Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sleep, or the Lack Thereof

   I'm sitting here listening to Punkin' Butt scream at the top of her lungs to be let out of her crib. It's like nails on a chalkboard to my already fragile mood. Just a short while ago she was begging for nap time. This is how it goes at our house. Sleep time has become a power struggle.

Once Upon a Time

   Sleep hasn't always been an issue for us. We used to put her down, she'd play or fuss for a few minutes and then fall asleep. Didn't matter if it was nap time or bed time. She'd sleep until 7:30 in the morning and take a two hour nap. Now we're lucky when she sleeps past 5am and even goes to her room for nap time.

The Transition

   About a month ago, The Bearded One and I decided that it was time for Punkin Butt' to be in a big girl bed, so we took the side off of her crib. Then all hell broke loose. As soon as she knew she could get out of bed, it was all over. We finally gave up on trying to keep her in bed. If she wanted to fall asleep on the floor, that was fine. Eventually she started putting herself back in bed.

   Then she learned how to open doors.

The Fight

   Now every night is a fight to keep PB in her room. We've tried turning the doorknob so the lock is on the outside, but it's a cheap knob and a couple shakes unlocks the stupid thing. We tried a baby gate, but the doors are so narrow (and again, cheap) and the gate won't stay up. For 5 minutes we tried a latch on the outside of the door, but I felt so horrible that it quickly came off.

   Now we just turn the crib around so she can't get out. We give her a chance to stay in her room before we turn it. She gets one warning; the second time the crib gets turned and she can't get out of bed at all. After that she's usually asleep in under 5 minutes. So we know she's tired. It's just that the whole thing has become a big game with her.

My Sleep

   I know this is not going to solve anything. She's not learning to stay in her room; she's being kept there. But I don't really know any alternatives. I have to get my sleep. When you're bipolar, sleep is critical. Too much and I'm depressed (that doesn't usually happen with a 2 1/2 year old). Too little and I'm manic and aggressive (this tends to happen a lot).

   So we have to figure out PB's sleep situation. TBO can't always be the one to deal with it just so I can get my sleep. He does have a job to get to bright and early. We're sort of at a standoff right now, trying to figure out how to beat a 2 1/2 year old at her own game.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Anxiety - The Faceless Fear

   Heart racing. Palms sweaty. Frantically trying to fix - what? Fix what? Nothing's wrong, but something's wrong. Everything's wrong and it has to be fixed, solved, something, right NOW. Pacing, starting a project, starting another project. Fearful. Racing thoughts, irritability, nothing seems to be working. What is wrong with me?


   It's a panic attack. And I'm not alone in this. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly 40 million adults in America (that's roughly 18% of the population) suffer from some type of anxiety disorder. Nice to know I'm not the only one, but not very comforting when in the throes of an attack.

Fear and Function

   Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time - when speaking in public, before a big test, etc - and that's perfectly normal. It's when the anxiety persists over a long period of time, seemingly stemming from nothing in particular, that it becomes a problem. When the anxiety is so strong that it interferes with your ability to function normally, it's time to get help.

My Anxiety

   My anxiety ebbs and flows along with the rest of my bipolar moods. And when it's really flowing, it can send me into a manic state if I don't catch it in time. Yesterday was one of the times I didn't.

   I have started to notice that around 3 o'clock every afternoon, I start feeling anxious. I start desperately trying to fill the time with mindless chores until it's time to start supper. But that just feeds the fear, gives it more to worry about. When busy work doesn't help, I try distraction, but my mind's moving so fast that I can't pay attention to anything. Finally, I try controlling it. I make lists, charts, anything to try to rationalize and neatly contain the fear. But my mind is so out of sync with itself that nothing seems to work the way I want it too.

   That's when anger sets in, and my anger quickly turns to rage. By this point I  can no longer function and have to remove myself from the situation to try to calm down. Anti-anxiety medication, a hot shower, meditation. I go through my list of coping skills until something works. Sometimes just being held helps.

   Today, though, I had a breakthrough. It was after dinner and I had been feeling panicky for a couple of hours. I kept doing all the wrong things, trying to fight through it and only making it worse. Then The Bearded One called and said he was going to be late, which was the last thing I needed to hear. But instead of snapping, I stopped. I just stopped, and sat, and breathed. Long, slow, deep breaths, just like my therapist has told me a hundred times.

