I cannot believe it has been 2 years since I first started the Bipolar Whispers blog. I started this in a Manic high to let out frustrations to write to my hearts content and to express things I could not even begin to express in my ‘real’ life.
This past year was a lot slower than the first 6 months or so of the blog, but lately I have been trying to get some content out. Thanks to everyone who has been reading for the past two years and thanks to all my new readers.
Be sure to read through my older content, you will find a lot of good information and a lot of soulful and heart felt writings there.
Lets hope that I can get back to the basic reasons for starting this blog and make year 3 fantastic.
So far in these posts I have talked about how I hated the thought of being a mother with mental illness, how it made me feel, how I thought I was hurting my family by having a mental illness.
But now it is time to talk about how it has changed my life, how it has strengthened our family, and how I am surviving.
I did not get to this point quickly, nor easily. It has been a long, hard and bumpy road. But I have arrived at a better place. I am not saying I am always stable, always balanced, because that is untrue. There are times when I need to get medication adjustments, times when I have to make the trip to see my doctor because I need help.
But there are some things I have learned over the past few years.
The first and foremost is that it is okay to ask for help.
For a long time, a lot of years I choose and actually preferred to “go it alone”. There are even times now that I find myself keeping things bottled inside and trying to hide from everyone. But I know that when I become unstable I need to be able to talk to my doctor, and we need to be able to figure out what is happening and work on making me balanced again.
Another thing that I learned was to try to take other peoples advice when they say I am manic/hypomanic. I have been in situations where I was very very manic before any of my immediate family had the, I want to say “balls”….but I will be nice and say “nerve” to tell me just how sick I was.
Because as you know in the beginning, the hypomanic stages feel good, the increased activity, the projects, it then begins a slow decent into something more sinister, and then the snowballing effect begins and it happens a lot faster, and I very quickly lose control.
So, learn to ask for help, and learn to take advice (maybe with a grain of salt, but take it none the less).
These are two very important things in my life right now, two things that are part of my “stay healthy” tool box.
So Bipolar disorder changed my life, but not when I got diagnosed. It changed my life 20 years ago when it started showing up. Little things, that at 13 I did not understand, I was scared, and I was afraid that I was “crazy”.
It caused a lot of hurt, heartache, frustrations, and hate, within myself. Mostly because I did not understand what was going on, I had no one to educate me, to explain things to me, or to tell me that everything was going to be alright.
Instead I suffered within myself, and continued to suffer and get worst for years. I let my insecurities get the better of me.
But over the past few years, Bipolar disorder has strengthened our family. I know most of you are probably sitting here and wondering how it is possible that my diagnosis actually strengthened us. How is that even possible?
But it did, the diagnosis came after a lot of very difficult years, and some extremely difficult months. And although it took a long time for me to forgive myself enough to see that we were becoming stronger, we indeed were.
I had a better relationship with my children, because I was taking my medications, I was doing what I needed to do to be a balanced bipolar person. I was trying very hard with therapy and walking that line, trying very hard to stay very balanced.
Having a diagnosis made it easier to explain what was happening some of the time, it made it easier for my children to understand that mom was not well, it made it easier for my husband to understand that I was not trying to be difficult, or understand the extreme moods that had often inhabited our lives.
Because I have come to accept my diagnosis of Bipolar disorder, I have started making changes within myself, healthy changes.
I have finally given in and realized that writing while I am manic, for me, is amazing. I have done this a lot over the years, but mostly in a journal. Books on top of books I have written thoughts and sentiments in, only to read them months or years later and destroy them. But now I am writing and keeping my writings, because for the first time in my life I have realized that my writing is part of me, a good part, a part that I do want to remember, ill regardless of what topics I write on, I finally like my writing and have finally given myself the leeway to write whatever it is that I feel like writing and letting my mind and hands just take control as I type.
Having this diagnosis of bipolar disorder has made me more of a survivor, because now I know what I am dealing with, I know more how to help myself, my family knows what signs to look for, and it is just finally easier to ask my doctor for help, I am finally on a path that makes sense. For the first time since I started getting sick at age 13, I have embraced this as part of who I am. After getting my diagnosis it was easier to look back and shake my head and say, yes, now I understand. This has made some of the situations from my past make sense, finally. After years of being confused, years of not understanding, years of being misunderstood, my illness had a name, and once it had a name it was easier for me to deal with it.
It was easier for me to fight, easier for me to get help, easier for me to understand, once the name, Bipolar disorder was given to my illness.
