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

Failed experiment – on being human


I want to take a pair of scissors and chop my hair off

I want to break both legs

I want to cut my face with a knife

I want to slice my wrists and watch blood oozing out of my veins

I want to live on the street

I want to never speak again

I want to never feel again

I want to never see again or hear again


I took the drugs today. Don’t know why or how many… probably lithium 250*3, Prozac 20*3 and a couple Temesta 1.

I had gotten so angry before it. Not mad angry but scary angry; where nothing matters anymore. I have been there and it is not pretty. I am getting numb now. Getting slower. My nerve endings are not painful anymore. My upper back has stopped wanting to detach itself from the rest of my body. I am mellow. I am high and low and I will hit the ground faster than I know it.

I couldn’t succumb to what I wanted to do. Is this safer? No. Is this what I want? No. Did I lose yet another month or two trying to be a good girl responsible for her body and mind? Yes. Do I gain points in this game or does my score go back to zero each time? What now? A life of broken promises and misery all around to which am the catalyst always. If I could just be on an island free to live or not as I please. Would it change anything?

The worst feelings I have are about those around me. The destruction I create in their eyes. I don’t want to talk to them or look at them. I don’t want them to see me. I should be locked up alone like a crazy relative in the attic. In a bare room with a small window. I wouldn’t be let out because I lost my confidence and words remain words. What is a promise? Why is it so important?

I want to see my children grow from far away. No need to get them messed up with me. I will tarnish their childhood with worry, fear, and dread. Their small hands come to me to cuddle and my skin burns. Their kisses burn my face. I know I shouldn’t have been their mother. It burns and I feel I am contagious. What did they do to get me? How could I have predicted my state now 10 years ago? I love them too much to hurt them. I hurt them just by being a mass in a bed that moves right to left all day. I hurt them when they cannot play because Mama is in pain. They cannot go out band cause Mama is having a bad day. They cannot have friends over because Mama needs silence. They know I am sick and they ask me what hurts. They bring me dolipran and ask me if I want coffee. They tuck me in. The small one tucks me in ans shuts the door behind him… How long will I be able to lie?

I want to get my father only on the phone. I don’t think I can even handle this. I don’t want him to see me a bag of bones. I am his life and that is the problem. What kind of life is that? Tormenting my old man is what I do.

My husband…

My husband, I don’t know what I want for him. I want him to go on and not stop because of his handicapped wife who should be locked in the attic. I want him to forget me and that is the toughest of all. I want him to forget 19 years of mostly joy and a year of mostly hell. I want to erase his memory of me and maybe remove all love and pity from his heart. If he forgets whom I was before maybe he will let go easier…

I want him to stop believing it will pass. I want him to stop hoping it will not be like this tomorrow. There is no more older me, a me of those were the days: she is gone. He says: She is getting used to new drugs, she reached the therapeutic level of the drug to work, she is having side effects from the drugs, she is in withdrawal, she is …. she is…she is done habibi that is what she is. The one you loved dearly is not me and I am not her. All what we had has been taken away with my illness. We got robbed 20 years and only you have at least a couple more 20 years to live. Don’t live in hell.

I want it to stop being about me.

Is this too much to ask? I want him to go to work. I want him to travel for work. I want him to do his job as he should. I want him to have friends and hobbies. I want him to have fun. He cannot with me around. How can I disappear? I want him to plan his life like anyone should be. I want him to stop walking on eggshells all the time. I want him to stop detonating my bombs right and left… I want him to live and embody life for our children. He can do it.


The nausea is kicking in now. My body is very heavy. I have a few hundred steps to take back home. It is sunny. I had coffee. People are in summer dresses. The street is buzzing. Kids in strollers and people on bikes. Motos ans buses make the most noise and it is annoying. The world is not stopping…

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

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…

Help me if you can

I packed my pyjamas, I packed my socks and leggings. I packed my sweethearts, tooth brush and lenses case.

I packed my nail polish, I packed my cotton buds. I packed my headphones and I packed my bathrobe.

I couldn’t pack my children, I just packed their picture. I packed a picture with both smiling, angelic as they are. I couldn’t pack their smell, though I packed their perfume.

I packed blue-tag to hang their picture on the wall. I just pray to god to hold strong till Tuesday. I have to wait Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. How can I bring myself to wait for not seeing them?

How can I pack my husband’s hug? How can I pack the smile of my father? How can I pack humanity in a bag?

Anyone who has gone through this please help me. I can’t stay home, the hospital won’t take me for a few days. I am being torn up alive…. Help me

The story of my insanity

Today I decided to share with you how it all started. I do not know why I feel the need to tell you this very personal story. I got a tattoo recently saying “Busco Me”, which is a Spanish title to a song that I absolutely love.

The song is totally bipolar, though my tattoo does not make sense in Spanish grammatically speaking, I chose the name of the song: I am searching for myself. I have been trying to avoid this subject while doing nothing else but soul searching for the last ten if not twenty years.

I have to talk to you about psychology to get to my the essence if my bipolarity, my insanity, my story. I chose to be a psychologist after the death of my mother at the age of 16. It was the only logical thing to do. Well, probably there were other logical things to do at the time. But for me to it was a calling.

My mother had psychiatric problems, if not at least psychological ones. She was a heavy drinker – an alcoholic. I was always ashamed of talking about this. It was my secret, our secret. I discovered recently that it is not the case. I cannot be hiding behind a thick curtain hoping to see the light. This was the reason I left psychology behind 10 years ago. I decided that the past is useless, the future is unknown and the now is what only matters.

Yes, this is a good mantra, yes it is indeed. But do not forget that the past that you have lived, makes the now you live. I had tried long and hard to escape rom this catch 22. Why I kept asking myself, why do I give so much importance to my childhood since my mother died 21 years ago? Please I am 37. I have a husband, 2 kids, travelled and lived in over 7 countries. I speak 4 languages, I have more diplomas than I will ever use.

I can pack and unpack a house in 24 hours almost on my own. I know how to change diapers, while having a glass of wine, talking on the phone, and making sure the food am cooking does not get burned. I help my husband make difficult decisions. I am a source of happiness for many people around me. I always encourage, always ask people to believe in themselves and that they are born for a reason, which might not be clear now, but surely will be. I am your typical cuddly dog, faithful, yet strong, playful yet with clear boundaries.

You get my point. I am polyvalente. I can do many things, and do them well. My husband says I must be German, though my only relationship with it is a goof friend of mine born on the same day as me. Why am I looking for the past? Why is it haunting me?

I will not tell you all at once, it will be too long. I want to keep you interested. It might turn out to a book this soul searching experiment. It might also be thrown to trash, but it wont be Eat, Love and Pray or whatever it was called. Sorry, not my type. Who cares anyways? The pleasure is in the journey not the destination. Do we need to argue this too?

TBC

Helpful resources in France:

Enfants -Adultes D’alcooliques: Dedicated to the topic. But it also has a few good specific articles in french about how to deal with certain situations.

Al-Anon/ Alateen France: Since the 50’s in the USA and early 60’s in France, this association helps families and friends of alcoholics. Good tip they have sessions in English and Spanish for families of alcoholics.

Information elsewhere:

Adult Children of Alcoholics: An association that is in the US helping the same population through different resources.

Children of Alcoholics: Very interesting resource speaking about how this specific population is at risk of addiction and offers pathways for prevention and treatment. They even have rehabilitation centers! Of course, you guesses well. This is indeed in the United States.

Feel free to add resources that you personally found useful yourself in the comment section….

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