The Best Laid Plans

So far, my baby journey has not been anything like what I had planned. This makes me sad. I know it shouldn’t. He is happy and healthy (I’m a lucky girl) but I can’t help it.

I didn’t get to give birth. I didn’t even get to try. It is a rite of passage that I was terrified of and excited for. I really wanted to experience it. Since conceiving G was so hard I don’t know if I will get another chance.

I am no longer breastfeeding. To me breastfeeding is like magic. Somehow your body can keep a teeny baby healthy all on its own. It’s pretty incredible. Bottle feeding will never compare to that feeling of connection you get breastfeeding.

My baby is still too small for cloth diapers. Every disposable I throw out makes my heart ache a little for the Earth. Its been two months of waste, and its a tragedy.

Little Bean was born too early so hubby was not able to take paternity leave because of project commitments he had made. So our first couple months have been stressful and tiring instead of the slow snuggle fest I had envisioned.

My mental health has tanked and I have had to start medication again. I felt so wonderful during pregnancy I really believed I had been cured. It is heartbreaking to know I was not, and this garbage will continue. I wanted to be a happy, loving mother who had her shit together. Now I’m a sad one who listens to the WiFi. Obviously, I am getting better because I know now it’s not real, but I still hear it.

It’s really hard to rationalize all these things when you feel like crap.

A friend told me that the ideal of motherhood will never be 100% realized and that is perfectly okay. That we do the things we need to to get by.

My mom says I have a happy baby who loves me. Who doesn’t care that I am formula feeding now, he just wants to be full. Who hasn’t noticed I’m sad because I try so hard to only show him love.

My hubby says were doing the best we can and that should be enough for me. That having to switch to bottles has allowed other people to help more. That a few months of garbage is minor, and all my other plastic-free efforts are off-setting it.

Why can’t I listen to all these people? Why don’t their kind, reassuring words get through to me? Why must I continue to beat myself up and feel miserable?

It doesn’t help when its not only your voice but others telling you your horrible.

I really hate my brain sometimes.

Goals

Part of my recovery from a depression has always been setting some goals for the future. This usually helps me be more forward thinking and not feel so trapped in the mire. In the past I have set goals like: have a family (check), get into medical school (check), finish medical school (nope), run a 5k (check)… This time I have decided to commit to something I have always dreamed of but never thought possible. I want to dance ballet.

I took dance lessons all through my childhood and absolutely loved them. But I never took ballet because the teacher convinced me I did not have the body for it and training would be a waste of my time. I have pined over ballet since. I watch all the movies, I go to recitals, I do barre work at home when I’m alone, but I’ve always shied away from classes. I believed I couldn’t.

Now I say: ‘fuck that’. I won’t know if I don’t try right? I’m pretty heavy so I likely will never get up onto pointe, but nothing says I can’t dance my little heart out right?

With some research it seems like I need to strengthen and stabilize everything, especially my feet, before I start to dance or I will hurt myself. So (starting yesterday) every morning I have been doing the exercises I found. Yesterday all afternoon I felt tight and sore but it was like a glow in my muscles, a secret there.

Knowing I’m working toward something is helping.

Also having my mom here and taking my meds.

It always amazes me when I start to come out of the darkness. It always feels like everything is shiny and new. Like the world has colour again. I’m not totally out of the woods, but things are definitely turning around. When I picked up my son this morning I felt those warm fuzzies again. He is my sweet baby boy again. Plus, he smiled at me this morning. If that doesn’t make a heart melt, I don’t know what will.

A Liar

I’m laughing. I’m smiling. I’m pretending I’m not dead and empty inside. I’m good at it. Most people don’t want to see through my act. So I let them believe things are okay.

But really I am hurting. My soul is tired. It goes so deep no amount of sleep helps.

My baby grows. I hold him and rock him. I kiss his cheeks and pretend to eat his toes when people are watching. But he feels alien to me. No longer part of my body. A noisy part of my life that I can’t seem to feel much for right now. I don’t feel negatively about him. I just don’t feel anything. I have a need to keep him happy, and healthy, but I don’t really know why.

