The Search For Normalcy

When I started this blog, it was meant to be a way for me to communicate what I’m feeling, share my story, and let others know they aren’t alone. Sometimes the things I write about are inspirational and full of hope. Other times, I blog about the struggles I’m facing. Today it’s about my struggle. My struggle to obtain and maintain normalcy.

I just started a new job on a medical unit. I was so excited for the opportunity to practice nursing again. And then things started to take a turn, a turn I wish I wasn’t taking.

Things are getting bad again. I’m not taking care of myself as well as I had been, my teeth aren’t brushed as often as they should be, I’m wearing the same clothes for two days or more, I barely brush my hair, I only shower every few days…Like, things are getting bad and I didn’t even notice until I was here.

I have missed my last four shifts at work. I don’t have the energy, motivation, or ambition to get up and go. The idea of taking care of other people seems impossible when I have to put so much of myself into showering before work. How can I help others if I’m not helping myself?

It makes me so sad. Sad to know that just a short time ago I was optimistic, energetic, and ready to take on the working world again. Now I just lay in my bed and ignore the laundry or housework. I lay in bed when I should be working.

I wish I could be that person, that normal person who gets up and goes to work each day. I wish I was that person with a clean house and home cooked meals.

I can’t concentrate. The last day I worked I could barely keep my thoughts straight on what I needed to do. I felt like a baby nurse who is on the floor for the first time. I felt so unsure of myself. So self conscious. So not confident. Now every day I think about work I’m afraid to go, afraid I’ll feel that way this time. That someone will realize I’m a fraud. Someone will realize I don’t have it all together; far from it to say the least.

That’s what bipolar does to you. It makes you feel full of hope one minute and so low the next. It makes you feel like the littlest things are big, huge things. Bipolar makes you feel like you’re incapable of everything.

I’m going to see my psychiatrist and try to push through all these feelings and self doubt. I’m not one to give up so I will keep pushing. Hopefully I’ll come out on the other side feeling better and ready to take on the world.

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Remember Who You Are

Depression is a difficult disorder to fight. Depression tells you lies; You’re not good enough, you’re not strong enough or important enough. Depression takes away your fight and leaves you feeling weak, sad, and alone. All in all, depression is a bitch.

Here’s the thing though…you are none of the things depression tells you that you are. You’re not alone or weak. You have people who care and you are important! You’re a fighter and you can beat this bitch called depression.

I was in a dark place not too long ago. I felt like life wasn’t worth fighting for. I was suicidal and wanted everything to end. I wanted to end the pain and the constant doubt that things could ever get better. I was a constant bag of emotions, crying over anything and everything. I couldn’t work because I couldn’t get out of bed. I could barely muster up enough energy to walk to the bathroom. I was in hell.

I took all my meds just as prescribed, went to therapy, and the psychiatrist. I was a good girl and did all the things they tell you to do in order to break free of the depression that was crippling me and slowly things took a turn. I began to notice slight changes in my mood and energy level. I began to feel like I might have a chance…That in itself was a revelation! I felt I had a chance. I felt like I could actually beat this damn disorder and become who I wanted to be.

One day I heard a song by Shawn Mendes called, “In My Blood” and I instantly felt ten feet tall. If you haven’t heard the song, give it a listen! I remembered in that moment I’m not one to give up. I’m a fighter and I can conquer this disorder. I can be happy again!

I am still slowly recovering from the depression that plagued me but I’m making strides everyday to a better life. I’m content and dare I say it, happy. So from someone who’s been so low they want to end their life to end the pain, believe me, it does get better! You must believe me and fight those voices telling you it’s a useless fight. You are a fighter and you can do this! So give it everything you’ve got and then give it just a little bit more…You can beat this little fighter and your days will be brighter!

XOXO

Stop Treating Mental Illness As A Secret To Be Kept

Two celebrity suicides in a week…Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. People with seemingly good lives but never a single hint either of them were struggling with mental illness; At least not to the outside world. Why do we keep mental illness some big secret? Why do we brush depression under the rug and act ashamed? Could either of these celebrities have been saved if they had asked for help? In order to ask for help we first need to feel comfortable asking for help and comfort is not found where stigma resides.

We need to stop treating mental illness as though it’s a big secret. We need to be understanding and realize mental illness can happen to anyone at any time. It doesn’t matter if you are a billionaire with seemingly everything or someone living on the streets. Mental illness affects those in all walks of life; mental illness does not discriminate.

I’ve heard it said, “Money doesn’t buy happiness” in regard to these two celebrities who both died from apparent suicide. To this I say does money cure your cancer or your heart disease? See how that sounds? Ridiculous, right? We have to stop looking at depression, bipolar disorder, etc like a disease that can be prevented and start having open dialogue. When we begin to have open conversations, we can begin to understand. When we begin to understand we can be comfortable asking for help. When we feel comfortable asking for help, we can save lives.

