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life happens: taking one for the home team


when i was 10 i remember my momma calling me ms. moody. when i was 20 i remember watching patty duke talk about her battle with bipolar otherwise known as manic depression. i remember thinking, “that is so me.” when i was 29 it happened. the trigger was pulled and the world turned.

when i was a child i was repeatedly molested, beaten and neglected, and i was raped at 16, by someone i will probably never know who, because i blacked out during it. i will talk about that in some other post; this mention is just to let you know where the ptsd came from.

by the time i was 29 i had 4 children and repeated bouts of depression, that somehow i was able to pull out of without drugs or alcohol. really without anyone or anything, except God. even when i had post-partum depression.

just a little back before the 4th baby, michael and i had started going to his uncle’s church, we went through bankruptcy and we held onto life by our fingernails, God was surely with us.

in my heart, being a mother was the single most important purpose in life. i wanted many children, today i realize that you should most definitely have financial security before choosing that. at the time i was selfish, i felt better when i was pregnant than any other time in my life, it was like all my physiology was in sync, i was never moody, i just went around humming.

when michael wanted me to get my tubes tied, i felt like the world had fallen out from under me. i felt a loss so great even being pregnant couldn’t gloss over the pain of it. in deed i gave birth to a beautiful little girl, who could have died at any time during that pregnancy because of a knot in her umbilical cord. i was continually having contractions and had to go to bed often in the last 4 months, to stop the contractions and what i now believe was to get her off of the cord so she could breathe. she came out purple and covered with vernix a lot of it, she had a few minor birth defects, like crooked toes and poor circulation in her legs. to me she was perfect. i had my tubal the next day, crying and trying to hold it together and thinking that at least i had 4 of them, i wasn’t a total failure.

there was great post-partem depression and continued worry about her legs turning blue and something bad happening to her. i remember always checking on her when other people held her. she could never sit in a swing because of that. i had unbearable hormonal changes and a great depression and probably some self-pity after the tubal.

i had to reevaluate my purpose and it came to me my purpose was to be the best mother i could be, and forget everything else. with that said you can not simply turn off post-partem depression and that would ultimately be the trigger to the onset of my bipolar nightmare.

i loved michael so much i followed him to indiana and left all of my family and everything that mattered to me. we went through upheavals and everyday marriage problems and also he faced a greater burden, i could not perform sexually because of the ptsd and he tried to understand, but you really can not “know” unless you have been there. i felt horrible for continually letting him down. i am still learning how to deal with my problems.

the crazy part about breanna is that she slept almost 10 hours a night from the time she was 7 days old, but i could not sleep. my thoughts were raging and i was continually checking on her to make sure she was still breathing. i never had a baby sleep like that, all of the others never slept more than 6 to 8 hours at night, and joshua, who i breastfed slept only 2 hours at the most until he was 5 or 6 months old. so it was the beginning of paranoia.

paranoia scared me because my father was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and i began to believe i must be like him and that pressure along with the post-partem drove me to a place of great sadness. darkness came over me that i have never again felt and hope that no one else ever has to go through.

when she was about 4 months i went to a doctor to see about some medication that might help. after weeks of trial periods on different anti-depressants, my doctor told me i should go to a counselor or psychiatrist. michael had fallen at work and was flat on his back and couldn’t help around the house and financially we were at rock bottom.

i went on some interviews and got a job at a real estate agency. i was so stressed out, that on the third day i left work at lunch and went to the outpatient mental health clinic. i never went back to work, i simply couldn’t function. i sat at the clinic and cried, i was in crisis, my entire life was in chaos and i was alone in it.

the counselor i saw was very kind and his first concern was to help me wind down, to relax. after we talked for about an hour i saw the resident psychiatrist. between the two of them they knew i was bipolar, but since i was trying to get a job, they were reluctant to label it, so it couldn’t be construed as a preexisting condition, if i were to get a job with insurance.

i couldn’t pay because we had no money; they let me come for free. they gave me xanax for the stress and eventually depakote. i couldn’t afford that either so my counselor bought it for me and then the doctor set it up so i could get free samples from the mental hospital when they had them.

i saw the counselor every week, and every week he asked me to bring michael, and every week michael would say no, he said “it’s all in your head, you’re okay.”

