You must know

Know that I love you since before I was born

Know that I loved you since before you were born

Know that you are my every reason for being

Know that I want to leave to set you free

I try and I fail and I try again and I fail and fall harder

Maybe this time it will work

Call for interviews

As part of a bigger life project, I am conducting (anonymous) interviews on how to live/cope with bipolar disorder. Send me a message here or through my Facebook page if you are interested in participating.

Bless

https://m.facebook.com/happilydepressedblog/

Talking out loud about your mental illness

A few weeks ago my daughter overheard a conversation about my blog. She wanted to know what a blog was, so I walked her through that. Then she wanted to know about my own blog.

“What do you write about Mama?”

It then hit me. My blog is public.

One day she might read it. I am not sure I am ready for this now. So, future me will deal with that.

With children, the rule of thumb is to answer “difficult” questions with as little information as possible. One question at a time. No need to draw a detailed account I thought, just the basics to answer to her curiosity.

So I told her my blog is about my experience. I started writing I said when I fell sick last year. I write about health, my health.

So she asked me again, like what? Then I said I write about mental health. I didn’t think she will understand. But she did. I was swept off my feet with what she said later. A lot of explaining has been done to her by my husband I thought. What a good job he had done.

She told me, oh so you write about how you feel so others who have the same problem know? I said yes, she kept on talking. So when you share your story they can know what worked and what did not? Yes love I said. That is great Mama, this is much better than just writing I take this medication and that medication. When you write how you feel it will be more useful for others.

I felt I was talking to a friend not my 9 year old daughter. She got it without lots of words. She sensed it. Those youtube DIY videos she loves to watch must have taught her something after all!

Yesterday, as I was checking my email, I found a message from someone who prefers to stay anonymous. He told me that he suffered from anxiety, panic attacks and depression in the past and that he read the blog. He raised a few important points on his experience that are common to mine.

He told me I am brave to talk about such a personal problem in the open. He said that for him and for many, it is not that easy to open up. I reflected on that and remembered the talk with my daughter. As I wrote back to him, it struck me that this is not courage at all. It is survival.

I didn’t do this blog for anything other than a deep need to be heard. I wanted to know if there was someone somewhere going through the same and feeling despair.

It happens that yes, I am not alone. You are not alone. We are all together in this. It does not matter what country you are from, what age you are, whether you are single or not, atheist or not, poor or not.

I discovered that I am read in so many different places like Greece, Austria, India, Australia, Egypt, Spain, France and many more.

This means that we all have our moments of doubts, we all go through tough moments, or witness loved ones goin through them.

When life is unbearable as my friend said in his message, the last thing you want is someone who doesn’t know what it is to feel despair to tell you what to do. Come on, it cannot be that bad they would say. You have a lot of good things in your life despite (…). Think about people who lost everything. You are much better than that. Pull yourself up. Go for a walk, watch a movie or come out with us this weekend.

Not very helpful unfortunately. The mind of the depressed doesn’t work that way. Words of actions are the last thing we want to hear. We know it looks like everything is ok with our lives, that maybe our feelings are not justified. Yes that is part of why we feel so low. Sometimes we don’t even have a good reason whatsoever to feel depressed. It does not help. Depression defies logic. It is not maths. I wish…

So back to my first story.

No, I am not worried that one day my children will read this blog. Actually, when they are old enough and god knows when this will be, I will be happy to share with them what I went through. Ideally they will know that yes we can dive as low as it gets. We could recover, or find a balance, or worst of all we might linger on in despair. It is normal.

They might then look at others differently. They would perhaps judge less. They might offer the right soothing words to someone one day. They will understand that we are made of flesh and blood and that it is not shameful to be sick.

Don’t worry; you are not alone.

Bless

TBC

On being human – a month afterwards

Dear all, thank you for checking in. It has been over a month now that I have quit all psychotropic drugs.