   And as I breathed, my heart beat slowed, my thoughts calmed. The fear slowly drained away. The irritability that had been gnawing at my head was gone. I had done it. I got myself through a panic attack without anyone's help.


   That's when I realized that I am enough. I really am. I am good enough, strong enough, to get well and stay well. I still need the love and support of friends and family, but I finally realized that when it comes down to it, I can be enough for me. All by myself. And I am so proud.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


No new words of wisdom tonight. It's been a pretty rough afternoon, full of mania and rage. And when you come down from mania and rage it's usually with a resounding "thud." All the volatile energy is spent in one fell swoop, leaving you empty and hollow. My brain is barely focusing on even this short post right now. So I'm off to color (one of the world's greatest stress relievers) and then snuggle on the couch with The Bearded One. Here's hoping tomorrow brings peace.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Emergency Preparedness

   Quick - if you had a medical emergency, would your significant other know what to do? Do they know your conditions, symptoms and how to help you? Do they know your meds? Do they know how to pay the bills, buy the groceries, feed the kids while you are in the hospital? Do your closest friends, the people you hang out with all the time, know how to help in a time of crisis? If the answer to any of these is "No," then this is the post for you.

Planning Ahead

   A lot of families have plans in place for whole family emergencies - natural disasters, fires, etc. (If you don't, here's a great FEMA worksheet.) What I'm talking about here is an individual emergency, where one parent has to be away from home for awhile.  In order for things to run as smoothly as possible, you need to have a plan. The Bearded One and I learned this the hard way after two hospitalizations left him holding the proverbial bag, with no clue as to what to do. (He still made it work, I must add. He's a resourceful guy.)

Three critical steps to planning ahead are to:

  • know yourself
  • create a plan
  • work as a team

Know Yourself

   Others can't begin to know how to help you if you don't know how to help yourself. This applies to all medical conditions- migraines, epilepsy, heart disease, etc- not just bipolar. You must know what your stressors, triggers and allergens are. You must know your early warning signs and symptoms that a crisis is looming. And you must know the things that you and others can do to help should the worst happen.

Create a Plan

   Once you figure all that out, it's time to form a crisis plan. There is a good planning worksheet here to help you lay everything out. It's setup for bipolars, but can easily be tailored to suit your unique situation. Another good checklist can be found here.

Remember to include the following in your plan:

  • early warning signs and symptoms
  • how to help you
  • doctor's contact info
  • current drug info, including herbals and over-the-counter meds (Mednotes is an easy to use tool for this)
  • preferred pharmacy info
  • preferred hospital info (if applicable)
  • emergency contact info
  • any other info you feel your support system should know in an emergency

   When you have your plan written up, be sure to give copies to each person in your support system and discuss it with them; this includes your doctor(s) and/or therapist. Keep your home copy in an easy to find place.

Work as a Team

   We've all been there; when one of you is gone, some things fall through the cracks because the other didn't know what to do. For example, I tend to not cook from a recipe. I just look at what I have and make something. This translates to The Bearded One and Punkin' Butt eating lots of frozen pizza and take-out while I'm in the hospital because he doesn't know what to do with all those raw ingredients

   The best way to solve this is to work as a team as often as you can while things are calm. If you do the cooking, let the other help you prep. TBO has started writing down the recipe as I cook. If your significant other always pays the bills, start sitting down together to go over the budget. If it helps, create a household how-to manual. I'm starting one for our family that includes a few easy recipes, phone numbers of friends who can help babysit, online passwords, dates bills are due, etc. The more you learn how to do what the other does, the more in control you'll feel should a crisis arise. Speaking of control...

Trust Each Other

   When it is you that is in crisis, you have to let go. Trust your partner to take care of things. The only way you are going to help yourself in a crisis is by letting others help you. If you've been working as a team and have an emergency plan in place, it's that much easier to focus on yourself. The first time I was hospitalized, I spent most of my time calling home to help TBO figure things out. What I should have been doing was trusting him and healing.

