In December I found out that I was suffering from postpartum depression bipolar with mania. Yes, I went 8 months undiagnosed with bipolar depression with mania. The signs that we didn’t see were overworking and not sleeping. When my daughter was born I took only 2 weeks off from work.
I did not properly recover before working overnight hours and taking care of our 2 babies under 2 years old in the day. I breastfed for 2 months until my supply wasn’t meeting her demand. In August when my daughter was 4 months old we bought and moved into our new home. My husband and I moved into the house all by ourselves without any other help. I only took 1 week off of work during this time. Panic attacks were a daily experience for me from September onward.
In November I picked up 20 weekly hours of a day job at a nursing home. On Saturdays, I worked 16 hour days, 8 of which were at night. In hindsight, I can see that I was a wreck waiting to happen. Living through it I didn’t have the foresight. December was horrible and I’m not ready to relive it. But my son turned 2 and I had many panic attacks throughout his party. I just stepped outside quietly and told everyone that I was fine.
I was not fine, I had no idea how not fine I was. The next day and I feel an unbelievable amount of shame to admit this, you really have no idea, I put my keys in the ignition of the car my husband and I share and I drove away from home. I drove from MA to NY meanwhile my family had me listed as a missing person. I didn’t know where or why or how I just drove away. In New York, I had an episode of mania that landed me in a mental hospital. I was there for 3 weeks. Out of state from my newborn and my just turned 2 years old and my husband.
When we had my daughter, I constantly cried that I was separated from my sweet son. That was only for 2 days. I was gone for 21 days this time. I was so afraid my children and husband wouldn’t forgive me. Once I was medicated for my newly diagnosed condition my thinking came back to clarity and I felt the remorse that I still can’t shake for my actions. I couldn’t even talk to my son on the phone as my husband was afraid he’d be too upset. My marriage was on the line, I couldn’t hear my son’s new words or my daughter’s breathing. It was pure hell. I was eventually allowed home and my husband took the train to bring me home. I will never forget the look on my son’s face when he first saw me. He turned his head away from me. I have never sobbed more in my life. my daughter just wanted her mommy and was all smiles. I just wanted to wipe the last month out of both of their brains.
Now I’d like to say that the story ends here and everything is wonderful and rosy. But it doesn’t. I made an honest mistake with my medication which triggered another manic episode which led me to yet another inpatient stay at a hospital, which was at least local this time and for just 1 week. When I left the hospital I was so over medicated that I thought I was in a depression. All I could manage was get out of bed and get dressed. My mom came over every day for almost 2 months to help me with my babies. I needed her help so badly and I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without her. It has been especially hard to forgive myself for my decision to leave in December. I know it was my disorder that did it, but I hate that person. The department of child protective services were called by the hospital that served me during my second hospitalization.
In our state, it is standard procedure that the children of a mom who needs mental hospitalization be evaluated for neglect. So we were contesting a case of neglect opened against us. When I say these were my worst days. I mean that I have never experienced so much rage and fear and sadness in my entire life. At first, my husband blamed me for the case against us and threatened divorce. He calmed down after we hired an attorney who explained that we did nothing wrong. A state investigator came to inspect our home and our care for our children. She stayed for an hour and we passed with flying colors. She even apologized to me that this happened to me. She said that I’m one of the few who the state lets down because we are caught up in this. I still questioned my ability to parent and arranged for my mom to stay with us for safety sake while my medicine continued to be adjusted.
It’s been two months since I have been on my own with my babies all day, at long last, and I can say that I am feeling back to myself again. I participate in the activities I enjoyed before and I ensure that my children participate in things they enjoy too like the library, getting ice cream, walking the trail near our home, outdoor chalk and bubbles. It has been a very long and often times downhill battle to get here, but the fight is so worth it.
Just to see my babies smiling is so worth it. Moms who are pregnant and moms who are staying silent… if you are struggling please find the energy to seek out help. 20% of moms have a PPD mood disorder, but doctors are really bad at screening for bipolar type. I don’t blame my midwife, but I do think I should have been educated about this type of depression and my possible risk factors for experiencing it. I write this in the hopes that you NEVER ever experience what I have been through. If it helps one person it will all be worth it to me.