I hate putting pictures of myself online. I need to do this. Here is me: one in ER while on a cocktail of drugs and one DRUG-FREE on a night out (with my husband cropped out of the selfie for his privacy)…

A picture worth a 1000 words
Midst depression & suicide, hooked up to machines at ER
A “person” taking a selfie...
Listening to Jazz with my husband – DRUG FREE

They scare you…

This is a rather long entry. I will be telling you about how the experience has been. I will also tell you at the end my two cents on my last psychiatric appointment. I will also refer to what I do to be able to manage my withdrawal after almost a couple of year on heavy drugs.

They sacre you…

Ever since this experiment spectrum of emotions, thoughts and physical sensations have been revealed to me ever since.

I am partially proud and relieved. I have this sensation of being in charge of who I am and once again responsible for my decisions and thoughts.

It is not an easy journey. A layer of artificial pain has been lifted away quite dramatically from my being. I discovered the traces of other pain beneath. It was thrilling to regain emotional and bodily sensations again. It is spectacular to be human and mostly to feel like one.

I find myself unable/unwilling to think or plan ahead. I try to live a minute at a time and not to complicate anything. Although I can achieve a wider range of feeling, I prefer to dwell on the surface.

They scare you…

I am prudent. I once read that bipolar patients are always waking on eggshells. I think it is also true for those who suffer from recurrent depression. I worry about the consequences of my feelings and try now to stay at the surface. I think that this is more than anything, a survival mechanism.

Bad dreams have been happening. They are too vivid for my liking. They are probably the most vivid I have had to memory. Why are they so scary? Because they are not based on fantasy. They surprise me as logical, and this is why all the while during the nightmares I think that I am actually loving those moments.

Tears are close by. Menial tasks requiring mental skills are tough for me. I need to concentrate with all my mind. Adios to multitasking. One thing at a time.

My weight is soaring. As big as a whale; as if I have eaten every problem I have ever thought about.

Together with my limited mental capacity, I feel short of who I am.

They scare you…

My 38th birthday is around the corner. I am worried about the forties, worried of turning 41 – the age at which my mother died.

I think of her a lot lately, with more understanding. Though my turmoil was partially due to my childhood with her and to her sudden death, my illness has taught me to see our relationship differently.

I understand her now more than ever. I feel for her suffering and instability. I cherish her ability to have taken care of me to her best; with her limited means. I don’t blame her anymore. I couldn’t have done better myself.

I hope for the years to come to be able to see my illness as tough-love; as a blessing in disguise.


They scare you…

A disturbing fact though remains.

I had gone to my latest appointment with my psychiatrist 10 days after quitting. She was of course against it. She said quitting suddenly has severe consequences. Depression of course was a runner up. I was also told that lithium won’t probably work again should I need it. Rebound is possible, no one knows when, how or for how long. It would be very dark I was warned.

Perhaps I could live with all that. Nothing she said was new until she told me something quite harsh.

They scare you…

Knowing that I write about mental illness, she told me that I should put a warning when speaking about going cold turkey. She said: ” Mothers who kill their children and then commit suicide do that because of depression”.

They scare you…

She left the sentence hanging in mid air; either to refer to potential readers who can harm themselves by listening to me. She could have also meant me; I was left to choose.

Besides being deeply offended and utterly shocked, I felt a lot of self doubt that I now regret. I dwell on this almost daily.

I say with utmost confidence – something I generally strongly lack – They scare you…

Bullshit; No one can pretend to know you better than yourself.

Bullshit; Stop stigmatizing mental health patients; you of all people should know how to weigh your words.

Bullshit; No! Our loved ones; for that fact my children are a red line that no one is allowed to cross.

Bullshit; no! Crying, anxiety attacks, binge eating/ drinking, nightmares, dark thoughts, are and were never ever directed to anyone else.

BULLSHIT!!! STOP!! I will not let your narrow single sided knowledge of an incredibly complex topic such as the human mind dictate how I should live my life.

I tell you my dear reader. I warn you like she asked me to do not to quit cold turkey. But I add to that; this road is not to be travelled unless under certain circumstances that are very complex.

You and you alone can decide how to live and what to do with your life. You alone will know when or when not to quit. You alone know down deep inside your motives for such a decision. And most important of all, you alone know if you are god forbid dangerous to yourself or worse to others.

Whatever you do, do not quit believing in yourself medication-free. Yet better, do not quit the hope for one second of being illness-free.