   Don't wait for an emergency to put all this in place. And it doesn't have to be a medical emergency; you never know when you might have to drop everything and leave town for awhile. So start today, this minute. I'm sure you already have some ideas; go ahead and jot them down before you forget. Talk to your partner tonight. Remember, the time to plan is when everything is calm, and emergencies don't give you fair warning.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shout Out to My Mamas!

This Mommy's Mind...

...thinks it's time to lighten the mood for a bit and give a shout out to a terrific group of women.

WNC Mountain Mamas

   This is a local group of moms (and kids!) who were once part of a larger, nationwide group. But we felt restricted, not free to speak our minds. So we broke off and started our own group, the WNC (Western North Carolina, for those of yuns not from 'round here) Mountain Mamas, a unique local group, for unique local moms. We have mamas from all walks of life: single mamas, mamas with grown-up kids, working mamas, stay-at-home mamas, student mamas, even single-working-student mamas. Even a bipolar mama. We take all kinds.

A Unique Bond

   The great thing about this group is that it IS local. We have weekly meet-ups, play dates and group events. That means the lovely ladies you talk to online you actually can meet in the flesh. They have similar stories to share, know the places you're talking about and have had similar experiences. It's a bond you simply can't get over the computer alone.

Love, Support, Friendship

   And I can tell you, the bond is tight with this group. Even if they've never met you, these mama's are fiercely loyal and will give you the shirt off their backs when you are in need. I've been hospitalized twice and been out of commission from major dental surgery and each time this group has come through for me. Cooking meals, running errands, watching Punkin' Butt, helping The Bearded One with taxes. These mamas have gone above and beyond the call of duty and I am forever grateful for their support. These are lifelong friends that I will cherish always and I can never thank them enough for all that they have done and continue to do. Thank you, mamas!

How to Join

   If you live in the Asheville, NC area and would like to see what all the fuss is about, click here to go to the site. Once there, click the "Join the Forums" link and jump right in!

But I Live (Insert Random Location)!!

   Then start your own group! Our first group started with just a handful of women and grew to over 200 members; not all active all the time, but there nonetheless. Our second group started with just a handful from the first group and now, as we approach our one year anniversary (yay!), we have over 130 members. Our forum is set up through Proboards, and with a few friends, a little computer savvy and word of mouth advertising, you too can create a place for your local mamas to come find love, support and friendship.

   Because, let's face it: being a mom is H-A-R-D. And who couldn't use a little more support and friendship?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Deja vu, Anyone? (Warning: Graphic/Triggers)

This Mommy's Mind...

...has been hospitalized twice. The second time it was on my terms - the hospital I chose, the mode of transport I chose (still a cop car. Hmm...) - but not much else changed, except the severity of the situation.

On the (wrong) Road Again

   It wasn't long after I was released from the hospital the first time that I started right back down the wrong road. Depression, mixed moods, ultra-rapid cycling and mega-witchiness. I just didn't get it. What was I doing wrong? I was going to therapy, I was taking my meds, I was doing it all. Why did I feel so crappy? Maybe it was time to change the meds.


   So the good doc changed my meds. And changed them again. And again. I really can't remember how many times he took me off this, put me on that, tweaked something here and there. What I do remember is the side effects, which included:

  • memory loss (again)
  • loss of word recall (again)
  • hair loss (again. Seeing a pattern?)
  • ringing in the ears
  • diarrhea (sorry, TMI)
  • muscle weakness
  • loss of coordination
  • tardive dyskinesia(That was fun.)
  • simple partial seizures (from withdrawal)

And to top it off, nothing was working. And I was only getting worse.

Out of Control

   Eight months. That's how long I pretended that I had control of it all. When in reality I was spinning out of control. I kept telling myself I could make it to the next doctor's appointment. Then we suddenly lost both of our vehicles. And my doctor was an hour away. I started canceling and rescheduling appointments, trying to just tough it out. But there's no toughing it out with bipolar out of control. There's only holding on for dear life.

Over the Edge, Again

   So hold on I did, until one night my fingers slipped and I went careening over the edge into the abyss. Roger and I had a fight, something I started over nothing. I was in the bathroom crying as I got ready for bed when I went to take my evening meds. And froze. I couldn't take them. I knew if I started I wouldn't stop until they were gone or I was dead. I sat there and cried until The Bearded One, who thought I had went to bed, found me. He held me and talked me down and got me to take my meds. I went to sleep. I should have went to the hospital  But still I waited. Another long six days, until I had a nervous breakdown in the CVS parking lot. TBO came home and had me in the ER in less than an hour.

