Is Anybody Listening?

The past few weeks have been uber up and down to the point where I have spiraled downhill several times. You would think that I am used to the ups and downs….but I am not. Especially since I am growing a tiny human that is called several names that isn’t her first lol (Panda and Gracie)…..Poor Erilyn she will be so confused. So, back to the blog (see my mind wanders and drifts). Anyways, I was having meltdowns, panic & anxiety attacks almost on a daily basis. I was going to the ER at least once a week…..due to extremely low blood pressure and dehydration. You see, when I am manic and/or hypomanic; I do not intake anything. It’s not on purpose I just don’t have an appetite. After a severe tongue lashing from a Labor and Delivery nurse and my fiancée, I am currently forcing myself to eat and drink water. But the symptoms….. Oh my gosh they are unbearable and I fear they affect Erilyn. The yelling and screaming episodes…..to the gut-wrenching anxiety nights. I will say that God has blessed me with a good man whose willing to learn. He usually holds me to try and soothe me, or make me bathwater and tea. He has even held my hand as we sleep. So, after about 2 weeks of the rollercoaster my OB forced me to go to a psychiatrist. They immediately put me on medications. I cried and cried in the office while they were assuring me that Erilyn is already formed and should not be affected. All I could was think about her and how its my fault that we cant have a normal pregnancy. The doctors finally told me that being unmedicated was more of a risk to the baby than taking the medications. I would be more prone to suicide, severe depression that could cause pre term labor. I cried and reluctantly said yes…..and decided to focus on my faith to get me and Erilyn through this. This was a VERY hard decision. Perhaps the toughest one to date. I was very adamant that I did not want to take a mood stabilizer. Welp, at my follow up that’s exactly what they did. They put me on the dreadful lamictal because its the only safe mood stabilizer during pregnancy.See, me and Lamictal truly don’t get along though its usually my fault because in the past, I’d be so manic that I would self medicate with alcohol and the medications. ***Note: I have not consumed any alcohol during this pregnsncy outside of occasional glasses of red wine that my OB approved). So, basically they put me on the Lamictal because my mood swings were too rapid and it was exacerbated due to the additional stress of my job and regular day to day stressors. I was not sleeping and or eating or I was crying all damn day when this is supposed to be the most happiest time of my life ( I am recently engaged and having my first child). One of the most stressful/irrational thoughts is that I am so afraid and concerned for Erilyn when she GETS HERE. I don’t want her to see me this way. Don’t want her to think that I am weak. There is so much guilt that I have regarding being bipolar and becoming a mother though none of it is my fault. I had recently learned that someone felt that I was ungrateful about my pregnancy due to my off and on depression/mood swings. I became immediately upset because it seemed that others do not understand JUST how hard it is to deal with an unexpected pregnancy, abandonment by the child’s father, on TOP of uncontrolled mental health issues. I was and still am kinda hurt by this. I don’t want to be this way….I never doubted my child…never thought of an alternative, because through my depression at the time I knew that Erilyn was a blessing from God. She simply saved ME from ME (Hence her middle name Olivia Grace) I am realizing that people may want to understand….but simply cannot. Then there may be some who don’t want to truly understand and you know what…..they don’t have to. As long as I focus on being positive and taking care of me emotionally.

Fast forward to today that prompted this blog. I have since decided to fast from social media since my MD decided that food is not an option. I am fasting with my fiancée to focus on my relationship with God, our pending marriage, and to gain more strength to deal with my diagnosis, to find more stable housing with more room, and ultimately clarity when it comes to my career. Today I woke up very anxious, went to my therapy appointment kind of flat. When John got off work several triggers of instability looming prompted a crying/depressive fit that lasted for hours. I mean I cried for maybe 5 hours off and on. I cried myself to sleep….then awoke and cried more. Now it is almost 3 in the AM and Im very anxious to the point where I cannot sleep and I feel the mania returning. Sometimes, I look forward to the mania because its kinda better than all that daggum crying, that filling of hopelessness….the suicidal ideations….Yea, I endured that all today and then felt guilty because I knew I was harming Erilyn. When I think of why I am crying….I am unsure exactly of the culprit. I mean there is a lot of stuff going on in my life. Ultimately, I am trying desperately to just get through the day and pray for a better tomorrow. I also pray that God doesn’t see my despair and think that I don’t believe in him…or that my faith is questioned because that’s far from the truth.

