The Down Side

Just. One. Second.

Have you ever had a moment where you just wanted to disappear? Disappear to a place where there is no chaos, no swirling of emotions....where your thoughts are far less turbulent, and your mind is oddly calm...still...silent...the rhythmic rise and fall of each breath the only audible sound?

Have you ever wanted to, just for a second?

In that second there would be no pain, no tiredness, no doggedly traipsing from one moment to the next hoping you'll survive, no fear of what's around that dark, shadowy corner of your mind.

No tears, no anger, no shame, no weighty opinions or criticisms, no slipping and sliding uphill to recovery, normalcy, FREEDOM.

Yes in that small second freedom would stand tall, grasp you by the hand and release you from all the weight you're carrying....

In that moment your freedom would be all you could hear, smell, taste, see and touch.

Have you ever had a moment like that? Where all you wanted was to be free from it all, just for a second? Just one?

That's all I want tonight....

Just....One...Second....Of Freedom.

"Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

God that's all I need. Just one second to rest from all of this.

The Waiting Game

So... My new medication Neurontin isn't here yet. The VA and the mailman aren't showing me any love this week (laugh).

Well I do have to give the mailman some credit. He did bring me a little gift...


No meds...but my hair will be brilliant shades of pink and blue, which will make me feel good and help me smile...

And despite the outrageous fatigue I've been gobbled up by today, I traded in some Wii games for a couple of Kinect games...


So Operations Wear Myself Out With Activity and Quality Time with Rowdy Kiddos should get the feel good fuzzies flowing and help me sleep....

Alex goes with his dad tomorrow, leaving me with just one kiddo who can be occupied with an endless marathon of Power Rangers and Netflix movies if necessary...freeing me up to just veg low....

And just in case I dip too low, I removed every pill bottle, OTC medication, and sharp object from my apartment. (I've gone through enough med changes to open a CVS so I had to trash it all) Only pills left are my Abilify-I have to keep taking those. That way if the bad thoughts mutate and intensify, self-harm won't be an option.

I have therapy tomorrow, it's Self-Love Saturday, and I've asked my friends and my mom to check on me throughout the weekend....

My meds didn't come, and the low is here....but for once I feel ready for the darkness in the storm. Here's to riding it out, finding a danceable rhythm in each rain drop, and looking for the rainbow once the skies clear.

He promised He'd keep me through anything I may face...and He has. The low is here, but I'm not afraid....

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)

Hindsight is 20/20....Cathartic...and Painful

I've been finishing up my 50,000 word count for NaNoWriMo this weekend. I'm about 4,000 words shy of this goal and this process has been.....cathartic....revealing, even. I thought when I did this, 50,000 words & 175 pages would be enough to contain "my story." However, it seems the more I go back and remember, the more I reflect, the more words that I type, just when I think I have nothing left to say.....more comes to the surface, overflowing and spilling onto the screen in front of me and even down my cheeks.... Because I've been thinking  a lot about my life over the past 10 years while writing, I found myself digging through my storage bins and poring over the stacks of journals I've kept since I was 19.

While reading through one of them, I came across an entry I wrote when Brennan was about 4 months old. Tears, a steady stream of them came winding down my face as I read the words of a new mother who was struggling to take care of an infant all on her own. Then came the memories....flashbacks of crying, screaming, anger, intense pain....I remembered the first 6 months of Brennan's life like they were yesterday, and knowing what I know about PPD and PPA now, I reflect on these memories and see myself, at 24, being consumed by these disorders and not even recognizing it.

In April of this year, when I finally sought and found treatment for my PPD & PPA after Alex's 1st birthday, I remember the therapist asking me if I suffered with PPD after having Brennan.

"Honestly? I don't remember...I...I'm not sure. I..I know I was sad and angry and some other things, but honestly I was just too consumed with trying to survive to even think about if I was depressed. I mean, it was just me. I was newly separated from the military and his father wasn't doing anything to help me. I didn't have a job. My unemployment was hardly meeting my expenses, and I was living with friends. If I ever considered myself depressed, I just attributed it to all of that and being a new mother. Everyone told me being a single parent was going to be tough...I...I just assumed feeling the way I felt was just part of the package."

Looking back, knowing what I know now, having been educated to the signs, risk factors, and various symptoms of PPD & PPA, and reading these words, I see it. I see me struggling through them while trying to raise my first born. And that pains me. It tears me up because not knowing what to look for, not having someone there to push me to get help put me in some very dark places those first 2 years.  The dark places I found myself wandering in during my pregnancy and after Alex's birth would have made much more sense had I been able to recognize them 3 years prior.

Reading the entries in that journal was painful as were the memories that found there way back to the forefront of my mind. (sigh) least I know now, right?

Here's one of the entries I found:

There it is again

a malicious intent to harm

that’s come and gone before

I’m able to acknowledge it’s existence;

the only evidence of its surfacing,

a tiny, fragmented piece of your innocence

that’s fallen to the floor

along with expectations I’ve fallen short of.


this wasn’t supposed to happen.