Another Chance

   This time was different. It felt different; worse, yes, but more real as well. This time I knew I was fighting for my life. I remembered all the coping skills I had learned last time, but this time I took them to heart. I participated in group, I was honest with my doctor and I really took time for me, time to begin the healing process.

Finding Me

   Another seven day stay. Another new drug. Another reprieve. But this reprieve felt different, better, safer than the first time around. I could breathe. Life didn't get any easier, but living wasn't such an uphill battle. My head was clear, my thoughts easy, my emotions normal. I felt like I had a fighting chance. I had found the old me, the one that had been curled up in a corner, scared.

   That was three weeks ago now. I have a lot of work to do. I still have moments of deep despair, moments of high-flying thought and terrifying moments of blinding rage. But they are fewer and farther between. And I'm learning to cope, learning to pep myself up, bring myself down. Learning to accept that I'm not perfect, but I am enough. And that's good enough for me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mommy Goes Away

This Mommy's Mind...

...has been hospitalized twice now. The first time was involuntary.

From the Back of a Deputy's Car

   I have never been arrested. Never been in trouble with the law in any way. Yet here I sat in the backseat of a sheriff's deputy's car, handcuffed and humiliated. It's policy in my county for those who have been involuntarily committed to be transported this way, though no one explained that to me before they paraded me through the emergency room, cuffed and barefoot. "Police escort" is the pretty way they put it. Being lied to does not improve one's mood. All I kept thinking was how grateful I was that my daughter was not there to see me like that.

A Room with a (partial) View

   I arrived at the hospital in the middle of the night, alone and afraid. I was miles from home, in a strange place and with no control. Over anything. Over where I was, over how I was treated, over anything at home. That was the kick in the gut right there. When you are a homemaker, as I proudly name myself, you are the queen (or king. Hey, it's the 2010's.) of your castle. When you are locked away in a place with a view of the parking deck, all control is stripped from you. I worried sick over whether bills were being paid, if my family was being fed, if Punkin' Butt was miserable without me. Or worse, better without me? Would The Bearded One still want me after all this? Did I have a home to go back to?

A Ray of Sunshine

   Of course I did. My family didn't stop loving me just because I was sick. And it was abundantly clear when they finally got to visit me and PB came toddling up to me just as fast as she could, yelling "Mommy, mommy, mommy!" I was reminded of why I was there, why I had to give up control. I was there to heal, to help make my family whole again. I relished every second of that visit and I sobbed as the doors closed behind them as they left. It was as if all the sunshine had gone and with it a piece of me. I was more determined than ever to get well.

The Storm Passes

   As with all storms, the clouds broke up and the sky became clear again. My meds got straightened out, I learned ways to cope with the stress of life and made a few friends along the way. I even came out of the whole ordeal with a new therapist, and I call her that proudly, for she is wonderful at what she does. After seven days I was allowed to leave to continue my recovery at home. That night, as I sang to my sweet babe for the first time in ages and kissed her goodnight, I knew I was going to be ok.

   But as with every passing storm, it's not long till another one is on the horizon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Longest, Hardest Year (Warning: Graphic/Contains Triggers)

This mommy's mind...

...was confused. My then "therapist" decided to call whatever was wrong with me a "general mood disorder." My general practitioner (GP) actually used the word "bipolar." Neither one actually tried to explain what either term meant for me. My therapist kept pushing the neurofeedback, while my GP decided to start me on mood stabilizers. She prescribed Topomax for my moods and trazodone for sleep, telling me I could take "however much I needed" to help me fall asleep. Mistakes number five and six: not asking for more information about my illness and not informing myself about any of it, especially the meds. I figured they knew what they were doing, so I blindly followed their directions.

