“Strength grows in the moments when you think you can’t go on but you keep going anyway.”
A few days ago I was sitting and chatting with my mom. She asked me how the blogging was going. I replied that, “if I were to write a blog in the past few weeks, it would be full of negativity and pessimistic word vomit.” To that she told me that maybe I should write a blog right now. Maybe, I should share with the world the day-to-day reality of my life. Maybe I should share the raw and vulnerable, and mostly negative outlook that I have right now. So, here it is.
As I look back at my past few posts I realize that there’s a common theme, a theme of positivity lining each sad truth. I tell honestly about the hardships that I’m experiencing, but I always end with a song of optimism; a tale of hope for the future. For a long time (in the beginning of this journey) I was optimistic, positive and even hopeful. But right now, after six plus months of steps forward and leaps back, I call bull shit on all of that.
Let’s give you an update into my real life. The jury is currently out on whether I’ve been suffering from postpartum psychosis, or bipolar disorder. My psychiatrist says time will tell, as they both can present themselves very similarly in the postpartum stages. I’ve been on a medication called Abilify (an antipsychotic drug) for the last three months. In those three months I’ve gone up from 1.5 mg to a whopping 15 mg. I was experiencing increasing relief from the psychotic symptoms (derealization, hallucinations, agitation), so we kept upping the dose in hopes that I could reach the optimal amount of success at a higher dose. About a month into this process, my mental health took a huge dive from psychosis to depression and anxiety. It’s as if a mental pendulum swung, and I’m now on the dark side. The doctor’s theory was that the Abilify was managing the psychosis, but nothing was managing the depression and anxiety. To help balance that out, she put me on an antidepressant. My old friend, Celexa. She warned me that it would be a telling experiment, for lack of better words. That if I was truly bipolar there was a likely chance that the antidepressant would cause me to fall back into psychosis and I would see symptoms pretty quickly again. Sure enough, three days on the Celexa and I had my first psychotic episode in a month. I was advised to stop taking the antidepressant immediately, and wait until the following Wednesday to get in to see her and talk game-plan. By Tuesday afternoon, I was in HELL.
That next appointment I was put on a drug called Lamictal. It’s an anticonvulsant meant to treat seizures and bipolar disorder. There aren’t many side effects, which is good, but my doctor worried about me continuing breastfeeding while on all three medications. Anyone who knows me, knows how heartbreaking the thought of discontinuing breastfeeding really is. I would sacrifice anything to continue nursing my son. I met with a lactation consultant, Oliver’s pediatrician and talked to a few others and the general consensus was that it is okay for me to continue nursing. Hallelujah! So I have done just that. I’m on day nine of Lamictal and still feeling no relief, in fact last night I had yet another psychotic episode.
I wish I could paint a prettier picture for you all. I wish I could say that I’m “struggling but hanging in and remaining hopeful!” But that’d be a lie. I wish that I could say “I’m keeping up with life and staying busy,” but that too would be a lie. The truth is, that most days I’ve canceled all of my plans. I even cancel therapy. In-person interactions are like torture for me and I don’t feel comfortable with anyone. I’m in a big t-shirt and sweats, snuggled up in bed, applying essential oils every ten seconds, actively hoping my son naps just a little longer and feeling downright miserable. It doesn’t matter how many people tell me that I’m going to get better, right now I don’t believe it and you know what? That is okay.
All along I’ve wanted to show people that though I have mental illness, I am getting through it with a positive attitude and a sense of resilience about me; but that doesn’t mean I have to believe or be that all of the time.
As Honest Mama, it’s my responsibility, and more importantly my promise to deliver only honesty. Who would I be if I talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk?
I’m here to tell those of you out there suffering, to relax. Let yourself feel what you need to feel. Be real with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Let yourself do all the things it takes to feel better or do nothing at all, and feel NO shame in that.
It’s okay to feel negative and defeated. It’s okay to sit in bed in your pajamas during the day and not get ANYTHING done. It’s okay to let other people take on the job of being positive and hopeful for you, because you have exhausted that role. You are the one suffering, you are the one fighting the daily fight, and you are allowed to just be done, I know I have been. But I have chosen to pick myself up each day and carry on because I have so much to live for; my son and my village. And so do you. So please, give yourself grace and carry on, warrior.