Every night, John and I get on our knees (Well I sit on his knee because my fat butt wouldn’t be able to get up otherwise). We pray together where he starts and I end. Tonight I prayed mainly for the others plagued with mental illness. For the person who is on that brink…..and doesn’t think there is anything or anybody to live for. I asked God to just hold them tight….to comfort them in their time of need. I also thanked God for sending me someone strong enough to not only accept my situation, but who is willing to be there and hold my hand. To remind me that I have so much to live for….and that God loves me and things will get better…..and Just like that I was comforted enough to not cry anymore. Its crazy that I was more concerned for others battling this disorder on their own….but that’s just how God made me….with a servant’s heart. I didn’t realize until recently that I am still trying to understand and accept this disorder. I have supports yet I constantly ask why it seems that others don’t understand. It feels like at times I reach out, but is anybody listening?

An Unfortunate Open Letter…..

                                                                                                                                                                                   December 2013

 

 

I am writing because I am unsure if we will ever have a normal conversation again. It seems lately that you despise me and our conversations no longer consists of words, but screams going unheard filled with misery. I will actually admit (and its hard to do so), but I believe that you truly hate me. I am most sure that it is because of my decision. I can’t say I fault you because they are your feelings, but I cannot apologize either. I see no wrong in the decision of keeping our child…in fact I feel empowered in spite of.

I can and will accept responsibility for some of the reason of why we are “here.” I like most women ignored you when you said something in the past. I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you when you said you weren’t ready for me. I admit I should have listened to that pang in my stomach and ran for the hills….but I didn’t. I felt conflicted because you said you loved me….that I was the one for you. I am sorry that I ignored your words instead of putting more weight on your actions…..because they truly spoke louder than your words. I can remember being so depressed and you fed me. You held my hand through the bipolar support groups….we prayed together before leaving the house and before every meal. You were simply my support system and I can not understand how that all could have been a fluke. I mean you used to look at me and smile. A smile that I thought was only reserved for me.

I want you to know that my decision to keep our daughter was not meant to hurt you, or damper your dreams. In fact, despite where we are I am still one of your biggest cheerleaders. In fact, I love you so much that I release you to go. Though its not fair to our child that you aren’t here I release you to do as you please. Become that lawyer….I know you can do it. Just know that I will work tirelessly for our child to be loved and well rounded. I hope one day that you will to. This amazing being deserves that and more. I remember amongst the other things that you have said that “I ruined your life.” Well love, my life has changed drastically and I wouldn’t change a thing. One must sacrifice abundantly when blessed with the gift of being a parent.  At times, I wish you saw things differently and just be there to support, Being bipolar and with child has been rough and detrimental to my psyche; however, I have been holding onto God as tight as ever. My faith has grown tremendously and I have this journey to thank for it. It was God and ultimately our amazing child that kept me from acting out on suicidal ideations. It has been the grace of God that kept me through those gut wrenching nights of extreme anxiety and panic.

Please know that I do not speak ill of you in fear that my baby will hear (She has ears you know). I want her to love you regardless…..its a baby girls plight to love her father. I am just lucky that she is blessed with a daddy as well just like me. A daddy that did not birth me, but birthed life into me…That’s what she has now…and we are so blessed. It’s unfortunate, but I truly hope one day that we can co-parent effectively. I pray daily that this beautiful journey wouldn’t always feel gloomy, and you know what it isn’t anymore. I have embraced our baby girl and as I stated….she saved me…from me, but you wouldn’t know that. I pray that we can become a team….and ensure that our child’s life is grand even if we have to re-define what grand is. Erilyn deserves that….she’s simply amazing.

I hope one day we can be friends. …one day. I pray that you will see me as the mother of your child in a regal manner. That the hatred will turn into admiration…only if in my prayers. I also pray that God will lead you and continue to guide your heart and decisions, because life is but a dream…..we just get confused when we finally wake up. If you still decide that being there for Erilyn is just something you still don’t want to do….rest assured that she will never know about it. I am working hard as I type to ensure our daughter only knows love, acceptance, and forgiveness. In fact, I forgive you for deserting me. I forgive you for the hurtful words that penetrated not only my heart and soul, but my womb. I know it is simply not my fault and I declare now…I will no longer take on that weight.

