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Forced Silence & Seeking Support

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.

☮️❤️😊~M

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Don’t Shame Me for Seeking Help

🚩⚠️ Trigger Warning⚠️🚩

This is my Threefold. This is my threefold. That’s the resounding thought in my head as I sit scared out of my mind because # 3 of my threefold {my youngest daughter age 10} is currently alone in a strange bed. She was admitted early yesterday morning to the psychiatric children’s wing. I am beside myself with anxiety. She is only 10. I can’t be with my baby. This is too surreal. This can’t be happening…again. I’m not ready and she is too little. She’s just a child. She is my baby.

If you have been following for a while you’ll recall my post regarding #2 🚩⚠️ My Child is NOT Attention Seeking. My Child is Seeking Help 🚩⚠️ trigger warning ⚠️🚩 {please do not click this link if you are triggered by self harm or content pertaining to suicide.} this post described my experience with admitting #2 of my threefold {my middle daughter, 13} to a crisis intervention center. Here I am again speaking about the same content and a different kid. I am dealing with the same situation. I guess this is just another day in the life of the trauma drama bipolar momma bear. I am Mommin’ mental illness. I’m here to tell you, this job is hard. I’m not prepared or I’m overly prepared. Either way, this is the really hard part about being a mom. Getting help when you start realizing that you are not able to give your own child the help they need. The worst part is watching them suffer through the pain of their mental illness. They are too young to understand what is happening.

#3 has had a really rough time trying to adapt to my divorce. She is the youngest of my girls and was only 8 when I left her dad. She had begun acting out more prior to the separation. She was running away, displaying anger and struggling dealing with the pandemic. Virtual schooling, lack of interaction with peers and isolation only compounded the underlying issues that were left untreated. I’m sure this is true for a lot of children. I attributed many of her symptoms to the ‘Covid Crazy’ diagnosis. {My personal term for what we were all experiencing during the shutdown}

I was wrong. Her grades fell dramatically with virtual school. I left my husband. I couldn’t continue watching my threefold and I suffer from the actions and inactions of my ex. I needed to get out of that toxic cycle and show my threefold another way. Pro tip: don’t marry a narcissist and if you’re already in that relationship…LEAVE.

#3 had no help with school and with untreated ADHD it was nearly impossible to keep her in her room or in the living room with a laptop listening to some teacher talk about things that were of no interest to her. It was torture for all of my threefold, but she was in 2nd grade and lacked any self-discipline. It was obvious she was missing fundamental learning. It wasn’t until later I would realize that her education had been hijacked and her foundation building years of reading, comprehension, writing and math were stolen from her when her education went virtual during 2nd and 3rd grade.

When I left my ex, I sought therapy for my children and I. I was aware that my divorce would have a massive impact on their mental health {no diagnoses for my threefold yet other than #2, who was diagnosed with ODD and ADHD at the time which was untreated} I knew I would also need a sounding board myself to vent my frustrations and work through my personal feelings on leaving that relationship and the implications that decision would have on my threefold. We have maintained that therapy throughout these past couple of years. This led to psychiatric evaluations and medication therapies to help my threefold and I balance out our brain chemistry.

My threefold did deteriorate more post separation, but for reasons that I didn’t expect. I was right. They had needed treatment and therapy earlier, but due to my own untreated mental illness and the psychological abuse we endured, we swept our issues under the rug. They had needed help for years, but we all were too scared to ask for it. We knew how that conversation would end. A dad-diagnosis and more hell to deal with. It wasn’t until I got them help and they were safe to express how they always had felt that the trauma begun to unravel and the symptoms became more prevalent. They had been forcing themselves to cover the mental illness as a way to keep the peace in our unstable lives. I will forever have guilt over not seeking help and leaving sooner.

Currently, #3 is diagnosed as having depression, ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. I am familiar with the nuances of these diagnoses. I’m sure ODD will change into disruptive mood dysregulation disorder {DMDD} but what I don’t know for sure is if she will be saddled with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder that her sisters and I have been told we suffer from. At her age, that is unlikely even if she is presenting at this age just as #2 did. Same diagnoses and same behaviors. I should’ve known this would happen. I was in denial that all of my threefold would be cursed with my genetics. what I hadn’t prepared for was how difficult it would be to see my threefold spiral into periods of depression that make them feel like they need to hurt or even delete themselves to fix their problems. Life isn’t supposed to be this hard at ten, thirteen or seventeen.