Where are the loving thoughts?

What happened to the sunshine?

When did it get so dark in here?

Who put out the warmth,

Who rewrote this fairytale,

because this isn’t the ending I expected.

The novelty…..

Its worn off….how can that be?

Its origin is a mystery to me….

You’re supposed to be everything I wanted.

We’re supposed to be happy.

But now you’re crying,

and I’m trying to escape the guilt that’s

chasing after me.

I’m so sorry.

I never meant for this to happen.

But how do I tell you that?

How do I show you that I really do love you,

my sanity just caved under the pressure

and I slipped before I could catch myself.

Maybe I can find redemption somewhere in

your eyes….

perhaps you’ll forget this mistake.


I pray to God you will.


Forgive me…for I know not what I do.

Confession: Falling Off & Getting Back On The Wagon

SO....I have some things to confess. I spent last week in a full blown episode of  (hypo?) mania & didn't even realize it until last night when I was laying in bed crying my eyes out, wondering why the heck I was feeling so low. I had felt so great earlier yesterday morning...but by midday the grey cloud of depression was hovering over my head, raining on my little euphoric parade.... Ahhhh euphoria. (Sigh) You know...I didn't even realize how high I had been until I had already crash landed back on Earth-or rather my couch...immobilized. Stuck. Heavy. Sleepy. Edgy. Here's the thing I've learned out being in a state of euphoria after this recent episode: it blinds you to the warning signs, the signals, the indicators that are flashing bright red, hoping you'll notice their warnings. And even if you're able to see the warnings, euphoria hits the mute button on the sounds of the sirens...they go from shrill to dull. Your inclination to care, your motivation to heed the signals loses it's edge, and before you know it you're rationalizing it away, allowing yourself to believe the lie that it's not happening-you're ok, it's no big deal, you're fine, you're just a little excited & happy & that's ok-you deserve to be happy for once don't you? Don't you?!

I should have paid attention. I should have fought harder to hold on to the edge I've gained the past 4-5 weeks. But I didn't. Instead I allowed myself to take a break from fighting.....

It started the week I was sick with the Plague. That's when I stopped fighting, mostly because I felt like pure hell & needed to get better. Problem is, I got better physically, but I started slipping in other areas. School took a hit-I missed some assignments & barely caught up. I started feeling anti-social & withdrew from people. My ex and I had an argument that led to him saying some things that crossed the line and hurt me deeply. He apologized the next day, but the damage was done-I spent last weekend struggling to cope-emotionally eating, drinking too much Moscato, & just trying to numb the hurt. Then last Monday when I got my refund from school, my excitement over being able to pay bills I was backed up on & buy some necessities for my apartment tipped me over the edge & into full blown euphoria.

Having money...getting paid...being able to pay bills, buy groceries, not having to worry about finances for a few gives me a high I don't really get from other things. Now I will say this: I'm pretty responsible with money in the respect that I pay my bills, especially the ones that are necessary to live-rent, daycare, groceries, etc-but I'm very irresponsible with what I have left over. I can't save.  And unlike other people, I don't spend it on Gucci bags, expensive electronics, clothes for myself....I spend it on little things that add up to big amounts. Instead of spending $15o at the grocery store, I'll spend $300. Seeing my cabinets & fridge full, knowing that we have food to eat gives me a high.  A simple furniture purchase might be a necessity, but the exhilaration I feel is more than the normal person would feel. I don't spend just to spend most of the time. Getting my nails done to feel better, buying the boys clothes they may need, going out to eat or buying something for my apartment....those are the things that make my spending habits a problem. Going to Wal-mart or Target can be a major problem when I'm in a state of euphoria.  The compulsion to buy even necessities becomes too strong, my resistance to impulses is weakened...telling myself, "I don't need this," or "I can get this later," is something I've only recently been able to start doing. When I don't have money to spend, I'm fine. But when I have it, and my basic bills are paid? Forget it. My mind races with ways it can be spend-literally.  Saving? (sigh) It's a skill I used to be somewhat good at & now I just flat out suck.

So like I said, last week, having that money....I paid what I needed to, I followed my "how to spend my refund check" list to the tee. But once it was all over, I found myself wanting to keep feeding the high because it felt so good, I felt so good, I felt capable, not unworthy or unwanted like the argument with my ex & stress had me feeling.  The euphoria had me feeling fantastic, but underneath it was the ugly undercurrent of emotions that were pushing me further & further away from the progress I had worked so hard to gain. I skipped my meds a few days this week. Big mistake. Stupid mistake. I kept telling myself I'd take them & then I'd get so caught up in the boys, in midterm semester assignments, in catching up, in the euphoric bliss & forget.