I pray that you are well. I have faith you will overcome whatever it is that is taking you out of character. I also pray that one day you will feel this unconditional love for the gift growing inside of me.

 

-Erika Nicole

“Good Grief”

The other day I realized something powerful while driving my car in complete silence. People who know me should be concerned because I love my music loud. In a typical car ride you will find me…singing loudly and doing some type of car dance routine….(ahhh those were the days…can’t wait till they come back!) Anywho, I was sitting there feeling…all kinds of feelings. I realized that I was in the stages of grief. Now, before you light me up on a stake….yes I am referring to feeling grief when it comes to my pregnancy, but not in the way you may think. I was talking to my DP last weekend and it hit me that I am still grieving the loss…of my dream. That dream that my first child would be born in love to me and my husband. Dreams of Lamaze classes and painting the baby’s room. I realized that I had been in denial initially…because I just could NOT believe that my moment finally came and it was met with sadness, frustration, and deceit. This is what I mean by denial: When I first found out I was with child I believed it, but had convinced myself that I could not be because NOTHING was as it seemed. Yes, I was involved with someone I loved….and sure he said he loved me….but this baby came BEFORE the vintage princess cut diamond ring. It came before the home and dog named “Miley.” What’s funny is there in my face was scientific evidence that I was pregnant. Not only was my body morphing into something I was not familiar with, but I was blessed to hear my baby’s heartbeat the day I found out. Silly me…still was like, “Well, I am, but I need to be for sure.” I then heard the heartbeat 2 more times before It stuck….This was my baby that I prayed for. Now before you give me the side eye…I did pray for a child….I actually prayed for a FAMILY of my own. The people who really know me…know that I always looked to the day of being a mommy…that I never had. I have always wanted to be in love someone immensely that it seems as a fable.  I prayed for stability that I did not get most of my childhood. So, in essence I prayed for this, I did not however…plan for this! Dagnabit….I should have been more clearer to God, because obviously, he has no problem giving me what I want….and to think… I am usually very specific.

Then I skipped over the Anger stage, and went into the most painful stage….I went into the depression stage. I believe that this was the hardest stage of all. Mainly because I already deal with severe depression and now to add pregnancy hormones, the feeling of abandonment/isolation I felt…it was a recipe of disaster. I was in a place where I was unable to eat…sleep….and think. There was the dread…this fear of the unknown that seemed to swallow me whole. My anxiety had become unbearable. My eyes showed no color, and I couldn’t remember what my laugh sounded like. I became a prisoner in my own body, because I was unable to pull myself out…and for once in my life I wanted to get out of the stage. I simply did not want to stay in that place of depression, because I knew it was not good for my baby. I began to isolate myself since I already felt abandoned. I would go days listening to my phone just ring when my parents called. I would then feel guilty and mumble something incoherently and then hang up. I did not feel the need to lie and say, “I am okay.” Oh, this dreadful stage…seemed too much at times. I began to have ideations when I had enough of it…I decided I had to do something I didn’t necessarily didn’t believe in. I have been battling being medicated since before I was diagnosed. I just don’t like the idea that I cannot CONTROL myself. I mean I can, but the cycling can drain you and become a bit much. It does not feel good. I will write further about my actual decision to get back on my meds….in my new book. Just know it was not a easy decision…I pondered and pondered and obsessed until I decided It was “do or die.”

