Sunday, September 21, 2014

Confessions of a Guilty Mommy

I thought I knew everything I needed to know about my illness.

I take my medicines.
I see my therapist.
Some days I'm more happy.
Other days I'm a bit sadder.
Sometimes I'm really hyper but that's usually when I've forgotten to take my medicines for 2 days in a row.
I tell myself to calm the fuck down, take my meds, and then clean the house like the Queen is coming for a visit.

I understood being bipolar.

But then my son went out of town for a month and I told my therapist that I wanted to work hard on some of the things I've kept buried for 30 years. And not knowing that you can't undo 30 years of pain in 30 days I plunged into the murky sea.

I soon began experiencing rapid, wild mood swings. Bouts of anger, coupled with a deep desire to physically harm myself worse than I have before; these new emotions frightened and overwhelmed me.

21 days passed, my son begged to stay down in Fl longer. He was enjoying playing with his cousins, aunts, and uncles. That was fine. He had flown on a one-way ticket, so I didn't need worry about plane change fees.

A month and a half went by. "Mom, I'm having so much fun. I'm sorry, I know you miss me but can I stay longer?"

"As long as you are having fun. You can come home whenever you want."

We talk at least once, sometimes 3 times a day. I email him every night links to funny cat videos, pictures, jokes, random articles about subjects he likes.

The mood swings have continued to be unpredictable. I'll have 48 hours of stability followed by 36 hours of pain, fear, hatred, and crushing loneliness. Then a week ago, thoughts of engaging in risky behaviors filled my head. Things I haven't done since before I had my son.

These thoughts filled me with so much sorrow and confusion. Why was I wanting to backslide? Intellectually I knew those would be bad decisions, but why was I filled with these desires.

All Tuesday I was curled on the couch crying. All fucking day. I felt so lost, so confused, wondering if I was going through a nervous breakdown and everyone was just too nice to tell me that I've lost my shit entirely. I couldn't open my eyes completely when I happened to answer a phone call.

I spilled my guts to my friend. She's understanding of mental illness and I figured if anyone could possibly identify with the feelings I was having it would be her. She pointed out that it's been six years since my meds have been adjusted and my body probably doesn't find the drugs or dosages useful. She said that my desire to devolve into risky behaviors were a side effect of hypermania.

I hadn't thought about that. My shrink asks each visit if I had been taking my meds which I have. But I didn't think they would stop working on me. I quickly emailed my shrink, "PLEASE, HELP ME. I NEED HELP NOW. I NEED A DOCTOR."

I have an appointment for October 8. Waiting these next 18 days will feel like an eternity, but coupled with hope. Hope that I can get closer to getting stable again.

It's not something I want to recognize, but some family and friends have pointed out that I'm not entirely well enough to take care of my son yet. I'm not a harm to him, others, or myself, but point out that switching up medications can be difficult. As the body adjusts, no one can firmly predict the outcome. All the labels say in some cases usual thoughts or thoughts of suicide may occur.

I'm torn. Do I try to pull back on the progress that I'm making, put on a brave face, and undertake the reins of single motherhood again? Or do I accept the suggestion that my son stays in Fl for a bit longer while my meds kick into place and my moods get under control?

A mother cares for her child, providing the best she can: food, water, shelter, love, affirmation. I know my son is having these needs met. He's continuing his unschooling while he's down in Fl. He's so excited that next week he'll be making a paper mache replica of Stonehenge. He's not unhappy. He's surviving without me.

But I'm his Mommy. I fear that this time apart will render me inconsequential to his life. I know I need to take care of myself. So why do I feel guilty if I decide to continue fighting my illness?

It's now 2 months, 7 days since I last saw my son. And it hurts like hell.