I still keep the house clean. I still put food on the table. But things have no taste. There is no joy in it anymore.

Sometimes my heart hurts so deeply I wail and moan in my bed. And then to relieve the pain I hurt myself. It feels good for a moment and then I am ashamed that I have let things get this bad again. I have been weak again. And then I think about dying. And how I would do it quickly.

This is the darkness.

This is when I stop talking. When I don’t move for hours because I worry if I do, I will do something I may regret.

But so far I have eventually been able to get up again, and smile, and pretend a little longer. Hoping that some day soon the meds will start working and I can heal and be a better mother, wife, and friend. Hoping I can feel present again and not a visitor in my own life.

Failings

Well all that was all for nothing.

I worked so hard to get off my meds to breastfeed only to go back on and have to stop. Not only did G miss the colostrum because I was too slow decreasing, he now has only been getting breast milk for 6 weeks. What was the point of all that nonsense?

The worst part is now that he is on formula he is happier. He sleeps longer. He cries less. It makes me feel like crap. I like to think he misses breastfeeding but he honestly doesn’t seem bothered.

I keep telling myself that a fed baby is best. And a mom with good mental health is best. But with all the pressure to breastfeed it is hard to not feel like a loser. Probably doesn’t help that my brain has decided to stop making Serotonin. Back on the Lithium for me. Funny how when you feel too great meds seem stupid but as soon as you crash you’ll do anything to feel better.

Trust

I theoretically have a case worker. I have for years. My original one, M, was wonderful. We would walk our dogs together. She would take me for coffee when I felt down and alone. We had a good connection and I told her many things.

Then M left for a better job in management. I don’t blame her. It sounded like exactly what she wanted.

So she was replaced with R. R was the same age as me and I just couldn’t respect her opinions. She was fun and chatty, and I enjoyed when she took me to bloodwork appointments, but we never had a therapeutic relationship.

Then I was transferred from that interventional program to a long-term management program. In the two years or so I have been with them I have had 3 different people. The first 2 I didn’t even get a chance to know. Mostly because I didn’t click with them right away and I was doing well so I didn’t really need their help.

Now I have S, my first male worker. He seems nice and reached out to me when he took over the position. But now I need to talk to someone and I barely know him. We’ve never met in person.

I have a deep-seated mistrust of most people in the industry. They are very intrenched in their beliefs and training to send to hospital if concerned. They usually don’t even try to really help, they just phone over and before you know it your on a 48 hour hold. It makes me feel that I can never be fully honest with what I am thinking and feeling.

Because I don’t know this guy I asked if he would listen without intervening. He said he could not promise that. So now I have no one to talk to. It’s the worst.

I wish we had a chance to build up some trust. I can hardly text him, let alone trying to dial the phone. I definitely am not telling him what I am dealing with internally. It scares me to my core that I have no one to open up to but I don’t want to burden my friends or terrify my husband or mother. They love me too much and don’t want to see me hurting. So I spiral down into the darkness because I can’t say anything out loud.

Why is it so hard to admit I need help? Why can’t I trust that people will look out for me?

Edging

Remember a few years ago when the big thing in sex was edging? Like getting super close but never cumming to make the actual experience later fantastic? Maybe you don’t. Maybe I’m weird. But I definitely remember reading an article about it.

Anyway, that’s what life has been like for a few weeks now. I get so close to flipping over to the darkside but I never let myself go all the way. Every time I get really ramped up I do all my soothing/coping skills to keep from falling over the edge.

Lots of things push me up higher. A sunny day. Exercising. Having a visitor. All normal things that would make anyone feel better. But I start to feel irrationally good. Like maybe we should sell all our stuff and move to the moon good. I talk really fast and loud. I demand that hubby pay attention to me and listen to my somewhat illogical ramblings. I start a big project.