#3 is a spunky girl who loves riding her bike, playing outside, jumping rope, TikTok, martial arts, doing crafts and stitch {from the Disney movie.} She has a hard time with making friends, because she is extremely bossy and territorial. She isn’t scared of a fight. She is pretty aggressive when she is upset and angry. Punching, hitting, kicking, throwing and screaming are her go to behavior when she gets upset. She is destructive when she is angry. These reactions and outbursts are mostly disproportionate to the situation. A simple request for her to go to bed, take medication, clean a mess or her room, and going to school can spiral into a knock down drag out fight from #3. Then after the aggression is the comedown. Tears, guilt, shame and regret mark the feelings from the fallout. It’s hard to parent, but I can only imagine it’s harder for her to understand what is happening inside her brain. She ends up feeling like she is just a bad kid, that this is just how she will always feel, she can’t be helped, and that she would be better off if she was no longer here.

These past couple of years have been quite the ride on the bipolar express. From #2’s struggles for nearly a year to help her get back on recovery road. A lot of issues with #1. More therapy hours than I can count and a million other issues that have come up 2021 was a hell of a ride. I was looking forward to a bit of peace and to be swimming in calmer waters. Instead I’m back to drowning.

I guess because I knew what to expect after the inpatient treatments that #2 underwent that I would be better equipped to handle #3’s admission. It’s strange, but this time it’s worse than before. Before I didn’t know how difficult that road to recovery would be. I didn’t know what I was up against. I was forced to take the uncertainty and roll with it. Sometimes it rolled over me, but I made it. More importantly #2 made it. This time is different.

I am more anxious now knowing what happens when your child goes to inpatient care. I know now that it’s a long and hard process. I know now that quick fixes don’t exist. I know this next week or two will not be the only time we need a higher level of care. I am uniquely familiar with the amount of time and energy that will be needed to make sure we are getting help. More than anything else, I know the toll it will take on my threefold and I as we walk this path again. I know that we could have the domino effect that results in relapse. This all makes me even more scared.

Before you go to judging my child and I let me tell you some facts. ADHD and ODD are marked by impulsive behavior and an inability to regulate emotions properly. My daughter doesn’t need to have ‘her ass beat’ or ‘taught a lesson’. She doesn’t need to be told, nor I that she is ‘a brat’, ‘a terrorist’, ‘spoiled’, or that she is ‘attention seeking’. She is not going to get better by being told how bad she is. I’m not going to parent better because I’m told that I’m screwing it up or how this is my fault. I am perfectly capable of beating myself up, I definitely don’t need the outside help with that.

I am sure there are a million things that I could do differently, but the fact that my child will suffer from mental illness won’t change. Fun fact. My parenting didn’t cause my child to have a mental illness, my genetics did. I’m positive that my actions and reactions can exacerbate her symptoms if I don’t handle it properly. I will be the first to admit that I have mishandled and missed the mark on occasion while mommin’ mental illness. After all, my handbook on the rules of parenting was just as nonexistent as yours.

I have sat patiently and responded with calmness while being screamed at by my own child about how much she hates me and wished I was dead. I’ve been cursed at, kicked, hit at, and had things thrown at me. I’ve questioned my own parenting skills and abilities to manage my threefold’s mental illness. I’ve held my child after her outburst and told her it would be ok as she cried and apologized. I’ve taken tv’s, tablets, social outings, and the millions of other things she enjoys. She doesn’t care. She will tell you herself that those consequences don’t phase her or make her want to try to better. I get notes home from school about behavior and lack of effort. She doesn’t care. She has been in therapy for 18 months but I can’t make her participate or use the skills. It doesn’t work for her. Not when she is emotional and can’t regulate those emotions. She just does, without thoughts of how it will work out later. If you remind her of the consequences she will scream that she doesn’t care. So you can tell me I’m not hard enough on her. What do you do when hard doesn’t work, soft doesn’t work, and suddenly it’s like a ticking time bomb you know could go off at any time and you can’t change it?

