On Feb 8th I shared a very personal story. Having a mental illness while raising 3 boys is hard enough, but when one has ADHD and the other has Down Syndrome and Autism, it can be next to impossible to cope at times.
It all started after B was born. I was still trying to learn how to deal with K and a new baby when I developed postpartum depression. My mother was living with us at the time and I came to depend on her and hubby to take care of the boys. I couldn’t do it at all. I was questioning my decision of having a 3rd child. I felt so guilty thinking B would never get the attention he needs. I went on medication and started feeling better. I went back to work. Things went well for awhile.
Then, when B was 4, I had a nervous breakdown. K was 8 and S was 10. I had to spend time in the hospital. This time was very hard for B. He was always asking if I was going to die. Everybody assured him that Mommy was just sick but the hospital would make it all better. When I was released B became very clingy. Not that I blame him after what he had gone through, but it became suffocating at times! Every parent loves hearing their child say “I love you Mom” but B would say it 100s of times a day! He continued doing that until he was diagnosed and put on meds. He still tells me he loves me a lot, but now it’s less annoying. I hate that my son has abandonment issues because of my illness.
Bi-polar has 3 stages:
When I am “well” which is what I call my “plateau of normalcy”, I feel great. I can focus and do my job. I play with the kids and keep my house clean. I find it easier to cope with the day to day issues with K and B. This stage can last years for me. My last one lasted 5 years.
When I am manic or “high” I feel like I can do no wrong. I still play with the kids, keep my house clean, I can still work. Unfortunately it is the time when I can’t control my own outbursts. It’s the only time I yell. But in my mind it is all justified. I have actually been reprimanded at work for “over-stepping my bounds”. I have racing thoughts and I talk a lot. This stage can last days to weeks. My family can certainly tell when I’m manic. But they know what comes next.
After every one of my manic episodes I have a depressive episode. The closest I could describe it would be a rollercoaster. Once you get to the top of it, eventually you are going to come down. This is the stage that varies for me the most. It can last from a couple of weeks to a couple of years. The one I am suffering with now has already been a year and a half. I am trying to learn to identify my “triggers” (issues that can cause my depression to worsen), but what happens when your triggers are your kids? It’s not like you can stop that one.
With my depression comes bad thoughts. I think the worst one is “I am tired of being a Mom”. I will start to cry while I change K’s diaper, cursing him that he can’t use the potty. I have spanked K when he pulls my hair or pinches me, which teaches him nothing. I won’t play as much with B as I used to. I lose interest in my kids! I would rather hide out in my bedroom watching TV.
I am in therapy and it is really helping me cope with everything during this depression. I play with the boys again. I try to keep my house tidy. I know I will get back to my plateau soon, I always do. I’ll go back to work. But the stressors are still there, they will always be there. I just have to learn to deal with them.