And then Shamus gently says: ‘honey, you’re getting a bit up’. And I say: ‘shit. But I feel so good!’ ‘Exactly’ he says.

So I go downstairs and sit in the dark and try to chill. I drink herbal tea. I do some light yoga. I have a hot shower. I slooooow down. Eventually things start to come back into focus. Like now. I still feel pretty wired. But not wild. It’s like electricity buzzing under your skin and around your brain. Everything seems so bright and loud. Things MAKE SENSE in a way they never did before, connections form between things that they probably shouldn’t. It takes so much concentration and will power to ignore all this and just breathe. Every part of you wants to run a marathon or something but you must make yourself just sit. IT’S AGONY.

I only need look at the activity on my facebook to know things went off kilter. I’m usually a group lurker but this afternoon I commented on and liked ALL the things. I did Zumba. I drove across town with music blaring to get expensive sushi. And I planned a novel outline while breastfeeding G. It was fun.

Now I sit in the dark, like a mushroom with mint tea, writing this and hoping that the music stops soon and that since its dark I won’t see anything too weird (just cats so far).

Music is a big trigger for me. I am very susceptible to feeling what the music wants you to feel. Sad. Happy. Nostalgic. It all hits me hard. That’s why I listen to the (real) radio so much. The repetitiveness of it dulls this effect, but still covers the imagined radio noise quite nicely. There are certain bands and albums that will immediately make me feel up or down. I can rely on these to keep me modulated one way or the other. Regularly listening to new music helps keep the imagined radio fresh. It is currently playing “ordinary man” by Ozzy which is excellent, and you should check it out if you haven’t.

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that the absence of Lithium has become noticeable. My mind is fast and lose, just feeling everything really big. Its fun and scary. I am riding the rollercoaster again but I have some tools now, and a lot more to hold on for.

Um, what?!

I was talking to a friend about what my life is like. She said “I think it’s not Bipolar to have hallucination, delusions and paranoia ALL the time. Isn’t that supposed to be just during an episode? Are you sure you’re not schizoaffective?”

I laughed and said no, I’m pretty sure my doctor would have figured that out. We moved on to other topics.

Talking to my psychiatrist by phone on Monday I mentioned this to her and her response was “Oh yes of course you are.”

Um, what?!

She then continued that ‘Bipolar 1 with psychosis’ and ‘schizoaffective’ were essentially the same diagnosis and I could use whatever term I preferred.

Right.

So, being me, I did some research. It led me to this wonderful YouTube channel called “Living well with schizophrenia”. The creator is schizoaffective and she is absolutely lovely. A lot of the videos weren’t helpful (I already know what a psychiatric hospital is like unfortunately) but some of them basically explained my life. I also loved that her partner makes some of the videos and is so loving and supportive. I love seeing healthy relationships like that.

So I guess it’s not really news per se, but it is causing a wee bit of an identity crisis. Not sure what term I will use. I’m not keen on changing but I also think it might help others understand what my mind is like.

Decisions

Its pretty lonely when the person you spend 90% of your time with not only doesn’t talk or respond to your funny faces, but also sleeps a lot. I find myself talking to myself all the time. And sometimes others answer back.

These little convos are getting a bit out of hand. I’m trying to rein it in.

The other day I was just chilling on the couch with G when a man yelled ‘son of a bitch!’ right beside me. Of course there was no man. It was the loudest hallucination I have had in a long time. Unsettling to say the least.

Most of the time I just ignore the noise. Its often not voices but machines running or music so its pretty easy if you throw the radio on. But I have to admit without the much-hated Clozapine I am coming to realize how noisy my brain can make my life.

Ever since I went on this med I have detested it. It has the wonderful propensity to make you drool and sweat. On my original high dose I would have to wake up to change my pjs and pillow case at least once a night. Gross- I know. Once I got used to it and decreased the dose a bit it became much more manageable and I just got used to waking up…moist. So long story short; I was stoked to get off it.

