Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How Motherhood Has Changed My Outlook

One of the unexpected things of my pregnancy and now motherhood is how it changed my outlook on life and having bipolar disorder. For years (many, many years), I didn't really have acceptance that I was really bipolar. You would think having a mania induced psychosis that landed me involuntarily in a psych ward with hallucinations would have cemented in my mind that I was bipolar. But still somewhere way down deep I wished or hoped that maybe my diagnosis was wrong. And that one day they'd say that really I had something that is "curable."

Deep down I have struggled for the last 15 years with taking antidepressants, tranquilizers, mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics. I secretly worried that by taking the medicines I was changing who I am. I always wondered "where does the line between personality and illness begin or end?" Sometimes when I was depressed I would think that maybe the person that I am is a negative person who was just meant to be suicidal. When I was up ... I thought hey maybe my personality is just meant to be energetic and happy. That's who Rachael is.

Over the last few years I stopped obsessing over whether I was meant to take medicine or not. And started to realize that I may have to take them for the rest of my life. But still I had the lingering thoughts -- what if ... what if it was because of the antidepressants that I became so severely manic in the first place. Maybe the course of my illness isn't really Bipolar 1 -- maybe it is something less. Somewhere in the last year I realized it doesn't matter anymore.

My therapist used to tell me that true acceptance would mean that I wouldn't feel any internal struggle about taking medicine and that I would stop "wishing" for things to be different. That I would accept that this is what is ... I am bipolar and I have to take medication to keep my illness in check. And suddenly now that's OK.

Somewhere during my pregnancy I realized that things could be a lot worse. I'm fortunate that if I eat well, exercise, maintain positive sleep habits and take my medicine I'm fine - I have no symptoms, no bad effects of my illness if I maintain myself. And honestly I could have a lot of diseases that are far worse ...

I also now realize even more how important it is for me to maintain my health because now someone else depends on me being well. As much as possible I don't want my daughter to ever think that she's been given the short stick with a "crazy" mother. I sure when she is a teenager she will think her mother is crazy - but hopefully it won't actually be because of my illness - just one of those things that happens between mothers and daughters during adolescence.

6 comments:

Mrs_Scotsman said...

"...if I eat well, exercise, maintain positive sleep habits and take my medicine I'm fine - I have no symptoms, no bad effects of my illness if I maintain myself."

That is so true for me as well. I took a big step today and meet with a new OB/GYN about wanting to get pregnant and stay on my medicine. He seemed very positive about me getting pregnant and said that I have a handle on things. He has one medication that he is not familiar with and will get back to me on his opinion. I'm a little anxious about that one.

Thanks for having a blog that has been helpful to me through this journey. I'm not quite ready to put this stuff on my blog yet.

Mrs_Scotsman said...

"I also now realize even more how important it is for me to maintain my health because now someone else depends on me being well. As much as possible I don't want my daughter to ever think that she's been given the short stick with a "crazy" mother."

As I kid I was given the short end of a stick with a bi-polar father who more often than not was unstable (you should see the mess he's in right now - it's ugly). There are pieces of my childhood I just can't remember and the psychologist says that it is a survival coping mechanism. I will be different. My child will not go through that. She is two and she know that I take medicine every day 'to keep mommy health'. I'm so glad that we get an opportunity to make the right decisions for ourselves and our families.

Anonymous said...

agreed. and being a mother def helps with the acceptance of getting and staying well. my first son is what did it for me. He shouldn't have to live with a bipolar mother who's unmedicated and not understand while he's young. So I decided to give it my all and get well.

Thanks for the email re: lamictal during pregnancy. I have decided at 22 weeks along to start taking them again now. Hopefully with that and my Dr.'s input I will be feeling better in no time. you're a life saver!!

Rachael said...

Mrs Scotsman -- I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. I hope all is going well with you!

Rachael said...

christyna,

I hope that you are doing well. Good luck with the pregnancy. Email me and let me know how you are doing.

Anonymous said...

I too struggled with belief that I was bipolar after a 'Ward Visit'. But its true we are bi-polar it is a gift that makes you and everyone else out there with it special.