Danger Ahead

   At first the meds seemed to be helping; I definitely was getting sleep again and I wasn't flying as high as I had been on the Zoloft. But the neurofeedback did nothing but make me feel giddy for a few hours before it would wear off, and I really didn't care for my therapist, so after a month or two I stopped going. Mistake number seven: be sure to have an alternative provider in place before leaving any health care professional.
   As I continued to take the Topomax, I began to notice several things.
  • I was losing a ton of weight. I just didn't feel like eating. 
  • I was losing a ton of hair.
  • Poor short term memory 
  • Loss of word recall
All of this would have been fine, if the medicine was actually making my mood more stable. Unfortunately it had the exact opposite effect.

Downward Spiral

   Thankfully by this time I had started doing my own research. So I was able to recognize the difference between mania and depression and started to notice my mood changes sooner. I soon realized they were changing way too often. And thus I learned about rapid cycling. Ultra rapid cycling. I'd be depressed in the morning, then manic by dinner, sometimes with multiple swings in between. The Bearded One was tiptoeing on eggshells; he never knew where I was coming from or how to respond to anything I was doing or saying. I became increasingly erratic, starting multiple projects, then abandoning them because I was exhausted from the depression. I was laughing hysterically one minute, then in a tearful rage the next. This continued for months and no one was excused from my one woman display of craziness. Not TBO, not poor little Punkin' Butt, not even friends. I was in hell and had no idea how to stop the pain.
Too Little, Too Late

    I eventually figured out that the Topomax was not only NOT working, but that it was very likely making me worse. On a Monday morning I went to see my GP about switching medications. She agreed and we worked out a schedule to come off the Topomax and start Lamictal. The schedule started Tuesday morning. I didn't make it to Tuesday morning.
   Monday evening, after PB was asleep, The Bearded One and I were sitting in the living room discussing a tax bill we owed. It wasn't the most enjoyable of conversations (what conversation about taxes is?) but neither was it a bad conversation. But something about that conversation triggered an emotional response in me that knocked my world off it's axis. Maybe it was the financial stress, maybe it was the meds, maybe I was overtired. Probably a little of all of those things. As I sat there I began to cry, then weep, then sob, the whole time feeling an uncontrollable urge to hurt myself. Scratching, cutting, biting, punching something, it didn't matter. All that mattered was that I knew I needed to hurt myself to make the pain go away.
Over the Edge

   The longer I fought the urge, the more the urge turned from harm to suicide and I knew I was lost. I sat hugging my arms to my side to prevent any harm to myself, sobbing. I called my GP who told me to get to to the ER as soon as possible. TBO bundled Punkin' Butt and I into the car, we dropped her off with a dear friend and off to the ER we went. I had to sit on my hands the whole way there to stop myself from punching the dash, or worse, jumping out into interstate traffic. TBO was reassuring me that everything would be ok, but I could tell from the look in his eyes that he was terrified of this stranger next to him.
   We got to the ER safely and they took me back immediately. Mentioning that you're suicidal gets you seen pretty quickly. It wasn't long before they decided what to do with me: involuntary commitment.

A Long, Long Three Years Ago (Part 3)

This mommy's mind...