I messed up. I fell off the wagon last week. And my crash back to reality began Saturday night. I passed out on my couch unexpectedly after getting my hair done. Sunday morning I still felt good, but the cloud was midday it was hovering over me, darkening my mood & by evening I had fallen back into the gravity well of a depressive mood.  I cycled this past week. I cycled & didn't pay attention until it was too late to care or resist.

Here's the other thing I've learned about euphoria, cycling, & just living with this crazy beast: It's VITALLY important you have at least one person on the outside who can tell you (in love) what they see happening, what they see you doing. Someone who cares about you, but who is objective & can tell you the truth when you need it. For me, that person this past week was my ex. When I called him crying last night & feeling like crap, he confirmed for me what I had already started to realize: "Addy I've been so worried about you this week, because you've just seemed so high...and talkative....and....and a little manic...and then yesterday I could hear in your voice you were starting to dip...what happened? What are you feeling? What's wrong? Let's talk about it. I"m sorry...I think our fight helped trigger it, and I'm sorry for that. I'm sorry you've been struggling-talk to me. Have you been taking your meds? Have you been drinking too much?"

(Sigh) That's the kind of person you need in your life, and I'm glad I have him. We may not be together, we may fight, we may not see eye to eye, but I know that he cares about me and he wants me to be ok, because he can be that person for me when I really need it.  I'm also grateful for my neighbor who saw that I was upset late last night & stayed up talking to me, trying to help me smile & laugh. I need more people like that in my life.

I fell off the wagon. Today I'm trying to get back on. It's not easy. But I made a commitment to improving my mental health and despite this step back, I'm determined to regain the ground I lost. That's how recovery is sometimes: you take 2 steps forward & take one back. It sucks, but the point is to keep going in spite of the set backs. That's what I'm trying to do today.

I'm not perfect. I try but I fail sometimes ya'll. I have to do better, but I can admit when I don't. Writing this, and admitting these things were hard for me today...but I've gotta face the music.

So I'm off to go to the park & run. Gotta get back up & continue to streak my way back to the box. Here's to making it.

Dance Party Friday: Everyday LOVE Edition

Can we take a moment and just exhale?

Go ahead-breathe in very deep, all the way down to your core....hold it....and REEEELLLLEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASE.

Feel any better? I do. I can speak for myself & say that it's been quite a week, so taking a few moments for self-care just now makes me feel so good!

How was your week? Was it uneventful? Hectic? Overwhelming? Troubling? Too much? Awesome?

Mine? I've spent mine in the trenches, waging war against the Plague that invaded my house. Somehow Brennan is the only one who has managed to escape unscathed (so far). Alex not only had a cold but he was also teething on top it. I went to bed late Monday night with a pretty high fever & was told at the ER on Tuesday that I had strep throat & tonsillitis. Eh, can I get a side order of DEATH with my illness please? Thanks. Thank God for my ex-he was a lifesaver this week, taking care of me, cleaning my apartment, nagging me about my meds, and taking care of the boys. I wouldn't have stayed above water mentally had he not been here, let me tell you.

So I've been eating penicillin like tic-tacs and am feeling way better finally...despite the STYE I have on my left eye. (the rhyming was so unintentional, I promise you) This week my body has failed me miserably, but I'm alive, so I'm grateful :)

Since I'm under the weather, dancing this week is totally out of the question. I don't want to push it. I took a walk yesterday for some fresh air, and while I LOVED it, it wore me out & killed my back. SO, no dancing this week. But that's perfectly ok, because I still have something for you to enjoy (hopefully).

This week was a lot to handle, not just because I was sick, but because I watched someone get swallowed whole by despair. I watched someone stand on the edge of their life, of their sanity, and who was ready to step off. They didn't want to live anymore, they were weary of being under Bipolar's oppressive thumb, and honestly, I DON'T BLAME THEM. Living with a mental illness, especially one like bipolar disorder is far from easy. Just doing what it takes to make it manageable is not for the faint of heart. It literally feels like you're constantly swinging back & forth between life & death, and the intensity of what you feel.....I can't put into words how unbearable it is. For me, it got so bad that I spent a Friday night slicing into my wrist with a piece of glass just to let it out. ( still so grateful for The Band, who let me write that!)

So watching someone else be on the edge and understanding how hopeless you can feel in that state was terrifying. I've never met this person but I didn't want to imagine what it would be like to not have them in my life-even if it was just online or through a blog post. I watched someone else acknowledge that they aren't doing well either and that they are in a fragile state, that they needed help. And my heart broke for them this week. I thought about Strong Start Day & all of the moms out there who are struggling but aren't getting the real help they need for various reasons: shame, stigma, judgement, lack of insurance, resources or finances. And my heart broke for them. And I felt helpless. I asked God, "what can I do? How can I do something tangible to help?" The answer I got back was simple: "LOVE. LOVE THEM. In every & any way you can. Show them you love them."

