Monday, April 9, 2012

I Have Something To Say...and it's hard to admit.

I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a child of God, a dreamer, an artist, 

I Am Bipolar.

How I found out: After the birth of my second child I was having a VERY hard time. 

{new mothers who have bipolar disorder are more likely to suffer a mood swing far more deep and devastating than simple "baby blues." Studies have found that women with bipolar disorder are more likely to have postpartum depression than either healthy women or women with major depression. The research indicates that anywhere from half to two-thirds of women with bipolar I or II disorder may face severe depression in the months after delivery.}

I assumed it was simply a case of postpartum 
(which in and of it self, is a real and difficult medical condition and should be taken seriously). 

I tried to imply that I thought something was not right but everyone thought I would "start feeling better soon". 

I reached out to my husband 
(who was only twenty-two at the time and completely unprepared for this type of thing) 
but he would only say things like "You need to just pull it together" or "Other Mom's are able to handle it"; which of course only made me feel more helpless and alone. 

Finally I became desperate enough that I stood in front of the door and physically blocked him from leaving the house until someone helped me.  

The Primary Care Physician Assumed also, that is was PPD and put me on the standard anti-depressant. 

Within about a week I had decided my marriage was over, kicked my husband out,  started drinking every night, was spending money I DID NOT have on things I DID NOT need, and then out of the blue decided to dump my kids with my husband and leave town without telling anyone where I was going or when I'd be back. 

I knew something was wrong when I finally came crawling home. I cried to my husband and for the first time voiced my concern that maybe we were dealing with something more complex than PPD. 

I was diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder in October 

of 2006.

How It feels to be bipolar: Even if I take my meds, stay away from what are for me, "dangerous" substances like certain cold medications, caffeine, and alcohol, even if I mind all the rules and do everything right...I am still bipolar and it still affects my life. 

That's the hardest part. The source of the most shame. People who don't know someone with bipolar or who are uneducated believe that it is something I should be able to "control" or that it will "get better". 

It took a long time 

(and SEVERAL times of me refusing my meds {which is still a source of tension at times as it is for most people who are BP}) 

for me to admit that I HAVE BIPOLAR DISORDER.

But, Bipolar is what I have, it is not

I have periods of deep depression when I cry for what feels like forever and it is everything I can do to get up in the morning and face a new day. Several Thanksgivings ago I had to go to the ER because I was dealing with thoughts of suicide.
 (That is still very hard and shameful to say) 

I don't want to talk to anyone when I feel this way and it makes it hard for me to trust people and let them in because I worry they won't understand when I don't call them back or skip out on plans that we had. 

I am not a good mom when I am depressed.
 My kids know more than they should have to about "Mommy being sick". 

That hurts my heart the worst.

On the other hand sometimes I feel alive and elated with life no matter what the circumstance. 

This is the easier of the two for me because it seems to interfere less with day to day life but it is still disruptive. 

I take on new projects and big endeavors I later loose all interest in. 

I don't suffer from a drug or alcohol dependence 
(which  I am thankful for because a lot of people with BPD try to self medicate it away) 
but I do get the urge to go out all night and drink like I am at a fraternity kegger. 

I call my friends and family A MILLION times a day and I talk about 45 billion miles an hour jumping from thought to thought and topic to topic with out pausing for breath. 

Sometimes I get really irritable and enraged for no good reason
(which is a lesser known symptom but very common of mania)

My husband usually ends up taking the brunt of it, which I hate. 

It makes me afraid that one day he will get tired of it all and simply walk out the door, the divorce rate for couples where one person is bipolar is over 90%, so it's a legitimate worry. 

He assures me he is going nowhere. 

What type of treatment do I use: I am a rapid cycling Bipolar I patient with mixed episodes. 

That is pretty much a fancy way of saying I have pretty severe bipolar with either manic or depressive episodes happening more than four times a year and I sometimes go through times where I experience symptoms of both M/D at the same time. 

Dr's have several drugs they use to treat bipolar and I think the secret is just finding a combo that works for you. If you are bipolar and don't feel like your meds are the right fit for you then talk to your Dr. about trying another route DON'T JUST QUIT YOUR MEDS ALTOGETHER. 

I am currently on a combo of seizure meds that seems to work pretty well for me. 
( Seizure medication is commonly used to treat bipolar disease and seems to help a lot though they aren't totally sure why.) 