We may not be able to save Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain but we can start being more open, educate the ourselves on mental illness so we can understand. We can have open, truthful dialogue about depression and other mental disorders and maybe we can save some lives in the future.

To Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and the other thousands who die from suicide each year, I say may you now find the peace you could not find here ❤️

Baby Steps

Baby steps. I’m taking baby steps every day. I was recently on my Facebook and had a memory from a year ago where I was listing everything I’d done that day. Three loads of laundry, cleaned the kitchen, dusted, swept all the floors, and made a homemade cheesecake…It’s amazing how things can change in a year.

Nowadays I can barely get out of bed to shower and my teeth are furry more days than clean. My kitchen doesn’t get cleaned like it should and my floors are very seldom swept. But I’m taking baby steps.

Recently at my therapy appointment I was explaining to my therapist about how I feel like a failure because I can’t get everything done like I used to. This is when she said something that has stuck with me. “You don’t have to accomplish everything. Just try to accomplish something.” She told me to make a goal for myself for the day. It can be as simple as showering or as big as taking a walk down to the lake but make sure I had a goal.

I started with getting out of bed for a while and sitting in the living room with my family. My bedroom had become my safe haven and I rarely left it. After I conquered that task for the day I moved onto bigger tasks like cleaning and taking walks. I still struggle; it’s amazing how much energy it takes to shower and how much you take it for granted until you’re in the throes of a bipolar depression but I’m slowly taking the steps.

Now on most days I make two or three goals for myself. Some days I accomplish all of them, other days I may only get one (or on a bad day none) of my goals accomplished. I focus on the goals I met because I know I’m trying. And I’m going to keep pushing forward because I’m not a quitter.

My floors may still be dirty more often than not but I’m taking those baby steps. And I’ll keep on taking those baby steps until it gets easier.

The Separation

I’ve always wanted to be a nurse. Even as a child it was the one career I always dreamed of. That’s why the separation is so difficult…

I’ve been out of work for 6 months. Six long months not doing what I love. Unfortunately, my medical leave only lasts six months, so here I am talking with Human Resources about my options. Basically, I don’t have any.

I have been let go or should I say my place of employment has “gone forward with a separation of employment” because I have yet to be released to go back to work (with good reason; Saturday night I had two panic attacks, each lasting a good 30 minutes. Obviously, I’m not ready to have other people’s lives in my hands). This is something I was expecting but it hurts nonetheless. I just didn’t know it would hurt this much…I’ve been in tears, sobbing uncontrollably ever since I got the news.

I love being a nurse. I get to help people every day and make them feel good, cared for, and nurtured. Obviously, they may be able to take my job but not my license to practice, so I know someday when I am mentally healthy, I may be able to begin my career again. The reality that I cannot practice hurts so much but in the end, I have to take care of my mental health first.

Maybe I’ll get back in tip-top shape and be able to practice again someday and maybe I won’t. The unknown is scary but if I’ve learned anything throughout my years of mental illness, it’s this: my mental health has to come first. Always. As much as I want to practice again, my mental health has to be in the forefront of my mind. All decisions have to be made with my health being thought of first.

I hope someday I am ready to go back. I’d give my right hand to be able to be healthy enough to go back to work, practice nursing, and do what I love. For now, it’s just not in the cards.

So for now, I will focus on my mental health. Focus on myself. And hopefully get closer to being able to practice again. Until then…

Xoxo

Time For an Update

Hey. Long time no see…It’s been quite a while since I’ve written. My depression has had me so low at times, sitting on my bed blogging was too much to undertake. So, what’s been going on with me? Am I feeling any better, you ask? Well, a lot has happened since my last blog so sit down with a comfy blanket, an iced tea, and I’ll fill you in.

I can’t even remember the last time I blogged, so bear with me if there is some repetition. ECT does that to you. Makes you lose your memory. And I am no exception. I’ve been struggling trying to remember the simplest things; how to get to my sons school, how to get to the doctor, forgetting my doctors name, or even worse forgetting I have a doctor. I needed to see the doctor for something and I mentioned to my husband, my sweet, tolerant, and incredibly patient husband I needed to find a doctor. He quickly reminded me I already had a primary care physician. I did not remember that at all! What was worse was I had already seen this doctor for something! It is very unsettling to have such gaps in memory. It’s like living your life with your eyes closed.

On top of the memory issues my mood swings have been severe. I can go from being happy, energetic, and ready to take on the world to tired, damn near lethargic, irritable, and downright mean I’m a matter of a day. I spoke with my psychiatrist about my mood swings and was after some time diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder with Mixed Episodes. I’m sure you’ve heard of bipolar but you may not understand the mixed episodes part. So, with bipolar you have your highs and lows but you go slowly (for the most part) from a high to a low. With mixed episodes you cycle rapidly from one episode to the next. I can go from a manic episode to a depressive episode in the matter of 24 hours. My moods are very unpredictable. This has made it very difficult to get my medication regulated and for me to go back to work. At this point, I can’t even see myself in a work setting; being responsible for someone’s health or life. I have a hard time being responsible for showering on a daily basis. The responsibility of Someone’s life seems like a heavy cross to bear and one I’m not ready to take on.

