Changing It Up…Yet Again

A few weeks ago I started to feel…not myself. I noticed I was feeling depressed and simple things, like taking a shower or focusing on work seemed extremely difficult. Getting out of bed became harder and harder and I was having a hard time doing the things I normally do to feel better like exercise. I realized my old nemesis, depression, was beginning to rear its ugly head so I did what I often put off doing for too long; I called my doctor.

I was hesitant to call my doctor because I’ve been on the same meds for several years. I can’t even remember exactly how many years because it feels like it’s been forever. I didn’t need to change my meds once during pregnancy for 9 months after, so the thought of changing them now made me uneasy.

Changing meds sucks. Not only do the changes not always work, but you’re often stuck with awful and sometimes strange side effects. I think the weirdest one I’ve experienced was it always felt like something was vibrating (thanks, Wellbutrin). This time is was horrible headaches and nausea. It was like being pregnant all over again but this time I didn’t know if there was an end in sight. Sometimes side effects don’t go away and you have to determine if they’re worth the benefits of the drug. It’s not fair when you have to choose between mental and physical health.

But I knew I needed something to change or I was headed for a depression and I just can’t let that happen right now. Not with work, household responsibilities, and especially (and most importantly) mom duty. I found being around my son so difficult because all I wanted to do was cry and cry. He definitely knew something was up too. He may only be 9 months but he is very observant and I knew I needed to make a change for him, for us. Thankfully my amazing husband stepped up and took on a lot of the baby responsibilities so I could take the time I needed to try and pull myself together. I will say that working from home has been helpful for me because after pretending to be ok in a meeting, I needed the privacy and comfort of home to decompress and sometimes fall apart and then could pick up the pieces and keep going.

Luckily for me, it appears that the side effects of my most recent med change were temporary as I haven’t experienced them over the last couple of days. I’m starting to feel like me again. I definitely still have some anxiety looming over my head, but with the state of the world today who doesn’t? And thanks to medication, I can take the edge off if even just for a moment.

Changing meds is scary because you don’t always know if it’s going to work. Even if it’s just adjusting your meds and not going to a new one, like I did, there’s still a chance it won’t work and you’ll be back to square one. Which is truly one of the most defeating and lonely feelings I’ve ever experienced. But thankfully the increase in dose of one of my meds (I take three, one for anxiety and two for bipolar) seems to have done the trick and I’m back on the Peloton and enjoying my little man.

If you’re taking meds, or you’re thinking about taking meds, and they’re not working, reaching out to your doctor. They’re there to help you and if they’re not doing their job, it’s time to figure out why. There is never a need to suffer in silence.

Motherhood Ramblings

I haven’t written in a while because it’s an odd time. It feels like there is everything and nothing to say at the same time.  We are in the midst of a global pandemic and the second coming of the Civil Rights movement, which makes me feel like my quippy mom posts are irrelevant and even inappropriate at a time like this.  But maybe that’s what some of us need – a welcome distraction from the doom that’s shoved in our faces every time we look at our phones.

Balancing mom life and work life is hard, especially when they take place in the same room.  Being a mom is hard, being a mom during a pandemic is harder.  I applaud the moms with older children who have to explain what is happening and why they can’t have playdates, go to the playground, or go to school.  I’m fortunate that my little one is still more or less a blob.  A playful blob, but a blob nonetheless.  

It’s funny, as I write this I keep thinking about how much this blog has changed.  It was intended to be a place of sarcasm and farce about the random escapades of my 20s.  Then it morphed into a place to talk about the harder things, like mental health, and now I see myself attempting to turn towards “mommy blogger”. True, the internet is flooded with these blogs about making playdough and how to talk to your toddler about not being an asshole, but maybe mine will be different because I’m slightly different from these moms.  I’m a mom with bipolar disorder.  And while there are many of us (we have a Facebook group!) our stories are not always the ones that pop up on your feed.

Maybe people don’t want to read about avoiding mania while managing sleep deprivation or letting your child safely play with your pill bottles (they make great rattles!), but I have yet to stumble upon a mommy blogger or vlogger that talks about her little ones as much as her mental health.  And while I’m not about to start a YouTube channel or commit to a daily blog, perhaps I could share more of my insight into being a mom with a mental illness.  It certainly isn’t easy but it is definitely doable.

I used to think that I could never have a child because of my mental health issues.  I thought it would be too much and I wouldn’t be able to handle it, but life has a way of giving you just enough that you can handle it.  Being a mom is definitely hard.  When people ask me what it’s like I usually give them the bullshit answer we all do.  We smile and say, “It’s amazing”.  And it is.  But it’s also stressful, tiring, and thankless.  And that’s for any mom, throw in a mental illness and you will reach new levels of exhausted.  Then there are all the moms who suffer from postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.  Where are their stories?  I’m getting a little tired of listening to moms go through their Walmart grocery delivery while avoiding the hard parts.

