memory. It never got better, never came back. I have PTSD from the first time it was done and the second was amazingly better, only so repetitive that it kicked up my PTSD and I had to stop halfway through. If I could be put under before going into "the room", I might have been better off. Seeing the equipment, all the medical staff involved at the top of my bed, the mouth guard, hearing the doctor discuss my case before going under, the smell, the sounds....It's all very traumatic. To this day, if I hear this specific jingle on anyone's computer, I freeze and begin to cry. It's always the little things.

Me: Let's just take the fucking Seroquel. I mean, you're not taking it because in all honestly, you probably couldn't handle it. I'll take the fucking Seroquel. Send it in and I'll start tomorrow.

Psych: I'll need to see you in a week and a half. At that appointment you'll tell me if you're continuing with Seroquel, starting intensive outpatient therapy or ECT.

My blood pressure was high (and has been lately) coming in. Was it my nerves, the existing health problems my doctors are trying to figure out, or the cuff as my doctor suggested...

I asked for an SSRI because my PCP thought it could help my serotonin imbalance. My doctor turned me down because the stomach is lined with serotonin and adding more on top of that would be reckless and cause my current issues to get much worse, because it has yet to be diagnosed.

On the way home, my phone chimed. The pharmacy texted to say my new prescription was ready. It was already 8pm by the time I got home (work, chores, late psych appointment). I cut my first pill in half and swallowed it. Within the hour I became dizzy and very tired. I went to bed waking once to use the bathroom. I stumbled and couldn't keep my eyes open. When my alarm went off my eyes wouldn't stay open and I felt intoxicated. I was finally able to get ready but my words were slurring and my limbs were heavy.

I hate this drug but I hate ECT more. And who has time for intensive outpatient care when you work full time and care for your family when the 9-5 is over? I get that this is about saving my life but it all seems so annoying.

It's my life so I'm allowed to say that...