I’ve tried everything from attention to ignoring, rewards and consequences, behavior charts, parenting coaches, family sessions and a million other things. I’m not sitting back just hoping this phase of life is just that, a phase. I need to find a solution but I need help. I can admit that. I can see this is beyond my own abilities. I don’t offer the help she needs. It’s time for drastic measures. Even if that wasn’t what I wanted to admit. Even if I tried amongst the recommended higher level of care. I just didn’t want this for her, not this young.

For those that are thinking I couldn’t handle my child and dropped her off at a facility to allow someone else to fix this problem for me. Think again. I was told she would need to be assessed before she could return to school after she had an outburst in class because she was frustrated with feelings of not doing an assignment correctly. It wasn’t by choice that I was in that same waiting room with #3 as I had been with #2 only 15 months prior shortly after this whole journey began. It was not my intention to to have my daughter admitted for defiant behaviors followed by suicidal ideation. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate based on age, it only presents differently. I knew she needed help, but I didn’t expect that they would be admitting her to the children’s unit of the psychiatric facility that my middle daughter had been a patient of during her first admission.

This battle of bedtime, cleaning up messes and reasons I couldn’t understand that seemed like nothing at all, resulted in these explosive outbursts. The behaviors have been increasing since she was 8. What once happened only a couple times per year has now been a couple of times per week for months. I didn’t throw my hands up and decide I couldn’t deal with her behavior anymore. Though believe me I’m not going to lie and say it hadn’t crossed my mind to do this or something else sooner.

I could write for hours and spit statistics at everyone and bore them with the details of the diagnoses from the clinical perspective. I don’t do that not because those facts don’t matter, but because it’s more personal and real than the statistics will give. Instead I share my personal story, the stories of my threefold. I don’t share for sympathy or for attention. I don’t share because I want people to feel sorry for us. I share our lives and our experiences because we have lived in the shadows for too long. I share because the stigma surrounding mental illnesses is that we are weak, lazy, attention seeking, and use our diagnoses as excuses. I share not to make myself or my threefold vulnerable to that type of scrutiny. I share this for the other parents caring for children suffering from mental illness who feel like they are alone in the fight. I share for the people who suffer. The isolation and the hiding our struggles doesn’t make this journey easier. I don’t want to feel like I’m not allowed to seek help for my threefold when they need it because people around me will judge me. There are too many parents who have the shame of this stigma surrounding their lives that their children are suffering silently. That shame will not make us more likely to seek help. I can only hope that sharing our story and struggles can help stomp out the stigma. We can’t keep silencing those that suffer. The stakes of that silence are too high.

Stay positive. We’ve got this ☮️❤️😊~M

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Truth Be Told…

⚠️⚠️⚠️Trigger Warning!!!⚠️⚠️⚠️

I’m going to tell you a true story that I have not told many people. It’s the truth that I’ve hidden from everyone, even those closest to me for as long as I can remember. I’m telling this story because my threefold is celebrating huge milestones in their recovery and people don’t seem to understand why I celebrate these milestones instead of just saying ‘I’m proud of you.’

Celebrating the milestone of three, six, and twelve months being free of self harm behaviors is a BIG freaking deal for my threefold. It’s a big deal because we’ve been through hell trying to reach these milestones and we have taken the path to healing. After numerous hospitalizations, thousands of hours of therapy, a lot of self reflection, and deciding to fight for the future we have reached these milestones. It’s been a hard and scary journey, but the end result is so worth the celebration.

So that big truth and that scary secret I’ve hidden from even those closest to me is that I was the 14 year old girl that took a blade to her body trying to escape the pain. I was the 16 year old girl who starved herself for days at a time and purged everything she did eat to fit the stereotype that the world told me I needed to be in order to be beautiful. I’ve been the 25 year old who held a gun to her own temple and fought back pulling the trigger to escape the pain. I’ve also been the 35 year old who sat on a bathroom floor with a bottle of pills that could only find three reasons to hold me back from swallowing the whole bottle and chasing it down with the alcohol in my other hand. That’s the ugly journey of self harm, suicidal ideation, undiagnosed, and unmedicated mental illness.