Without any conspiracy theories, let us not have the world of pharmaceutical companies tell us how to live or love our children!!

I do not deny that yes unfortunately such miseries do happen. Yet, millions of millions live and die without committing any of such acts and hopefully you and I are no different.

Should you decide to cut off or quit. I urge you besides doing it at the right time and weighing the benefits and the doubts as well as the consequences, TAKE SUPPLEMENTS.

I have a routine filled with micronutrients, vitamin D, omega 3, probiotics, and amino acids. I also use essential oils for withdrawal pains such as headache, back ache and insomnia. They help me a lot. All this is due to my dear husband. He has done incredible research on the topic and I do take all my supplements religiously. On most nights I sleep, and on most days I go out of the house.

Please I’d urge and beg you, if you are reading this before you go to your first doctor’s appointment because you are suffering, considering an alternative route. Do your own research, ask a loved one to do it for you. Just don’t start with antidepressants, mood regulators and benzodiazepines. You might just need iron and vitamin B complex instead. So take charge and do your homework. There is an alternative route – less travelled nowadays yes but real all the same.

No one will care when you have a zillion side effect but you.

I will be writing another follow up to let you know how things are progressing. Feel free to comment or ask questions…

Go sacre them with your humanity…

TBC

Fighting demons

I left the hospital about a month ago.

I didn’t write earlier for many reasons. Initially, I was denied technology for the first 10 days of my hospitalization at the closed-up ward.

They took everything. I was allowed my bed and a few magazines. My luggage was searched. Chargers and electronics were sent home. Glass was separated from plastic. Belts were taken away from clothes. Everything else went into either a small closet to which the nurses held the key, or to the nurses’ office, access to which was upon their discretion. My cigarettes and lighter were locked up too. I got about 3 to 4 smoking breaks; always accompanied.

Interaction was limited. The idea was to spend time to heal without any distractions. Noises were rare – except for the TV that was on low volume. I remember watching Forest Gump while sitting (luckily) on one of the three recliners. Lights were dimmed.

I had visits from my family daily. I was eventually allowed to go down to the yard and cafeteria with them. I would have coffee and sometimes a kinder bueno. I slept 12 hours and ate together with the other five patients at the common table. My diet was mostly derived from the cabbage family. I think this was the cook’s punishment for vegetarians. I surely don’t have vitamin K1 deficiency.

We traded food as we complained about it. It was the highlight of our day. We also shared two bathrooms and a shower. They gave me a bedsheet instead of a towel. Sometimes people forgot to flush. I had to return my shampoo as soon as I finished. At night they sometimes did random searches of the rooms. They would put things back in the closet or their office. This period always reminded me of the Jungle Book song “The Bear Necessities”…

I had daily visits from either one of the doctors or the intern. They would ask all sorts of questions initially to establish my story, my case. It was intense in the beginning then it became more of a routine. I was weaned off my long list of drugs and little by little I had 3 instead of 8.

Without a mobile, we had access to a phone line from 2 to 8 pm. It was religious for me to call home at 7. I would then speak to the children. I would beg the little one to sing me a song.

I began to cry after a few days. I missed my kids and although I could see my eldest in the garden, it was very impersonal and cold. My problem was my youngest. I was dying to hold him. He had never been away from me all that time and I had plenty of time on my hands. I obsessed about seeing him. I dreamt of him, heard him calling my name. I held his tiny blue car I had taken with me to the hospital. I looked at his picture most of the time. I was itching inside to see him.

Doctors had mercy eventually and I was moved to the open section. It basically meant that I could soon have the right to go out for a few hours. I was in a triple room though, I had absolutely no privacy. At the time it didn’t matter because all I cared about was holding my children tight.

My phone was given back to me but I could neither connect to social media, nor write. My stay at the closed ward influenced me to a degree I cannot explain. I thought it shall pass. I thought I will eventually answer calls or at least reply to messages. I am still in my bubble. This is where I feel safe. I still have dinner at 6 PM.