...was alone. All alone and starting to sink fast. Everyday was a monotony of nursing, diaper changes, physical therapy, nursing, diaper changes, cooking, nursing, etc, etc. Every night was an exhausting repeat of the day minus the cooking. And I know all you moms (and dads) know all about the monotony of a newborn. What you might not know is the crushing, unending feelings of deep despair and gut-wrenching failure. I cried almost as much as Punkin' Butt and twice as hard. I felt so deeply ashamed that I was not happier - why wasn't I over the moon about this precious new life I had brought into the world? Why didn't I feel the instant thicker-than-water bond that The Bearded One did? What was wrong with me? What kind of horrible person is depressed by a newborn baby? I would become so overwhelmed that I would snap and yell at her to "Stop. Just stop. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE STOP CRYING!!!" Then I would start bawling because I just screamed at a newborn for doing what newborns do. There were times when I just had to put her in her crib, walk away and call TBO and say, "Don't ask. Just come home now." And home he would come. Thank goodness for understanding bosses.
   This went on for 4 months before I realized that this was not normal behavior. So I called my midwife and she said, "Hmm, sounds like you might have postpartum depression." Thanks, but how do I fix it? Turns out Xanax and Zoloft is how you fix it. At least according to her, and for a good while, it worked. I stopped screaming at PB,  I stopped crying, I started putting on real clothes and got out of the pj's. Hell, I started showering again. Woo hoo! I even found a fantastic local group of mommies that I joined and who were a huge help in letting me know I was not alone in the mommyhood. (More on these fabulous ladies later.) I was getting my life back, finally. But something happened that I didn't notice at first. I started to become more easily agitated, fought more with TBO, that sort of thing. We chalked it up to being new parents and figured we would work it all out. Because hey, I was feeling good! Not just good, but GREAT. I was becoming more social, getting really involved with the group, keeping up with everything at home, starting new and exciting projects. Everything was good. Too good, but I didn't know that yet.
   Towards the end of that first year with Punkin' Butt, The Bearded One and I seemed to be fighting more and more, and I started to become more and more agitated more and more easily. So I started to see a "therapist" (I use that word with her very lightly) who started me on neurofeedback as a way to retrain my brain to be happy and had my family practitioner raise my Zoloft to the next highest dose. Mistake number three: therapists are not psychiatrists and have no business managing your meds. Should have done my homework there. Because if I thought I was agitated before the dosage increase, I was a downright rhymes-with-witch after.
   For two weeks straight, I didn't sleep. I don't mean I had trouble sleeping. I'm talking 2 hours a night, max. I was inundated with energy, ideas and thoughts. My brain would not shut-up. And the fighting. Oh, the fighting. I would pick fights with TBO just for breathing in my direction. Poor Punkin' Butt just couldn't do anything right. And lord help the cat if he so much as thought about touching me. I was a nasty, mean, spiteful person to be around. And my brain just would not stop running a mile a minute. So back to the therapist I went. And that's when she said the one word that changed my life forever. Bipolar. Turns out if you give someone who is bipolar an antidepressant only, it will more often than not send them into a state of mania. Which is what was happening to me. So back to my family practitioner I went so she could take me off the Zoloft and start me on mood stabilizers. And so began the longest, hardest year of my life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Long, Long Three Years Ago (Part 2)

This mommy's mind...

...was nervous but excited when the big day arrived. At 41 weeks they induced me and nine hours later my beautiful daughter made her debut. That's when all expectations went out the window. As a mother-to-be, you have these glorious visions in your head of how perfect the whole new baby thing will be. You take classes, you read books, you prepare and you just KNOW exactly how life will be. "Uh-uh", said life, "here's how it's really going to be."
   As it turns out, our little Punkin' Butt's head had been pressing against my pelvic bone for weeks, maybe months. This left her with an enormous encephalohematoma (big fancy word for large, swollen bruise on her head) and a severe case of torticollis, which is a fancy way of saying she had the world's worst crick in the neck. Because she had been pressed against the bone for so long in one position, her facial features and neck muscles developed in that position, leaving her with a smooshed nose, a pinched ear and one neck muscle significantly shorter than the other side. All of this made nursing those first few days absolute hell. Because her head kept flopping to one side and her head was so sore to the slightest of touches, I had to have a nurse help hold her every time I nursed. Right out of the gate I felt like a failure. What sort of mother was I going to be if I couldn't get this right? Apparently the hospital didn't see it that way because two days later they sent us home. It didn't get any easier at home.
   By the third day at home, PB's pediatrician decided she was too jaundiced due to her body trying to reabsorb all the blood from the shrinking bruise on her head. The doc said she needed to be in a bilibed, which is a special bed that uses light therapy to help the body break up the extra bilirubin that the liver can not process. The bed and special biliblanket were sent to the house that night, and my sweet new babe spent the next three days in the bilibed. The only times I was allowed to hold her was when I was nursing. Even then she still had to be swaddled with the biliblanket, so I was trying to nurse a baby with a bruised head, wonky neck and a three foot cable attached to the wall. It killed me to not be able to snuggle my precious PB all day long. Was this hurting her, I wondered? Would we still be able to bond after three days of not holding her? And to see her tiny new body laying in this hard plastic, strangely lit box was almost more than my heart could take. But after three days, the jaundice was all but gone and I could finally hold my baby whenever I wanted. The torticollis still needed attention, though.
   At two weeks of age, Punkin' Butt started physical therapy. We had a wonderful therapist, Jessica, and the folks at Mission Children's Hospital were fantastic. Jessica taught us exercises and holds to use to help stretch out the shortened neck muscle. She even showed me the best ways to nurse PB to help further strengthen her neck. While this was great for her physical development, it made nursing that much harder. I _had_ to use a Boppy pillow to nurse, there was no real way around it. Which made leaving the house next to impossible. And I didn't want to start her on bottles until we had really established a good nursing pattern. So at home we stayed. Alone. As anyone will tell you, the best way to avoid postpartum depression is to NOT isolate yourself. And boy was I isolated. My mom could only stay for one week, The Bearded One worked long days, his family was an hour away and I didn't know anyone in Asheville yet. I was ALONE, and that was my second mistake...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Long, Long Three Years Ago (Part 1)

