#mommyonmeds

Being a mom is hard. Being a mom with a mental illness can be impossible. Take today for example…

Today I felt like garbage. Just depressed, anxious, exhausted, and every other negative emotion I can think of. Why? I’m not 100% sure but I’m fairly certain it has something to do with my period. So that’s fun for me. I could barely get out of my bed today but I had to, because I am a mom. And we are never off duty. Thankfully I had my extremely helpful husband and by some miracle my mom was with us today, otherwise I don’t know what I would have done.

I couldn’t sit next to my son without crying. And while I believe it’s ok for children to see us cry or see us be anything but perfect, it still made it really hard to be his mom. Because I don’t want to cry in front of him while reading “I Want My Hat Back” for the 1384394th time. I kept thinking about how I wanted him to see his mom as a strong woman.  And then I remembered, crying is showing strength.

It takes courage to allow ourselves to feel, whether you have a mental illness or not. It’s ok for us not to be perfect in front of our children. Why do we even try in the first place? We don’t expect them to be perfect, so why do we have to be? And what parent has never “lost their cool” before anyway? If you’ve never broken down in front of a toddler I don’t believe you.

Today I allowed myself to be sad. I watched a YouTube video of a mommy vlogger’s grocery haul because it took my mind off things. I kept hearing “you’re not being a good mom” in my head over and over. But that’s not fair. Not only am I a mom, but I’m a mom with bipolar disorder. And sometimes that makes things really fucking hard. Sometimes it feels like my brain sets me up to fail but I still have to pick myself up and be there for my son. It takes a strength I didn’t know I had. Moms really are superheroes. Because despite feeling like I was falling apart, I made it to dinner time. And I made it to bath time. And I made it through bedtime. But even if I hadn’t been able to, even if I had to have my husband take over, that would have been fine too.

It’s ok not to be able to do it all. There’s SO MUCH pressure on parents, particularly mom because the media hates women, to be the “perfect mom”. I see it on YouTube all the time because I am obsessed with mommy vloggers. There are the vloggers who never show a child having a tantrum. Always have their hair and make up done. And always have their house neat and clean.  But then there are the other moms. The moms like me who are still in their pajamas, hair a mess, and teeth unbrushed at noon (and yes I did go to a conference call like that…with my camera turned off). The moms who are just trying to get through the day. We’re not wearing mascara. The baby is having avocado and cheese for dinner. And I won’t be wearing destroyed skinny jeans because my legs would look like sausages. And no I still don’t fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. THANKS.

I took some of my anti-anxiety pills because I have convinced myself that they make me feel happier as well as less anxious, and it helped. Medication works for me. I know it doesn’t for everyone, but I’m a mommy on meds. That should be a hashtag. AND I took those meds all throughout my pregnancy and after I delivered. Because my mental health has to come first.

So today I let my mom and my husband take the wheel. Because I needed to watch that grocery haul. I needed to ride my bike (I miraculously summoned the energy to ride it). And I needed to take a hot shower where I (badly) sang my favorite depressing showtunes. Sometimes I feel depressed or anxious and I don’t know why.  But I try to acknowledge those feelings and let the people around me, my support system, know that they’re there. Because I really can’t take care of my baby if I don’t take care of myself.  And I have come to accept and appreciate that. I hope you can too.

8 Down, 2 to Go

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything so I thought I would post an update. On Monday I will be 8 months pregnant with my first baby. It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 months already and there’s only 2 months left to go before we meet our little one.

One of the reasons I haven’t written anything is because I’m one of those annoying pregnant women who absolutely loves being pregnant. Sometimes it can be a challenge (oh the heartburn…) but most of the time it’s really great.  One of the greatest things that has come from my pregnancy is how much it has lowered my anxiety. I had to stop taking my anxiety medication when I got pregnant but stayed on the other two I take for bipolar disorder. I was worried that my anxiety would come back full swing without the anxiety meds, but much to my delight it pretty much disappeared.  The only thing I can attribute it to is being pregnant and the chill little guy inside me, as unhelpful as that is.

I haven’t experienced the mood swings you see in the movies which has been surprising to me since I have a mood disorder, so I thought they would be much worse for me.  Maybe it’s my meds, maybe it’s this little guy, or maybe life just decided to give me a break, but whatever it is I’m hoping it lasts into postpartum.

I, along with my doctors, decided I would stay on my bipolar medication throughout my pregnancy and I will continue to stay on them through postpartum, which (hopefully) includes breastfeeding. Any research available (which is scarce) doesn’t point to any complications with the medications I take, which is why I decided to stay on them.  At first I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of taking medication while pregnant because of all the ‘what ifs’, but my mental health needed to be a priority because happy mommy = happy baby.  

I know I’m very lucky to be enjoying pregnancy so much.  Last weekend I went to a prenatal yoga class and some of the women shared how much they’re struggling with pregnancy.  It made me incredibly grateful that the worst things I deal with are heartburn and occasional hip pain. Every pregnancy is different and I know that the next time I may not be so lucky so I’m doing my best to enjoy this special time in my life. 

The only thing that frustrates me is how little information is available for pregnant women who take psych medications. I understand that it’s hard to gather data, but I feel like there’s more that can be done.  I watched a documentary on Amazon about mothers who take psych meds with the hopes that it would shed some light on the subject for me and I could feel better about the medications I take. But pretty much all the women stopped taking their medications so I don’t understand the point of documentary.  Needless to say, it was not helpful. 

I did find an online community of moms with bipolar disorder who were able to share their experiences with pregnancy and breastfeeding on psych meds, so that’s been reassuring. But deciding to stay on my meds was and continues to be a difficult decision due to lack of information. However, based on how smoothly my pregnancy has been going I feel safe thinking I made the right decision.  My only hope is that in the future we have more information about pregnancy and psych meds so women feel comfortable being on medication(s) that keeps them healthy.  As my doctors always remind me, happy mommy = happy baby.