Pillows

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This is a picture of my bed. It’s really not that pretty, but it’s more or less made. I try to make the bed every single day; regardless of time or circumstance. When I am going through a depressive episode all I want to do is crawl back into bed. I get my daughter dressed, fed and out the door, and then I collapse back into my blankets and pillows; thankful that I can block everything out for a few hours until she gets off  the bus. Often, this “second sleep” is dreamless and not refreshing. I wake up even more upset with myself for having wasted a whole day feeling “sorry for myself.” My daughter, who is far more intuitive than I give her credit for, sees my messy hair and that I am still in my pajamas. I tell her I’m just tired and that I’ll feel better tomorrow. She doesn’t believe me, she knows that it will be days or weeks before I am able to be present in her life again.

But I’ve come up with a trick. And that is the made bed. As soon as my feet hit the floor, I stand and shake out the sheets. I place the pillows back where they belong and smooth down the blankets. I leave the room  feeling more or less confident that I won’t get back into bed. When I go back upstairs after the morning chaos, I see my made bed and it reminds me that sleeping is over. It’s time to get dressed, go downstairs and live. My made bed tells me that I can face my life instead of wrapping myself in a cocoon for five hours. It reminds me that I have a life outside of my depression; and that I can fight the havoc in my brain. The siren is covered and my will returns. Most days, my made bed propels me out the door and back into my life; but sometimes the weight in my head is too much, and I slip back in; knowing that I will only be disappointed with myself later. But these instances are becoming less and less frequent, and I know I am getting stronger.

As a side note: cats are jerks.

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Back to School

Back to school can be such an infuriating time for someone who struggles with mental health issues. For me in particular, it fills me with such a mix of strong emotions; I often end up conveying the “wrong” ones. When I was a kid, the return to school was panic inducing. The night before would usually find me in a fear stricken ball in bed. Suffice it to say, I was not a popular kid. Overweight, too eccentric and smart is not a good combination when you’re trying to fit in. However, there is also the start of something new. A fresh beginning that is so utterly irresistible that I can’t help  but get swept up in it. Of course, my daughter has no idea what’s going on and is simultaneously dreading waking up early again, and thrilled to see her school friends.

Even as an adult, I dread back to school because it means once again feeling inadequate at my lack of “room mom ability” and the awkwardness of the bus stop pick up. When you’re bi-polar, it’s difficult to commit to things such as volunteering in the classroom. Usually, I laugh off my unwillingness as just being lazy or afraid of kids. The truth of the matter is I am terrified of disappointing people when the depression hits. The day that I’m supposed to be at the school sharpening pencils and cutting out cardboard circles will instead be the day that my blanket is a lead weight on my chest and I can’t handle putting on shoes, let alone handling scissors. My daughter wants me to help out so desperately and I have no idea how to explain to her that sometimes Mommy’s illness gets the best of her.

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Yesterday.

I want to pretend that yesterday did not happen. I wish I could erase it like chalk from mine and everyone else’s lives.

The day started out normally. Daughter had a sleepover the night before which equated to no one getting any sleep. The kids played in the morning, and in the afternoon, we all went to my parent’s home for a cook out. Direction: downhill. My daughter does not like to greet people. She doesn’t like to introduce herself, shake hands, touch strangers, or be the first to speak. She even goes to a social skills group that is trying (in vain, it seems) to teach her how to respond appropriately in these sorts of situations. Cook outs, or any family gathering, can be stressful. Will she greet her family today? Will she look her uncle in the eye? Will everyone just think she’s a rude brat? No two situations are ever the same and there is no formula for a good time with her. Sometimes, things fall in pieces around us and we are stupefied and can do nothing but watch it happen.

Eventually, she wound up inside the house, ignoring her friend and the rest of the family, under a blanket and being alone. She was given dessert on the couch, and after a while, I tried to get her to come back outside. “We will be leaving soon, you are running out of time to play.” Blank stares and whining followed this speech. I went outside. Time passes and suddenly, she is before me, wanting to play with everyone and engage with the family. “I’m sorry, but now it’s time to leave.” I could never have predicted the amount of fury and emotion that would come out of her at that point. And then; from me.

Back inside, I am trying to employ damage control. My own anxiety levels are spiking and I immediately feel as though I am pinned under a microscope. Walking into the living room, I discover that she has left ice cream to melt into my parents couch, and cake and frosting like mouse droppings on the floor and in the cushions. I can’t say for sure, but this might have been the moment when I lost. My. Shit. At this point, I don’t know who was screaming louder: her or me. Suffice it to say, it did not end well.

