Am I in for an episode?

Sleep has been inconsistent and elusive and I worry that I may be in for an episode of depression or mania. There have been events around the end of the school year that have impacted my mental health as well.

I wonder if I am due for an episode. It’s been a week without a night of solid sleep. I’m still tired so that’s a very good sign for me. I need to get sleep though or I am going to swing one way or another and parenting while depressed or manic is very difficult. I can barely take care of myself and sometimes I cannot even do that. Thus, I’m trying to ward off the demon lurking in the shadows.

It started with missing my morning medications twice this week. My routine was thrown off and I just forgot. It wasn’t anything intentional and I would never intentionally skip any medication without speaking to a physician first. I know my illness cannot go treated without a medication in my case. I have tried and then I ended up fighting for stability for years. I’m not going to fall into that trap again where I think I can do without the medications or that I am better off without them for whatever reason.

For me, at the time, it was the desire to have children. I felt, based on some opinions off ill-informed medical professionals, that being on medication would result in children who had horrible birth defects. Later, talking to people who actually understood the research and work with people with mood disorders, I learned that no two medications are equal and neither are any two patients. There is solid data around the effects of medication in pregnancy and a patient can do research around these medications with their psychiatrist and, perhaps, more of an expert.

Lack of sleep is a trigger for depression, mania, and mixed episodes for me. I think that it might be time to take something to help me sleep. I need to do all I can to control an illness that is sometimes uncontrollable.

Speaking of the lurking demon

My son’s last day of school was Wednesday and there was a family day on Friday. My social anxiety was out in full force to the point where I had stomach problems all morning before the event. I couldn’t stay home because my son was looking forward to this for two weeks. He even knew the date on the calendar. I knew I didn’t have a physical ailment so that was out of the question as an excuse.

I didn’t let the demon win. I went to the event knowing my husband would be there for a time and I believed that would be helpful. In reality, his presence wasn’t helpful because we took a divide and conquer approach with the boys and we were separated most of the time. I avoided the other parents like the plague as I was petrified. I did say goodbye and thank you to his teacher who is not returning next year. I did it though. I went. I let my son play with his friends and do the various activities. My anxiety didn’t stop him from having a good time. The demon didn’t win.

I immediately felt better upon leaving. I was no longer shaking and my stomach had settled. I used this time as a learning experience for my son. He knows I have a mental illness and we’ve talked about it before. I explained that was really hard for mommy and that we should do those things that are hard for us. We should try to do those things that are not easy.

Final proud mama brag

My speech delayed vision impaired son had a perfect report card. I’m not sure how to refer to his vision problem so vision impaired might not be the correct terminology and if that’s the case, I’m sorry.

He had Ms for meets expectations for everything. The M means that the kids are kindergarten ready in those particular areas and the goal is to have all Ms in the June before Kindergarten. Well, my kiddo has another year before he enters kindergarten and I’m so proud!! I knew he was smart, but I’m so excited that his issues aren’t holding him back.

The stigma won’t silence me

I haven’t blogged in years until yesterday and there is a huge reason for that – stigma. I had been told that based on my publicly blogging about my mental illness that I was not employable. She found out that I had bipolar disorder around the same time and told me it didn’t change anything, but suddenly I was unemployable because I had an illness. She compared it to people sharing images of themselves partying Girls Gone Wild style and it has hurt me since. My life is NOT a party. It’s not a choice. I have to cope with the challenges placed before me due to my illnesses and I am continuing to learn and implement skills to do so.

I have mentioned that I have bipolar disorder. I received a bipolar disorder type 2 diagnosis in 2002 which was later changed to bipolar 1 with mixed features. I have also been diagnosed with various forms of anxiety with the latest being anxiety NOS or anxiety not otherwise specified. My anxiety typically revolves around people and social situations though which is why my main anxiety diagnosis has consistently been social anxiety disorder or agoraphobia with panic. The anxiety stuff for me is confusing.

In 2010, I was also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. At first, when they were doing the screening I was confused. I thought of course I have these symptoms. I have bipolar disorder. Then, I learned that they are not one and the same and the stigma facing BPD is even more extreme than that of those with bipolar disorder. Insurance isn’t even required to cover it to the same degree. People with this disorder are seen as needy manipulators, even in some psychiatric literature.

Over the course of several years, I have developed DBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, skills to help me handle the emotional extremes, the abandonment fears, the outbursts, the self harm urges, and all of the other qualities that I scored high in during my screening. Now, I only have traits. I don’t have enough of the symptoms to classify as having BPD. I still have the attempts to thwart real or imagined abandonment and emotion regulation is an ongoing learning experience.

So, now that you know about my issues, I want to share an article written by NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall about the stigma around mental illness. I found it well written and it inspired my post.

Brandon Marshall on the Stigma around Mental Illness

This said, I’m no longer going to give into the stigma. I am going to tell my story, still anonymously, but I’m going to tell it. Once I know I can handle the negative reactions of the ones that I love, I will share with my name and shout it from the rooftops. I have nothing to be ashamed of and no one else with a mental illness should be ashamed either. I wouldn’t be ashamed to say that I had cancer, heart disease, fibromyalgia, or a host of other illnesses. I’m not going to be ashamed of this any longer. My kids are going to know that their mama is a strong woman with an illness who isn’t afraid to admit it.

Busy Busy Busy

I have been very busy lately which has caused me to neglect my blog.  I got a new job and we put an offer in on a house.  The offer was approved and we are due to close on August 28th.  We have so much to do before then.  We still have to find a lawyer.  We are getting home insurance quotes and the home inspection is scheduled for July 10th.  We are cutting it close with the home inspection as we have to have a list of things to negotiate on based on the home inspection by that evening.

Anxiety

I am having trouble sleeping from all of the stress which I know is a horrible thing for me.  Sleep issues can trigger an episode of depression or mania.  My husband wanted me to talk to my psychiatrist prior to the problems getting like this.  We discussed that I would do it at my next appointment.  I only have to wait it out until July 19th.  I will talk to my therapist about it as well and I meet with him today.

I have been having catastrophic thoughts lately.  My anxiety is high.  Often, the thoughts are that my son will die of SIDS.  I’ll wake up and he won’t be breathing.  It’s terrifying.  My therapist said part of it is that things are going so well I need something to worry about. We talked about the fact that I don’t know what it’s like to spend a day without worrying during our last session. We also talked about the fact that a lot of this stems from the past trauma that I experienced.

We came to the realization that I have had a lot of uncertainty and instability in my life in the past.  Often, I had legitimate worries that lead to me worrying all the time.  Now, I need to worry.  We also talked about my need to have control of things.  I have worked so hard on radical acceptance, but it still feels like things are chaotic when I don’t have control.  I feel like I’m free falling.  We talked about the fact that I don’t trust things to work out because they haven’t so often in the past.  He said I need to learn to trust things – to trust people.  It’s so hard to do.

Work

I start the new job on Saturday.  I have been taking my son to classes at the new job.  He seems to enjoy it, but he’s not getting everything I wish he was out of it.  He has been eating at the start of class which means he misses part of the class.  He is only 4 months old though so I have to pay attention to his cues.

I am looking forward to this job as I think the experience will help me with my long-term career goal of working as a preschool teacher.  I need to get back to school to get my masters degree in order to do so which we can’t afford right now.  The job will help me save for that and help me learn developmental milestones of 0-5 year old children.  I’ll get the hands-on experience of working with those age groups as well.