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Divorcing a Narcissist: Pt. 1

Too often we are told that divorce is taking the easy way out. If you’ve been through a divorce you probably know that is the furthest from the truth. If you’ve had a divorce with children involved then you know that divorce changes everything. If you are divorcing a Narcissist then you probably have walked through hell to get to the finalization. Kids and a narcissist well you better be prepared to fight harder and longer and to be smarter and more patient during this process. You will be guarding and advocating for yourself, your rights, and for your kids. Divorce is difficult and can be emotionally taxing even in amicable proceedings. If you are divorcing a narcissist you’ve most likely endured varying psychological, physical, and/or financial abuse within your marriage. Making a plan and executing that plan in order to get out of the marriage was the first step towards a better life for yourself and for your children. You may not be aware that the abuse doesn’t end the day you walk out the door. A narcissist will continue to find ways to punish you for leaving. You will be on guard and continue to have to fight for your freedom, your healing, and your right to happiness through out the divorce. Leaving is hard, navigating the next year or more of your new life is harder. Be prepared for the challenges you may face by starting therapy as soon as possible, finding an attorney who is both honest with you and willing to fight for you, and seek support from the people around you. You will need a trusted and safe place to vent your frustrations. It’s the only way you will be able to remain calm and civil in your dealings with the narcissist.

Disclaimer

The following is my account of my personal experience dealing with divorcing a narcissist. Not every piece of my story will match yours as we are all dealing with aspects that are unique to our family dynamic and our toxic cycle with the narcissist. This is not intended to replace legal advice or to serve as legal counsel. This content may be triggering.

Exit Strategy

If you can plan your exit strategy before you leave that is your best bet. It’s much harder to stay gone when there is not a plan in place on how you will escape. Making your mind up that you are done for good is step one. You must be done and be able to accept that no amount of counseling, effort, money or whatever would be enough to change your mind. If you haven’t decided this is what you want and need then you are not ready to leave. Empty threats won’t change a narcissist it will possibly trigger retaliation or a promise to change, but the love bombing and future faking will never last long.

I had decided months prior to having the conversation about separation that I was done. I began detaching emotionally. I had to plan. The following were steps I took when I was preparing my exit:

  • Find a therapist for self and for children
  • Have a way to support yourself and your family
  • Meet with a lawyer for advice and consultation
  • Talk to a trusted family member or friend, be careful who you give information to.
  • Will you leave the marital residence or will your spouse? Where will you go?
  • What assets and debts do you share? Make a list.
  • Document everything you recall up until present. Continue documenting and keeping records moving forward.
  • Be firm in your decision. Don’t be swayed by love bombing, future faking, or empty promises.
  • Be prepared for the conversation about separation.
  • Identify and notice the toxic patterns you both perpetuate in your relationship and communication.

Prepare for battle:

The first mistake I made was showing my hand and letting emotions rule my reactions. I allowed the toxicity to continue even after I had left because I didn’t see the full picture. I didn’t see the game. I still wanted to believe that there was a person capable of empathy and love behind the anger that was displayed. I didn’t even know what a narcissist was when I left. I just thought my ex was miserable and wanted me miserable too. After all misery does love company. He would push my buttons, he knew what would make me get upset and what to say for me to lash out. Not only did I give him the upper hand and fed into his narcissistic behaviors, I allowed him to be the one to control my mood and the mood of my threefold. We were anxious and tense and overwhelmed on “switch out” days. We would sit on pins and needles and it would take hours if not a full day for us to settle down after the interactions. It was awful. I made the mistake of agreeing to couple’s counseling as a way to coparent and communicate with him at the onset of the separation. In those sessions I felt safe to express my feelings and thoughts. After a few sessions this was enough to make him so angry he stormed out of the session, caused a scene, and left him on the defensive. It was only a day later that he had cleaned out our savings account and left me scrambling for reserves. A few days after that he filed for divorce, before I could. He filed for full custody of my threefold and charged me with inappropriate marital conduct. I was livid. A few days after that he had my threefold sit me down and tell me they wanted to live with him full time and have visitation with me. I was floored. I was reactive, emotional, hurt, scared and I was pissed. I had never been so angry in my life. It was time to fight, and if he was going to fight dirty then I was going to fight clean just to show I was the bigger person. I did nothing that he expected me to from that moment forward. I would fight for my threefold and fight with the truth. I didn’t need to manipulate my girls. They just needed a reminder of who had always been the parent and who always would be there. It wasn’t a show, a game. They weren’t pawns to hurt him, and I knew that there was no way that he had their best interests at heart. I did and I was ready to show them that I would be there for them regardless of where they lived or who they lived with.