I’ve also been the person who thought so little of herself that she allowed others to inflict that same pain onto me. I’ve worn the bruises and still bare the scars of the many times I’ve allowed people to use me as their own way to feel better. I’ve allowed my body to be torn apart by the men I chose over my own self respect. From cigarette burns, to being pushed down steps, to being clocked and choked. It’s a reality I’ve lived in for far too long. It’s a part of me now that I can’t erase. The hate filled words and the demeaning labels I’ve been told are burned into my brain. The many times I was told what I was and wasn’t became the only words I could hear. Those negative identifiers became the voices in my own head long after the people were gone.

I’ve been accused of attention seeking, it being a phase, and that I was just being too much. I didn’t get the help I needed at 14, 16, 17, 25, or 35 because I was told it was a me problem not an illness in need of treatment. My mother didn’t acknowledge it. My father didn’t see it. My ex-husband told me the medications made me worse and the ‘head doctors didn’t know me well enough to know what they were talking about. I’ve allowed everyone in my life around me convince me I wasn’t bipolar, even when the symptoms were obvious. Even after being hospitalized for 6 weeks to treat the symptoms I allowed someone to tell me the medication made me worse and it belonged in the garbage. So that’s where that medication went. I waited over 20 years to seek help for my mental illness. It’s not a life I can stand by and watch my threefold suffer through for themselves.

I refuse to allow me to be the barrier that stops my threefold from getting help when I know the dire consequences of that choice. I won’t be the voice in their head that tells them that they are the problem. I refuse to stand by and watch my threefold struggle like I did and live a life they don’t have to before they find a better way. Not when I have the power to help them find that life now. Not when the help is available and they show me they need it. I can see it, because I too have been that young girl struggling to find a person who would help me. I didn’t get that, but I will make damn sure they do.

I’m not glorifying this behavior by celebrating my children fighting for their future. I’m celebrating because there is cause for celebration when you overcome the bad and the ugly of mental illness. It took me too long to share my journey. I don’t want them to feel like they should hide theirs. It took me far too long to find the help I needed and if I can prevent them from taking the path I did, I will.

I celebrate the milestones because I know the struggle to reach the milestones too. I don’t talk about my struggle through self harm because it’s ugly and it’s the hard part that most don’t relate to. I haven’t shared it because everyone has told me that I’m the reason my threefold struggles. My threefold doesn’t even know most of my struggles and how bad it was. I never wanted them to see me as that person. It’s not a side I wanted to share and I don’t want them to believe self harm or suicidal ideation is normal. It’s not normal! It’s a sign of mental illness and the statistics that come with it are scary as hell.

You can judge me, but I am my own worst critic in the parenting department. I question if I am doing it right all the time. However, because I see their growth, their progress and their fight I know that I am doing exactly what I should to see them to a better life than what I had. I’m making that life for myself and for my threefold. We create our own path forward and the future is too bright to live in the darkness of the past. Don’t live your life waiting for the good, find the good in life. That’s the only way! Stay positive! ☮️❤️😊~M

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Emotional Rollercoaster

This weekend, I was all in my feelings {as my kids would’ve said probably years ago, but I’m always late.} I was emotional for reasons that made sense to me and to me alone and other reasons that made sense to those around me. I was riding my own crazy hot mess express freight train straight into bipolarville where manic episodes meet depressive ones and triggers meet emotional roller coaster rides. Then these rides travel down the roads of my feelings leading to pit stops along the way of irrational thought and anxiety, breakthroughs and breakdowns, scattered thoughts, and sanity that is single handedly fighting for the spotlight back from these conflicting mix of emotions. That’s my best description of triggered anxiety while fighting against the sleep deprivation that too much sleep from days prior brings. This complicated run-on sentence is also sponsored by mixed episodes of bipolar disorder.

People hear more often about the depressive episodes and the manic episodes that are famous for the original manic depression name of bipolar depression’s previous identifier. When a person says ‘mood disorder’ this is the usually what people think of. Most don’t know the different types of mood disorders nor the different types of Bipolar that a person can have. They don’t understand the nuances of the disease and they tend to mix up facts due to the stigma placed on bipolar disorder.

Episodic cycling is what makes Bipolar different from other mood disorders. Episodes often range in severity and length of time depending on treatment and type of bipolar disorder a person is diagnosed with. I experience mixed episodes with my bipolar which is characterized by having a more often cycling of symptoms that can overlap each other, have symptoms of both mania and depression simultaneously and a lack of recovery period before the opposite cycle begins. This type and cyclomathic bipolar are two types that are difficult to spot and diagnose due to the more rapid cycling process that characterizes each disorder. This is due to the length of episode which means that a person experiencing both mania and depression in rapid succession might have severe depressive symptoms that overshadow the manic symptoms that are more likely missed.

