[New Post]: Weathering the storm: All I see is rain

You know, since my last post I’ve been through quite a lot, including having that baby I mentioned in my previous post.

I’m in the post partum phase right now- and with so much going through my mind, I don’t know which parts to write in which blog (I run 2 blogs). Baby was born at 32 weeks and he’s still in the Neonatal ICU.

Life is hard right now.

I told a close friend of mine that I feel incomplete and confused and broken and longing all at ot once. Is this normal?

I sat crying in a coffee shop yesterday. That brought the total teary episodes to 3 for the day. Yet the evening I felt amazing. I’m sad and happy and a zillion other emotions all at once. Aren’t these fucking pills supposed to work? I’m on 750mg Lithium and still on Seroquel. Lord knows I can’t sleep without them. Aren’t they supposed to keep me afloat or something? I feel like I’m drowning, lungs filling with water the one minute, and relaxing on a floatee smiling at the sun, the next minute.

I feel like my arms are going to break if I try to ‘hold it together’.

And yet, I have to. I have 2 sons and a husband at who need me to be ‘together’, to have my wits about me, to be strong.

Besides, it would be dangerous if i had to fall apart. Bipolars like me, shouldn’t fall apart.

I’d lose myself between the pieces.

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I’m at my house

I was going to start this blog off by using the title, ‘I’m at home’. I am at home, I’m on extended sick leave (unpaid leave). But I don’t feel like this is, ‘home’.

The house is a mess with dirty dishes everywhere, dirty washing overflowing and I feel like this environment is a reflection of what’s going on in my mind. I’m curently on 1000mg of Lithium and 400mg Seroquel. This is the first time I’ve ever been on such a high dosage. Then again, I’m sure that my body and mind didn’t even adjust from the previous pregnancy (11months ago) yet.

I wake up every day dreading, not only what will unfold but dreading the day itself. I’m not saying I want to die, but mostly it really sucks to live right now. The lithium seems to be fixing those ‘tangible’ suicidal thoughts, but the subtle overtones of helplessness and just-not-wanting-to-be-around, lingers on. It feels like clouds are looming over me and on some days dark clouds float before my eyes. Like a mist it makes its presence known by leaving wetness on my face. I know my dark side looms and sits here, waiting for me to skip a dose of the good doctor’s pills.

It wants to draw me in.

Everytime I think of the dark one inside me, it saddens me even more. Why does she still hang around even when this is supposed to be a happy time in my life? I’m pregnant for goodness sake!

I get angry when I realise that the darkness is part of my life, forever. I also have anxiety problems so I constantly worry about everything worth and also not worth worrying about. In pregnancy, this for me means worrying about every niggle or pain. So every day can be a nightmare in this regard. Also, my anxiety manifests into physical symptoms, so it all becomes real anyway. Bad dreams become reality.

I think I’m weak, you know. I’m strong but weak- so vulnerable to changes that happen in my world.

I feel so guilty for being weak. As a woman, you’re supposed to be strong and carry the world on your shoulders. And I really do want to carry the weight on my shoulders. I just can’t sometimes. It makes me feel like a fucking failure.

I can’t be a great mom because some days I can’t stand the crying and the demands.

I can’t be a great wife because it’s difficult to be around me, when I’m not ‘me’, sometimes. I tell him to leave but he just won’t let go of my mess.

I can’t be great employee because when I strain myself and function as a top employee, I crash and I’m off sick for extended periods.

I can’t be great when I feel like this.

Being bipolar makes me feel naked and vulnerable.

I prefer being manic, okay I lie. I just can’t imagine feeling normal or being normal in this state.

I wish I felt, normal, at home.

Introduction to being Bipolar and Pregnant and living in Cape Town

Pregnancy is no fun journey when being Bipolar

Pregnancy is no fun journey when being Bipolar

Being pregnant, the third time around, feels like dejavu. Mainly because I fell pregnant around 15 weeks after having my second baby boy.

What a surprise that was!

Before you think that this random act of madness was planned, it wasn’t. Ah, none of my pregnancies were planned, come to think of it. But this third one particularly not. I just survived a terribly rough second pregnancy as I am a bipolar mom (who was) adamant in not being medicated during pregnancies.

‘Rough’ is indeed an understatement, I assure you. My psychiatrist at the time (of the second pregnancy) thought I was mad, funny enough, and I switched Psychtrists towards the end of the pregnancy.

At this point, I had been hospitalized numerous times all due to anxiety getting out of hand and causing physical symptoms.

The new psych understood why we wanted to be off Lithium (my meds of choice) but warned us of the dangers we were facing if we carried on this path. She also assured us that the baby would not be harmed by the Lithium (there are specific heart problems in the fetus if Lithium is ingested early in pregnancy). I think I was on Lithium for a week and I immediately felt like I was coming back to Earth.

The suicidal thoughts lessened, I felt the need to be more hygenic, the psychotic hallucinations died off, I stopped snapping at everyone and I put my cellphone back on (I often need a break from all people when depressed). This meant, at least the end of the pregnancy, would be smooth sailing. Well, at least from a Psychiatric point of view.

This current pregnancy, even whilst medicated, is still proving to be quite a challenge. After hearing that I was pregnant, my psychtrist was not impressed. She gave me a talking to, and after some tears we came up with a plan: change gynies (to a more psychiatric experienced gynie) and start Lithium as soon as it was safe.

As It was a sudden stop in medication, I crashed, as I expected and we soon had to look for alternatives, safe medication for baby as well, i.e Seroquel. Adjusting meds with my rapidly changing body is such a challenge, as one can imagine. I’m now on Lithium and Seroquel. If the medication adjusting wasn’t a big enough issue, during the 13 week scan, we discovered baby had a huge abdominal cyst, a curved little finger and a small hole in his heart. Both the specialist and my gynie urged us to have an amniocentecis done. This was one of the most stressful and faith-challenging times for both me and my husband.

As everyone one knows amnios are invasive tests and there’s a chance of miscarriage. Thankfully, my specialist is amazing and the test went well. Due to having some contractions, I was hospitalized for a few days. Every day was a nightmare, wondering what the test results were. On the last day, Valentine’s Day, our specialist called and gave us the clear: no major syndrome problem. The remainder of the chromosome tests would only be available in two weeks, but she was hopeful that everything would be fine. And everything was fine, baby has no chromosome problems- the only concern now would be the cyst. The main issue would be to check that the cyst does not grow and it just disappears.

I know, it all seems much. Even for ‘normal’ people. Did I mention at the beginning of the year, my nanny left? We all know how important our nannies are, or just some form of constant help, just helps.

Also my career, I think is suffering. How does one explain, let alone ask for understanding for what I’m going through? I’m trying not to dwell on those uncertainties just yet as I still feel ‘fragile’, and raw with emotion and questions as to what all these life circumstances mean.

To help me through this I have a gynie, fetal abnormality specialist and psychiatrist team who all work very well together and trust one another’s skills. And I had to learn to put faith in their abilities. I have my husband and his family as well as my own. Not everyone knows about my mental illness though and that’s okay for now. Hence, why this blog is anonymous for now.

With a few months left to go of this pregnancy, I find myself juggling my mental wellbeing, a 7 year old attending school, 11month old learning to walk and teething and being a good wife. I learn more about pregnancy, raising children, my husband and myself.