Giving him the opportunity to file for divorce first was my mistake. He was allowed to claim whatever he wanted. He was allowed to file for full custody. It gave him the power in the divorce. It left me with the burden to prove that my threefold were best cared for by me. It left me to show that I had always been their primary caretaker. It made me fight for my rights to be their mother. I was reasonable and decided to contest the divorce, but I contested not with full custody in my counter petition. I countered with 50/50 joint custody and shared holidays. I didn’t retaliate but tried to negotiate the best interest of the girls. I was trying to show good faith, civility, and reasonable expectations. It didn’t work.

  • File first, but file fair
  • Don’t use or allow your kids to be used as pawns.
  • Future faking and manipulation are techniques used by the narcissist to sway you and the children.
  • Respond without reacting or retaliating.
  • Your children come first. Their best interest is the only thing the court cares about.
  • Document everything. Keep records, timelines, text messages, phone logs, and any interactions together.
  • Be as civil and cordial as possible in all interactions regardless of their attempts to make you angry or hurt you.

Mediation is Required

Mediation is required as the first step in most contested divorces. I made the mistake that this would be the day where things were finalized. I went in ready to fight for equal parenting time and birthdays. I wanted Christmas and I wanted to make medical decisions. I wanted to be the primary residential parent and have final say on education. I was ready to plead my case. I had a home and was in a great school district. I had made and taken the girls to every appointment for therapy, medication, physicals, sick visits, and dentist appointments. I was the one helping with school. I was the one that they counted on to be stable and they relied on for everything. I had already had one child full time refusing to live with him. My middle daughter, 2, refused to stay there after they had fought and it got nasty a few months prior. She rarely wanted to visit him. I supported her decision but didn’t expect the other children to do that too. Mediation was brutal. It was not the fight I expected. It was hard not to get emotionally charged. He agreed to everything with the kids, but it came down to money. He wanted part of my retirement a job I had only began 6 months prior to our separation. He wanted my vehicle even after he had my new car, but refused to make payments on it and it was repossessed while he had it. He wanted me held responsible for paying him for damages done at the apartment he wanted to keep and forced me to move out of, but refused to take my name off the lease. He wanted all of the possessions and would not budge on the smallest of settlements to resolve these issues. He also wanted me to acquire all the marital debt. He expected me to not file for child support and he did not want to pay arrears for the seven months prior. I should also take less than the state minimum for support and should not make it enforceable for three months so he could find employment because he was let go from his job. I was livid. I gave him everything he asked for except my vehicle and my retirement, but he refused to settle. I was angry and incredibly frustrated. I didn’t understand how he could think he had anything to gain by going to court. I was willing to do just about anything to not make my threefold go through a nasty court battle.

  • Mediation is not the end and is only for the courts.
  • Don’t go in with expectations of settlement.
  • Before you go to mediation decide what your bottom line is. What are you willing to and not willing to budge on.
  • Have an accurate accounting of all debts and assets.
  • Decide if you are holding on to something to be petty or because you truly believe it is rightfully yours.
  • Don’t agree to anything you feel uncomfortable with.
  • If you settle that’s it. You don’t get to revise your agreement after.
  • Don’t be a martyr and don’t sell yourself short.
  • Don’t show all of your cards. Hold some things until you see what they want.
  • Be firm. Stay tough. Don’t let them run over you. It’s not easy but don’t react to their demands regardless if you feel they are not fair.
  • You have a voice and rights. It’s easy to just agree to get it done but if you feel like you are giving too much it’s ok to say no.