My son shit on me.  He had a blowout while he was sitting on my lap.  Twice.  Where was that part in the YouTube video?  No one warns you about that.  They tell you about the blowouts but not that they’ll occur while your child is on you.  I know i’m all over the place right now and you’re probably thinking, “Kate, pick a lane”, but that’s how my brain works right now.  It’s all over the place because there are a million things I need to be thinking about at all times.  It’s made my anxiety return after the nice vacation I got from it during pregnancy.  I’ve had two panic attacks since my son was born, which is honestly pretty good.  But if you’ve ever had one you know they’re scary and they’re hard and they’re always incredibly inconvenient.  Especially when your child is in the next room.  You don’t want them to see you so you put them in a safe place and then fall apart in the bathroom.  

That’s another part about motherhood no one told me about.  The breakdowns.  Now that my son is 6 months old we’ve gotten into a better groove, but in the beginning the breakdowns were plentiful.  The “I can’t do this” and the “this is too hard” moments.  I know more are to come.  I know toddler life is going to bring about a whole new world of stress and “why would you do that”, “put that down”, and “how in the world did you get up there” moments.  I know more panic attacks are on their way and more bouts of depression.  Because they never go away.

Being a mom is hard, but it really is amazing at the same time.  It is the single craziest thing I’ve ever done yet I would choose it over and over again.  My son can make me feel happiness in a way I didn’t know I could.  So maybe I’ll keep blogging about it and about mental health because the two go hand in hand in my life.  My life consists of medication check ins, nap time struggles (though we’re getting better), exercising for sanity, avoiding getting peed on, and endless snuggles and giggles. Being a mom with bipolar disorder is hard, but not impossible and I think more people need to know that.

 

Mom Life: Taking the Time

Today was a bit of a hard day. Little man was having some tummy trouble which led to him not napping anywhere near schedule and A LOT of crying. Then as I picked up my container of soup for lunch I dropped it and it exploded on the floor.  We went for a walk with my mom, which was lovely until little man had had enough and wanted to escape his stroller and fussed the rest of the walk. So overall not a terrible day, but after the soup exploded my mind started racing about how frustrated I was with our day being thrown off, the fact that husband and I started a new diet and all I wanted was to shove scones in my face, and then the impending doom of coronavirus snuck in there and I had a panic attack, the first in several years.  Needless to say, it put me in a funk.

Later on in the day I needed to start prepping dinner so I brought little man with me into the kitchen and explained to him how I prepare asparagus. That’s when husband came in and said how proud he was that despite having a rough day I was still “momming” the best I can.

That’s because being a mom never turns off.

Being a mom is hard.  Like, exponentially harder than you think it will be.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it and I wouldn’t trade it for the world but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its moments.  Being a mom with bipolar disorder adds a new flare to that.  Although I’m very stable (thank you meds), I still have days where my anxiety is high or my moods are off.  Even if you don’t have bipolar disorder, I’m pretty sure every mom reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about.  But the thing is, you can’t not tend to your child just because you’re feeling down.  That’s the hard part.  It takes an immense strength to pull yourself out of your funk and be there for your child.  God bless you if you have multiple little ones.

I’ve only been a mom for 4 months but in those 4 months I’ve learned a ton.  Mainly that the needs of my child come before my own to an extent.  Unhappy mommy can’t be the mommy little man needs, so I still need to take care of myself.  Recently I purchased a Peloton and I spin in the mornings before he wakes up. IT IS THE BEST. I love spinning more than I have time to explain so having my very own bike in my house is extraordinary.  I was on the fence about buying one for a long time because of the steep price tag, but the relief I get from spinning makes it worth every penny. Plus it ends up being cheaper and much more convenient than SoulCycle. But the point is not to talk about how awesome Pelotons are, the point is to say that I did something for myself because I had to.  I wake up when little man wakes up (alongside awesome husband), I feed little man when I’m starving, and I entertain little man when I’m exhausted because that’s my job.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t squeeze in some time for me.  Even just taking a shower that’s longer than 5 minutes is a delight and can be a much needed treat.  Walking 5 minutes to the coffee shop (and buying scones) down the block BY MYSELF is a refreshing pleasure.

Being a mom is hard. It’s amazing, scary, wonderful, stressful, incredible, and everything in between.  But moms are human, we still have needs and limits.  So if you’re a mom, take some time for yourself, even if it’s just a long shower. You deserve it because momming ain’t easy.  And if you see a mom that looks like she’s at her wits end, offer to help.  Hold the baby or entertain the kids while she takes that luxurious shower.  Or at least tell her she looks great.  Every mom deserves to hear that because even if you have spit up in your hair you are still a beautiful, magnificent creature. You created life, or you’re raising one, either way you’re a mom and you rock.