I was previously on an anti psychotic medicine but that didn't work for me. 

There are also a variety of other things I do to stay healthy as long and as much as possible. 

I try and stay away from any mood altering substances (previously mentioned) that may start the pattern up or down. I try and stay on a regular sleep schedule which helps those with bipolar and allows me to have some of my first "red flags" that something isn't right when that pattern drastically changes. I try to eat well and make my best effort to stay on my meds.
 (Although this is a hard one at times...I can't offer an explanation as to why 
other than that it is very common occurrence of people with BPD)

 Why now...why am I sharing all of this: This is something I have been thinking about doing and discussing with my husband for sometime now. 

This is something that almost know one who is not in my inner circle knows, and even then I don't open up much about what it is really like. 

I felt like I could express my self better if I had the chance to write it all out. 

I don't want to live in secret anymore because I need support and prayer and good thoughts sent to me and especially my family when things are hard. 

I want others, and particularly other moms dealing with this to know they are not alone and it is possible although hard. 

I am not a professional but here's some of what I have learned: 
If someone you know is dealing with BDP, or you believe they may have BPD be vigilant, be kind, be understanding, see this for what it is, an illness, and let them know they are loved 

Seek help because it can't be done alone.

If you are living with BPD talk about how it feels with your family and support people. 


Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. 
You need support when you are "sick" but you are responsible for staying well as much and as long as possible by doing everything in your power to manage your bipolar.

If someone threatens suicide or asks for help 
(even if it is only hinted at) 
get help. 

Thoughts of suicide are a difficult and sometimes shameful things to talk about. You don't want to ignore a chance to help someone in need.

Living Open & Honest ASAP
(As Southern As Possible)


Post Script: These photos were taken by my six year old who said 
"Let me take your picture momma cause I love when your happy".

Update: During my pregnancy & since the birth of our fourth child  my symptoms have decreased and I have had an easier time managing the symptoms that persist. 

I am still seeing my psychiatrist and we are working together on a plan we are all comfortable with. 

(that plan does not currently include medications due to my lessened symptoms, close and honest relationship with my support people and Dr's, and the fact that I am nursing)

Please don't consider ANY change in your medications if you have BPD without consulting your Dr. 

I don't know yet how this will all work it self out, but I am enjoying and thanking God for this time of clarity and rest, for me and our family.

Thank you all so much for the support and love I have received since this post was originally written. 



  1. you are a Strong & beautiful women inside & out!! LOVE U!!!

  2. I love you! You are a great mom!

  3. I give you HUGE props for sharing such a dark, personal experience! When we had our daughter I went through PPD to the extreme. And then just 4 months after having our beautiful baby girl I was diagnosed with Cervical cancer. The doctors wanted to give me a full hysterectomy but I was only 28 at the time so I said NO WAY. They removed a large portion of my cervix where the cancer was but have been cancer free for 5 years now. But after having PPD and cancer my hormones were so out of whack that I didn't know what end was up or down. Crying. mood swings. drinking (after I stopped nursing). feeling alone. anxiety. You name it! But I was put on anti-depressants as well which helped somewhat. Finally I quit them cold turkey (not the best idea!) which took months to even feel semi normal. Through all this my poor husband was lost, confused, exhausted and at times frustrated. But we are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary this year so that says a lot!

    Living with Bipolar is very difficult because you can feel so alone, even with support but you have made GREAT strides to work through this for not only yourself but your beautiful family. Stay strong and know you have support...


  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It's hard to put yourself out there and be vulnerable and I think you are so brave. Your story will help so many who feel lost and afraid and isolated, so thanks for letting God use you, Mae! Love and hugs and prayers, friend.

  5. I just found your blog, and am really glad I did. You are really strong and I admire that. I have two close family members who are bipolar so I know a bit about it. I applaud you for not letting it take over your life, many do, and many give up. Thank you for sharing, you really are so awesome for staying so strong!

  6. Thanks Ladies!! I love you girls and how much support my bloggy friends always are. You guys brighten up my day! Thanks for the sweet words.

  7. I love this post. Honesty is beautiful in my opinion. I too struggle with major depressive disorder and have hadto be on Meds for some years now. I applaud your courage and hope all continues to go we'll. I do however n ow bow jars the struggle can be! Blessings

  8. How courageous of you to share such a transparent, personal post. It is only the truly strong who can become so vulnerable.