Monday, October 13, 2008

Mental Illness is very real.

This is a post I have thought about writing & thought about not writing & now think I need to, to continue in a forward direction.  

I have struggled with depression, panic attacks, manic episodes & anxiety for over 8 years.  It started shortly after having Mavaney, which of course looked very much like post partum stress & having had kids one right after another it seems for several years, it still looked like post partum stress.  I had bounced around from pill to pill, from doctor to doctor trying to find relief.  I was doing what I could at home as well, taking time for myself, reaching out for help, sharing my feelings, but nothing seemed to lessen.  I was up & down, up & down all the time & so completely frustrated with the lack of control over my own emotional & mental well being.  There were times I even thought I was doing really good & would quit taking the medication to try it on my own, which worked for a while right before I got pregnant with the twins.

This past summer, I started to feel very depressed again & we once again told ourselves, it's just post partum stress, so I went back to the doctor & asked to be put on meds again for the sake of my family & myself.  We waited for the meds to kick in & start helping me out, but things only got worse.  I realized this the night I had a dream.  I usually have very vivid dreams, but this time it was different.  It was Heavenly Father & he simply said to me, "Tell your husband what you have been planning."  That day I was wracked with fear, guilty, all sorts of emotions trying to figure out how I was going to approach my husband & tell him what had been going on with me.  

Mark was set to do some teaching in Georgia for a month & I thought it the perfect time to plan my suicide.  I was so tired of being up & down with my emotions. I was so tired of putting my husband & my kids through the roller coaster ride of my happy times & my down times.  I had sought relief in so many ways with no real success and this seemed the only way to ease the pain.  

How do you tell your husband you were planning to leave him & your children?  I have never been so scared in my life, but I knew I had to do it.  Not only because it would stop me from doing it, but it would let him know that things were going very wrong, very quickly.  

Mark has actually been trained in suicide prevention while being in the Army & he was able to step up & really get the ball rolling on getting me some help.  We went to the doctor right away & got referred to a psychiatrist & psychologist off post.  I got an appt. that very week.  I went twice a week for a great while until the doctor felt I was making great progress and I could cut down to once a week.  But, during this time I have learned tremendous things about my life, about myself & about what I can accomplish & have control over & what I can't.  

I also found out I am bipolar, which answered a lot of questions about the things I have been fighting for many years.  It all made sense now, which was sad, but enlightening as well.  

It hasn't been anywhere near easy walking down this path.  It has been one of the most grueling times in my life. I have made progress, but I still have so very far to go.  The progress I have made has been so eye opening. I have realized there is a real Maria behind all of this madness. I am determined, I am strong.  I am opinionated & bossy. I am creative & compassionate.  I am loving & sensitive.  I can be in control.  

I still have bad episodes from time to time as my body adjusts to the new medication, but I feel confident my doctors care about me & about my eventual triumph over my fears facing my personal demons.  And not only do I credit my doctors for helping me, I must give tremendous thanks to my amazing husband.  He has had to see me change in so many ways. He has suffered with me through the days & nights of crying & panic attacks. He has been there with me through the times I just wanted to hide & run away.  He helped me see I would only be hurting everyone around me to cut my life short.  Seeing his role in my wellbeing has only confirmed my belief & Heavenly Father's promise that there was only one man on this Earth meant for me & that he had been prepared for me.  

Even my kids have been incredibly helpful, supportive & loving. They have been there to help me & witness the scary times even when Mark was not around to help.  They have found me passed out on the floor from a panic attack & known exactly what to do to get me help.  They have been there for me when I was curled up in a ball in the corner crying uncontrollably.  They have been there when I didn't want to get out of bed.  

Mavaney has always been so mature for her age and I felt I needed to share with her some of the deeper things going on so that she would know how much I loved her even when it didn't seem that I did.  It was remarkable the bond I felt with her & she cried with me & said, "Mommy, I wish you had told me before.  I feel so bad for you & I could have helped you more if I had known."  I get teary eyed just remembering that very special moment.

I want to share my testimony with you of many things.  I believe deeply that Heavenly Father is watching over us always. I believe He has such great love for us, we simply cannot comprehend the magnitude of His love. I believe I am a Daughter of God & I have a purpose here on this Earth.  I believe in the power of prayer & what it can do to heal wounds & gain strength when you think you have none left.  I believe in the incredible power of friendships.  My friends have been such a rock for me during this time. They have watched my kids so I could go to the doctor, they have cooked meals for my family, they have shared words of comfort & their own personal struggles to show me I too can overcome.  Thank you to all of you special women in my life. 

I hope to jump back into sharing my life with you, whether it be good or bad.  And I hope you will want to continue on the journey with me.


Shipley Family said...

I am happy that yyou found out what was going on. I am also happy that you have such a wonderful outlook on things. Bipolar is in my family. Knowledge and medication has made is possible for my brother to keep a job, support his family, and be the person that we knew growing up. Good for you. My heart goes out to you and I love you for being so willing to open up about this very emotional, private thing.

Sybil said...

I'm always here for you! And you know I love you dearly.

Amy Beth said...

Thank you so much for sharing this Maria. I know it must be hard to share something about yourself that is so private and scary. I just want you to know that I needed to hear this, so thank you. I have been struggling with stuff a lot like this for quite a while and it is something that I have felt alone in dealing with. It is nice to know that I am not the only one that has struggles, and if you dont mind I would love it if I could email you and talk to you more about this. I still dont completely know what is going on with me, but its always nice to have someone to talk to.

Kittie said...

I think that you are so brave and I am so happy for you that you have found something that helps you and I hope that you continue to get better and I am always here for you if you need me. You are in my thoughts and prayers and my heart goes out to you.

mom/caryn said...

So, it would seem that I am not the only one who has missed Maria. You have been missing her as well.

It's sometimes funny to be the one who is always misplacing her car keys, her diaper bag, her right shoe... but it's a frightening and disconcerting thing to misplace yourself. To not know where to go to find your desire to play with the kids, to pick up the house, to listen to your husband talk about his day. It's scary when you can't sort through the junkyard your mind has become and find a cohesive thought on anything.

I've been so worried about you, little one. I've looked so often for word from you and have been disappoionted and concerned when there was nothing new. No news is not always good news...I don't care what the old adage says.

I'm so proud of you for finding the courage to talk to Mark and to share with us. There are many of us who are more than happy to take your hand and walk with you along the path to finding peace with your diagnosis. It's a curving road indeed. But every twist in the road offers a new vista. I hope you will see many sunrises around each bend... many colorful blossoms and clear running streams.

Keep us posted.

Love you!

Anonymous said...

I'm crying reading your post - I'm glad things are getting better. This was a brave thing to write about. My mom struggles with anxiety and bipolar illness, and I see how much she suffers. Mental illness definitely IS read. I hope things just keep getting better for you. Love you.

Chandi said...

Thank you for sharing. It's really scary to open yourself up like this I am sure, but it is a forward step to conquering your demons as you say. I want you to know that you were an important and wonderful piece of the puzzle of my life. I wish we had kept in touch throughout the years, but am so happy we have reconnected now. I am sorry that you have had such struggles. I don't know what to do for you from here, but would very much like to do something. Like my mom said, it is hard to lose oneself. From what I can see across the distance, you are strong and true and brave. You are a wonderful mother, friend, and person. It sounds like you have an amazing husband to help get you through. Keep pushing and know that we are all behind and beside you.

Jean Tagliere said...

I love you girl and I pray for you often!!! You know you are LOVED by MANY!! Keep your head up, thank you for sharing, you never know you life you may have saved today...