I realize now that it is so easy to forget what things were like before. Meds suck- its hard to deny the side effects and the dulling effect they have- but once you stop them you realize being crazy kinda sucks too. So now I face a challenge: to medicate or not? Can I live with this? Get used to it again? I’m not trying to do something high-level like med school, a little distraction may be okay.

Surprisingly, this evening my pharmacy delivered my pre-baby meds to the door. I didn’t request them. They took it upon themselves which is very strange. Sometimes I think the universe sends us pretty clear messages, but I don’t think I am prepared to listen to this one quite yet. I am enjoying feeling like old Me. It’s like I’ve gone back in time to who I was before. I thought a lot of the changes in my personality and thoughts were just age and experience creeping in, but I see now that it was all medication.

Its not a myth that psychiatric medications change who you are a little bit. I would never lie to a noob and say they don’t. It’s a chemical designed to alter your brain chemistry after all. Now don’t freak out! I whole heartedly agree that medication is often both necessary and helpful. But I also feel it is over prescribed.

That’s why I love my psychiatrist. I’ve gone back to one I was seeing before being transferred to the psychosis intervention program. She almost never suggests a change in medication as the first action when there is a problem. She always asks whether more sleep or exercise or socialization might help. She also has touted CBD and melatonin for anxiety and sleep instead of throwing more commercial meds in my face. Its so refreshing. I’m not scared to go see her and I’m honest with how I feel instead of hiding everything for fear of an increased dosage or changed meds. I feel like we are a team and that together we decide what is right (and what I’m willing) to do.

I feel like with her on my side I can try to tackle this challenge. If I fail I know she will catch me. But if I succeed what a wonderful thing it will be!

So people can stop worrying…

Knock on wood but- things are improving.

I am cheating a little by starting a new medication that is breastfeeding safe for the voices/music/apparitions. Not being constantly distracted by them is helping IMMENSELY. I can also sleep properly at night without the noise and a slower brain. It’s a low dose that shouldn’t be too hard to get back off of when the time is right.

Mood-wise I guess it was just the pregnancy hormones because the clouds have certainly cleared. I am definitely exhausted and worn down by the time I crawl into bed every night but the crying jaggs have passed. Yay motherhood!

We found help with the nights that hubby cannot cover due to work which eases the stress significantly. I’m also starting to nurse and the amount of washing and sterilizing of bottles has greatly diminished (although the laundry has not!). Meal planning simple dinners that create leftovers is helping keep us less hangry.

I am still nervous to take G out with everything going on and his erratic schedule of inconsolable crying, but I am eagerly looking forward to a return to somewhat normal soon. I think his first big outing will be the library (he’s been to the lake quickly, but he slept through it!). I’d like to instil a healthy love of books early on if possible.

There are still many moments where I ask myself “what have I done?” but I am really looking forward to so many things! I can’t wait until he is more interactive and we can play and sing and dance. For now though, baby snuggles are pretty awesome.

Restless nights

Sleep is one of those things that you don’t appreciate until it abandons you. Laying in bed awake is possibly one of the worst feelings. When you know you have a full day the next day, yet your fevered brain is running a marathon in your skull its enough to make anyone freak out. I spend most of my night trying to meditate, make lists, count sheep… anything. The music plays, my thoughts wander everywhere, and my eyes won’t stay closed.

Sometimes I drop off and have these incredible dreams so vivid I wake up to do things and realize minutes later that its not real. Its disorienting, upsetting, and I’m pretty sure it means I’m not getting good restful sleep.

During the day I run as if powered by steam. Constantly moving, never settled. I feel awake- which is strange and probably not healthy. I can’t nap. I don’t even feel like I need to. The only symptom of my 2-4 hours per night (so far) is being bitchy and forgetful. The hysterical sobbing seems to have passed and left behind a kind of strange detachment.

Hubby goes back to work Wednesday. We are going to run a little experiment in coping this week. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.