So this video is about that. It's me trying to encourage anyone who needs it to hold on to love. When I think about where I was a year ago, when I just look back over my life & all I've been through, LOVE is what has kept me. God's love & the love of people He's placed in my life. LOVE is what makes an impact, what changes things, what leaves an indelible mark, what brings a person back from the's brought me back time & again. I'd be dead & gone without it!

LOVE has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks and I'll talk more about it & why in another post, but for now, just know that I'm being challenged to have everything I do for others & myself rooted in LOVE.

LOVE carries. LOVE heals.LOVE lifts. LOVE inspires. LOVE completes. LOVE strengthens. LOVE never fails us. Hold on to it with everything you have. I am. It's not easy, but I'm learning how to.....everyday.

It's Mental Health Awareness Week. This is for those of us battling, struggling with, recovering from, & triumphing over the parts of us that have malfunctioned. Keep holding on, keep kicking @$!, keep fighting....use LOVE as your weapon.


Triggered: My Battle with General & Postpartum Anxiety pt1

Last Friday, my evening turned upside down in a matter of seconds. An anxiety attack triggered a flashback which triggered a panic attack, which left me completely undone the rest of the night....and it all started with a scream.... Piercing. Shrieking. Shrill. Excruciating.

My 16mo is screaming. At the top of his lungs. Standing in the middle of the floor in the living room, tears streaming down his face, mouth wide open, lips trembling from the force of the energy it takes to. just. SCREAM.

His screams are sharp, slicing through me, and the reserves of patience and calmness meds, self-care and God have helped me store the past week or so.

Scream. Slice. Scream. Slice. Scream.....this one cuts me to my core, its razor sharp edges cutting a clean, precise gash through which all the anxiety stored up within me could just bleed out....and it did. So much so that it crippled me. Crippled me because I had a flashback and with that flashback came all the emotions & physical sensations associated with it.....

No, please no....not this....not now....I'm hiding in the bathroom, on the floor, soaked in sweat, my heart is pounding, he's still screaming, and I'm triggered. All I can feel is despair sweeping over me, fatigue overwhelming me...and panic. Frightful panic. Before I know it, in my mind I'm back there, revisiting the day I first heard him cry...and felt like this.

It was the evening of April 8, 2010. The day Alex, my 16mo was born. After nearly nine months of a physically & mentally rough (ie depressing)  pregnancy, FIVE days of ACTIVE labor, numerous hospital & doctor visits, finally being admitted & getting an epidural, and 5 pushes, he finally made his grand appearance. When he was placed in my arms I remember looking at him, being glad he was finally here, but I remember feeling hollow. The previous 6 hours and his quick delivery had been a blur, a frantic rush, and then there was.....nothing. Of course my son was here, but somehow the experience felt so anti-climatic. Even though in my mind I knew he was mine, I felt....he felt (Oh I know this sounds so bad, but it's the truth) foreign to me, like I knew he was a part of me, had come from me, but he didn't feel like he had. I don't know how else to articulate it. I just attributed it to my being overwhelmed & tired from giving birth and brushed it off.

That evening instead of sending him to the nursery I kept him with me all night. It was a long night. At first I was fine, he was fine. And then he started crying. That's when I felt it deep down in my gut: the panic. My face grew hot, my hands were shaking as I pulled him out of his "crib" and into the bed with me. I fumbled trying to get him to latch-he screamed louder. After a few minutes he was happily eating and I was holding him tightly in an attempt to calm my nerves. Again, I just thought it was just nerves. "I'm just a little rusty," I told myself, "I can do this, I've done this. I'm a mother. This is my second child. It's cool, just have to get used to things again. Babies cry. It's no big deal." But it was. I had barely fallen asleep when he woke up crying again an hour later.

That cry. There was something about that cry that pierced right through me, and left me feeling like I was being ripped apart. His cry. It triggered a physical response in me-one that was normal & motherly & one that felt very violently NOT normal. It scared me. Jarred my senses. His cry. It grated on me and I didn't understand why.

On the outside I appeared perfectly calm as I tried to soothe him. The inside was a different story. On the inside I WAS FREAKING OUT. His cry evoked a heart pounding, pulse racing, nauseating fear in me that I don't remember experiencing with my oldest. It made me nervous. What made it worse was my inability to soothe him. He didn't want to eat, he was dry, I couldn't tell if he wanted me to hold him or put him down, no position seemed to settle him....all he did was cry. Each one he vocalized felt like needles on my skin, each one seemed to scream "YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING!" "EVERYTHING YOU'RE DOING IS WRONG!!!!!"

I finally laid him on my chest and after a few minutes his crying stopped. A few minutes later he was sleeping. Me? I was crying. Silently. i looked for the nurses button, to have them take him to the nursery, but the remote was out of my reach and I was too scared moving would mean he'd wake up and cry again. I couldn't take that-not yet. I looked at the clock. It was 2:03am.......

my experience Friday night left me feeling like I did my first night alone in the hospital with Alex. I was a wreck then and I was a wreck Friday night. The screaming stopped, but my response to it didn't for the rest of the weekend. As bad as Friday night was, I'm glad it happened, because it made me realize that I need to accept & acknowledge what I felt & experienced those first days so I can understand how it has shaped & impacted the last 16mos of my life. So this is me, telling my story. OWNING IT. hoping it heals me and help someone who needs to know it. 

part two coming soon.....



