This will read like a rant from the pity party parade. It’s written with frustration for those like me who suffer from and/or care for those suffering from mental illnesses. I’m in tears right now as I write this. I’m spiraling into the anxiety of the situation I am currently in. The truth is most people will never understand. This won’t be a plea for support and understanding. This will be another issue that is swept under the rug by the society who forces us to stay silent. It won’t be shared across the world or spark the social change that needs to happen or stomp out the stigma surrounding seeking help for mental illness. I will be labeled, criticized, judged, and scrutinized for how I choose to raise my threefold and for how I mom mental illness while managing my own from those that have no clue how real the struggles are. Yet still, I feel like I am obligated to speak up. If not for myself, then for my threefold, because at the end of the day I’m the one left advocating and fighting for them. Even when no one else will.
I’m in tears, not because I feel sorry for myself and feel the need to place blame. I’m crying because I know how hard this road is. It’s not a road I would wish on anyone. Yet, it’s my reality and the reality of my threefold. I have just admitted my youngest daughter to an inpatient acute psychiatric facility. We walk down this road of life with mental illness weighing us down. I am too familiar with the inpatient stays, the safety plans, the medication management, the highs and the lows of bipolar. This isn’t my first rodeo with admitting a child or myself to a psychiatric facility. We’ve been here before. We’ve battled the suicidal ideation and self harm demons before. It wasn’t that long ago. It’s not a fun ride on the bipolar express. I’m not going to sugarcoat the truth and paint pretty, positivity filled pictures with sunshine and rainbows about overcoming the obstacles. The obstacles we face are ominous, over whelming and either over criticized or completely overlooked by the society that surrounds us. Ignoring and judging is not helping anyone, it is silencing our voices, while the screams inside our head are so deafening. The stigma is real. It’s a social injustice. I don’t say that lightly.
I am a single mom. I have three girls that I lovingly and sarcastically refer to as my threefold. They are me, and then some. They were cursed by my genetics and an illness that was passed down to us from the generations before us. It is what it is. The cards have been dealt and we are forced to play this hand or fold. Folding for my family is not an option. I will fight for us to survive. Even still I would be lying if I didn’t state that my own inner demons are begging to run rampant and it’s taking everything I have to hold it together.
I could sit and pretend that I have it all under control. I could act like I’m the picture of mental health leading my threefold on a ‘live laugh love’ journey through their mental illness struggles. I’m barely holding on right now. My grip is slowly slipping and I’m on the tipping point of an episode. I’m not sure if I’m cut out for this. I feel like I’m failing. I feel like I have very little support to make it through this day, week, month year. I’m silenced, because no one needs my sob story about how hard my struggles are. People have their own problems. I’m just a drop in the bucket of like. No one is going to save us, that’s all on me.
Seeking support seems like a great concept in theory. no one is jumping up and down to be friends with someone who has children in tow 24/7. I can’t go out, mom nights are nonexistent, and my threefold is more important than those things. Yet it’s lonely. When there is no family support nearby, it’s all left to you. You are responsible for every therapy appointment, psychiatric consult, evaluation, treatment team meeting, and every single hospitalization. You don’t get the break from school IEP meetings, teacher conferences, and the carline. Days off surround seeing how many appointments you can squeeze into a single day.
It’s not easy Mommin’ mental illness when everything costs money, especially the treatments required and the medications needed. Therefore I work, hard. Every phone call from schools or hospitals and every appointment means I lose money. When a child goes inpatient it only increases your mental stress because now you’re overloaded and overthinking every path forward. There is no rest. Even when you try it’s futile. You are left tossing and turning with anxiety as you worry about how you are going to do everything. Alone.
My relationships suffer, because not only am I completely wrapped up in my own children’s life, but now I am not a nice nor fun person. I’m angry and I’m emotionally drained. I’m overwhelmed with anxiety and I want to be alone. Until I don’t. Then I am needy. To top it off I don’t want to share my spiral with my family. I don’t want them to see me fall apart. I don’t want the ‘everything will be ok’. I want it to be ok now.
We hide these struggles from outsiders because we are already being ripped apart as if I am being pulled in a million different directions at all times, but right now the last thing I need is society’s stigma ripping me apart too. People don’t see the bravery and strength it takes to seek help. The balancing act required to keep it all from crashing down on you. They instead want to pick apart your past, your flaws, your parenting and your children until they can find a reason to blame for the mess you are in. I know my guide to Mommin’ mental illness why managing my own was just right here…oh wait I didn’t get my copy. Can I borrow yours, judge Judy? That’s what I thought. We don’t need more judgment.
That’s not even close to support that’s shoving the stigma in our face. So we swallow that stigma and suck it up. After all, we can beat ourselves up without having others do it for us. We are black belts when it comes to beating up on ourselves and we can kick ourselves when we are down. No extra help is needed in that department. If you think I don’t cry alone as I try to figure out how I messed up this bad. Then you are mistaken, I’ve been blaming myself relentlessly. Even when I can rationalize the why and the purpose for the pain my guilt still follows me. Pretend I’m the bad guy, it’s ok I play that part of the villain of this story in my own mind over and over. It’s not going to be the first time I’ve been validated by society that my self deprecating thoughts are true.
So why should we even speak up? Why seek support? Why shouldn’t we just fight our invisible enemies solo? This fight, the one that is life or death, needs support to be victorious. this isn’t a singular battle we are fighting. This is a war. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and we need the support of others to fight for us when we begin fighting against ourselves. It’s not fair. How childish of me to say. It’s not something everyone can handle. It’s not easy to understand. It is a real fight everyday to not give in.
If the options are to lose everything to save one of my threefold or lose one to hold everything together then I know what I’ll choose. I’ll lose everything before I let this invisible enemy win. Even if it means I go down with the darkness myself. I’m not afraid to fight. I’m afraid to fight this in silence alone and fail. I’m not sure what enemies are lurking in the shadows that will darken my doorstep. I refuse to let those enemies take my threefold captive without seeking support and rounding my troops. Until I can find our path forward again, I’ll be here fighting. Fighting for all of us. I will continue to speak up and stomp the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. Failure is not an option.