i never got another job. i had uncontrollable shaking, and nervous talking and i still worried about my children and letting them down. and yes of hurting them, like i was hurt. it amazes me that i can honestly say i had never hurt one of them, had never spanked, had never yelled, i just could not allow myself to be anything like my parents.

these thoughts coming at me from so many directions began to collide inside me and shatter my confidence and my self-worth. it didn’t help that no one was there for michael and me. sure his family was there financially, but not physically, with my family so far away i felt like i was on an island and the sand was burning me up.

when it got really dark i would take a xanax and sleep, which forced michael to take care of the kids. i only did that if i felt like i was on the verge of losing my self-control. it didn’t happen everyday, but it did happen a lot. and still i went to counseling, and still they both wanted to see michael, and still he wouldn’t come with me.

two of the classic after effects of sexual abuse and assault are promiscuity and transference. as time moved on i felt myself being drawn to bill, my counselor. it wasn’t sexual, it was need based, he listened, he understood, he didn’t judge and he was older, so he really wasn’t someone i would normally be attracted too. i became infatuated with the presence of peace i found in him. once a week or every two weeks i had no paranoia, i had no sadness; i had no voices screaming in my brain, for that precious hour.

i couldn’t help but move toward that. then one day after months of raging, roaring, rolling thoughts that wouldn’t shut off, after being down for so long with only brief moments of sunshine with my kids. i lost it. the single straw that broke my back was ben spilling his milk on the floor. something so simple, was a daily occurrence, became my undoing and i yelled at him, and i immediately began to putting myself to sleep to protect them. it wasn’t rational, but to me i was protecting them from me.

i had to shut off the thoughts and now i couldn’t even trust myself, with simple little things. you really can not know the depth that one moment had in altering the course of my life.

let me just clarify things, bree was now 7 months old, michael was still in bed most of the time. we had no money. i was getting counseling on one hand and being told it was in my head on the other. my kids were living their daily lives – school and such, i was attempting to be normal for them.

i was awake around the clock except when i took the xanax, the depakote never reached a therapeutic level so it did not help. we had no one to give us a break from parenting so we could just be alone together. i was in a perpetual state of paranoia.

i had begun to relive my past while i was in counseling, i was looking everywhere for answers, and i was alone inside myself where no one but bill’s peace could reach me. it is the only time i have ever felt like God was not with me. it truly was the darkest pit of hell.

it became very easy for me to have very strong feelings for bill. i longed for the peace. i was a better person after the sessions, it was like a veil had been lifted, but it didn’t last. i was desperate to have it. i needed it to be the mother i used to be. i needed it to live. i gave myself over to it after the incident with ben.

i didn’t look back. i told him i had feelings for him and he insisted on seeing michael and again michael would not come. for 3 weeks i tried, bill tried to deny those feelings. feelings which i now know were transference, i had literally found the one person of authority who i believed would never hurt me and i couldn’t let go. it was the wrong choice, but it felt like the only choice.

in the very end, michael at last said he would come to see bill, but it was too late. i had all ready concluded that protecting my children from me was the most important thing i could do. looking back i just got blacker and blacker inside. after i moved in with bill, i surrendered to the pain.

i loved michael, michael was my soul mate and nothing has ever changed that. yes i have let him go, but i never stop praying for him. i pray for his family, for his relationships with our children, for his new wife, for his happiness and health and for financial wealth. i pray for him to have everything he ever wanted and still i know he will probably never know how much of me belongs to him. i pray for bill because he was my counselor and God bless him, he had real feelings of love, that i could never reciprocate in response to him.

bill and i could not be “seen” in public so we went out of town to shop, to eat out, and to do anything. we actually went to the mall and at sears a lady approached him and he waved me off. i waited for 30 minutes and i felt his shame like a blanket around me.

what happened that summer was so crazy. there is no better word for it. one day bill was my counselor and my peace and the next he wasn’t. one day michael was there and the next he wasn’t. one day my kids were all around me and the next they weren’t. one day i could go to counseling and be bipolar and paranoid and myself at that point and the next i couldn’t. bill never treated me with that same peace after i moved in with him.

his own guilt for his family, his fear of losing his practice, his shame for breaking his ethical code haunted him. what became of us was a love-hate-denial cycle. what became of me was a daily fight with overdosing and often times black outs that i still can’t remember and of course suicidal thoughts that never really shut off.

