WW: Daddy’s girl

This is the dance we shared on my wedding day, almost nine years ago. I chose the song “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle and my Daddy surprised me with a big screen playing a slide show DVD of images from my childhood up through college graduation. I choked back tears the whole time, but as hard as I tried to keep it together, I wasn’t able to make it through the dance with dry cheeks. It was the most special thing anyone has ever done for me.

I have always been a Daddy’s girl. And I will always be. I love my father fiercely. There is no one in this world who better understands me than my dad. Probably because I inherited my mother’s Type A personality and tendency to go from calm to super irritable and –  dare I say? – bitchy {sorry, Mom, but you know that’s how we get sometimes}  in mere seconds.

Anyway, when I first got sick, it rocked his world.

I know this because I have read his account of what happened when I had to be hospitalized.

I asked him to write it it down for me and as difficult it must have been for him to honor my request, to go back deep {because I’m fairly certain he had buried it away} in his memory and relive it, he did it.

It starts with, “How your world can change with a simple phone call.” and he goes on to document what happened on the night that I called him when he and my mom were at a dinner party with their friends, while I was going completely manic on the other end of the phone, over a thousand miles away.

I’m planning on including it in my memoir. I think it would be incredibly valuable, coming from a different perspective than just the person experiencing the episodes of bipolar disorder.

This is what is on my mind on this Wordless{ful} Wednesday. How much I love my father and how he means the world to me.

xoxo

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{Also linking up with Live and Love Outloud, The Paper Mama and Baby Baby Lemon!}

A promise

There have been many ups and downs in my life since being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder six years ago. Thankfully, the past few years have included significantly more highs than lows, mainly because I’ve been stable and have made a commitment to myself and my family:

I promise to always take my medication, see my doctor and therapist, and get good sleep.

This promise stemmed from the fact that, at 5 weeks pregnant with my daughter, I spent almost a week in a psych ward to bring me down from the most extreme psychosis of my life. It came about because I was so incredibly happy – over the moon, really – that we were pregnant after trying month after month for almost a year that I didn’t make sure I was getting enough sleep. I remember the nights leading up to the hospitalization where I would just lie in bed wide awake, my mind racing with baby names while my husband was sleeping soundly beside me. You see, when I knew I was ready for another baby, I wanted it like, that second. To have to live my life in two week increments for so long, and to have waited almost a year to see those two pink lines, both of those realities had driven me mad. Quite literally.

I count my lucky stars that I was able to get help. I took the medication I needed with my doctor’s close supervision, in order to make it through the pregnancy. And my wonderful husband took over many a night feeding during the first month or two so that I could get the sleep I needed at night and the naps needed to catch up during the day.

In the waiting room before my trial to be released from the hospital {yes, there was a trial due to the fact I was involuntarily committed}, my husband and my dad sat with me. I was in handcuffs. Don’t ask – we have no idea why they would cuff an almost 6-week pregnant woman who wouldn’t hurt a fly – but we think it was because they had to treat all the patients the same. My hair was a disaster, I had on mismatched sweats and the sticky-bottom hospital socks and I was just dying to get out of there. I can’t remember why I didn’t have shoes on.

This is where the promise occurred. My dad took a picture on his phone of me sitting on the small sofa in that tiny room. With cuffs on.

So I would always make good on my promise to keep taking my medication.

That was two years ago. And I have no intention of ever breaking that promise.

My family means too much to me to ever put them through that again.

Thank you to my dad, for thinking to take that picture. Now, Dad, it may be on your old iphone which has a shattered screen, but maybe you could find a way to email it to me so that I can crop it and Instagram-it so that I could add it to this post?

{Don’t hold your breath since he’s not that great with computers and he’s presently on a golf trip in South Carolina. But I’ll try to add it. For posterity.}

Mama’s Losin’ It

Two years ago today

It’s been two years to the day today that I was last hospitalized for a manic episode.

And what a storm it was. I had just found out I was pregnant and thus was so excited I couldn’t sleep for a week. You see, it had taken us ten months to conceive the little lady and being the impatient, total Type-A person I am, that was just way too long.