Pendulum Swinging

Yesterday I was high. Not so high that I felt manic, but high enough to knock out a slew of errands and have a pretty productive day. I could feel them in the shadows, the hypomanic feelings "waiting in the wings" to see if a door would crack open they could slip through. No opening came and I was grateful for it. Today I'm low. A mix of severe PMS symptoms (UGH!) and meds have me tired, a step above lethargic. Its been hard to concentrate this week, but excruciatingly so today. Focus is off, and even though I enjoyed parts of my day with my boys, my spirit is quiet, a little sad, although I'm not 100% sure why. My ex kept asking me all day if I was ok, which signals to me that he can see a drastic change in my mood...swings.

Swinging moods. High. Low. High. Low. Swinging back...and forth...back...and forth...the cycling continues, the pendulum swings me from one extreme to its opposite, leaving me wanting like never before to rest in the middle. Just for awhile. God-please hear this small prayer I have tonight. Please help me get back to the middle.

Stable. Balance. Structure. Consistency. Rest. For me. For my boys. The middle.

I'll get there as long as You help me. This is something that can't possibly be done in and of my own strength. So I'm leaning on You. Putting my faith behind my works, my wellness plan, laying it all at Your feet so you can breathe life and strength into it. Into me.

Yes. I'll get there. (Sigh) But only by trusting in You and taking it moment by moment.


Three Strikes....And I'm Out


3 Fridays ago I watched my relationship implode. AGAIN. I watched the man I had been trying to build a family & life (AND HAD JUST MOVED IN ) with implode and say things that gave me a clear indication of what he thought of me....and our relationship. After nearly 3 months of arguments, backpedaling, & eye-opening revelations about his feelings for me and this relationship, I had been watching....waiting even, for the fall out.He kept saying he didn't want to break up, but something in me wasn't convinced. I didn't want to believe it was coming, but that Friday morning I realized with a sickening feeling that it was happening again: We were breaking up. Again. After we said we wouldn't. After he said we were going to-HE WANTED TO- get married. After he said that we were going to get some things in order and then we would take that step. After Brennan had started calling him "dad". After I had moved in with him. After we had made these plans together, as a family. After he said don't worry, we'll get through this, he knows it's not easy, but it will be ok.  He had said just a few weeks prior that he wasn't happy, and that freaked me out, but I still held on to hope, thinking that we just needed to make it through this transition. Once the move was over, once we were settled in, he'd realize that this was doable. Once our finances stabilized and he felt more in control of his life, this wouldn't feel so overwhelming....

Overwhelming....that's what he had told me a month ago-my needs & emotional issues, & "stuff" had been too overwhelming the past 2 years.  "But I've grown so much and have made so much progress....and you aren't easy to deal with either," I had said, incredulous at what was coming out of his mouth. we couldn't be back here again. We were past this weren't we? We had worked so hard to be past all of this. But a conversation with a friend had started raising his doubts and planting red flags....pile on outside stress and a few arguments between us, and there we were. Right back where we had worked so hard to travel away from.

That Friday, I knew it was over. I knew it because I realized that no matter what I do, how much I change, or how much growth I have, it's never going to matter. No amount of proving or progess on my part was going to overcome his fears, his doubts, his feelings, his frustration with not living the type of life he wanted. I realized then that it wasn't even about our differences anymore-that wasn't what was killing us. I realized that I was stuck in a cycle and a relationship with someone who's ideas about what a real relationship is are, to be frank, in fantasy land.

I gave up. I gave up because I realized that nothing I could ever do was going to contribute to his happiness. Not my efforts to get healthy, not my losing weight so he'd be physically attracted to me again, not my continued efforts to establish myself & career,  not anything. Nothing. I've been fighting a battle I was never going to win. Every time I think our relationship is in a certain place, he lets me know it's somewhere else, a place that's too unstable...too unsettling....too uncomfortable for him to handle.

But what about me? What about my discomfort? I struggle with believing that it ever really mattered. I've been dealing with being uncomfortable too.