 

After deciding to get on at least a small dosage to fix my chemical imbalance I started to getting frigging ANGRY! I went from, ” How the eff could _________do this me?” to “Eff _____ and ____ and anyone else that had pissed me off in my life.” I was so mad that I was mad at myself so I started to suppress all of the anger. I suppressed so much anger that it started to seep out of my pores. I was just downright hurt by the decisions and selfishness of others that it made me sick to my stomach. I became to think that no one was trustworthy with my hearts and feelings. Now everyone knows that I can be as feisty as can be and I have no issue sticking up for myself , but this was madness…just anger. Even through the midst of this anger…I was still not bitter…still not willing to be malicious and vengeful. I convinced myself that I didn’t want to pass these ill feelings onto my baby. As I sit and type, the likelihood that I will revisit this stage again is very high because I still haven’t come to terms with it. I have not said the words I need to stay, because I know deep down that it wont change a thing and I am not willing to even go there if there is no victory in the battle. Instead….I have somehow become somehow stuck between bargaining and acceptance. I am sure the closer it gets to meeting my Panda bear that the acceptance stage will become more prevalent. In fact, everyday that I wake up my belly is just a little bigger and there is strange movement I feel pushes me closer to acceptance. Accepting the fact that…its not MY FAULT that things did not happen the way I wanted. I tried my hardest….and I continue to try. Accepting that this blessing is mine…that I was special enough to ask God for something and he gave it to me. I have accepted that I cannot make people support me or want to support me the way I need them to. I have to continue to accept that some people are not selfless like me. That in reality most people are downright selfish….and that its okay…I just don’t want to be that way simply because that is not who I am.

Furthermore, I accept the challenge  of not only being a single mother…but a loving mother. A good person. A faithful servant who falls but gets up. That no matter how others treat me that I can only allow these ppl to do that…and
I cant afford to come in and out my life as they choose. Being isolated for this time…was in a way healing for me. I have become comfortable in my silence. I have realized that not everyone is willing and or able to understand how I feel and if they don’t…I still gotta keep breathing.

The other day I tweeted that I am a bird without wings who cannot fly. I went onto say that I was restless and overall flightless. I have accepted that on those days that I feel that way are only temporary. That one of these days I will soar again….and that more than likely I will be soaring soon…its just in my DNA to do so.

 

So, if you see a beautiful bird flying, yet swaying a little in the sky…that’s probably me…..just look up and say a silent prayer.

Restless

At night, I get really restless and anxious…I’m not quite sure why but as long as I could remember I have had this issue. It is worse when I’m unmedicated and I can feel everything thing. As a child, I would lie awake at night praying to God to give me relief and let me go to sleep. Now that I’m older, it is worse it seems. I am trying to quiet my mind and slow down my heart. Sometimes, it feels like my lungs will cave in all the while my heart explodes…pretty graphic huh? Since I have become with child I worry how this constant feeling of anxiety and dread affects my baby. I cry soft prayers because I just hope my child doesn’t have to deal with this feeling because of me. Because of my faith though I am able to eventually be rational and know that my baby is probably having the time of its life swimming and kicking away…having a feast on its hands and toes unaware of mommy’s plight.

I want to move….I feel stagnant like I cannot fly. Its like I have lost all desire to flap my wings and when I am able to flap them even just a little; I don’t trust myself to soar anymore. My plans have become jilted…. and now all of my energy is devoted to staying as sane and stable as possible for my baby. Every day is a chore and I have to live moment to moment. No one’s words can give me that comfort ….only my soul can because once you have met face to face with fate and faith it’s hard to not just feel like everything still b ok even if it drains you to think that thought. I realized that with this joy of being a mother;which is something I have always wanted eventually…I am going through a grieving stage. I am grieving this dream that didn’t unfold the way I expected. I never thought I would be here…. always thought I’d get that love of my own before I created life…. and for a second I thought I did…finally have it.
After the heartbreak of Joel, I figured God would grant me my hearts desire because that’s what I wanted do badly. When I was engaged, we tried so hard to have a child… I never got pregnant. In a sense, after all this time God did grant my desire though…to be loved unconditionally. My baby loves me and depends on me to stay alive. I truly have something and someone to live for…. I just pray for strength to ensure my child has a blessed life. That I will be enough…. that though I am essentially damaged that I’m well enough to be my child’s light…. even in my restless days I will steady my breathing and foot tapping to relax and envision my bright future…not all is lost.