Eventually I was let out. I was on Prozac and lithium. After a few painful blood tests done by intern nurses, the doctors agreed that it is time to move to the real world. I could manage my nausea then. I hadn’t talked about this side effect to anyone. I feared they would change drugs again. I had had a few “mock” stays at home for 48 hours, and as these went well, they had no reason not to let me out.

I was extremely happy. Cured I thought. I was on a cloud. I savored my sheets, my coffee, my family. I felt liberated and free from the weight of all the previous drugs that left me with countless side effects.

I was managing my own medication. No suicidal thoughts. I could get dressed and go out for dinner. I didn’t fall asleep by the time the starter arrived. I did not snore or have awful nightmares. I didn’t wake up at 3 am to empty the fridge.

Yet, I could not write. It drove me crazy. It was as though my mind was emptied – literally. This caused me great pain. Little by little the cloud of happiness was disappearing. Gravity hit in fast and I was left with my initial illness of 2 years ago that hadn’t been treated till now. I felt all the personality changes that follow taking so much drugs. I look at the mirror and wonder who is looking back at me. I barely recognize myself, although I guess we keep the same values.

What keeps me afloat is my family. I cannot break my husband’s heart by falling again. I cannot imagine not seeing my baby boy. It is unthinkable to put my daughter through this one more time. And I honestly don’t know if my father can survive one more of my attacks.

You get the general feeling. I am scared. I also tremble. It is from the lithium. My hands are shaky and my face twitches sometimes.

I look like all color has been taken away from me. My world is black and white. I laugh sometimes, but it is momentarily. The thing I love doing the most is staying in bed alone, but my doctor says I shouldn’t.

My main concern is that this illness has taken over my brain, my life. It is the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I have on my mind at night.

I sleep poorly and have had some ugly panic attacks. My husband sits me through them and holds my hand to help me breath. He tries everything from rubbing my feet to aromatherapy. It eventually passes and leaves me incredibly tired as if I ran a marathon.

Now, I have to start therapy but I don’t feel like talking to a stranger. It has been three weeks since I had to take an appointment. I am scared of the slightest changes. When will I say I am me again? Oh dear, do I really want that?

TBC

The day before my hospitalization

As I smoke the day’s first cigarette, I wonder…

It has been decided yesterday that I will be hospitalized tomorrow.

Dread is all what comes to mind. A new place it is, specialized in mood disorders.

The ward I will be occupying will have 6 patients. Six individual rooms isolated from the outside of the hospital; from the outside world.

I worry about small details; will the room be warm enough? Will the charger reach my bed? Will they let me out to smoke?

I also worry about visitation rights. It is no prison I know, but there will be strict rules to follow.

How long will this stay be? When will I graduate to the open ward, where I will have access to the courtyard and the cafeteria? Will I get permissions to go out? When will I see my children again?

Soon enough all these mundane questions will be answered, and other ones will surface.

I will write as much as I can….

TBC

I don’t want to hurt myself

I don’t want to hurt myself. I do not want to end up in an emergency room.

My only weapon is my writing.

I have to fight myself as much as I have to fight the system. What on earth am I supposed to do not to end up in an emergency room? How can I control my impulses?

Could my pain make my heart explode? Is this physically possible? Will I let my children see me this way? What does the system offer to those in my position? Waiting and some more…

I wish I could feel numb like the last 48 hours. Today it hurts like an open wound. Will I keep on bleeding endlessly? will I hold this scream till the end of time? Will my tears ever dry? What can I do to protect my children from me? Leave? Go where? Die? They will be motherless just like me.

I have given all my strength in this fight. There is nothing left in me, not even pride. All what I ask is for is that it be quick. This separation that is tearing me apart, could it happen in the blink of an eye?

I am rambling, scared like a lost child in a forest. How can I be a mother when I am like that? God, if you exist help me… and if you don’t, then let me be…

On waiting

I want to be readmitted to the hospital, but there is no place for me today. Maybe there will not be either till Monday. That means I have to keep my will to go for hospitalization alive till then. That means I have to give my family and specifically my babies the cold shoulder. Otherwise, I will change my mind again.

