Stigma Fighters: Charity C.

I am an only child. My parents had no intention of ever changing that, and yet, I have heard my mom say, you need to have 3 kids, one to replace you and your hubby and one to populate the earth, my whole life. Why would I hear that from a woman set on having none before I came along and just one after I showed up? I have no idea, but I carried her message with me. Three kids. One to replace me, one to replace hubby and one to populate the earth.

Hubby and I got married and two years later we had one to replace me, 15 months later we had one to replace him…but what about the poor, overpopulated earth? I begged, I pleaded for just one more. I wore him down. Two and a half years later we had one to populate the earth. My heart was finally satisfied.

We brought her home from the birthing center and settled easily into our newly expanded family. Four girls in four years was perfect, in my mind.
But that’s not all that was in my mind. I had so much energy. I couldn’t stop moving. We went and did, we were busy. It worked great for the older two, they liked all the fun. It was great for our house because when the insomnia came, I cleaned, and Facebooked, but who’s keeping track.

My midwife and I were in constant contact. She talked me through the fits of tears, rage and anxiety. She kept me together. We finally decided I needed more help, so we chose a medication. It helped a little, so we upped the dose. Five days later I was completely unable to slow down. I was sure if I did I would come apart so clearly that no one could fix me.

My house really benefited. I cleaned the whole thing, including washing and folding all the laundry in five hours. I couldn’t stop. I had to move. I had to go. I would be beyond repair if I didn’t wash every.single.cloth.diaper.

Early the next morning, a thought came together. I’ll take the girls to my midwife. She can take them home and love them and I can just disappear.

So, that’s what I did. I packed up the diaper bag with their favorite items, their sippy cups and the baby wearing wrap. I loaded us in the car and with tears coursing down my face drove to my midwifes’ office. The girls and I climbed out of the minivan at her office. I walked in and calmly said, “I know I don’t have an appointment, but I need to see her and I’ll wait.”

We were ushered into a room with my midwife, where I sobbed into her shoulder,” can you just take them home and love them so I can disappear? I don’t know how to be their mommy anymore.” She didn’t take my kids, instead she loved on them and me.

And with that manic episode and flight to my midwife, I was ushered into the world of mental illness. That evening I would be admitted for the first time to a psychiatric hospital. It was a rough experience. I got no help from the 4 doctors I saw in 24 hours. But it served its purpose.

While I was locked away in my own personal hell, my midwife was diligently researching and finding me the help the hospital didn’t give. Two days later I saw the first outpatient psychiatrist of my life. He tried a wide variety of medications and treatments, but we ran into issues when he took me off all my medications to see if I was better.

It was about then he first uttered the words Bipolar Disorder. They weren’t words I wanted to hear, but they were the ones that fit me.

Over the last few years I have worked with four psychiatrists. All, but one, have helped me on my journey, helped me get a little bit stronger, a little bit better.
That baby intended to populate the earth? She is the most amazing almost-3-year-old. She and her sisters give me the will to fight when the desire to escape screams in my head. They force me to focus my thoughts when my head is too full of thoughts to let me breathe. They give me the will to call the doctor, yet again, to say, “something isn’t working, something has to change.”

I tell my story for them, in hopes that in their lifetime the stigma that surrounds mental illness will be destroyed. I tell my story for other mamas who are believing the lies that they are all alone and that they can never get better. I tell my story for me, so it will have value and meaning for others, to lift some of the pain it brings to me. I tell my story for you hoping you will know love and acceptance no matter where you, or a loved one, are in their journey with mental illness.

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I am a stay-at-home mom of three spirited little girls and a wonderful hubby. The girls and I fill our days with homeschooling and daddy busts his butt to keep in the manner I’ve become accustomed to, also known as just enough money to occasionally buy Diet Coke.  Blogging happens in my “spare” time atwww.gigglesandgrimaces.com where i talk about faith, family and mental health.