Negotiations with the Narcissist:

There were many times I thought I could make my ex see what he was doing, how he was hurting my threefold, and what I felt we could do to resolve the problems. I was so wrong. I would basically beg for settlement and plead for him to do what was in the best interest of the kids. I couldn’t have seemed more pathetic or more weak in those moments. I gave him the power every time and gave him the control over the trajectory of the process. I postponed trial dates, filing for support, and all court involvement. Why did I do this? I didn’t want to go to court! I didn’t have any doubt I would win. I just didn’t want to put my threefold through the stress and anxiety of court. By this time my threefold were all living with me full time. He was inconsistent with visitation and had stopped all attempts to help financially. I would call him and ask if he was planning to see the girls. I would call him and ask for help. I would call him and tell him how he was affecting the kids. I would cry and try to find some part of him that still felt something anything so he would close this chapter of our lives. I tried to bridge the growing gaps in his relationships with my threefold. I would think I was making progress and that I had gotten through to him. I would go to my lawyer and draw up a settlement for him to review. Each time I would give him everything he asked for, but the only thing I couldn’t budge on was my vehicle. I needed that vehicle to get to work, get the kids to and from everywhere, it was the one thing I couldn’t give in on. I was still giving him the power I made three offers over three months and received no response or refusals each time. I was getting no where. I was getting played. I was getting the run around. He was stalling and I didn’t realize it. I was just buying time and wasting the retainer money I had paid my lawyer. I didn’t realize it until I decided to set boundaries for myself and my threefold.

  • Don’t negotiate with the narcissist
  • Don’t assume they care
  • Set trial dates and file for support after mediation.
  • Don’t use your retainer to negotiate more settlements.
  • Make them come to you and meet you where you are.
  • Don’t contact them, beg, plead or try to find solutions.
  • Don’t let them control the process.
  • Communication should be limited and don’t give more information than they ask for.
  • Document everything.

Boundary Setting Bad Assery:

I had finally reached my limit of trying to work with and coparent with an inconsistent and low level person. I was done being the person who always bent over backwards. I would no longer be complicit in the abuse of myself or my threefold. We deserved more. It was about time I demanded to be treated with respect and that I be given the common courtesy of communication without attacks. I didn’t want to be the bad guy, but I was tired of being the one that rolled over and gave in. I finally was ready to stand my ground and I wasn’t going to back down. I filed for a support hearing. I then contacted him letting him know that he could have two scheduled calls per week and my availability. I told him communication was to go through me and not the girls. I told him I need 72 hour notice of his intention to have parenting time so we could schedule that with the girls. I told him requests would be denied if he did not submit the request in the required time frame. I refused the implementation of a schedule he requested and told him if he wanted consistency he needed to submit a settlement to his lawyer. I told him he could no longer expect my compliance with his schedule as I had three kids and my own schedule to adhere to. I was done with him calling the shots. I didn’t want to hurt anyone but I was hurting the kids more by allowing him to decide on a whim and leave them wondering when they would see him or if he would be calling. I was tired of being the beck and call girl. He pushed back on my boundaries and I just continued to resend them to him highlighting the specific boundary he was crossing and what actions he would need to take for me to be able to honor his request. Each time I held my ground he got more irritated and saw the balance of power was shifting.

  • Set boundaries early and hold them
  • Allow the boundaries to remain enforced in order to pressure the narcissist to settle or negotiate.
  • Do not violate rights of the other parent when setting boundaries. Make sure you are giving them access to any and all information about the children.
  • Make them accountable to a schedule that works for you and the children.
  • Your responsibility is to your children not to your ex. Focus on being consistent.
  • Setting boundaries is allowed even if you aren’t used to it.
  • Be prepared for the narcissist to want to talk to you and to have seemingly sincere apologies. They are manipulating you, don’t fall for it.