When I don’t get enough sleep, it leads to mania. My thoughts race out of control, I start talking in circles, and I lose touch with reality. My husband knew the signs all too well. He knew what needed to be done.

Within thirty minutes, his mom was here to help with our 18-mo old son, and the EMT’s and two police officers were standing in our bedroom trying to talk me into going with them to the hospital. When I wouldn’t consent, my husband signed some papers, and they cuffed me and put me in the squad car. Luckily this time it was pitch black outside and they didn’t have their flashing lights on. So hopefully the neighbors didn’t see and think I was being arrested.

 

Crazy how far I’ve come in those two years. I’ve learned so much over these past six years living with bipolar disorder. I’ve learned how important my family is to me, I’ve learned which friends care enough to actually talk with me about what I’ve been going through, and most of all I’ve learned that I can overcome this “mental illness” to make my dreams a reality.

Six years ago I was so crippled by depression and anxiety that at times I didn’t want to go on. I was being so selfish, but I saw how my condition was affecting my family and I hated that I kept bringing everyone around me down because of my mood. I felt like I had lost my identity because the career I had worked so hard to build over the past four years came to a screeching halt after my second hospitalization. I couldn’t handle the pressure at work any longer – the pressure that had pushed me to work harder and smarter over the years was now causing panic attacks and driving me deeper and deeper into depression.

Ultimately, I had to resign from my job and with that I felt like I was a nobody. I was worthless. I was sad. I didn’t feel like there was anything worth living for.

Looking back, it basically took me all of 2006 to pick myself up again. I went through so many weeks of crying hard every.single.night. It’s hard for me to think about what my parents and husband went through during that year. I don’t know if I would have been strong enough to stay positive and supportive to someone who was so incredibly sad.

But they did. And Thank God they did. I am eternally grateful to them.

I never would have imagined that I would be where I am today without the love and encouragement of my dad, mom, and husband. Along with my in-laws, brother, two sisters-in-law, and a handful of close friends, I trudged through 2006 and made it into 2007. I made it to see another day.

And now I know that there is so much to live for.

I am so thankful to have found a medication that works for me. I know that I am lucky. I take my medication religiously and stay on top of my moods to make sure I continue to stay stable. I have too much going for me to end up in the hospital again. I don’t want to miss a second of this life.

Because it really is too short when you think about it.

I remember when I lost my mind for a reason

I remember when, I remember

I remember when I lost my mind

There was something so pleasant about that place

Even your emotions have an echo in so much space

~ Gnarls Barkley: “Crazy” lyrics

Whenever this song comes on the radio, or “Unwell” by Rob Thomas for that matter, I think of my the time I spent in the hospital. Having to be committed against your will, to get well because you cannot help yourself, is a very humbling experience.

I remember some significant moments about the last hospitalization. Specifically, how when my husband had to call 911 to have them come and take me, I pleaded with the EMT’s and police officers to let me introduce my son to them. I was so excited for him to get to meet an actual police officer in person. He had such a fascination with police cars, fire trucks and ambulances. Such a typical little boy. My mother-in-law was in the nursery with him, trying to get him to go back to sleep. He had been sleeping, but woke up to all the commotion I was causing in my fight to not go to the hospital. My baby, at only 18 months old, was so sheltered from what was happening to his mommy. My other baby, the one that was just a tiny little miracle in my belly which we had found out about only the week before, would never know that her mommy needed to get well before she would ever be able to take care of two little babies.

I was the textbook definition of “crazy”, and needed the medical attention I could only receive in the hospital to be able to come home and focus on my health so that I could be the best mommy to my little boy. I like to think that I retain some of the clear memories that I have from my hospitalizations so that I remember how important it is to stay on my medication and see my doctor and therapist regularly.

These days, I like to sing those songs when they come on over the radio.  They remind me that bipolar disorder is just a part of who I am, and it doesn’t define me as a person. I think I experienced those four hospitalizations for a reason, and I am a stronger person because of them.