I strive to be a mental health advocate.
I strive to be 100% accurate about my struggles for a few reasons.
I want people to be educated about mental illness; bipolar disorder especially, because that is what I know.
I want people to be educated, and I also want them to feel less alone.
I want other readers with mental illnesses to know that I know how they feel, and I wished there had have been a blog like mine back in the early 2000’s when I was struggling with my first episode of major clinical depression and I had No idea what was happening to me.
That was one of the hugest reasons I started this blog; and why I will continue to write content like this, even when it makes me wildly uncomfortable.
I didn’t think it could happen again- I really, truly didn’t- and yet, here I am.
On Wednesday, February 2nd, I married the man of my dreams- the father of my two beautiful children.
On Friday, February 4th, I was sitting across from him in the Emergency department of a Calgary hospital, trying to figure out if I would need a psych ward stay or if I could try and get a handle on my rapidly descending depression and anxiety.
It’ll be a week tomorrow since our wedding, and I’ve spent all of it in a depressive episode.
When I get low like this- my cognitive functioning basically dies.
I forget Everything about how to human.
My anxiety/brain fog/disordered thinking makes me forget even the most basic of functions.
How to get dressed. How to drive. How to have a telephone conversation. How to answer a text. When to eat. Why to eat.
How to talk. What to talk about.
All my brain has the space to do is ask incessant questions about myself.
The questions play on an endless loop:
When will I get better?
How long will it take to climb out of this depression?
Will I be able to climb out of this?
Will my children notice that I am not well?
Will I be able to care for my children when I’m like this?
When I am depressed like this- I can’t remember how to dress myself, or feed myself.
So- every day since we were married, Ryan or his Mom does the night shifts with the girls. Ryan cooks the dinners and does the dishes and I lay on the couch during the day and do my best to take care of Lucy.
Every time we go to pick Sadie up from preschool, I get anxiety that she’ll notice that something is wrong with me and I won’t be able to play with her like I normally do.
I have been taking Zopiclone at night to knock me out, but the few times that I have been able to wake up and hear Lucy crying and know that it can’t be me going to comfort her kills me.
When the voices in my head (not delusions- just the scathing, terrible voice of depression) get Really bad, they tell me terrible things about myself and I have to fight against them every minute of the day.
They tell me I shouldn’t have had two children.
How Dare I Believe that I was Capable of Having Two?
The worst of the voices are the ones that tell me that I’m a bad mother and that I don’t deserve them.
They tell me that my children would be better off with someone who didn’t have a mental illness.
The depression robs me of my logic- I know, rationally- that before this depression started, I was Loving every minute of Lucy’s mat leave. And I know from memories and pictures of Sadie’s mat leave, I loved every minute of that experience too.
But right now- I dread going to pick Sadie up from school, and I constantly fear that what I’m able to do with Lucy during the day isn’t enough.
Ryan and I cleaned the house the week before the wedding.
In doing so, we moved my container of lithium away from its normal location at the dinner table.
When I had Sadie, and when I had Lucy- I was SO, So hyper-aware of the possibility of going into a mania after birth. I knew that being a bipolar Mama meant that I had to be on guard after labour with the amount of sleep I got and I knew that I had to be diligent about talking my lithium.
So I was- and I was able to confidently say that I Beat mania Twice with both of my girls.
But after I beat the mania with Lucy, I must have become complacent.
When we moved the lithium the week before the wedding, I don’t remember taking any lithium for about a week.
And I had No reason to suspect a depression could be just around the corner- though in retrospect, I should have been way more aware.
Over the past 15 months, I have dealt with the sudden death of my mother; the ongoing terminal illness of another family member who is very dear to me, the postpartum hemorrhages and near-death experience of having Lucy, and I’ve been trying to planning my third wedding to Ryan, which kept getting canceled at every turn.
That’s a lot of stress for any person- and I was carrying it SO well.
Until I wasn’t.
I could stand here kicking my own ass over and over for not being more diligent with my Lithium in the weeks before the wedding, but that wouldn’t be any more helpful than repeatedly telling myself I’m a terrible person, which my brain is already very busy doing.
I know that I just need to take my lithium, get my levels back up, and that incrementally, day by day, I will get better.
But I want you guys to know that it is Hard. So, SO hard.
My brain is doing everything in its power to tell me that I am dumb. Not worthy. That I shouldn’t be here.
Every day, just Surviving one more day is Hard as Hell.
I think I wanted to write this so that people know what it’s like for me in this phase.
I also want to write this because when I am like this, I don’t respond to calls or texts. I just hide. If you have been trying to get a hold of me- I will get back to you, eventually. I promise.
A friend once asked what I thought was a good thing to say to someone when they were depressed.
So far, the nicest things I’ve read during this depression are:
‘You survived another day. If Nothing else, you did your job.’
‘This too shall pass. You know you’ve gotten out of depressions before.’
And I find it helpful to read people’s perceptions of me at times like these, because what my brain is telling is me is Pure garbage.
My friend told me ‘I was one of the smartest people she knew’ the other day, and I scoffed when I read it, but the next time my brain told me I was an idiot, I was able to remember that Tina thinks I’m one of the smartest people she’s ever met, and so while I couldn’t give myself comfort, I could use Tina’s words to fight the voices.
Ryan tells me that every day since we went to the hospital, I’m doing a little bit better.
I don’t see it, but I trust him, and I really hopes he’s right.
If you are the praying kind or the sending good energy kind- can you pretty please take a moment to hope that this depression lifts as quickly as it can, and that regular Emily can return?
I really miss my children. I really miss joy. I miss being able to be a partner to Ryan. If you’ve read this far- thank you. I feel a little less alone just putting this out into the world.