So I am a mother with mental illness, in fact, more than one. But this does not make me a bad mother, maybe this makes me a different mother but not a bad one. I know it makes me a strong mother, a fighter. It makes me more open to things my children are dealing with, it makes me more understanding. It makes me fight harder for what is right in my children’s lives, it makes me more vigilant.
I know one thing for sure it is making me a bigger and bolder advocate when it comes to my daughter’s mental health issues, because I am not walking in blind. I am able to see what is going on, I am able to help, and knowing that I have dealt with these things, that makes it easier for her to talk to me.
So yes, bipolar disorder might have made some devastating changes to my life, perhaps it even ruined some things that were meant to be. But in saying that, it has done so much for me that no one would expect of a disorder, and for that I am thankful.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to sensationalize or romanticize Bipolar disorder, because there is nothing romantic or sensational about it. It is a hard diagnosis to live with. I am just trying to find the good in what once was hard for me to understand, find good in what I am dealing with, find good in me as a person.
For in finding some good, some light, I know that I am not my entire disorder, I am in fact a survivor, a fighter, and advocate and very vigilant.
Because I had mental illness I thought I would not be good enough. I would not be a good enough person, I would not be a good enough wife and I would not be a good enough mother.
I thought that I was worthless. Nothing.
I imagined that my family would be better off if I were not in their lives. That they deserved better. A better wife, a better mother.
My hospitalization and therapy helped me to realize things differently.
Talking to the doctor and nurses in mandatory therapy helped to mold my thought process into something that made a little more sense.
They explained to me that if I had a physical illness like diabetes or cancer it would not make me less of a person so why should a mental illness make me feel that way. At first I just could not grasp it. It made no sense to me.
But, If the role was reversed and you had mental illness I would be the first person to tell you that it did not make you less of a person, that you were strong, that you deserved to live. But within myself all I could do was see the negative, feel the depression and continue to hate myself.
I hated everything that I had become. Everything that mental illness did to me. I hated my decision process, I despised.
One thing that a nurse told me was that statistically if I committed suicide my children would have a higher possibility of doing the same. This struck me fiercely.
The last thing I wanted was for my children to end up attempting suicide because of decisions I made, or because they felt inadequate because of something I did.
This was the beginning of fighting the suicidal thoughts. Really fighting them. It was not easy, but I had to start somewhere.
My kids and my husband were the reason that I wanted to live.
I did not know what I was going to do with that life, with that willingness to fight, but I knew it was a start.
I have let circumstances control me my entire life. I got hurt at a young age, innocence taken and I let the circumstances dictate my life from that point forward. Letting circumstances dictate a life from age 6 forward can be pretty daunting now looking back. I felt like a coward. I felt like, not only was my innocence taken but my dignity, and my life were taken as well.
Don’t get me wrong. I tried to live. But what did I live with? Flashbacks? Memories? Nightmares?
That was not living. That was merely breathing inside a shell of a body. I felt defeated. Defeated physically and mentally.
I gave up on myself. I stopped caring about me.
As I got older and the teenage years crept in, I began understanding the things that were going on within my emotional and physical self. As confusing as they were, I understood where they came from. I knew the sole cause and could almost pinpoint the moment of change within me.
That was the age I changed. Probably because I understood more. I was at an age where I knew about the birds and the bees from school, at least to some point. But I was also at an age that for me, the birds and the bees were nothing new. I knew for years what happened behind closed doors……or in the woods, between rocks, in the grass.
In high school I spent a lot of time in my bedroom, listening to music, or writing. Or even the classic rocking back and forth on the bed. Sounds so cliché. Like watching some horror movie in a mental health hospital with that one patient who kept rocking and rocking with a blank look on their face.
That was me. Why?
I could not stop moving.
My mind would not let me forget. I believe sometimes that I tried to shake the memories out. Tried to make them stop.
I wanted to crawl under a rock, into some dark deep hole and I wanted to die, at least mentally.
I wanted everything to stop. The memories, the flashbacks, the nightmares. I wanted an end.
Nighttime I barely slept. I was afraid of the dark. Or more importantly, I was afraid of the things that happened in the dark.
I knew what monsters were lurking. After all I had been face to face with one only years before.
I had this routine where I slept right after school before supper. I managed to get a good 2, maybe 3 if I were lucky, hours of nightmare free sleep. After that all bets were off.