Bipolar I (which #2 of my threefold is suspected of having) is the more intense presence of mania symptoms than Bipolar II. Bipolar II (what #1 of my threefold has been diagnosed with), is considered less severe as type 1. Type 2 presents with less intense symptoms of manic involvement, their manic episodes are decreased and termed as hypo manic.

Most people, including myself, are quicker to dismiss mania symptoms because it’s almost like a reprieve from the depression that is all consuming. Mania doesn’t always seem as bad as it is. It seems like that is what people love to see. Mania makes you feel on top of the world, confident, brilliant and you have an energy that makes you so on the go. Manic symptoms seem harmless but that is untrue. It involves risky behavior, recklessness, and makes a person not care about the consequences of those actions. You may suddenly spend all your money on unnecessary items. Maybe it looks like sexual promiscuity or infidelity. It can show up as aggression and stealing. It is a myriad of bad behaviors that are almost like the person has no care on the world and is invincible. Mania is much less recognizable in the hypo manic episodes also. The depression is so much easier to pinpoint and the main reason why people find that depressive diagnosis easier than that of bipolar.

The depressive symptoms of each are similar in severity and the lengths of time vary from person to person. The manic episodes are the determining factor of defining bipolar instead of major depression which is unipolar with or without mania involvement. Depression presents in the classic ways with one major distinction that is more likely to point to bipolar. This major differentiation is in that episodic nature of bipolar. No manic symptoms would lead to a diagnosis of depression. You only need to have had one manic episode to have a diagnosis of bipolar. If it’s missed or mistaken as something else then you leave likelihood of reporting those symptoms is likely to be the key that changes the treatment plan from one that isn’t working to one that will work.

There is so much stigma surrounding bipolar which is why those who suffer tend to hide their illness from the people around them. It’s why people don’t accept the diagnose easily or seek treatment for themselves. It’s also tricky to diagnose and most doctors aren’t quick to do so. It’s genetic with a high probability of family links. This is why it’s not unheard of or unusual to have bipolar diagnoses in multiple generations of a family tree. If an adult has an established diagnosis in a family then it is much easier to begin seeing signs and symptoms at an earlier age and begin treatment earlier than it is to diagnose in an adult who has never expressed the symptoms they displayed in an accurate way or suffered from the more severe complications or consequences that this disorder brings on.

My emotional state was brought on more from lack of sleep after having too much sleep this past week, an increase in anxiety and a lot of nostalgia as #1 of my threefold prepares for high school graduation, college, and turning 18. However due to our struggles, my threefold is hyper aware of the slight changes of behavioral patterns and moods than the average teenagers. It also has come from some process work I have been doing on that little {enter sarcasm} goal of moving on from my mom guilt from the past and from the person I was when my bipolar was left untreated for years on end. I have also been working on this small issue I’ve had with holding grudges, resentment, and forgiveness. {Actually I’m the worst about if you hurt me I will remember forever.}

Thankfully I’m not actually in an episode of mania or depression currently and am on a regimen of medication that helps to prevent that cycling of intense episodes. I know my triggers, how to care for myself, my symptoms and my plan of action in the event of severe episodes. It’s very {knock on wood and glass!} calm in the unpredictable waters of bipolar at my house right now. It’s been a breath of fresh air after the year of drowning in crisis after crisis that in the present moment storms aren’t raging through the waters and everyone is safely wading in the shallow end. In less metaphorical terms for the first time in years no one is amidst an episode at the current moment and no one is in crisis. That is a beautiful thing in a life of a mom with bipolar with kids with bipolar that is hard for people to understand. Why would I celebrate us just being okayish?