Expect the Unexpected:

After setting boundaries the time between phone calls was longer and requests for visitation were nearly never but always last minute. I had expected the boundaries to pressure him to make a move to negotiate or make a plan with his lawyer. I did not think asking for what I felt was more than reasonable of 72 hours for visitation requests would be his reasoning to stop seeing the girls all together. His attempts became few and far between. Days turned into weeks, then into months and our hearing was due to come up soon. Out of no where I get a text from the ex asking to speak with the girls. I obliged. He said he needed to speak to me first. He said he was going to admit himself to a treatment facility to get help. He managed to hurt the kids with his handling of delivering the news. All three girls needed emergency therapy in the days following that call. Then, get this, he didn’t go. He put them through the ringer and hurt them for him not to follow through, again. They were angry, hurt, disappointed and everything between. I had to cut off communication all together at that point. I felt he was only inflicting more damage.

It was time for the support hearing and I had prepared my case. Unfortunately, I had been waiting for word for the whole week beforehand to get word of if he had been admitted to a treatment facility or not. I was forced to contact him as I had no other way to get information on what to plan for. I had finally given up and did the prep work. I didn’t know what would happen. I knew there was no hope of receiving support, just wanted it on the record. He was in a losing situation. He had positioned himself to lose. I knew that I would not need anything but to be honest about what had been happening since day 1. I was just waiting for confirmation from my lawyer that we were proceeding as planned. My phone rang with a call from my lawyer. I was told he was granted a continuance as he claimed he did not have the mental capacity or stability to move forward. He could control the situation and keep me begging for help if he played the mental health card. With the knowledge of how seriously I take mental health he found a way to exploit me. I was completely shocked. I was angry and wanted nothing more than to tell him how pathetic I felt he was for pulling that card in the midst of the true crisis I had been forced to manage as a single parent of my threefold. I didn’t retaliate I simply rescheduled and have been no contact since that time with him.

The Never-Ending Saga

It’s been well over a year that we have been separated. It’s been over a year since divorce was filed. I have moved on with my life as much as I can. I’ve been through hell so far this year. My threefold has been through even more than I have. We’ve been trying to find our way forward and trying to heal from the abuse and trauma we have endured. It’s been hard when someone is trying to continue holding you hostage in the past. It’s been a crazy and rough year. We have had multiple hours of therapy, psychiatric treatment, trauma intervention, crisis management, hospitalization and have come to terms with mental illness. I’ve learned a lot and have worked hard to be the best mom I can and give my kids every ounce of myself. In the midst of this year we have gotten closer and gotten stronger.

My Final Piece of Advice…For Now:

Lastly I can’t stress this enough, the court doesn’t care about you. It’s all about the kids. Do not play the role of the victim. Don’t assume that the court will acknowledge your personal pain or the abuse you have endured. It has to be about how the other person’s behaviors have negatively impacted your children. How the decisions made have been against the best interest of the children. If you are looking to get some sort of peace from speaking out about how you have suffered or that you will gain some sympathy, you won’t. Do not let him or the court have any reason to question if you are mentally able to raise your children. As soon as you victimize yourself you only set yourself up for more evaluation, questions, oversight, and allow your mental health to be a concern and a topic of discussion. Do not give them the ammo to use against you. The next part is even if you truly believe whole heartedly that you are dealing with a narcissist do not accuse the other parent of being a narcissist in court. This will only give cause to the court to ask for psychological evaluations and leave you open to being accused of parental alienation. Narcissists are known for being able to play a part when needed. They will never get a diagnosis based on a single evaluation. It takes time to uncover these traits.

We’ve been through the most devastating lows and some incredible highs. I’ve found that I am stronger and incredibly resilient. I’ve been inspired by my threefold and their ability to over come every single obstacle that has been placed in their way. I’ve discovered the true definition of narcissism. I’ve named our trauma as abuse, a word considered dirty and not allowed in the past. I’ve learned more lessons than I can count. I’ve found support from unexpected places. I’ve made it a mission of mine to help others struggling with mental illness, to give people hope, and make sure that others know that they are not alone. My intentions are to offer support to others that don’t have someone who understands the real life challenges of dealing with trauma, abuse, mental illness, divorce, coparenting, or a narcissistic personality. We share to spread awareness and erase the stigma that these issues have surrounding them.

