Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My life as a mentally ill mom

Maybe that's what this blog should be about, maybe that's its calling, its purpose; talking out about mental illness and explaining to people that we aren't all homeless, unkempt, muttering fools.  I'm well educated, I have a crazy head of hair, I'm married with one kid and I'm mentally ill.

I wasn't always mentally ill, although I've spent more than half my life dealing this condition.  Sometimes it seems like just yesterday when I came to the realization that something was wrong, that something was seriously wrong.  There became a point where I realized I was way off track and well meaning people kept asking when I was going to finish my educational training, when was I going to start working full time, when was I going to . . .  What I heard was, what's wrong with you, why aren't you the person you used to be, what happened to your drive?  You'd have thought that I would've sought help, but I didn't.  I continued to bury myself into my bed and sleep all day.  Eventually I began therapy (again) and started to see some improvement from my more ridiculous fears and thoughts.  I was resistant and fought the idea of medication.  I started and quit many times.  I wanted to give up and just live the life I had, was given, was dealt to live.

Eventually we acquired health care, which included therapy sessions and medication.  I really didn't waste much time getting back into therapy.  I was very lucky to find two excellent doctors, one an MD who handles my medication and specializes in people with my disorder, and a very patient doctor who led me through a few years of therapy.  I am in some small ways "better", but I know that this a long road with dips, giant valleys, never ending potholes and yes, even rises where I can
look out and enjoy the view.

After my therapist retired I took a break from therapy, but one morning I woke up and realized that things had gotten bad.  Not eating, not bathing, a lack of self care - this is when I know I've tripped and fallen into one of those potholes.  I started therapy again, I was asked to consider an outpatient program, I refused.  Too much mommy guilt.  I felt I was taking away something from my baby, that he needed me more than I needed to get better.  Those of you with mommy guilt know exactly
what I'm saying. 

My baby is now three and a half.  I still go to therapy, I go to group once a week, I take my medication every morning.  I try to change in small ways, I pay attention to the danger signs.  I still don't like to ask for help, but every day I'm more and more open about my life, about my disease, my condition, my depression.  I'm never going to be cured; there will always be failures where I succumb to that internal voice that tells me that I am unimportant, unloved and not deserving of loving
kindness.  There will be remissions. "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." -Philipians 3:13-14, 16