Being ok for us, all at the same time, means medication changes and adjustments have ceased because we have a regimen that is working for us and consists of tweaks not new meds to find the combination that works. It is a celebration of a taste of stability not normalcy. It is a celebration of growth and progress. It’s being excited to track your mood because you have seen marked improvement. It’s a time where we can accomplish goals and we can be proud of ourselves. It also means we are in self harm recovery {another thing people don’t understand why we celebrate.}

Recovery from self harm is like that of addiction and just like you would celebrate milestones of someone who hasn’t had a drink in six weeks we celebrate the same milestones for self harm. It’s been over a year since #1 self harmed, nearly 6 months for #2, and for me {yep I’ve been there too} it’s been multiple years. These milestones mean that medications {and awareness of the consequences} therapy, and our own ability to safely communicate our feelings have come to a healthy meeting place. That is something worth celebrating at my house.

Thanks for attending my ted talk on bipolar disorder and it’s presentation. It’s a hot topic discussion that no one seems to want to talk about. For those unaffected it seems to have the lack of education almost like why learn about something that you have no use for? Like learning to do wood working when you have no interest in craftsmanship and no plans to ever use the skills. I find it important for even those unaffected because the informative awareness can help assist a friend or a family member distinguish symptoms and marked changes in behavior. If you know someone who needs help or is in crisis please seek help. You could be the difference between someone seeking help or risking their life. Be positive! You’ve got this! ☮️❤️😊 -M Ps. If you have another three minutes for personal research I have created this anonymous survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/66K3QSL on mental illness. I would love for you to participate! Thanks in advance!

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An Update on 2, From 2: In Her Own Words & More ⚠️

⚠️****Trigger Warning**** ⚠️ ⚠️ Please proceed cautiously . If in recovery this post could be triggering.⚠️ ⚠️Disturbing Images⚠️

#2 sent me this today. Along with an update she wanted me to share with the people who have been praying for her. This is the longest amount of time that she has been without self-harm in the past year. She is progressing. We are all happy she is home and safe. We know this is a long road, but we are moving in a forward direction. ❤️

⚠️****Trigger Warning**** ⚠️ ⚠️ Please proceed cautiously . If in recovery this post could be triggering.⚠️ ⚠️Disturbing Images⚠️

The following was written by #2 in my threefold. She is 13. The past year has been a rollercoaster for her and for all of my threefold as we have fought mental illness. 2 just got home from being inpatient at a psychiatric resindential facility where she has received crisis intervention and trauma therapy 24/7 for 7 weeks. She is progressing while showing amazing courage and strength to move past the illnesses she has been diagnosed with.

The following are the words she is asked me to post as her update:

“If you’ve been reading this for a while then you should know my moms side and what she knows about my situation, i believe for people to really understand adolescents with mental illnesses they should hear the parents perspective and the child’s. So here is my side and understanding.
If you don’t already know i’m the second daughter. My mom has talked about me a good amount of time so i guess some of y’all should already know somethings about me. I struggle with, complex post traumatic stress disorder, general anxiety, combined adhd, dmdd- dysfunctional mood disregulation disorder, social anxiety, major depressive disorder, odd- oppositional defiant disorder. In the past year i’ve been to two acute mental hospitals, one php (partial hospitalization), and one residential program. I’ve struggled with self harm on and off for about a year, at first in November of 2020 when i first started self-harming i wouldn’t go deep i was barely cutting skin. In late November early December of that year i got sent to my first facility i discharged from there and temporarily stopped self harming. At first i started self harming because i was overwhelmed my parents were getting a divorce, i was struggling with my sexuality, my school was virtual, i had lost control of what seemed like everything in my life. Me self harming was me taking control. I was abused as a child and the last time i was physically hurt but my abuser was January 2021, though not only was i physically abused i was also mentally and verbally abused which occurred a lot more often. just about my whole life all i knew was pain, which is one of the reason i believe that caused SH (self-harm) to be something i depended on. I’ve been ask why i didn’t immediately ask for help in this situation i did try and seek help. One night i decided it would be better for me to tell someone (other than my older sister she knew i told her in august when i first started) i was staying with my father that week and i struggled to hit i told him that i was self harming to be exact i had cut my hair that day so i tried to form some kind of joke to tell him what i had said was “my hair isn’t the only thing i cut today” it took him a minute to understand but eventually he did . what he told me though still bothers me today (at the time i was mildly suicidal) he had said “wanting to kill yourself is a natural human feeling” so i took that and used it to minimize the situation, eventually though my mom told my therapist at the time and then i was admitted.
I relapsed in january this time was the very first time i cut so much you couldn’t see my thigh, i continued to cut through out the span of 2 weeks when my mom found the a blade. She informed my therapist and decided i could stay home. This kept occurring until june it was a cycle i would stop for a while then start again mostly not getting caught but sometimes i would. The week of june 9th i selfharmed before a thearpy session i didn’t have time to clean up the blood on my leg so i threw on some pants and left in the car my mom saw the blood dripping down my leg and drying, she didn’t understand why. I had been out of depression states for months at that point i had a suicide note in my phone i had already made plans and had tried to end my pain, i was tired of trying, i got to the point that i kept everything in inside i was completely numb and was ready to end my battle, self harming was a temporary fix to my numbness and eventually it stopped working i had lost my drug. when i compare SH (self-harm) to drugs it’s because that’s what it was for me my high was being lightheaded SH made me happy i couldn’t go without it, it’s an addiction. once it stopped working i was at the point where i had no reason to live. I got admitted into another hospital and then partial and then residential with no break, though i’m proudly able to say i haven’t selfharmed since june ninth, and i don’t want to or plan on self harming. Though my future is unwritten so i guess we’ll see what happens.”
~2