I honestly prayed, and bargained with God to save me. To make the abuse stop at the time it was happening. After it was over for good, I prayed to forget, I prayed for the nightmares to stop, I prayed for the memories to go away, I prayed for the flashbacks to stop, I prayed for the triggers to not happen.
At 11 years old do you want to know what my biggest fear was and my biggest prayer? I prayed that I was not pregnant. I was terrified that I was pregnant and I was even more terrified that I would get in trouble for it.
Pregnant by the force of some fucked up monster. But not some monster in the dark in some dreamlike place without a face whom I would never see again. This monster had a face, this monster had a name, I knew this monster, and I hated him.
But no one came to save me. Have faith they say…..faith.
I guess the only prayer that got answered was that I was not pregnant.
Because as for the rest, the nightmares still rocked my body, the memories still caused tears to slide down my cheeks and my body to shake, and my God no matter what I did, I could not forget.
That is when I learned I had to save myself.
Because some mythical being was not going to swoop down out of the heavens, wrap me in its wings and warm glowing light and save me.
I am not really an atheist. But I sometimes think that “I grew up and stopped believing in fairy tales”.
In the beginning, when I needed you the most, you were there for me. You held my hand, you held my heart, you held me. You told me that you would always be there for me. I told you everything, my deepest darkest secrets. You knew. You knew what you were getting into when you took me into your arms and into your life.
And you promised.
You promised you would always be there for me.
You promised that you would always hold me.
You promised that you would always listen to me.
You promised that you would always talk to me.
But I was very afraid. I was afraid of how incredibly fucked up I was.
I was afraid I would hurt you and in the future I just proved how worthless I was in that department. I did hurt you, and I took responsibility for that and I beat myself up every day over how incredibly fucked up and stupid I was.
I was afraid because I could keep my own secrets, but having someone else know them meant that it was possible for someone else to tell them.
For the longest time I was afraid that you would tell my secrets. And you did to some extent. But of course I forgave you, because you were my everything.
It meant that this giant wall that I had put up all around me could crumble even more at any possible moment.
It meant that someone cared, and they cared deeply about me.
I could not understand that, I had never had it before. No one was ever there for me like you were. No one cared to get deep enough into my mind to try to figure out what was going on in there. Except doctors and therapists. And that was their jobs.
But you, you meant it when you said you wanted to be there, you meant it when you asked how I felt, you really, truly wanted to know what was going on inside me and you did everything in your power to help.
It was hard what I put you through. I know that. I did not mean to put you through anything like that. But it was hard what I went through too.
I did not ask to be dealt this hand in life. I did not ask to have mental illness passed on to me through some fucked up genes in my family.
I did not ask to always have to struggle and fight with the things that go on inside my mind.
I did not ask to be sexually abused, molested, raped.
I did not want these things, I DO NOT want these things.
And I damn well do not want the memories, the flash backs, the nightmares that are associated with them.
But unfortunately after years and years they are still there fresh in my mind. And I wish they would just fuck off and I could forget it. Truly.
I cannot even go to certain places without being triggered, I cannot see certain things without being triggered. Stupid things that should not bother me end up being something that causes my body to shake and my heart to beat faster and faster. I wish this would just go the fuck away.
In more recent years I have been afraid in a different way. I have been afraid that we are living some lie. That the closeness that we once had is gone.
And I realize that you are sick too and I try to not cause you any extra stress and I hold things in instead of talking to you about them.
And this is causing me stress.
It is like blowing up a balloon, there is only so much air that can fit before the balloon explodes.
I no longer tell you my dreams, my inspirations, my fears.
I hold things in, pushing them deeper and deeper down some deep dark endless pit.
Then I explode. I hurt. I cry. I swear. I pretend not to care.
But truth is, I care too deeply, because if I did not, it would not hurt.
And it hurts.
I don’t mean to be a burden. And that hurts too. Because I am afraid that if I tell you anything or bring up anything that I am going through that this will be the cause of another seizure. That I will be the one to make it happen.
So I hold it in. I struggle. I hate myself. And there are days that I barely live.
Then I know that there is so much more of the time that I am so in love with you that I just want to hold you and do anything for you.
When I say “I love you” it is not out of familiarity, it is because each and every time I say it, I truly mean the words. “I love you” does not come out of my mouth unless I mean it, and then it comes from my heart, somewhere deep within in, with a deep honest feeling.
And I do love you, but I am struggling right now, in ways that I cannot even begin to explain. In ways that you have told me you cannot handle.
And I am sorry if I need validation. That is me, it has always been me, ever since we have been together, and nothing has changed there, nothing.