The Sweetest Thing

I have not been able to write lately let alone concentrate. The anxiety has been too much to cope with at times. I sit and think often how am I able to push through the gut wrenching anxiety…alone? Night after night, I cry, clutch and rub my belly praying the depression and anxiety away. At night it seems, my heart goes into overdrive and I cannot breathe…it is a very scary feeling. I have lost weight (3lbs but my baby needs to be healthy) and appear to be at my wits end because I just don’t know what to do….or where to go. It was nothing before to just go through this battle…I had essentially being doing it all my life….but now that I am responsible for someone else…things seem more intense…and out of my control. My optimism comes in spurts and I feel like I am truly on a free fall rollercoaster. When I am not depressive, I am very irritable to the point where I don’t wanna be around myself. It ultimately feels like no one understands.

Lately, I have become introverted and lost all desire to…reach out to friends/family. The phone calls have dwindled and that’s all but “ok” with me….because I have nothing to say. I don’t even have my normal rise and fall in my voice that I am sure everyone knows so well. I have lost the desire to do the positive things I used to do…I simply don’t have the energy. One reason for not reaching out is There’s always that possible feeling of being judged or simply misunderstood.
At times, you just get to a point where its pointless to keep talking about something you don’t have the answer to. When someone asks…”Why?” I have no answer. Then there is the supposed assumption that I must be upset about doing this all alone….when in reality I have come to terms with it. The depression I am feeling right now seems off the charts. It seems that my bipolar is being exasperated on top of wacked out baby hormones. Not to mention that I am pretty much handling things emotionally and financially alone. One does not know the true sacrifice of becoming a mother until one becomes one. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my child….so why does It seem like I can’t make a decision that will possibly “benefit” yet torment the both of us.

Since I have been pregnant, I have cycled from mania to depression. Before finding out…I was teetering on the brink of insanity. I was purely manic…I still don’t know how I was able to self publish a book and work 50+ hours a week. Upon learning of the baby, I have become depressed and I cannot shake it….At times I am unsure of the culprit because there is no definite reason why I am always weepy…and lethargic among other things.

After confirming my pregnancy, I have been informed that I need to be medicated because the professional fears that I am too vulnerable right now. I would never (let me repeat NEVER) intentionally hurt my baby as I have been fighting for my baby since day one. When everyone seemed to question my loyalty to my baby I never thought a second about not having it. But, I am now fighting a battle within myself about whether or not to be medicated. I tried a herbal supplement for awhile that seemed to liven me up…until it almost threw me into a manic cycle. I don’t like being depressed, but I am deathly afraid of being manic (mania cannot be good for the baby cuz imma MESS Manic) while pregnant so I was told to stop the supplement…. So, I have stopped and I am thoroughly surprised I am even able to write this post.

So now I am here…. I am unsure of what to do…but just know its breaking my heart. There are so many risks to being medicated; however, there is even more risk allowing my baby to be exposed to me and my emotional instability. I wish that I had more support….but even I don’t know what that looks like right now. My daddy is here and my mommy just left….they helped as much as they could and I am still suffering….

As I did my research to start my “Bipolar Bump” series…there is very little literature about pregnant bipolar women. Most of the “scholarly” articles say that the best way to deal with mental illness while being pregnant…is to….*drum roll* not get pregnant. This can’t be real. There has to be other women out there who are dealing….where are they? I need their help. I am sure that most aren’t comfortable being open and raw about this predicament…but this is who I am. Hopefully, when I figure this out, I can help others….( see there I go…cant help myself but ready to help others) I know my baby is not a mistake…that God placed the blessing not only in my tummy, but my heart and soul ;therefore, things have to work out…I believe that…I just cant see through the smoke right now. I am afraid more than anything and unsure.

Until then…I will keep trying…I will continue to pray that I will have the strength to follow doctors orders…have the discernment to do the “right” thing and I just pray that my baby will be fine. I want Panda to know that I am trying…and I tell my baby this every night.

Yesterday, I was especially anxious before my Pre natal appointment because I knew that I wasn’t in good shape. I was afraid that I would be committed if a professional saw me this way. My doctor allowed me to hear Panda’s heartbeat and ya’ll…I was in awe….I was silent. My Panda’s heartbeat was so strong and steady. There was no doubt that my baby was letting me know WE were in this together. I often say that my baby is stronger than me…i have recently realized that my baby is strong because of me…. and that is the sweetest thing…

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