This is only the first part of our story. It’s not close to conclusion. Let my mistakes and my errors in dealing with my divorce guide you to a better way forward in yours. I haven’t been more empowered and more defeated in my life. Divorce is hard and draining. It’s not the “easy” option. Proceed with caution and remember document everything. Good luck! My part 2 should be interesting. ☮️❤️😊~M

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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

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Ask. Accept. Acknowledge.

This was my first attempt at not only recording a video in real time, but also taking the raw footage of that video and editing it to customize it and make it cohesive. I was nervous filming it, thus my shakiness that is visible in the video. I am more nervous making it public, even though I maintained my anonymity in respect to our unique situation and out of respect for my threefold as we have endured trauma and are trying to heal that trauma.

I can’t pretend that letting people, the world, in on my dark and hidden truth behind my push for positivity is easy. I am beyond scared that people will judge me and doubt my intentions for this video as anything less than genuine attempt to show that there is good everywhere and that all we have to do is open our eyes and see it.

I wasn’t going to share it. I just wanted to have it for myself and for my family as a way to show them that everything works out even if it’s in ways you don’t expect it to. Shine light on the shadows of your life and in turn your truth will become someone else’s way to do the same. We are going through all of this and we’re meant to be on this journey for a reason. One day, we will know what the plan and purpose for our journey was for. Until then we cling to faith, hope, peace, love, happiness and positivity. That’s how we heal and move forward. I hope you enjoy this and appreciate the good around you everyday!

☮️❤️😊~M

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Our Mental Illness Saga

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I remember this saying and it is oh so true. Counseling Today states that a child is twice as likely to develop a severe mental illness if their parent has a severe mental illness. My threefold and I did not win the genetic lottery by any means. We have all the illnesses and sometimes the list gets excessive and explaining them to others is exhausting!

Personally I struggle with major depressive disorder, general anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, and complex post traumatic stress disorder. If that isn’t enough for one person, then imagine a 17 year old (1) with the same disorders. Better yet imagine a 13 year old (2) that has all of these plus disruptive mood disregulation disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, social anxiety, and manic episodes. Although we are pretty sure the mania, major depression and ADHD will eventually morph into one diagnosis of bipolar II sooner or later. At least that’s what the doctors tell me. We have a combined total of 5 psychiatric hospitalizations to date. 4 of which were for my middle daughter (2) and 1 for myself. I am by no means a qualified mental health professional, but from personal experience and experience with my threefold I have highly educated myself on mental illness and all of our very complex diagnoses.

With me personally I know I have to be careful with my stress level, my medication, communication, conflict, sleep and a billion other things. As an adult I am very aware of my triggers. Though my C-PTSD can be uncovered as I am working through my trauma. Sometimes though I’m just in the wrong state of mind that I will intentionally put myself into a triggering situation. I guess my thought is to face the fear or I am looking for a reason to fight. I need it. That’s such a crappy thing to admit, but it’s true. Sometimes I need to scream at someone so I will do whatever it takes to make it happen. I get all “bish, I wish you would, I’ll burn your mother loving clothes!” Real talk. Maybe I’m alone in that sometimes I just need to let it all out, no filter, but with all the apologies afterwards. I need to have someone reel me back in and make me see that my disorders are on the fritz. Other times I’m honestly triggered and it comes at the worst times. I get highly emotional when I’m frustrated and can’t see my way to a solution. I close off. I shut down and sometimes it takes a shit ton of love to knock these walls down that I build. I shake and want to run in confrontation and my voice cracks. My easy confidence I am usually carrying bolts and sometimes I bolt with it. That’s all the C-PTSD and anxiety. I ignore problems and hope for the best. That works, at times, other times it’s stored in my bomb kit waiting for me to push the “blow up shit” button.