This mommy's mind...

...Has not always been this way; this fragile and temperamental. Sure, I've had episodes of deep, dark depression before. And yes, I used to harm myself in high school, but I thought that was normal. And yes, I've had episodes of hypomania (mania light, for the uninitiated), but I thought I was just having periods of great clarity, enthusiasm and creativity. Never mind that I quit more jobs than I can count and have rarely ever finished something I have started. Yes, I've been bipolar for a long time and not known it. But the real trouble didn't begin until a long, long three years ago, right in the middle of my pregnancy. Back when our life was so full of promise and the future so bright we didn't see the dark chasm ahead.
    See, I pretty much lost my marbles right around the six month mark. (And yes, I can say that because they're MY marbles.) I was panicky, on edge, ready to jump at the slightest provocation. I picked fights with The Bearded One constantly, then sobbed hysterically, begging him not to leave me. Not that he had any intentions of doing so. That was just the anxiety talking. And it kept talking, louder and louder, until it was echoing in my head and all I could hear was fear. I don't know how many nights I lay awake in tears because I just knew we were going to be so poor that we would be evicted and our baby would have to sleep in a shoe box under a tree. I remember several nights of getting out of bed at midnight or later to balance the check book, just so I could rest slightly easier. And TBO would get up with me and wait patiently while I crunched numbers at 2am. One late night I heard a car door and an engine start and I just knew, in my gut, that someone was stealing our car. I ran to the window just in time to see our neighbor leaving for work. Which she had done every night since we moved in. But I stood at that window for an hour just to be sure the car was safe. And some of you may be thinking, "Well that's just normal pregnancy hormones talking," and it seems my OB's office would agree with you. But I assure you, as I did them, that something was wrong, that the fear I felt was crippling. But I was told, "You're fine. It's normal," and I didn't push the issue. That was mistake number one: not listening to my gut. I knew pregnancy anxiety was a real thing and could lead to postpartum, but I kept my mouth closed and waited...

Monday, June 20, 2011


This Mommy's Mind....

...Is new to the world of blogging, but excited to be here. So let me tell you a little about, well, me. My name is Lisa and I am a stay-at-home mommy to my beautiful 2 1/2 year old daughter, who we'll call Punkin' Butt, or PB, and devoted fiancee to my high-school sweetheart, who we'll just call The Bearded One, or TBO. (If you know him, you get it. If not, well, he's pretty hairy, facially speaking. Our niece calls him a hippy. Get the idea?) Oh, and we can't forget His Royal Laziness, Lilly, our 10 year old cat. (Yes, I said "his" and "Lilly." Just go with it.) And, as it just so happens, I am bipolar. Bipolar 1 with lots of rapid cycling thrown in just for kicks. That's the main reason I started this blog, as a creative outlet to help me sort out my thoughts and feelings. Because I suck at journaling. But also started it because I couldn't find a blog about being mentally ill and parenting that spoke to me. (If you know of one, or are one, take no offense. I just haven't found you. But feel free to share in the comments!) Being bipolar isn't all that I am, so I won't be talking about that all the time. But it does have an effect on my daily life, especially as a mother. So that's what this blog is about: being a mom while just happening to be bipolar. It's about this mommy sorting out her mind and her life, one day, one moment, one two-year-old temper tantrum at a time.
Over the next couple posts, I'll give you a little more background about how I came to this point in life. I do not, nor will I ever, proclaim to be an expert on anything I talk about here. These are just my thoughts and observations. But for now, let me say thanks for stopping by, and I hope you find something along this journey that speaks to you.