If you follow my blog at all, then you have probably noticed that the last few months I have been somewhat mia. Often it's because, as I sit down to write, I don't really want to share where my thoughts are at.
That's why my new instagram has taken off. It is very easy to post a picture of something versus writing a post. This is a space I want to always be honest in and so, lately, rather than being disingenuous, I have just stayed away. Not that what I post on instagram isn't reality, it's just the part I want you to see.
If you follow my infertility struggle at all, you know that for the past year I have been weaning off of my medication in order to become pregnant.
To say it has been more rough than not would be an understatement. I have an amazing team surrounding me and we knew this was more of a probability than not (thanks Ted Wells for basically making that a dirty word to me now) but I think I shrugged it off.
For almost 20 years I railed against my parents, doctors and then my husband when they tried to get me to take the medications. The side effects that plagued my body wreaked havoc in unimaginable ways and I was basically a shaking zombie. That all changed almost four years ago after a two week in patient stay at a psychiatric unit, my doctors found a mix of medication that not only worked, but left with with minimally invasive side effects.
The problem lies within the fact that none of them are safe to be on while pregnant or trying to become pregnant. at all. And so, with much thought and a team of doctors and a plan if things derailed...I slowly weaned off.
I have never been more sure of my need for medications to regulate my mental health. It has been dreadful. Mania and depression had just become second nature to me and being relatively mentally healthy for over three years has led to the realization of how good it can be versus what it is.
I am also no closer to a baby than I was last year at this point prior to my last surgery for endometrioses and eventually I have to come to terms with whether or not enough is enough. I have repeatedly said I want to be a mother but not at a risk to myself or my child. If you are one of my friends of faith, I covet your prayers...not necessarily that I will become pregnant but that no matter what happens, I am able to come to terms with it.
I have often wondered when I would be back to share where I was at in my journey because, after speaking in front of the legislative branch of NC regarding how far I had come with my illness and working closely with our local NAMI chapter...admitting where I am now feels like I am a failure and almost a fraud.
But this illness doesn't care how well I did for a time, it comes back to visit when visiting hours are closed and it doesn't even bother to knock.
The hardest part of my illness is when people try to help by asking "what's wrong? Why are you depressed? and I have no answer for them.
This leads to me only feeling worse about the situation and almost guilty.
My life is great. Honestly, my past was pretty traumatic and horrific, but now? Yes, the infertility weighs heavily, but quite honestly...that's not it. My husband has a great job. I love what I do. We have a nice home. We love our families ( for goodness sake people, I hit the in law jackpot) We travel all the time. Our friends are awesome. The Lord has been more than good to me.
Still, the answer to what is wrong with me is quite simple. I have depression. Depression doesn't give a damn about how good my life is. It's job is simply to be a wrecking ball.
It's kind of an ass-hole like that.
The decision to share my where I am at now was chosen for me today when I clicked on ESPN late last night and read the story of Madison Holleron. A 19 year old student athlete at Penn University. She was a beautiful girl who appeared to have it all. before she jumped off the side of a parking garage.
The first thing I saw when I pulled the story up was the title "split image" and then, as I read and realized her name was also Madison, I knew the time was right to share where I am with my illness.
I owe it to her memory and anyone else that may be struggling to not hide again just because it's tough. I've been honest and very transparent about my illness since the blog began.
I will just say it's much easier to talk about your illness when you are doing really well and another level when you are really struggling.
I want to be very clear that I am NOT Suicidal right now, but I know how easily that can happen for people and I want to parlay how much help there is available. I may be in the depths of it now, but I am so aware of the symptoms and know to reach out for help if it gets that bad.
I spent 20 years pretending my past never happened before I embraced being a voice for mental illness. I cannot walk away now.
Before I was 19, I had spent almost a year total (over 4 years and between 13 different hospitals) as a in patient at psychiatric facilities. I am struggling mightily right now but not to the desperation Madison was that day, but it was a feeling I knew well. My story could have easily ended 21 years ago if any of my suicide attempt's had been successful.
I survived because of my faith, a husband who stayed when most would have left, my family who have fought the battle right along side me for 20 plus years, my friends...and I (unabashedly) say medication and therapy. They may not be the answer for everyone, but they worked for me.
This is where my story differs from most. Of all my many weeks and months as a patient in the units, I had multiple visitors a day. The majority never had a single visitor the whole of their stay. This is one of the few illnesses that people find it easier to walk away from than stay and fight for you.
and that breaks my heart.
Mental Illness is the hardest hurdle I have ever faced.
I was molested from the age of 3 to 5.
I was brutally raped at 14.
After the rape I was severely anorexic and then bulimic to the point I almost ruptured my esophageal lining.
I was embroiled in an abusive relationship at 19.
The past ten years I have dealt with miscarriages and infertility.
The struggle with my bipolar and depression have been a much steeper hill to overcome because while these incidents "happened" to me...
My illness is a part of me. The constant companion. A shadowy figure that never lets me from its grip.
The smiling face. The constant travel. The dinners and amazing food. They are the story of a good life, which I absolutely have and I am beyond grateful for it.
It's only part of my story though.
When I capture a photo and share it...the view you see is skewed by the lens I choose.
May is Mental Health Awareness. If you or someone you know is struggling, there is help. There is a way. I do not promise it will be easy. I make no pledges that there is a "fix it" answer out there, but, I do promise there are people who want you to succeed, who want to champion for you.