My depression is managed with medication mostly. I am thankful for that. It’s been a while since I’ve had a major depressive episode and wow those are not pretty. They look like calling in days upon days or finding an “excuse” to go home. They consist of days without showering and numbing out the pain with sleep; an excessive amount more than what is required. Closed doors, dark rooms, what I eat is in bed and there isn’t much that will move me out of it. Those episodes make me look like a bad parent, because in those moments I don’t care. God, I hate to admit that, but the only thing I want is peace and I can’t find it. I can be totally honest that I have been known to try to find it in the bottom of a bottle. That’s not recommended because it will give you an escape but it leads right back to where you started. It’s not there, I’ve looked in several at different times in my life. I’ve questioned my purpose, my place and tested my will to live on more than one occasion. That’s not normal. If you know how you would…if you did…and seriously contemplate doing it. GET. HELP. Suicide is no joke and it is not a temporary fix for your current pain. No matter how bad it gets! I mean that with all of my soul. The only thing that has kept me alive in those darkest of times was the thought of my children wondering what they did wrong or my family questioning how they could’ve prevented it. Nothing is permanent. Not your feelings. Not your situation. Not your circumstances. I say that from a place of love, because I know all too well the depths depression drags you to when you’re in the dark place. Its hard. I promise it will get better. You hold the cards, play the hand you’ve got and then get a new deal, that’s all we can do. It’s a carousel and it never stops spinning. We can’t be ashamed to speak up and tell the people around us what it looks like when we are in the dark place. That’s how we get help. That’s when we need help.

Having mental illness is one thing parenting mental illness while coping with your own mental illness is another. I can’t say what it is like for those that don’t have mental illness, I’m not sure, but I imagine it is still difficult to parent. My threefold has their own unique triggers and mental illness presents differently in everyone. Just because my kid that has 8 diagnoses, or the one who has 4 diagnoses acts a certain way does not mean their symptoms, triggers, or treatments will be similar to mine or anyone else’s. Sure, we’ll have some similarities, but there is no cookie cutter medicine or therapy that works for everyone. It’s honestly all trial and error. I never thought that any of us had mood disorders. Turns out we all do! What I believed to be “mild” depression was actually major depressive disorder or MDD. MDD is in fact a mood disorder. I never knew that until I researched it and began digging into the disease after I was told that by my psychiatrist, then 1 and 2’s psychiatrist also said it. I thought depression was depression and I had that “run of the mill” typical blah, yuck depression and have had it since I was 14. Who thinks that’s normal? Me. I thought it was a phase or situational for 1, and she “managed” on her own fairly well. I thought 2 would grow out of it, or that she just had severe ADHD and depression- not “mood swings” or hypomanic and depressive episodes. What’s that? I thought 2 was the only person suffering with attention issues, nope turns out that MANY people get attention issues accompanied by major anxiety as added perks of C-PTSD. We are ALL very different but we ended up very much the same.

Mental health has so much to do with how much you truly want to get better. It has more to do with perspective and willingness to commit to your betterment. Medication IS a commitment. Therapy IS a commitment. Working on yourself IS a commitment. It’s costly of time, sweat, money, tears, and sometimes you take two steps forward to go ten steps back. It’s perseverance as much as anything else. My therapist poses a pertinent question. “How is _______ serving me?” How does my anxiety serve me? How does depression serve me? What benefits do I get? It’s really a deep question. How does it serve me? I benefit by feeling I can use it as a reason to not want to do something or to get out of commitments occasionally. An excuse for bad behavior or acting irrationally. To guilt someone to do something I don’t want to do or feel I can’t do. To receive sympathy or attention when I don’t feel like I’m getting what I need. It can become very toxic and definitely come off as disregarding of others and that it’s always about me. However, I am aware that other people have feelings and cannot constantly allow myself to be controlled by my mental disorders. It’s a different power to take ownership of your own behaviors and not constantly say “I’m sorry I flipped out on you I have _______ and it triggered a bad reaction.” No. This is more accurate: “I said it, I didn’t mean it, I’m aware that I probably hurt your feelings please forgive me. I will work on it.” I have to take ownership for what I am doing and quit allowing myself to give the power over to mental illness.