He asked me if I thought I was victimized somehow by this. No. Because I know that the past 2 years haven't been easy and I haven't been easy to deal with. But I also feel that I tried beyond my best to keep striving to make things and myself better. I know that I've grown in leaps & bounds. But because he said things (unprovoked or pressured) about marriage and building a life together and having confidence & faith in this relationship I do feel like I've been strung along to a degree. And so I feel ashamed. Embarrassed. Confused.  I don't know what to think about this anymore. About him anymore. I don't trust him. Our friendship has taken a serious hit, which I didn't think would be possible-our friendship has always pulled us through our difficult times. But...I don't know. Angry. I am very angry. Angry because I feel like while he wanted a guarantee that he was going to be marrying a "happy person", he could never give me one that he was going to stick around and commit. Angry because I feel as though he's penalizing me for not being "happy" enough but not doing the one thing that would solve what he sees as the problem. Security. Less ambiguity. Do the honorable thing. I've given him everything I could. I sincerely don't understand why it wasn't enough. Even with his shortcomings, he was enough for me. Angry because now Brennan thinks of him as a father, and he treats him like he's his son, so now that we aren't together, what becomes of that bond, that relationship?  Brennan isn't biologically his, so he can say all day that he wants to be part of Bren's life, but how do I, as his mother, trust that? And I'm angry at myself most of all because I stayed. Because I fought for it. Because I went against everyone's advice, and now I just look-and feel-pretty stupid. Foolish.

If you can't deal with me or stick it out with me when I'm at my worst...then you don't deserve to be with me when I'm at my best. And I will be better, and become my best. 

So this is strike three....and I'm out. Out of faith, out of hope. But I have my boys. And I have my life. And I'm going to an amazing school to pursue a degree that I know is my passion. And I'm working on getting my mental health in the shape it needs to be in.  So although the clouds in my sky are heavy laden with pain, I do see their silver linings.

I can do this. We will be ok. Starting over wasn't what I anticipated or even wanted, but, well, it's what has to be done. So here's to starting over..."but this time as I and not as we."

Here's to making it. One step at a time.

ps. This is all I will ever have to say or write about this. I didn't want to write about it but I realized I had to get it out. So I could move on. This is in no way meant to bash or trash him. He's a great man and I'll always love him. This is just my way of releasing what I need to say. So there you go. Next....

On Medication: Reason # 1

After fighting myself, going back and forth over it, and dispeling my own stigmas about it, I chose to take medication to help me deal with my depression and anxiety. One reason I made this choice was so my thoughts can just stop racing...settle...quit clamoring for my attention...slow down enough for me to be able to talk to God.

The past year and a half I've struggled in my prayer life for two reasons. Discipline is one and the other involves my struggle with keeping my mind from wandering. It doesn't wander lazily, as if uninterested in the material or as if I lack the desire to sit before Him. It races, quickly zipping from one thought to the next. Focusing, concentrating, being able to quiet my mind and soul-these are things I'm often unable to do because my mind moves at the speed of light. The result? I'm a fidgety mess with a raucous mind at God's feet and my prayer life sucks.

An Initial Diagnosis

"A'Driane, what is it that you fear the most? If you could name one fear that you have, right now, that brought you here, what would that be? Can you name it?"

In my mind I screamed "SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!" at the thoughts that are never quiet and always racing these days. I wanted to answer the question honestly and give my full attention to it, but I needed at least 30 seconds of silence in my brain to accomplish that. Surprisingly my rambunctious, bouncing thoughts obeyed long enough for me to formulate an answer:

"My fear?" I swallowed slowly, feeling my mouth going dry & sweat trickling down the back of my legs, making my decision to wear jeans a regrettable one. "Fear....I'm scared that I'm just going to check out, you know, mentally. You know, just become this zombie who functions on the surface, but (more swallowing & sweating) who isn't emotionally available for my kids or able to nurture them. I'm just scared that I'm going to give up on life."

Tears, a flood of them, started making their way down my face as I looked at the social worker/psychologist. Through blurry eyes I could see his gaze was fixed on mine even though his hands were scribbling notes at a furious rate. On my lap he placed a box of tissues.

"Give up on life...Do you think about hurting yourself or have you made any plans to hurt yourself?"

"It's crossed my mind, but not because I don't want to live. I want to live...I just....I just need relief, need a break from this....this constant wackiness, this feeling like I'm losing my grip, this fine one minute, a total wreck the next existence I've been living. I'm tired. So no, I haven't made any plans to hurt myself, and besides I wouldn't do that any way-I couldn't do that to my kids. I have to take care of them . I want to take care of them. And myself. And enjoy my life....but....I can't function like this anymore. I can't start school next month like this-I won't make it."

More notes. More questions. Some advice. More notes. More questions. A squeeze of my hand and a gaze that told me he got "it".  Minutes later I had an appointment set up with the doctor who would be my new psychiatrist & was in another room, trying to keep Alex calm while the intake psychiatrist asked me another round of questions.

"Do your thoughts race?" OMG yes. Constantly. All the time. Nonstop. Sometimes I can't even pray because my mind is all over the place, in so many different directions, my concentration really sucks sometimes.

"Do you find yourself talking faster than usual?" Yes. I am, after all trying to keep up with the frantic pace of my thoughts.

