2018 has been a little bit of a rollercoaster so far. I started it off sick with a sinus infection which was annoying. I felt pretty rotten, but Chad would not let me cancel the little 40th birthday party he had planned. He is so freaking stubborn. I returned to work after 12 days off and it was quiet for a change. I was busy, but it wasn’t crazy hectic like it normally is. We had some bitterly cold days that had me wanting to stay in bed the whole day, but I didn’t. I never do. No matter how I am feeling, I get up and “get my day going” as Chad likes to say. For one thing Chad WILL NOT let me stay in bed. No way. Really though, even when I’ve been incredibly depressed, I have always pushed through. I always got up. I always went to work. I have a strong will, sometimes too strong. I have pushed through and continued on with things when I should have been taking care of myself. That’s what caused me to go into psychosis at work 8 years ago. I am getting much better at it, but I still rarely take a sick day. If I stay home sick, I still work basically all day. Anyway…I’ve been having a midlife crisis of sorts. Turning 40 triggered something in me. It has me reevaluating everything in my life. I mean EVERYTHING. It also triggered a mini Bipolar episode. I say mini because I caught it before it got out of control.
Turning 40 without children has been fucking hard. I am not going to lie. This is not the life I pictured for myself when I was younger. I am really good a faking it, having this facade that life is good and fun all the time and I’ve got my shit together, but that number started to make my head spin. I started putting all this pressure on myself. OK, this is it. This is your last year to try to have a baby. You’ve gotta figure this out right now! Then the fear kicked in. You can’t give birth to a healthy child with this illness. You can’t raise a child and work full time with this illness. How can you take care of another human when there are times when you can barely take care of yourself? I’ve been conflicted about starting a family for years. I have a lot of fears. That’s probably part of the reason why I haven’t been able to conceive even with the assistance of fertility treatments. I haven’t had the right energy around having a baby. I’m fully aware of that.
So…along with this pressure and fear came some depression. I started to feel very apathetic which is not like me at all. I usually care too much. I started to lose hope and I started to feel trapped. I began to want to isolate. I felt like I was alone in the world. I started to focus on all the things that make me feel separate from the rest of the world. I no longer drink alcohol (I’ve given it up for good this time, 6 weeks alcohol free!) and sometimes that makes me feel like an alien at social events. That and not having children to talk about with other women my age frequently makes me feel like I’m from another planet in social situations. I live in a small suburban town in Ohio. Literally everyone around me has kids and drinks on the weekends (at least). The depression lasted about a week then the mania kicked in. I was rapid cycling (going from depression to mania quickly). The mania showed up as wanting to spend money on shit I didn’t need, obsessively cleaning out my closet and wanting to get rid of half my clothes, having zero appetite, and insomnia. I barely sat down or ate anything last Sunday. When I had trouble sleeping that night and felt like my head was in the clouds on Monday, I knew I had to do something.
I called my psychiatrist and had him increase my antipsychotic to stabilize my mood. The higher dose put the smack down on the mania instantly. Praise Jesus for atypical antipsychotics! It could have been a lot worse if I let it continue and didn’t call my doctor. While we are on the topics of meds, I want to clear something up. Sometimes people are surprised when I tell them I take medication because I am so focused on having a clean lifestyle. I have been on medication consistently for the last 5 years. It has greatly improved my quality of life. I’ve tried in the past to go without meds and it has not worked for me. I went to the Cleveland Clinic and saw a Functional Medicine doctor for the sole purpose of stopping meds. Functional Medicine looks that the root cause of illness. I had a shit ton of tests done to see if there was some underlying problem causing my illness, they found nothing and the doctor advised me to stay on a mood stabilizer for the rest of my life. She told me even if I ate perfect organic paleo meals, I would still need to be on meds. Now don’t get me wrong, cleaning up your diet and lifestyle helps a ton, but it may not always keep you sane. That is not a risk I am willing to take right now. Due to my history of psychosis, I have chosen to stay on meds.
So…I am just taking it day by day now. I’m doing much better than I was a week ago and I am grateful for that. I am blessed to have family and friends that support me and a doctor who actually listens and cares. I thank God that we have excellent health insurance and can afford everything I need to take care of myself. I have so much to be thankful for. I realize that I have it easy compared to others that struggle with mental health issues. My prayer is that one day everyone will have access to to the medical care they need. I also pray that my words help people feel less alone and give them courage to speak up about mental illness instead of being ashamed. That is what it is all about friends.