I think I am able to better parent and be more understanding about mental illness because at 14/15/16 I was a “cutter”. I have MDD so I know what to look for and although I blinded myself for years to the reality of it I now can see clearly. I can pinpoint the onset of a depressive episode for any of us now. My threefold talks to me and is open with me about their struggles, their triggers and their warning signs which is helpful. I still get irritated when we can’t participate in certain things, but I know and have an understanding that C-PTSD and their own severe anxiety are better left at bay when they’re not pushed too far past their comfort zone. I know now that mania is not a “good” day. It’s being egotistical, self centered, hyper focused for small bits of time, starting but never finishing, having grandiose sense of self and abilities, and acting incredibly impulsively. There are so many more signs of these disorders, but the list would just go on and on. You’re strong. Remember tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it yet! ☮️❤️🙂

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ATTN: To Whom It May Concern: The Shit has Hit the Fan!

Excuse the interruption to your daily scheduled post “Journey to Positivity: Day 7” This post is sponsored by “UNCLE!” Please stay tuned for our newest series entitled “Fuck this shit, I’m out!” and “The Rock and the Hard Place”. From bad to good to great and to awful. That’s the rollercoaster of life. It’s hoping and praying that you can withstand the whiplash and battle through the motion sickness and just learn to enjoy the ride. I’m so tired of hearing “You’re so strong!” “You’re so brave!” “You’re doing everything you can!” and all the other lies and bullshit people spew on you when you are struggling and they don’t know what to say or how to relate. “Keep Going, it can only go up from here!” That’s a damn lie! It can get worse and it has and there is no amount of meditation, motivational speaking, positivity preaching, scripting shit that’s going to make me see anything other than the negatives today. I’m there. I’m in the dark place. The electricity is out and they aren’t coming to turn it back on tonight. All I have is a Bic lighter that burns my fingers when I try have any light at all. I’m at the bottom. I’m in the trench waving my white flag begging for help and realizing that I’m THE HELP!

So let’s jump right into the nitty gritty and see what tidbits of inspiration we can find for the mom who is falling apart while trying to hold it all together. Shall we? I think we shall. I woke up late after staying up most of the night worried about 2. If you’ve read previous posts you know 2 struggles with mental illness. She has what she says is every mental disorder with a ‘D’ that is listed in the ICD-10-CM. That’s obviously a stretch. I don’t have the patience tonight to spell it out she has DMDD, MDD, GAD, SAD, ADHD, ODD, and C-PTSD. They have long names but I’m just not there right now mentally myself to give you the long versions. Google it. 2 self harms by cutting herself with any sharp she can get her hands on. It’s been a battle. We have been actively in therapy (outpatient) since 2020. She’s had two inpatient stays in the past year. Partial hospitalization is where we have been the past month. This consists of weekdays from 8:30-3:30. She also struggles with suicidal ideation, thankfully with no attempts but she does make plans. She has suicide notes written and locked away. It is an active struggle for her to be happy and to regulate emotions or her mood. We all struggle with mental illness, all 4 of us, myself included. Today, I received a call at work. I stepped away to take it. It was 2’s treatment facility asking about last night. (See previous post) I explained my version of events. I noted her positive attempts to correct and redirect and that we went to bed on a much better note after a lengthy discussion. They told me that the doctor and therapist and the supervisor would be reaching out to me. Yay, another day filled with a million interruptions, but I was thankful to be updated on what was going on. A little later her therapist reached out and explained that 2 had expressed suicidal thoughts with a plan and was having a large number of self harm urges. They were going to formulate a plan and they would be in touch. Of course I assumed we would probably be looking at a 3rd inpatient stay and started mentally prepping for that as the outcome. The case manager calls from our insurance company. The hospital hadn’t submitted an extension request and today was to be her last “covered” day for PHP. With this in mind I was thinking they had a review today and would be submitting the request later in the day. I was trying to be positive. I got a phone call with a medication increase. Expected, upping the antidepressant. Alrighty. We just did this, but I’m not a doctor so I’m just going to roll with it and do what they say (within reason). By 3:00 I’m going to get 2 from treatment. Confused because I never got any additional follow up. 2 gets in and says the day hadn’t been bad. I broke down in a mess of tears right then. I was just barely holding it together when the phone rang. I answered. It was the hospital. They were calling with an update on their recommendation for further treatment for 2. “Here it comes. Get ready M. The blow is going to sting. You will get through this. It’s going to be okay. You are safe. SHE IS SAFE. You’ve got this.” My head was trying to remind me over and over. Then came the blow. “Residential care is what we are recommending.” I can’t breathe. I have to pull over on the side of the interstate in 4:00pm traffic because I can no longer see through my tears. “30-90 days to start.” What in the actual fuck was happening? They want me to commit my kid? My kid. My blonde haired blue marble ocean eyed daughter who has an amazing smile and has my sense of humor, an amazingly huge heart and an honesty that is so brutal. My kid. I was stunned and became completely overwhelmed. Why? I don’t understand. She is getting better. She is doing better. What the fuck!?!? I’m confused. Instant panic ensues and 2 is next to me probably thinking someone died or some other catastrophic event has happened. I pulled it together and made it down the road and home.

