One of my favorite fictional characters of all time is the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. He’s such a weird character isn’t he? But somehow I relate to him. I have many favorite quotes from that movie but I especially love, “Your entirely bonkers! But let me tell you a secret, all the best people are”.
The Mad Hatter is my spirit animal for one simple reason… we are both bipolar.
I’ve debated writing this post since the day I decided to start a blog. I even contemplated making my blog solely about it. But you see, I’m more than someone who is bipolar. I didn’t want to be known as the bipolar mom. Bipolar is not an excuse for your actions, it is not a crutch, and it is NOT who I am.
I may have bipolar disorder, but it sure as hell does not have me.
I was 19 years old when my doctor gave me a name for the feelings I’ve been having for years. He told me, “You are bipolar” and I responded “Great, now what do I do about it?”
“How do you run from what’s inside your head?” -Cheshire Cat
I consider myself to be high functioning bipolar. The majority of people don’t know my diagnosis until I open up to them and many if not all are shocked. I’ve learned to wear what I call my “mask”. The “mask” I wear is the Lauren everyone knows and loves. The happy go lucky spirit, who talks fast, and lives a life of endless adventure. But on those specific masks days… I’m dying inside the most. In the morning, I look in my mirror, flip my hair over my shoulders and tell myself to just be normal today. But on the inside my mind is like a hamster on a wheel, racing with self doubt. All while my chest feels like it’s literally being sat on by an elephant causing real physical pain. I question every move I make, wondering if I’m failing as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter. Every comment made towards me I spend hours over analyzing. No one likes me. No one cares. I’m alone, I’m failing.. I’m failing…
My good days, THANK GOD, out number my bad 9/10 times. My normal days I realize I am a pretty awesome mom and I try to be the best wife I can be. On those days I’m as close to normal as I can ever possibly be.
I’m an avid advocate for medication and therapy. “Every day you must take your medication and every day you must feel your feelings. Then go and walk in grace” says Jenifer Lewis, an actress living with bipolar. I do understand I will live my life taking them forever but I will gladly do so as long as forever means no pain, no suffering, and more happiness.
Having a child has tested my self control and the pain of living with bipolar. I love Smudge more than life but I had no idea how to be a mom living with bipolar. I struggled every day. My post postpartum is a whole other conversation but that didn’t make it any easier. I questioned my abilities every second. I cried every night praying to God that he would not be ruined by me. That he would be exactly like his dad and nothing like myself. I looked at that beautiful face and even asked God to make him not even look like me. I promised him on the day he was born I would not let him feel the pain I feel everyday, that I would save him early on.
Once I had a man ask me, while six months pregnant, if having children was a good idea. It hit deep in my bones that he saw me not for me, but almost as a disease.
As Smudge grew physically, I grew inside my soul. That little face staring back at me taught me more love than I ever though possible. All I knew is I had to be the best me for him. He was the reason I continued to work on myself. I read more books and articles, and I continued my therapy. Being a bipolar mom may be the best thing that ever happened to me. He’s the reason I wake up in the morning and the reason I take my meds at night.
There are day’s still that he screams his lovely little lungs out and I have to walk away before my blood boils. Those times are “daddy times”. I truly believe I have the worlds most understanding husband who knows my limits and steps in when mommy just needs a break.
So what is my point?
Over the years, “self care”, “balance”, and “triggers” have become regular words in my vocabulary. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many times what happens when I don’t take time to take care of myself, take time for my family, or other things in life that I enjoy. Understanding my triggers, I feel, is the most important part of my self care. Knowing what situations to avoid, how to deal in situations I can’t get out of. I avoid as much alcohol as possible even though I do have a drink every once in awhile. I try to exercise as much as I can though I could be better at it. It’s a day to day process with new things to face each day.
All in all, I wanted to write this post because I accept my bipolar and I’ve learned how to manage it. Sharing my story is extremely important to me in case I can reach even just one person. I live every day with my brain in a fog and I will never know what it’s like to feel “normal”. But I can push away the fog and see the sunshine on the other side.
“I’m not crazy. My reality is just different than yours.” – Cheshire Cat