At home, as a family, we sat down and discussed what had happened. How lately, there seems to be a trend of disrespect, slacking off and a general disregard and even disdain at the house rules and codes of conduct. We’ve been letting things slip and not following through on consequences for anyone. This is fairly typical in a depressive state. I don’t feel as though I have the right, the authority or the energy to enforce rules in the house. I consider myself to be a joke of a mother and, as such, am treated as one. It is interesting to me to see how my affliction trickles down and creates chaos. And of course, along with that realization is the: “boy, they would be so much better off without me.” Not that this is a serious thought, more like a passing banner in my mind. I know something has got to give, but at this point, I don’t know what that something is. And I’m terrified that before I get it figured out, I’ll lose my daughter entirely and all of her thoughts and memories of me will be miserable.

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Ham and eggs

The holidays can be a stressful time for most, if not all people. If you don’t get stressed by holidays, then you are clearly a mutant and I might hate you. As a person with bipolar disorder, They aren’t just stressful. They become gut wrenching moments in time in which I have to pretend to be normal in front of a much larger crowd than I am used to. You know, those relatives to whom it would be considered impolite to force your true feelings on; even if only for a day. Easter can be particularly tricky for the two sided mom. I want my daughter to see all of her family, but I know that isn’t possible. So instead I create situations in my head that are 99.9% likely to never happen. For example:

Me: “Hey mom! Happy Monday! How was your Easter?”

My mother: “YOU WOULD KNOW IF YOU HAD BEEN THERE! YOU ARE SIMULTANEOUSLY THE WORST DAUGHTER AND MOTHER EVER.”

Me: ::sobbing::

My mom would never talk to me that way; but  I can’t stop myself for envisioning the hurt feelings of those I have irreparably wounded by not sharing ham and deviled eggs with.

 

On another note, we successful took our kid to the circus. Hurrahs all around! On the drive home, Nate and I talked about how impossible this outing would have been a year ago. It started at 7 and ended well past her bed time. There were far less tears than we had planned for; and really, everyone had an awesome time! Score one for me! FINALLY.

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V is for Focus

After a while, we noticed that our dear little offspring was losing weight. A lot of weight. And fast. We knew this was a potential side effect of the Adderall, but we didn’t think it would be such a large amount. Her pediatrician switched her to Vyvanse which has a smaller chance of loss of appetite and, therefore, weight loss. So far, the one pill in the morning is working some serious wonders. We can DO things again. Does she still flip out sometimes? Yeah. Does your kid? Yeah. One of the hardest things I have had to do during all of this mess is keep myself in check. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to slap someone for telling me what’s is or isn’t safe for my kid. Oh, there are risks with giving an upper to a little girl? YOU DON’T SAY! I’m aware of these risks and have weighed them against her constant suffering. She might hate me for it later. But, she might also hate me later for not buying her a pony. So, if you choose to medicate, or not medicate, go organic, buy drive through, shun sugars or pile on the Peeps: good job! You are doing what you think is best and I cannot and will not judge you for it. We all make mistakes, and as parents, especially as mothers, we need to support and lift up instead of dragging our peers through the mud.

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In Review

So, it’s been about a year since we received our daughter’s ADHD diagnosis. Here’s how it’s been so far:

At first we were giving her Clonidine at night so her brain would quiet down enough for her to sleep. It worked for a while, but her behavior during the day was unpredictable at best, terrifying at worst. We couldn’t do things other families could do: go out to dinner, see a movie, schedule play dates, etc. We lived in constant fear of her next outburst. At the turn of the year we took her back to the pediatrician because her school work was starting to suffer and she wasn’t developing socially. She had the body of a six year old, but the social skills of someone much younger.

Our pediatrician said we should try Adderall. Our hearts dropped. Who wants to put their kid on amphetamines? We felt like failures. I especially felt like a failure. What had I done in her babyhood to make her like this? It took a while to reach the answer. But here it is:

Nothing. Not a damn thing. We loved her and nurtured and disciplined when necessary. She ate a great diet and played outside as often as possible. She didn’t catch ADHD and she certainly isn’t less of a person for it. Was it hard to come to the conclusion to give her medication? Hell yeah it was. But, as my mother said; “You take medication to manage your Bi Polar disorder. Can you imagine if you decided one day to just not treat it? What would happen to you? To your family? People have diseases and they treat them. Will she be on it forever? Maybe. Is that the worst thing that could ever happen to her? Nope.” This was quite a revelation for me. And mom (as usual) was right.

 

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