“You Are the Reason” Calum Scott

Tonight has been a whirlwind. I stopped taking emergency anxiety medication a while back, but thankfully I had stashed just a few “in case of emergency” I am so thankful I did. 0.25mg of Xanax. A super small dose. In the midst of my third panic attack I decided I would never rest tonight and couldn’t cry every time I saw her sweet face, heard her voice saying “Momma!” in her very exaggerated southern accent, or heard her name spoken by 1 or 3. I’m going to miss this kid so much. 10 days is the longest we’ve been apart and that was her first inpatient stay. She takes up so much space, in the best ways! She is loud and rambunctious. She is obnoxious and inappropriate. Impulsive and argumentative. Opinionated and brutally honest. Hilarious and so damn cute. She is dancing and painting. Always talking about random bits of information. She is into serial killers and crime documentaries. She is playing soccer or cooking. She is a force of nature. I can’t believe it’s nearly midnight and I’ve cried to the point my eyes are swollen. I’m over this. Mental illness fucking blows. She is 13, and like her inpatient psychiatrist said “she shouldn’t have to fight herself to be happy.” She has so much life in her. She has such a big heart and a huge personality. It amazes me that my little girl is such a strong and good person, but it equally makes me so incredibly sad and like a failure that she doesn’t value what everyone around her sees. She can’t see herself through my eyes. That big personality, full of life, bright eyed, beautiful, amazing, strong, sweet, inclusive, loving child only sees the faults. Only sees the negative. She feels pain, sadness, disappointment, grief, anxiety and no amount of my wishing, hoping or praying can fix that for her. I’ve been fired from being her parent and support for the next 30-90 days. I have to now be in the background and be only an extra in her life. I’m so incredibly sad. I’m so incredibly scared. I’m so incredibly lost. I’m not sure where to go from here.

“To Make You Feel My Love” Adelle

As I was crying my eyes out after panic attack #3 tonight when 2 comes and sits next to me. She looks at me and says “I’m sorry momma. I love you. We’ve been through worse. We will get through this. I will go. I will get the help I need and the right medications to help me. I will get out and go back and finish PHP, then IOP, then back to K-Christ Lord and Savior. And we will never have to do this again. I will never need to go back again. This is the last time.” With all my heart and soul I hope that’s true 2. I really really do. We can’t have threefold without you kid! You are central to it. What is 1 and 3 without 2? This is my complete and utter wish on every star, with every fiber in my being, with every piece of me I hope that my sweet blue eyed girl gets help. Can come back home soon and be with us, her family, and have healed her pain to the point she can live a full and happy life. That she can be free of the chains of our past and never doubt her place in this world again. I pray to every god that has ever been prayed to that my child finds peace and self acceptance and values herself and her life. I would take that pain and hurt from her or any of my threefold a million times over if I knew they would be safe, happy, and find a peace within themselves.

“My Wish” Rascal Flatts