So I’m reading this book that my neighbor let me borrow, and it’s triggered a lot of feelings and emotions in me. I’m only half of the way through, but so far it’s been mostly guilt over how crappy of a mom I am some days.
I’m reading it, and the main character talks about how she watches her mom have peppy days, and then dark days, and I empathize with her, a lot. Mainly because my kids have to suffer through my up and down days, and it’s only been the last few weeks that they’ve had any semblance of what a normal mum should be. My kids had to deal with a mum that couldn’t get out of bed, and if she did, it was only to go downstairs and collapse on the couch and sleep some more. That’s what they put up with for weeks upon weeks before I was admitted this last time. I’m seeing my therapist twice a week at the moment, and she’s constantly inquiring if I’ve taken my meds that day or not, and chewing on me hard if I haven’t because that’s what did me in this last time…I’d been off my meds for 4 months prior to going inpatient.
So back to this book and the feelings it evokes…I’ve been told that I am entirely too analytic for my own good, and that side of me gets in the way of me tapping into my emotions. Well, I don’t know if I was doing much analyzing today as I was reading, because I felt lots of things. I feel so strongly for both the mum and the daughter because I relate to them both. I remember being a teenager and being so out of control and not having any idea what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t control my emotions. I most definitely relate to being inpatient in the psych ward. But I also relate to being a bipolar mum, and my kids suffering because I’m the one raising them. I get the terrified feelings of panic, the despisal of self because you’re lashing out at your kids and you don’t want to, and you don’t mean it, but the words or actions come out anyway. I understand the seemingly unendurable weight of depression, and the fog you’re in, where nothing can spark interest in your life, and there’s no meaning to your existence, so why keep going?
Maybe I’m being too hard on myself, I’ve also been told that I’m entirely too overcritical of myself, but I feel like I’m constantly failing my children. There’s no empirical proof of this, (I think)…I mean they are fed, bathed, clothed, and hugged and loved on, but I’m not taking them to the park everyday, or I’m not consistently taking them to story time at the library. I don’t sit and read books with them for hours at a time. I feel like I’m not doing a good job teaching them about our religion or about the Bible and those stories. There are so many ways I feel like I’m letting them down, and I can’t get over the crushing guilt of that.
I hate myself when I’m having a dark day, as this author puts it. I hate it when my dark days spread into weeks, then into months, and then me ending up in the hospital for weeks at a time. It’s a vicious cycle that I fear will never end. I just want to be that ‘Leave it to Beaver’ mother who has fresh baked cookies waiting for her kids when they get home from school, who participates in the PTA meetings, who can honestly have dinner on the table when Dad gets home from work, AND have the house looking spotless 99% of the time. But that’s just not me.
I’m lucky if 2 out of 3 of the main rooms are clean, and I try to keep the living room presentable at all times. I despise cleaning and am currently decluttering my house so it’s easier to keep clean. I’m also a terrible cook, so many nights it’s either my husband grilling something up, or else it’s something out of the freezer for the kids. I struggle with keeping up with laundry, I can’t ever stay on top of it because I get bored, or overwhelmed, and it will simply sit, in piles waiting for someone to get to it. The dishes are probably my biggest nemesis, and thankfully that’s a chore that’s been handed over to the oldest.
I just feel like such a failure because I have let my kids down so many times. For example, during my last depressive episode my oldest wanted to go to the pet store. Just to look around for a little while. I couldn’t do it. Every day she would come home because I’d promised to take her, and I’d have to let her down and tell her mommy was too sick to go that day, maybe later. We still haven’t made it to the pet shop. My middle two seem to be the least fazed by my episodes right now, my 5 year old can control the TV, and anything she or her brother need, she’ll get without any assistance from me. As I stated in my earlier post, the one who I feel suffered the most was my baby.
I had an impossibly rough and traumatizing pregnancy with her, coupled with severe postpartum depression. I never really ‘snapped out of it’ with that, and I longed to give the baby up for adoption. I had a hard time bonding with her….for 13 months I couldn’t bond with my youngest. I cried a lot over having that fourth baby, it felt like such a burden to our family, and I felt it was all my fault for getting pregnant. Maybe one day I’ll post about the struggles my kids dealt with while I was pregnant with her because I was a zombie. I was on and off bedrest, I had gestational diabetes, and I was unmedicated for my bipolar disorder. It was a perfect storm of traumas to leave anyone spent and exhausted.
So she is born and becomes daddy’s little girl. I had no interest in her. I tended to her basic needs, but I didn’t interact with her like she needed because I just couldn’t find it in me to get worked up about her. I wish I’d sought help for this sooner, maybe then I wouldn’t feel so guilty now, but it wasn’t until I was in the hospital and had time to process things that I was able to come to terms with my emotions and ambivalence towards her. Now, nearly a month later, you’d never have known we had a difficult relationship. Fortunately for me I have very forgiving children and when I opened my heart up to her, she welcomed me with open arms into her heart as well. I was truly blessed to have that occur.
Now that I’m stable, I am doing more of the things I like with my kids. We go to the park, we play outside, we read Scriptures and have story time. I’m better about keeping the house picked up, and I’m better about being more loving with my kids. That’s the part I feel they miss out on most. Consistently having a mother that shows her love for them in so many tender ways. Because I can’t be that mother when I’m not stable. No matter how hard I try and how hard I want to be, being a great mother does not come easily when I’m in a depressed state. My manias are generally very short lived, so I can’t really comment on my parenting during those times.
So that’s some of what I feel when I contemplate being bipolar as well as being a mum. It’s so difficult, but when I’m doing well, it’s one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever done.