Me, You, And My Medication….
I slammed my bedroom door shut and pounded my firsts into my thighs repeatedly. Till finally my legs went numb and some sort of calm had come over me. I was 7 years old and had no idea this would be the first of many outbursts I would have before finally getting a diagnosis at age 27.
I have never been able to control my emotions; I have always struggled with extreme highs and lows my entire life. My depression was a huge part in both my divorces. I had to be medicated throughout pregnancy and post-partum with all three of my children. I spent years of my life in therapy chairs looking for answers. It was blamed on my mother abandoning me at an early age, being molested, and divorce trauma. But I knew deep down something more was at play. It wasn’t until I met a doctor at age 27, I finally had answer.
Such a scary word to hear. I sat numb in the doctor’s office for awhile before finally asking.. Will I have to take medicine forever? The doctor smiled weakly and said its recommended you stay on medication. I spent 6 months working with my doctor to find the perfect dose and perfect medicine to stabilize me and it was exhausting, I never thought I was going to feel a normal for myself and that’s all I wanted was a sense of normal. Bipolar explained a lot of my behavior but it didn’t excuse any of it. I made serious mistakes in my bipolar episodes I couldn’t just write off because I had a diagnosis. I had to learn how to live my life on medication and navigate the world. I ruined a lot of relationships during my bipolar episodes including an engagement to what I believe was the love of my life.
How could I fix that? How do I start over fresh?
I reached out. I reached out to family, I reached out to friends, I even reached out to my ex fiancé in hopes of making amends for what I done unmedicated. I had to learn it was okay to accept my mistakes and those around me forgave me for my behavior. Oddly enough my Dad told me he suspected all along I was bipolar. It was about learning a new life balanced out by an anti-psychotic. I take three medications now once daily for my bipolar, one once daily for anxiety and one I take as needed up to three times a day for my anxiety and they both help along with my monthly sometimes bi-weekly therapy sessions. There may come a day where I can overcome my anxiety but there’s not going to come a day where I don’t deal with my bipolar, and I’m learning to be okay with that.
There are times I miss being off my medication. The days I would feel high, on top of the world and get so much accomplished were amazing. I once redid an entire bathroom on one of my “good days”. But the lows were incredibly painful. I would go days without running a brush through my hair or even showering because I was so depressed. Being on medication has made me successful, I firmly believe I have gotten so far ahead in life being stabilized with medications. I may not experience the highs, but I no longer suffer the extreme lows.
I feel normal and that’s something I never thought I would say. I feel like I can accomplish things. I have learned to manage my emotions and control them better. I’ve been promoted at my job and I’m successful and I never though that would be possible unmedicated. I’ve learned that there’s no harm in being honest when you’re struggling with mental illness there’s a whole community out there of people who are ready and willing to be there for you, including me.
Having Faith in the younger generation…This past Saturday, I witnessed the high school graduation of my eldest daughter. I was so excited to see her get her diploma. Then, it was the feeling of: oh no, not another long and boring speechy occasion. You know the type. Superintendents, principals, student body, valedictorian, etc. I wanted to cry. Since my kids’ name is toward the back of the class, we had a long wait to go.
The salutatorian speech was everything that her parents could hope. Strong, fierce, determined. Justified with the fact that she is riding a scholarship from Stanford. Congratulations!
However, it was the valedictorian’s speech that really surprised me. This young lady had picked the very taboo subject of mental illness.
She talked about her struggles of dealing with depression during her high school career. The overwhelming sadness, not being able to sleep. Feeling like you just can’t get it. The drowning of everyday life and how sometimes you just can’t get where you need to be. Emotional pain and literally going thru the motions of life. This young lady stood at the podium and shared her story. I was literally blown away because she had the guts to take this challenge. A true mic drop moment.
