Life and the sweetest moments in photos

My husband and I just got back from a five-day trip to sunny California to see one of my childhood friends get married. My mom and dad agreed to stay with the kids so we could have a nice, relaxing trip. A chance to recharge our batteries, so to speak.

It was so incredible. Being able to do what we wanted and not have to worry about the kids was so nice. It took me back to our first five years of marriage. Plus, we got to hang out with my best friends at the same time as a bonus. The weather was amazing – bright sunshine and perfectly warm days followed by crisp evenings with a slight nip in the air.

I thought about the kids, don’t get me wrong. My parents texted pictures of the kids so we wouldn’t miss them too much. But the moment I saw my mom’s number pop up on my phone as we were sitting out by the pool having cocktails before dinner the second night, I knew something was wrong. They had to bring her in to Urgent Care because when my mom was lifting her out of the bathtub, the little princess felt she needed to exert her authority by sitting down as my mom was pulling her up by her hands. My immediate thought was that her shoulder popped out of the socket. But the doctor determined it was her elbow and after reviewing the x-rays, the little lady turned out to be just fine.

Her mom on the other hand, was a little shook up. But I knew she was in good hands with her Grandma and Poppy. After finding out everything was fine and her arm was doing much better the next day, I was able to relax for the remainder of the trip and enjoy the time with my friends and hubby. We did sightseeing in Los Angeles (saw Rodeo Drive!), went out to eat at some trendy restaurants, and witnessed our friends tie the knot on a gorgeous ranch property overlooking Malibu beach. Dinner and dancing followed and we took tons of photos, so as to capture the perfection of the day in frames that we could cherish forever.

On the flight home I started to feel melancholy. I love the times I have with my friends, but I get so choked up when I sit down and think about how little time I actually get to spend with them each year. We all have families and careers and other responsibilities that seem to fill up our calendars so that when we do all eventually get together, we usually start planning our next get-together. One of my friends coined it our own special “bucket list” of things we want to do together. On the list so far is a camping trip, a sailing trip, and the wedding of the last of the six of us to get married.

Then I get home late Sunday night and the next morning I start feeling anxious and teary. I couldn’t put my finger on it as to why, other than I had read an excerpt from a book of a woman who had lost her husband in the 9/11 attacks and it made me so scared and sad. I’ve always been afraid of death, afraid of whether I’ve done enough in my life before I die. It didn’t help that my mom joked that she doesn’t think she’ll be around for her granddaughter’s wedding (she’d be in her 80’s).

I’m even more scared of losing someone I love, than I am of actually dying myself. The only people who I’ve lost who I was close to were my dad’s two college friends and I didn’t have day-to-day contact with them, just lots of memories from growing up. I worry about what will happen to me when my Grandma passes, or if I ever lost a close friend. I don’t know if I could handle the hurt.

For now I am thankful to have an appointment with my therapist tonight. I’m going to discuss this all with her to see what she thinks. I’m sure she’ll have some ideas for me on how to cope. In the meantime, I’m looking back over all the pictures we took this past weekend and am smiling at the memories with friends whom I love dearly.

A little history – the first half

In writing my blog posts, I’m not planning on going in chronological order, because that would be kind of boring, don’tcha think?

The first half is about my first two hospitalizations which occurred within two weeks of each other and were before it was determined that I was Bipolar. The second half details my second two hospitalizations which occurred after the birth of my first child and during the first trimester of my second pregnancy.

However, I do think that it would be helpful to give a quick little summary in order to kick-off the launch of my blog, so here goes. Back at the end of 2005 I suffered my first mental break when I became manic beyond belief and had to be taken via ambulance, screaming and strapped down to a stretcher I might add, to the hospital because my poor husband had no clue whatsoever as to what was happening to me. I had barely slept a wink that entire week and it all came to a head on Sunday night. Two nights in the psych ward, a week off from work to recoup, my first visit to a shrink who attributed the entire episode to sleep deprivation and told me I could discontinue the Risperdal I was taking, and yes folks, believe it or not, I was back at work the following week.

Two weeks later when I relapsed and suffered another manic episode, it was clear that something really was wrong with me and it wasn’t just sleep deprivation. But with no real history of mental illness in our family, we didn’t know where to start to begin seeking answers. My parents spoke with some close friends of theirs who were able to find a recommendation for a psychiatrist in Florida and got me an appointment while I was there with my husband visiting over Christmas. Spending Christmas Day and the two days after in another psych ward was not my idea of a holiday. In fact, that Christmas was probably one of the worst days, if not the worst, day of my life.

After emerging from that second hospitalization, and sitting down for just an hour with the psychiatrist we were referred to, he was able to determine that there was a very strong likelihood that I was suffering from Bipolar Disorder and that I needed to start taking an anti-psychotic medication immediately to bring me down from the mania that I was still apparently experiencing. That evening I began taking Zyprexa.

Once back in Virginia and back at work, I started having anxiety attacks on an almost daily basis. The feeling of waves of panic coming over my body were so intense that it became impossible for me to be effective at work. I was forced to resign from my job as a successful employment agency recruiter and in turn felt like I had lost part of my identity. Crying spells then became part of my daily routine, in combination with the anxiety, and I remember wondering if I were going to be feeling that way for the rest of my life. It was a scary time for me. I don’t ever want to go back to that. Ever.

I remember back in the fall of 2006 when I was incredibly against going on Lithium, but yet, at my wits end with the way I was feeling I was ready to give in and try anything with the even the slightest probability of helping me feel like my old self again. For pretty much the entire year I had been depressed and anxious and thus I had reached a turning point. My psychiatrist at the time had been suggesting Lithium for a few months, but it just seemed so final, so imperative. But who was I kidding? It was obvious to the three different shrinks I had seen, one being a renowned specialist in the field, that I was bipolar and that a mood stabilizer was what I ultimately needed to function at a normal level.

So fine. I caved into going on a Lithium regimen the day after my husband and I had a consultation with the specialist. He didn’t even see patients any longer, only did continuing research in the field. So when my dad’s friend was able to get us an appointment as a favor, we jumped at the chance. At the time I was on Prozac and Zyprexa, along with Ativan for anxiety and Ambien for sleep. Nice cocktail of meds, right? The Prozac caused some suicidal thoughts, though nothing I ever remotely was going to act on. So my doctor had cut that dose back quite a bit. After seeing the specialist I started on Lithium and my regular doctor began to wean me off the Prozac and Zyprexa one at a time until I was eventually just on Lithium.

Within a matter of four months I found myself feeling like the old me again. I was ready for a fresh start and finally felt more confident. It was what I needed in order to launch a job search and in a few short weeks I landed a job as a corporate recruiter for a Fortune-500 company and I couldn’t wait to get started.