People keep telling me I need to look at things from a more optimistic or positive standpoint and I can take on the work world again. I’m trying my best but it’s hard to be optimistic when you feel down in the dumps. I have to be realistic and remember the job I have requires a lot of knowledge, precision, and concentration. Right now concentration and memory are not my strong suit. While I understand what people are saying in regard to optimism, I have to be real with myself and realize nursing might not be a possibility for me anymore. With a little more time maybe I’ll know what I need to do.

Currently I’m feeling pretty good actually. I’m not sure if I’m in a manic phase or just on a level keel. I say I’m not sure because I don’t know what it feels like anymore to have energy unless I’m going into mania, in which case I’ll clean and go shopping like a mad woman. Level isn’t something I’ve felt in quite a while. I’ve been able to cook some dinners, clean the kitchen, and even do some laundry. For me, this is huge and hopefully a step in the direction of recovery.

So, that’s where things stand right now. Try not to stay away so long next time.

XOXO

How Depression Made Me Feel Like a Bad Mommy

**this is an old draft I never published. Im not sure why but after reading through it, I felt I had to post it. Partly because I’ve had more of those “bad mommy moments” lately and have been told to show myself some grace. This post has the same lesson behind it, so it only seems fitting.**

I’ve dealt with depression most of my life. I remember being 15 and alternating between sleeping all the time and bouts of insomnia. One particular time in high school, I was 16 if I remember correctly, I went through a crying jag. I just could not stop. My aunt, whom with I was living at the time, took me to the emergency room to make sure I was safe. I remember the ER doctor asking me if I was suicidal and I just told him, “No, I’m just so tired from not sleeping.” He gave me some sleeping pills and sent me on my way. My aunt was really worried about me and watched me like a hawk for a few weeks after that incident. That was the first time I remember feeling like a burden and less of a person.

When I became a mother I didn’t fall into parenting flawlessly like I envisioned I would. I loved my sons no doubt but I fell into a depression unlike any I’d ever felt before. I had chosen to breast feed and I remember it not being this magical feeling, an amazing bonding moment like I hoped it would be, like I was told it would be. I remember pushing it, trying and trying to make that magical bonding experience a reality. It never happened. I couldn’t breast feed and it didn’t feel magical. I remember feeding my son and just waiting impatiently for it to be over. And that was the first time I remember feeling like a bad mother. It was also when I realized I was depressed. I was suffering from post-partum depression.

I was so depressed, I was unengaged with my family. I was sleeping all the time, or barely sleeping. I was no longer interested in things I used to find joy. I was irritable and mean. I tended to my sons needs as things would arise but I didn’t spend much time with him outside of tending to his needs. Or I would go the other direction and worry about him constantly. Was he breathing? Was he wet again? Was he comfortable? Too hot? Not warm enough? My mind would not shut off from the constant worries. I was depressed in the worst way.

The constant worrying had me so overwhelmed. I felt like the worst mom because I never seemed to know when things were just ok. There was always this cloud above me; a cloud of doubt. A cloud that repeated to me over and over that I wasn’t a good mom because I was unsure of everything. It couldn’t possibly be this hard for all moms, could it? One day I was overwhelmed to the point I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I reached for a bottle of pills to end my indecisiveness and worry. I was going to kill myself.

I grabbed a bottle of Tylenol, downed an entire handful and laid back on the bed, waiting for the darkness to take me, to take away all my worry and anxiety. 15 minutes in, I had a change of heart. Was it too late? I began to panic but all I could think was at least I wouldn’t have this anxiety and overwhelming feeling of failure, so I laid there.

My husband came into the bedroom to tell me goodbye before he left for work. I was barely conscious. He kept asking me, “what did you take? What did you do?” I told him I took Tylenol in the littlest voice I had left. The ambulance came, I was admitted to the psychiatric unit, and spent a total of one month away from my family.

It didn’t occur to me then but it does now, we as parents, especially we mothers, put so much pressure on ourselves to be great moms, to do everything right, to do everything as naturally and gracefully as possible. The pressure to be the perfect mommy is so so great, we crush ourselves. We crush our self confidence. We end up depressed and barely clinging to life trying to be the perfect mommy.

In the end, the important thing to remember is we don’t have to be perfect. Things are going to seem awkward and not always the most graceful but that’s normal. That’s part of being a new mom. We can’t possibly have it all figured out all at once. So be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. It’ll come in time. Don’t make yourself feel like a bad mommy, you wonderful, beautiful, kind mommy you💕