I know no one else understands the cyclical problem I am facing. Today is the last day before the weekend. This means today is the last day before total meltdown. I want to be safe before it. For others all days are the same. The dread of the weekend is creeping up on me like a thousand ants…

Will I have the will to go after the weekend? What will happen? I keep my drugs with my father. I will not go out alone. I do not even want to go out. I have to wait and waiting is what I hate the most about this whole process. If I could manage to sleep it through…

We have to wait for doctors’ appointments, for drugs to kick in, for drugs to taper off, for places in hospitals, for visits at the clinic, for permissions to go out, for the right moment to leave the kids when on perm, for the nurse to give you the pills, for the lunch tray, then dinner tray, for healing to occur, for convalescence to endure….

We have to wait to kiss our children goodbye, we have to wait to greet our children… We have to wait to explain over and over again what is wrong with us.

To hell with this waiting, yet we even have to wait for hell..

TBC

4 reasons Why you should avoid going to CAC 6 in France

Yes I know I am sick as a dog, but if you read me out, you will understandably know why I hate this institution.

1- You might be refused help: I went with my own packed bag to the CAC* of the 6th arrondissement in Paris (emergency psychiatric center). I was seeking help, and mostly protection. I was refused by a psychiatric nurse CATHERINE – she told me to rely on my inner resources (smiley face) while I have suicidal thoughts )gesture with third finger and black dark pitch black ideas.

2- Mistreatment, under-treatment or non-treatment could be a nuisance: Next day, it started. I had my headphones on most all of the time to avoid any contact with the staff. I think it was the smartest thing I did. Next day, unfortunately there was still again no place at the private clinic to which I would be transferred to, so confrontation was a little less possible.

3- Spare yourself from unnecessary anger: Small things, like you cannot get access to your phone at 8:55 but at 9:00. That I have no visitation rights except for one hour. Small things like forcing you to take an ambulance to the other clinic while they have absolutely no right to do so. Small things that I could go home and have a proper shower (wearing same socks for two nights). Small things, like going home to pack my bags and kiss my children goodbye.

4- Food sucks: Just kidding, but unfortunately true!

Admission to CAC meant that I used my mind – a ruse – I managed to get admitted by waiting for the next shift of nurses to arrive, angels like FABIEN, MARTINE and BENJAMIN. They let me in, gave me something to sleep. I felt sad to be away again, but nothing weird – just the fact that I was not able to leave my husband and be away from home.

For a full review click here

*CAC: They are part of the 5 psychiatric institutions in Paris. They provide a hotline and psychiatric consultations. They welcome, treat, or offer short time hospitalization, but do not take charge of hospitalization without consent….Ils font partie de l’offre de soins des 5 établissements psychiatriques de Paris. Ils assurent une permanence téléphonique et des consultations psychiatriques. Ils accueillent, soignent, orientent ou hospitalisent pour une durée brève, mais ne prennent pas en charge les hospitalisations sans consentement.

Waiting for Monday

It is inexplicable what bipolar means. It sounds simple enough; one day up one day down. Yet, this dam type II has most of the time down periods.

I noticed it is mostly Sundays that I don’t tolerate. I think I never liked Sunday. When I went to school, I had Friday and Sunday off, so I always looked forward to Thursday. Till now, it is my favorite day. Sunday reminds me of regressing to routine, of boredom, of loneliness, of responsibility…

I decided to press the panic button today and went to the emergency day center CAC. I couldn’t open my eyes this morning without crying. I cried when I saw the bed empty, when I heard the sound of my husband talking to the kids. I cried to the sound of TV in the background. I cried because my children were beautiful. I got dressed, i even put on make up to look normal for them. I am sick of them seeing their mother crying and shattered in a million pieces.

I fought the feeling and went to make their favorite breakfast. Fuffy eggs. Everyone ate, tears came down even more because they ate. It was going up, the feeling was growing… The void, the meaninglessness of my life, my love to them..

Today my feelings are like a song, With a beat, with percutions in the background and a soft singer whose voice breaks through your heart with its depth, its high notes travelling through your veins.

I do not know what to expect from myself, from CAC, or from today. I am in terrible pain.

