Stigma. I really hate that word. Yet it describes my world. I know that I am not alone, but because of that word,
so many do not get the help they need. Many stand in silence, but I am here. I will be that loud voice in the deafening crowd called “stigma”. We did not choose it, but our body is misfiring signals. It’s okay. It happens. I can only hope that one woman reading this, takes that step forward to be another voice in the crowd.
So, every night, I take a cocktail of four medications. Three are needed to help maintain my stability, keep my depression and anxiety under control and one is just birth control. I am faithful in my nightly ritual because I know the chaos that can ensue if I am not properly medicated. I, however, must confess that I had missed 3 doses in the week leading up to Sunday, March 11th. If I had not missed these, my anxiety may not have gotten so out of control. Than again, maybe it would have.
We did not choose it, but our body is misfiring signals. It’s okay. It happens. I can only hope that one woman reading this, takes that step forward to be another voice in the crowd.
I have two daughters. They are 10 and 6 months old. My youngest has three congenital eye defects. My oldest is going through puberty and is getting harder to talk to without an emotional outburst. Life is chaotic even without the chemical imbalance in my brain! Why am I telling you about my girls, you ask… simple. They have the ability to pull me under or pull me up when my anxiety is not under control. Yes, I take medication but it is not full proof. It does not work 100% of the time all the time. If my anxiety is in overdrive then I have to take more of that specific medication. Which I can’t do because I am a mom and have to stay functional. Most anxiety medications make you sleepy. If I take more than one of mine, it knocks me out. As a parent, I can’t afford to not be present. I have an amazing partner in my husband, but I only leave it all on his shoulders if I absolutely have to. If it gets to that point, I’m probably being hospitalized because I’m stubborn. I refuse to give in without one hell of a fight.
March 12, 2018 is the most stressful date of the last few years. Not as stressful as when my dad passed away but it was up there. Scarlett, my baby girl, had to undergo a complete eye exam under anesthesia. This was to check her left (unaffected) eye and to get another look at her right (affected) eye. I can handle literally anyone undergoing anesthesia, even my oldest, but the thought of them putting my baby under was doing me in. She’s so little… how would her body react? All the what if’s running in circles through my head over and over.
It’s the night before and I am pacing the kitchen. I’m on edge and have been really shitty to my husband all day. My medicine is not working, neither is deep breathing, or even meditation (which I only go to when nothing else is working). So, I decide to keep busy. Cleaning. Pacing. Stopping to sit down. Cooking. Pacing. Sitting down to cry. Cleaning. Pacing. This pattern repeats with some additions of getting angry at my husband for no reason and snapping at him. We both know my anxiety tends to manifest as anger and he takes it with a shrug. I remember that there are three heads of broccoli in the fridge to make Scarlett more baby food. I start to cut them up, steam them, and blend them. Hubs has the baby and calls me back to the bedroom where they are. He tells me she wants me. I proceed to rant about how this is exactly why I cannot get anything done. Every time I try, he wants me to take her. She’s crying… her hungry cry… So I make a bottle and hand it to him and tell him that he’s got this.
Twenty minutes later, and I feel like shit for the way I just treated my loving, understanding husband. So I proceed back to the bedroom to let him know that I would take over. All he needs to do is finish steaming the last little bit of broccoli and puree it. When I get there, she is asleep and he says he’s got it. I see red. I, quietly, go off again desperate not to wake the baby. Back to the kitchen I go. Pacing. Steaming broccoli. Pacing. Making the broccoli a puree. Pacing. This continues until finally, I am exhausted. Mentally and physically. Still I don’t stop. I go to the crib and gently rub my girl’s hair. Trying not to cry thinking about what we have to do tomorrow. I proceed with my nightly medication ritual but the thoughts racing in my head do no stop. I’m awake until midnight, then awake at 2. Again at 3 and my alarm goes off at 5.
I’m tense. I’m nervous. I try not to let it show. I’m failing.
It’s now D-Day. I change Scarlett into a warmer sleeper. I get dressed myself as Jim warms up the car. It snowed last night as I paced the kitchen floor. We arrive at the children’s hospital early and check in. The rest of the morning can be summed up in a few sentences. Scarlett will not let me out of her sight. I have to take anxiety medicine while we are waiting for them to take her back. I feel the anxiety attack rising through my whole body. I’m tense. I’m nervous. I try not to let it show. I’m failing. She goes back. She’s done and everything is fine. We go home and I lay down with her in bed. I am drained and my body is crying for sleep. She’s still working the anesthesia out of her system. So we sleep for five hours. When we wake, we are both refreshed. We proceed with our daily routines of feeding and I apologize for being such an ass to my hubs. He accepts and says he understands that I was having anxiety attacks. I tell him it doesn’t excuse how I treated him. He just hugs me and we go on with our day.
Now, yes, I shared a very stressful day. However, this can happen any day out of nowhere. Medication helps keep this under control with the exception of situations like thus where the stress and anxiety override everything. With that being said, I am a mother. I am a wife, sister, daughter, and I am a fighter. There are many words to describe who I am, but Bipolar, Anxiety, and Depression are not a description of who I am. They do not define me. They make me stronger. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Keep your head up. You are not alone.