"Do you ever have days where you feel super energetic, full of ideas & feel more impulsive than usual?"  Yea I have like 1-2 days where I'm ripping & running, on the go, being productive, knocking out things I have to do for work, school, home, etc & then I'll have 1-2 days after that where I don't want to do anything at all. Like. NOTHING. Feel totally demotivated, the only thing I can do is just take care of the kids-like feed them, naps, you know, mama stuff. If I didn't have any kids, I'd be in the bed during those times, sleeping, zombied out. Impulsive? I pay my bills and I don't go on shopping sprees, but I do find it hard alot of times to resist the urge to buy things. Like, Target & Wal-Mart can be a problem, even if I'm buying stuff I actually need. I've gone overboard sometimes, definitely.

Silence. Some more questions, Alex goes into toddler meltdown mode, I break out into more sweats, I answer the psych's questions. Silence. Then....his initial diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder 2 triggered by my pregnancy, depression & anxiety following said pregnancy & taking Zoloft, which it turns out is something he said is pretty common these days. Given my childhood & history of depression, he said I most likely already had the uh, "bipolar biology" (his words)-me being in my 20's and battling PPD/PPA just "brought it out."

The anger. irritability. moods swinging without even given a reason to. the anxiety. the lack of focus & concentration. the depression. the "I just don't feel like myself" feelings. the " I was just laughing, why I do I want to cry" sensation. You mean I'm not crazy? Like I feel like I am, but I'm not? I'm not losing my mind? This is treatable? I can feel "normal" again? I can get off this rollercoaster & be able to cope with life again? Wow.

As he answered my questions & discussed treatment options & next steps all I could feel was relief-sweeping me over like a wave. And then more tears. But this time, instead of tears of desperation, they released the exhale I was slowly letting out.

I don't know why I hadn't thought of going to the VA hospital's behavioral/mental health clinic before this week. I guess I just thought I wasn't doing enough to manage on my own. I guess I thought it might take too much to get an appointment. And what would I do with the kids?  How would I get over there, cause I hate driving in Philly? I guess I thought I wasn't being strong enough, or "Christian" enough, or something along those lines. I guess I thought I was imagining it all, even though my instincts & my body were telling me I wasn't. I don't know why I didn't utilize this resource before today, but I'm glad I put myself on the 42 bus & went, Brennan at home with a friend, & Alex Moby-wrapped to my body. I'm glad I didn't lose my nerve & leave when I walked the halls or spoke to the receptionist. I'm glad I didn't tell anyone about it or talk myself out of it, like I have other treatment options. I just went. And the relief I'm feeling knowing I'm doing something to improve my quality of life & mental health (as well as that of my kids) is my reward.

I start this new mood stabilizer tonight. I know meds aren't a cure, but the psych said it should bring me the relief I need so I can do things that ARE a cure-like self-care, exercise, read, spending time with my boys without being distracted, know, things that make me ME. I see my new psych in two weeks & meet my therapist then too.

My goal: To be in a much better space mentally & emotionally by the time the semester starts. With all of this in place & God's help-I know it can happen ;)

Also, It pays to serve your country. Thank you VA.

Which Wolf Are You Feeding?

An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life… He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil—he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego.

The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”

They thought about it for a minute, and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win, Grandfather?”

The Elder simply replied, “The one you feed.”

via a heavy heart to carry..

Fumbling on the Ocean Floor: A Rant About My Struggle with Motherhood

Note: This is just what the title says, a rant. An expression of emotions I'm currently feeling at this exact moment, a release of what I need to say so I can get it off my chest, out of my brain, & get on with the rest of my day & my attempts to just keep swimming, swimming, swimming through this thing called LIFE, particularly motherhood. It will might be probably won't transition well or be a cohesive body of writing. But rants aren't supposed to be are they? Hear me: I love my kids, I just desperately want to love being a mother again. I just desperately want to understand myself & what they need from me again. This. is. just. that. A RANT. If Motherhood is a vast, expansive ocean, I'm drowning in it. Better yet, you know that dark, pitch black, murky, where-the-creepy-looking-creatures-live part of it waaaaaaay down at the bottom? What is that called, the ocean floor? Yea, that. That's where I am, where I've been the past 15 months since Alex was born & close to 24 if you include pregnancy. I've been down there, floundering around, searching for some semblance of life I recognize, trying to get back the surface of who I am, the mother I was on my way to being, back to the place where I could tread water because being in this ocean was something I could handle. It was rough, especially being a single parent struggling to get back on my feet, but





I was getting through it, with God's help & support from family & friends.

But now? I'm at the bottom, unable to get to the surface because I have a rope tied around my neck &  it's  weighed down....with anxiety. with frustration. with anger. with perplexity. with desperation.

Motherhood and I, for reasons I'm still trying to figure out have been going at it, round for round for the past year, year & a half. Maybe it's because I've been riding the roller coaster of depression & anxiety-loops through the tracks of PPD included. Perhaps it's due to the growing pains I've been enduring in an attempt to shed some tangles from my past/childhood & tangled relationships with my parents. It could be because of the spiritual growing pains I've been experiencing the past 24 months, and it could even be because I've just had SO MANY life altering changes happening in my life. It could be all of those things added together, but for whatever the reasons are, I don't like the mother I've become.