I see other people in the clinic, some gazing with their eyeballs made of glass. It scares me, I was like this once and I do not want this to repeat itself. But I like to talk to other patients. Their pains and stories make mine legit.

I feel nauseous, not from the stomach. I feel I want to throw my “guts” out. I wish one could throw up their mind and feel this amazing void afterwards.

The psychiatric nurse and I spoke and we decided I should not be sedated. I have to have feelings, but they hurt. It is like a fresh wound on which you throw alcohol and scream each time – perpetually…

We will see what will happen. At least Sunday will be over soon and Monday will come. It will be grey yes, it will be freezing, but it will be Monday. My roller coaster ride will slow down, and there will will be at the dawn of a new day.

I know it hurts to be here. But I kept my promise and pressed the panic button. I want my family to know that I love them more than anything and despite everything. I just wish they have the patience to wait for me, for this darkness has to cease. They say there is light at the end of the tunnel. If one saw it, I can too.

Not religious, but praying to see this light for more than one day, i saw it for the most for one week…

May you never experience my pain.

See you Monday

TBC

Leaving the clinic today

Well, I’m quite excited about today. You see, today I leave behind 41 long days of hospitalization. I have been waiting for this day for so long, it seems almost a dream come true.

Yet, I am afraid or rather apprehensive that today I leave the cocoon and safety of the hospital. I know I want nothing more than being with my family, with my husband, with my beautiful children, my ever so giving father and my loving mother in law.

My apprehension comes more from expectations outside. I need to get back to my role as a mother. My children miss me, but I miss them even more. I know that my husband is waiting for me patiently. I also know that my immediate family would like to have the house come back to normal, this was mainly my duty – I am a stay at home mother…

I also know that everyone understands my condition. They understand that now I am in a state of convalescence.

So since the last few entries that I posted on the blog, I like to leave you with some tips and tricks which I hope might be useful should you find yourself in a similar situation.

Here it goes…

Don’t get too comfortable in your hospital stay: I think from my experience you have to know that everything is temporary. Getting used to the safety of the clinic is not something that you should really get used to. What I mean is you always have to know that there is a real world waiting for you outside. This real world is where you will spend the rest of your days. Please know that no matter how long the hospitalization is you will eventually get around and you have to be ready. This is basically a primary psychological preparation.

Prepare your exit so that it easiest for everyone: Knowing that you’re not going to be at your full capacity once you are out makes expectations more real. You will need help. I am speaking as a mother of two beautiful children who require plenty of energy; energy that I do not have right now. Even if your budget is limited try to find help through family, maybe hiring a cleaner or a nanny, or maybe even relying on some good friends. Basic tasks could be haunting In the beginning, and I am certain that people around would be willing to land you a hand.

Continue seeing your therapists and psychiatrist: I cannot stress the importance of this. Professional support outside of the safety of the clinic is essential for your well-being. You will adjust your medication according to the development of your case. You also should make sure that your therapist is there for you, ensuring that you are on the road to healing.

Don’t pretend to be stronger than who you really are: We get carried away, thinking that we are better, thinking there could be no harm in taking more tasks than we should. Remember, one step at a time. Do not take more on your plate. You have a long way to heal even if it doesn’t look it to others.

If you are a parenttalk to your children love them though as a mom or dad you might not have your full energy yet: You would be amazed at what can children understand. Just by maybe saying that mom or dad are yes at home, they will help little by little and take care of you slowly but surely. Ask for their patience, more important and more efficient than melt downs. I cannot stress enough the importance of one day at a time.

Routine is your best friend: My doctors told me to try and keep a routine even though it could be difficult at the beginning. For example try to wake up early and have breakfast every day at the same time. Maybe we can go to the market, pick up the stuff that you would be eating the same day. I personally find that my muscles have weakened so much over the past months. Morning walks will keep you sane and will get you into an exercise routine slowly but surely.

You need to rest: Again my doctors told me that I need to rest everyday. Even talking too much can drain you. He recommended naps but not more than 45 minutes a day.

Be patient: Rome was not built in a day. Stay in tune with your body and don’t over do it. Little by little you will find your old self emerging; or better still your improved self coming to surprise you.