We all have lessons to learn in this life. Whatever path we take, it’s ours. My lesson on this sacred day is to have faith in the younger generation. It called to mind that i am really not empathetic to the stars of tomorrow. How many times I curse behind them in the line at the coffee shop while they are adamant about watching the cell phones. Now, I will give a generous pause before I pass judgement again. Maybe the current generation knows more than what we give them credit for. This young lady certainly did. Just maybe, they could be a little bit better as well.
Striving for exceptional—-Tristen Ahlsey
My Father is an addict to drugs and alcohol and suffers from mental illness. Or maybe it’s the other way around. My Father suffers from mental illness and is an addict to drugs and alcohol. A lifetime of ups and downs, highs and lows. We have an unhealthy relationship from as far back as I can remember. I love my dad-love him more than I can put in to words. Ironically, on our 30 day writing challenge I am suppose to write about something I struggle with, and dad is in the forefront again. I haven’t physically seen my dad in almost 2 years, and have talked to him on the phone maybe twice. Most days when he calls, which isn’t often, I avoid picking up and more often than not don’t return his calls. He calls about about every 6 months for some reason and obsesses over it for weeks, and then won’t hear from him again for another 6 months. Whenever he calls he needs something…money, attention, for me to beg my mom to go back to him, an endless list of wants. Doesn’t ask about me, my husband, my kids. He does the same to my brother. Our phone calls usually end in arguments and his excuses. He doesn’t talk to my sister at all-not sure how long it has been since they have spoken but I would venture to say 8 or more years. He cannot remember my son’s name and doesn’t know my youngest daughter at all. He lies, he steals, he’s been in prison.
He needs help, I know this. And not for lack of trying. My brother, husband and I have begged him to get the help he needs, have brought him numerous places and anyone who suffers through the pain of drug/alcohol abuse and mental illness knows how this plays out. Most days it’s everyone else that has the problems and not him and the rest of the days there is nothing wrong with him. We have brought him to the ER on many occasions. When he isn’t able to get illegal street drugs he will manipulate prescription drugs from many different Dr.’s. I have called these Dr.’s and the pharmacies. I clearly remember one of the last times I saw him-we took him to the ER for the delusions he was having and the Dr. needed me to go back to his house and gather all the drugs I could find. After having done a quick sweep of the house-not aware of his hiding spots-I brought back a gallon size zip-lock bag and then some of prescriptions drugs. Some I recognized, most I did not. What I do know is that he had taken enough of them that he thought he had gone to some land around the river with a back-ho and dug up enough gold to make us all rich. He already purchased a house along side the river and now owned some new cars. Legit-this was his story. NONE of it was true. Honestly-I have never felt so helpless in all my life as I have watched this man become something twisted, and unreasonable. I begged people for help in all directions..church, hospitals, Dr.’s, DHS, police departments, anyone I could think of. Always reached a dead end.
In my mind-most days-I have buried my Dad. For reasons that are all my own and that I will always have to live with-I am exhausted. I am pissed off, frustrated, sad, and desperate. I didn’t get to choose to be raised through this and for my children I choose that they will not. I am sorry for my dad to not to get to know my beautiful children and live our life with us. I am sorry for my children. I don’t have the answers and struggle daily wondering if I am making the right choice. What I do know is that I have tried, good lord, I have tried. I have set stipulations for Dad to be able to be involved in my life again-nothing hard, in my opinion. But I know he is sick-I just ask that he get this addressed by real professionals and not these prescription happy Dr.’s. I will go through this process with him-have told him this. I will offer him a “Dry” house, and take him to his appointments, his dog can stay with us if he needs inpatient care and I PROMISE I will be through every step of this with you.
He called Sunday. Sounded good. Talked to my husband. Said he has changed. Wants to be in our lives, is clean and sober, I inner battled and finally called him Friday morning-invited him to come spend however many days with us that he would like..3,4,21…however many. Get to know these amazing little people that are his too, relax and let me feed you well, just hang out. “He can’t, he has this piano in the house that has to be moved”…says the man who says he’s changed and wants to be in our lives, who hasn’t seen me in 2 years and doesn’t know my children. A Piano. I will never learn……
Love to All-Kim