⚠️****Trigger Warning**** ⚠️ ⚠️ Please proceed cautiously . If in recovery this post could be triggering.⚠️ ⚠️Disturbing Images⚠️

Planter hiding bits and pieces of her hidden secrets.

In January, I remember how angry I was. I was angry with myself, her father, her sisters, and I felt like I didn’t know what to do. When she was admitted after Thanksgiving, she only had surface wounds. I was terrified. I spoke to her therapist and her father and we all agreed 2 needed to increase therapy and go to her psychiatrist for med changes. I was hopeful. I began checking in often, having others check in when I couldn’t and we immediately implemented the safety plan that we had formulated. I didn’t know, though I hold guilt for not knowing as a mom I felt like I should’ve stopped this or prevented it. After her first hospitalization I became more aware. After this major incident and without me being informed of the abuse I became diligent.

⚠️****Trigger Warning**** ⚠️ ⚠️ Please proceed cautiously . If in recovery this post could be triggering.⚠️. ⚠️Disturbing Images⚠️

****Trigger Warning**** Just two days before admission 6/7/2021. I was only waiting because her therapist scheduled an emergency session so she could see her 6/9. Her therapist was aware of this incident and she did everything she could to keep 2 home.

****Trigger Warning**** The day she was admitted for inpatient acute hospitalization June 9th, 2021.

We had good weeks and then set backs over the next few months. I continued to implement her safety plan hoping if I just kept making sure the access was gone then we would make it through this. Never in a million years did I think that she was going to the extent of breaking kitchen glasses, picture frames, using wire from notebooks, blades from pencil sharpeners or screws out of shelves. That’s when I realized that phone cases hid the blades, plants housed sharp objects, trash bags had been hidden in the attic with bloody towels amidst whatever other trash she was throwing away. This was “addict behavior” in every way. Lies, bribes, empty promises of change that were all intended to be kept, but she just couldn’t follow through, she was deep in the dark place. She was losing hope, but I kept fighting even when she didn’t know how. Even when all I could do is cry and call her team to guide me through how I should handle each instance, I held onto the promise of a better life for my threefold.

I knew that we were headed in two possible directions. 1. Back to inpatient or 2. Her following through to completion. I could handle not seeing her if I knew she would be coming home, but not never again. A couple weeks was nothing against never seeing her again. Well obviously she was admitted, 12 weeks did feel like forever sometimes but I found comfort in knowing if nothing else she’s safe. I realized that diligence and my awareness weren’t going to be good enough and that I had to make the people around her aware too. Furthermore, I found that I had to lead by example. My therapy is important. My medication regimen is a must. My self care routine has to be completed. I learned that there are no perfect days, but our attitude towards life is everything. Most importantly I learned that this will be a long journey, but I can set the example, do my best, and meet my threefold where they are each day. After all a mother’s love is limitless.

Tomorrow 2 starts a new treatment program and we are going to keep working on being the best we can each day and to lean on the people around us in our dark times. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to be not ok. Learn from it, grow from it, and eventually everything will make sense. We were meant to be in this situation, the dark times will help us lead others to the light. We are strong. Every single one of us! We are enough! ☮️❤️😊~M