My motivation for Mental Health March (again, in memory of my dad) is to bring to light the many areas of mental health that some of us are unaware of - or miss completely.
So many people have been regarded as weird or not right - when the fact is that they're doing the best they can every single day to just be.
Today, I give you a post by Living as a Bipolar Mother. This gives you a little glimpse into the day to day life of a mom just trying to put one foot in front of the other every single day.
Sometimes we need a reminder that "Normal" is just a setting on the dryer.
And now....MB at Living as a Bipolar Mother:
Webster’s defines bipolar as “having or marked by two mutually repellent forces or diametrically opposed natures or views”. That doesn’t sound very good does it?
Bipolar disorder is even more fun than that. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects 5.7 MILLION people. That means approximately 2-7% of the American population suffers. 20% of those with bipolar will die through suicide. Our life spans are reduced, we run the risk of our children developing our disorder, many are obese, most patients take lithium and many receive an inaccurate diagnosis. Women and men suffer equally from bipolar, yet women tend to have more mixed episodes and rapid cycling.
These are the stats from the DBSA. These are some scary statistics. 20% out of 5.7 million people, approximately 1,115,000 individuals, will take their own lives at the hands of bipolar.
That is more than Schizophrenia.
This rate is reduced greatly when proper and adequate care is received. Yet with the current state of our medical system, mental illness falls through the cracks and many patients are left feeling as though this is “all in our heads.”
I am a wife, mother, daughter, friend and human. I am also bipolar. Bipolar doesn’t define me, it is simply one part of who I am as a whole. Bipolar isn’t just in my head, it is in my body and affects me in every way. It affects my relationships, my ability to communicate, my eating, my sleep, my weight, my ability to function. It’s like watching your body and mind do things that you would never dream of doing, yet you do them; sometimes repeatedly.
I hate when I scream at my kids, yet there are some days that is the only way I can communicate. I hate how I can never seem to get up with my alarms, all 4 of them. I am not joking- I have an alarm clock, my phone, my iPad, and my iPod that all go off multiple times to multiple alarms. I hate that my weight is defined by my medications side effects. I hate (with extreme passion) that I have to evaluate every mood, the good ones and the bad ones, to see if I am cycling.
While bipolar does not define me as a person, it does define how I react to the world around me.
There have been days I felt like an exposed nerve. Every word, emotion, feeling was a scrape against that raw exposure. Feelings were so intense I couldn’t contain them inside myself. Tears, screams, movement- all out of my control. I have many ways to describe mood instability as I spent years silently suffering and trying to explain to those around me what I was feeling. I have felt myself slipping down this glass wall, fumbling for a hand or foot hold, yet there is nothing to stop my fall. Once I land at the bottom, I stumble in the darkness, feeling my way along until the light appears. The light can appear in mere hours or it can take months. Then once stability returns I walk the tight rope where one misstep can send me back down the glass wall.
Mental Illness is scary and intensely isolating. For both the patient as they try and heal and the family and friends surrounding them as they come to terms with it. The stigma is horrid. No matter how many celebrities announce their diagnosis, the rest of us suffer mostly in silence. I mean who wants to walk around with this flying on their freak flag? I try an approach my disorder with humor, cause if I don’t I will cry. All day, every day.
With all I have said and gone through, I am one of the lucky ones. I found a medication cocktail that works beautifully. My wallet doesn’t like this cocktail, but hey it’s only money. I have a fabulous psychiatrist who cares for me as well as a beyond amazing therapist who guides me through the ‘jungle’ of bipolar. My medications aren’t causing any serious issues (like lactating boobs 3x their ordinary size or 25 lbs extra on my backside like my previous medication did).
As I say every single day... AWE... I am in total and complete AWE of how my fellow blogging community has stepped up to share themselves this month.