I’ve been trying to find a way to tell you this, but I find myself in new territory; I’m not sure that there is such a thing as a “right” way.
So, I’ll just tell you.
I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
You’re three years old and twenty-one months old, so this is of little consequence to you at the moment.
Since my rash of panic attacks, your village of aunties, uncles, ninangs, ninongs and Lola and Lolopop swept you up and away into their arms and laps and homes. Not for a moment did you experience any sense of instability or abandonment. You both are so fully and completely loved. We are so blessed.
Meanwhile, my world lacked any semblance of stability.
I knew something was up with the panic attacks. And when we returned from vacation, I proceeded with caution, lining up all the necessary appointments.
This is a Big Deal, I thought. I gotta handle this ish! Stat!
Little did I know that the panic attacks were just primal, biological (however confused by evolution) fore-shocks, warning me of the earthquake to come.
You’ll recall that in the week after our vacation, I was extremely anxious. Armed with Xanax, I continued to take on the world with feigned confidence, determination to overcome my body and psyche’s hesitancy. I wrote about how I still ran my errands, how I was working on puzzles and doing crafts, how I built an EFFING sandbox in ONE EFFING DAY. I kept blogging. And blogging. And blogging. And talking. And my mind raced, particularly about panic attacks. Round and round in circles.
This, my daughters, is what armed with a diagnosis, new information and perspective, we would call a hypomanic episode. Hypomania is less severe than mania. You have all the energy and drive without the thinking you have Super Powers to Fly Off the Roof part (I’ll let you read more about that stuff here.)
But, I didn’t know it then. Not yet.
And then there followed the dark days. Very dark days. Days I spent curled up in bed, crying and yelling at God, certain that I would never make it out alive. That there was no hope.
It sounds like depression cliches. Uh, duh. Because, as you'll know, if you've ever been depressed, THAT'S HOW IT REALLY IS. Fucking hopeless. (So hopeless that I had to use the real F-word, THAT'S how much I didn't want to exist.)
I moved to Lola and Lolopop's house for a week, where I spent most of the week fetal-position sleeping with Mr. Loyal Cuddly Lapu Dog at my feet and watching television and crying to pass the time between therapy appointments.
My family, talk-therapy and this book saved my life, quite literally.
Now, I'm here, thankful that I made it to the other side. Trying to fit it all together. To look for patterns, early warning signs, to figure out how I’ll live the rest of my life with what seems to be bipolar disorder.
Before I was put on mood stabilizing drugs, I felt crazy.
Loved-ones reassured me: if you can say that you’re crazy, then you’re not. Crazy people don’t know that they're crazy.
But, I knew I was crazy. I knew I wasn’t myself. That something else was in control, something that I couldn’t fight alone, something bigger than me, something caused by more than just a stressful vacation or baby blues or an intense five years of marriage and back-to-back child-bearing.
So, for now, I find comfort in my diagnosis. It’s like a doh!-hand-to-forehead-epiphany moment. So, that’s what you were doing all this time? You, Silly Brain, you!
I don’t have all the answers. There are so many unknowns, uncertainties and doubts.
But, this is how my psychiatrist, my therapist and our family are proceeding.
We’re taking it one day at a time. And I’m developing a toolbox of resources and coping-mechanisms that will get me through the next minute, to the next day, to the distant future.
It’s not easy.
And I’m angry. I wish this wasn’t my lot in life. I want things to be back to “normal” RIGHT NOW! To be able to travel again. To be able to go to the grocery store again, God, help me!? To be “all there” and not anxious about caring for you girls RIGHT NOW!
But, I’m learning, ironically, that ALL there truly is, is RIGHT NOW. The past and the future are concepts. And my RIGHT NOW is where I have to live.
So, I’m doing what I have to do to inhabit the Right Now. Prescription drugs, yoga, mediation, sleeping, watching whatever reality show marathon is on today, repeating cheese-ball affirmations to myself as I fall asleep, reading, work-booking, therapy.
Whew! It’s a lot of work. Trying to do nothing. (And trying to not feel guilty about adjusting to my new life of relaxation routines.)
I miss writing to you. And I know that there are a lot of Our People who are out there thinking about and praying for us, who deserve to know a little of what's up with the DDs. More importantly, I like to write.
You’ll have to bear with me. I’m not sure what character or tone my future writings on Dearest Daughters will take. But, now that this is all out in the open, I might find myself back here writing to you from time to time.
I couldn’t, with integrity, continue to write about playdough and snails and peaceful mornings spent in the backyard without being forthcoming about the true context of our lives at this moment.
Girls, please remember, I love you no matter what!