the blacker it got, the more i separated myself from michael and the kids. michael didn’t understand – hadn’t paid attention to what i was telling him for so long, all he could focus on was that i had left him and to him i left my kids. on the outside it did look like that, but it wasn’t like that at all. bill and i moved in together, i made sure we stayed in the lafayette area around my kids. i would not leave them, i couldn’t live without them, and they were my soul.

i had to go to indianapolis to see a psychiatrist there, but there was no more counseling and i struggled. after trying several other drugs for the bipolar, and several really big misses i asked the new doctor to give me lithium. that’s the drug my dad took for his illness.

it was such a change physically and mentally, i could see the sun. for the first time in a year and a half i could see the sun. i changed. i woke up. i breathed. i washed my hair. i cooked. i spent time with my kids and i felt alive. of course, i felt “healed” and i wanted my life back. so i asked michael to take me back. he looked at me and said, “you made your bed lie in it.” i was truly in a state of denial.

i didn’t want my kids to see me living with a man that i wasn’t married to, and i didn’t feel like i could be on my own. my momma told me to bring the kids and move to florida with her, but i couldn’t take them away from michael. michael’s family was my dream family. they were christian, they loved each other and they weren’t broken like my family was. michael’s family is way not perfect, that was all in my head, but they do have love and they don’t have to be perfect, they just have to love my kids.

i felt such a terrible loss, like a part of me was ripped away when michael drove away. i married bill the next day.  i had to hold my head up and try to live with my choices and my illness and bill.

marrying him was my choice. i wanted to give him back some of the peace had given to me. i didn’t want him to hurt any more either. so yes, loving came, appreciation, devotion and promise and hope. i had to believe something good could come from this choice. the one good thing that came of this time was my recommitment to my faith and asking for His guidance and love in my life again. then michael got remarried, and it struck me as a great loss. all of bill’s feelings of guilt and his pain and his true tragedy, that his daughter would not even speak to him, became his power to destroy me. because i had caused it all. all of my loss and anger became my power to destroy him.

all it would take for him to break me was one word, one word that would trigger my past, my loss and my insecurities. that’s the reason you don’t marry your counselor, they know all your secrets. the roller coaster ride we were on just killed a part of us. things happened, that pushed all my pain to the front again, my favorite uncle died, my grandmother died and my joshua almost died.

i tried to kill myself, but not to “kill” myself but to go to sleep and never wake up. so on New Year’s Eve 1999, i took a handful of ambien, and everyone was in the house, his ben and my kids too. i fell asleep and about a half hour later i began to puke. i couldn’t wake up. bill was trying to help me sit up, but i was too groggy. that’s the last time i ever tried suicide.

in my heart i believe God pumped my stomach, because i was still needed here on earth. no one, not even bill knew that it was an attempt to die. it’s hard for me to even claim it as suicidal; i somehow want it not to be that villainous.

I finally got the courage to ask bill to leave. i will leave that story for another day. suffice it to say, my life would change dramatically and traumatically again.

one thing i know now is that it is next to impossible to live with a bipolar and remain sane. today i am as healthy as i can be. i still have depression. i still have moments of ptsd and i still have thoughts of dying when it gets rough. i still long to be touched by a healing hand. i still miss my original family, michael and the kids and me together. it just so happened that all of my children left michael and came to live with me.

i am with God on a mission to redefine my purpose and my usefulness now that the children are grown. i believe it is related to sharing my story, my poetry, my journal, and my faith.  encouraging others and sharing my personal strength, strength learnt at the Master’s feet.

Over the years i have lost so much but, i have also learned so much. my children and i have hard times, but they do not go a day without knowing they are loved beyond all measure. i give them all the love i am capable of giving in this human form. it’s all i have and they tell me it’s all they need.

yes i want to give them material things, money, nice clothes, any clothes, even healthier food, etc. but it’s not within my reach. thank God, they are all alive and healthy and beautiful. it’s a miracle among many that i am here today. it’s a miracle among many that they are here today, each having faced a life or death situation and each coming out on the right side. i have written a poem to them. and i have written a poem about some of the miracles God has performed in my life. there are times He was there but i wasn’t paying attention. but again that is for another post.

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