I hate her. Passionately. I'm pretty sure my kids don't like her either. She yells. She doesn't have enough patience. She's not fun. She doesn't play. She has a hard time sitting still, being present, enjoying life moment by moment. She's angry sometimes. She's tired most of the time. Her thoughts race, which makes it hard for her to concentrate-especially when her 4 year old is asking her for cookies for the 50th time in the last 20 minutes while she's attempting to figure out what's wrong with her 15mo who's thrown themselves on the floor and crying in frustration for a reason that's totally lost on her. Yes, that mother? I can't stand her. I can't stand me.  Not today. Not at this moment.

I love my kids. I want to be a good mother to them. But I DON'T UNDERSTAND THEM or MYSELF today. Or this week. Or the past year. Don't get me wrong, I'm great at making sure they have what they need physically or materially-that crap is easy. Or at least it comes naturally for me. It's the stuff underneath it all, the emotional development & nurturing essentials, the stuff that will keep my kids from needing therapy when they're 28 that I've been sucking at. Failing at. Floundering at. Flubbing. Fumbling over like my hands are doped with Novocaine. I just haven't been able to get a solid grip on this thing.

Since the day Alex was born I've struggled even more with this, this motherhood thing. His father always says that Alex is the type of kid who will remind us that we're alive. It's so true. He's so completely different than Brennan was as a baby/toddler.  Calm? Quiet? Still? None of those describe my feisty youngest. Bold. Loud. Emotional. Aggressive. Needy. Those do. He seems to be what those "parenting experts" call....Spirited. But even that is putting it mildly. Beautiful kid, and funny in his own way. Sweet in his own way. A complex myriad of emotions & characteristics that seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum from each other. Fierce independence but needy would be an example. Coming to you for comfort but pushing you away when you try to give it is another. What was that line in Shrek about ogres having layers like onions? (or was it artichokes? *shrugs* whatever, I'm sure you get my point) Yea....that's Alex alllll day. (not the ogre part, the onions/layers part. Not to brag, but my Alex is adorably cute) Full of layers I've been trying to understand & have been left scratching my head over in bewilderment. See, I understand & see these things about him, but I don't know how to mother him. I don't know to meet his needs or even understand them most of the time. I just don't. I don't know what he needs from one moment to the next. Honestly, I never have. I've been spending the past 15mos guessing. Some of those guesses I've lucked out & have been right. Others, mmmm not so much. And I've been trying to keep up the "Mama knows best/what the heck she's doing" face, but I'm not good at that either anymore. This Mama is unraveling while fumbling in the dark for a light switch, or like Velma looking for her glasses, exclaiming "Jenkies" in frustration. Alex was my second child, but it feels like he is my first & I'm back in Parenting 101, only I'm failing the class. And failing him....

And when it comes to my oldest, Brennan, well, I'm failing him too. I can see it in his eyes when he looks at me. I know that he sees & feels the change in me over the past year or so. I know from being a kid with a dad who married six times & was abusive that kids aren't stupid, there ain't alot you can hide from them & they always understand things that are far beyond their alleged young-minded comprehension. He can see that I'm less patient, less calm, less fun, less talkative, withdrawn sometimes. Tired. He's seen me cry. Too much. Come to think of it, I know when the change started-potty training. I was doing everything I could, taking everyone's advice, trying every which way to get him to understand that he needed to use the restroom & everything was failing. Nothing worked. NOTHING. And that's when my struggle with motherhood started settling in deep. That's when the frustration & floundering started dipping me below the surface. That's when the tears really started flowing.

That's how I feel now, today. I feel like I've been trying everything I can to be a better mama and I'm still just lost in the dark. Running out of oxygen in my tank fast & I don't know how to get back to the surface where light, clarity, understanding & enjoyment is. I hate it down here, in this dark, abysmal place where all you're surrounded with is thoughts that you're a failure & doing irreparable damage to your children. And yourself. And your relationship. Failure is just eating away at me, feeding off of me like plankton, it's disgusting down here. I want out. I want out!

Last night I was looking at pictures of Alex when he was a baby. I was remembering how much I wanted to him to know how much I loved & wanted him, but how heartbroken I was over my seemingly inability to bring comfort to him. It seemed like no matter what I did he just wouldn't stop crying. My attempts to meet his needs didn't seem to ease his emotions. And hearing it would make me anxious because I just felt like I didn't know what I was doing, like I didn't know how to take care of him.

And while thinking about that I remembered how when I was a little girl I wanted to have a big family, full of kids. While it may not have happened how I envisioned, being a mother was something I always wanted. I guess that's one reason why I'm so frustrated-right now it just feels like I'm so ill-equipped to handle what I asked for.

God....I could use some light down here, please. (sigh)