Take supplements: read about taking supplements because this is very important for your overall health. Read about the importance of vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 as well as a variety of other vitamins and minerals, they can benefit your wellbeing more than you can imagine.

Congratulate yourself: Yes, you made it! Give yourself a big pat on the back. Be grateful you made it. They wouldn’t have let you out if you were not ready. And remember, you did most of the work! Be proud for your achievements: )

TBC

Hospitalization 2: What to do when you see your children for the first time

So dear friends, a post that it slightly out of date. Yet it took me a wile to have the courage to write it all down at one go. Now I am at the luxurious clinic. Hell in candy shape… what I would do to be in the arms of my children…

I had one of the worst experiences in my life. In the beginning of my stay, my psychiatrist gave me my first permission to go out – accompanied – for a couple of hours. I was euphoric. I was going to see my family, my kids… I would smell their hair, touch their faces, kiss their fingers… I was going to get hugged and I was going to listen to them saying Mama in the real Live version and not on FaceTime.

I would have slept if I could, by the entrance of the reception all dressed up waiting for them to arrive. Instead I forced myself to sleep. I got up, showered, dressed, put on make up, brushed up my hair… I waited. Lunch tray came, I said no sorry I will eat with my family.

Comes 2 pm I was by the door waiting for them. I can see my little ones holding hands… My babies, here they are. I held them tighter than I ever had. They were here finally in my arms. I imagined that moment and it was never as good as reality. We went through what the asylum requires: some admin stuff to make sure who signs me off and takes responsibility to brings me back.

We walked out, hand in hand all the way to the restaurant. Nothing better than an Italian place, loud and large enough to accommodate my big family. I did not want to sit next to my small baby. He is not even 2 and a half yet. I thought it would be better to have my eldest next to me, and my baby in front on a high chair.

I couldn’t look at them. My tears were flowing so fast. Everyone was trying hard to make fun of the situation, to make it lighter. I had my panic attack starting nicely. Not long before desert arrived, I texted my husband saying it was time to hit the road before I get a full fledged episode. He told my father to start taking me back. The problem was that my baby had fallen asleep on his highchair. It could have been an ideal moment to leave. I kissed my eldest goodbye, tears flowing and breath starting to get out of control. As I grabbed my coat, I made noise…

My baby woke up while I was going down the stairs. Screaming he was, mama, mama. I could not look back, I was almost paralyzed. God knows how I went out of the restaurant. My legs felt like noodles. I was mot going to tolerate them seeing me in this state. I held tight to my dad, breathing I don’t know how and crying my eyes out.

We miraculously reached the clinic. I went to my room and sat on my knees while wailing. To cut the story short, the nurse came in, so did the doctor on duty. They forced me up the bed. They were not nice. They wanted to contain this escalating meltdown by discouraging me to continue having a panic attack. They give me something to feel calmer. I held my head close to my knees and cried so much that I felt empty.

So now, from my horrible experience I want to share with you what you should and shouldn’t do when as a bipolar you need to get too see your children for the first time after your hospitalization:

Do not see them in a different habitat: Big mistake. I highly recommend that you do not spend your first visit – or any visit- if you have small toddlers in a place they do not know. Why am I here? Where is this? Why is Mama here? Why does she leave me here? I did not know the exact questions that go through their little minds. Please do not choose if possible a strange place.

Do not go while they are sleeping: It was tempting yes, leave without disrupting my toddler’s sleep. Big mistake. You need to say goodbye. I always say goodbye even if the children do not like it. You are not playing peekaboo. By 2 years of age, they know that people do not disappear out of the face of earth. It is a betrayal, that you should try hard to avoid if possible.

Let them drop you off: If you are seeing them outside and close to the clinic, let them drop you off, just like they picked you up. It makes more sense to leave their parent in a place that is half familiar, or at least where they know their parent is staying at the moment.

Clearly discuss your “in case” medication: I had and I have an extra dose of anxiolytics in case I need one for anxiousness or else. But the mistake that day was the timing and the dosage. I took it too late and too little. I had to have more, and to put it under my tongue to make it act faster. It would have avoided this emotional flooding as well as my panic attack.

That’s all folks. TBC as usual