Runners Wall

It has been a less than ideal week. A chain of unfortunate events triggered by an unexpected tooth extraction and culminating in some gnarly medication interactions (oh Lithium, life would be so dull without you). I’ve pulled a back muscle and possibly an intercostal muscle vomiting. Because despite how much practice I have had, I puke like a savage hybrid of Linda Blair (in contrast to Hubster, who vomits like the Queen – dignified, silently, and very very rarely). The other night my kid woke up petrified because he thought there were monsters in the house.

There was, child. There was.

Anyway, so I’m chilling at home on my own today, shuffling around like Ozzy Osbourne and seriously contemplating the hole in my life that stone cookware and the “Ahh Bra” could fill. While attempting to be productive I decided to pay our bills and found all the prescriptions for our first injectable cycle next week.

And that’s about when I lost it.

I cried and cried. Which was not only painful (pulled muscles FTW!) but pretty unusual. I don’t really cry. As in truly cry, with tissues and red puffy eyes and snot and grossness, properly. Laugh inappropriately. Yes. Shed a few forlorn looking tears at appropriate moments. Perhaps. But not this gut wrenching howling shit. Thank God I was on my own. It was like Linda Blair all over again.

Then I realised that I’m just….tired. So tired. Emotionally that is. Though probably physically as well. My life for the past few years has been doctor, medication, hospital, repeat. I get the rare stuff. The weird side effect. I can’t even bloody well go and get a tooth extracted without all sorts of drama. I just want it all to go away.

I have hit the runners wall.

Why can’t my body cooperate? Why can’t I do something crazy, like, ya know, eat a piece of bread, without consequence. Why can’t I be one those women who just decide they want a baby, then BAM 9 months later they are presented with a squishy newborn? Who feel joy when they see a positive pregnancy test, not dread..already preparing to lose it. Why do I have to start this journey of invasive treatment when I have already had so much medical intervention? Why do I have to spend this extortinate amount of money on something that has around a 50% success rate – maybe less. In what other universe would we pay thousands of dollars for something we may not receive? Or that we may lose afterwards anyway?

Hope. That’s why.

Last weekend Hubster and I went to the clinic so I could learn how to inject myself. We really had no idea. I thought it would be one of those pen things like Diabetics use. While one medication is administered like this, the others involve cracking open ampoules and mixing powder with a watery solution. SO MUCH ROOM FOR PHAFFERY.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no qualms about physically injecting myself, but my name should be “Rachael Fumble Fingers” (Reason #103 why I could never be a surgeon).  I can imagine so many scenarios where I smash ampoules and have to hair like a bat out of hell to the compounding pharmacy across town to get replacements. Or I lose needles, get the dosage wrong, inject air into myself. The possibilities are endless. I just keep telling myself “If heroin addicts under heavy sedation can manage to inject themselves intravenously, I’m sure you in a (allegedly) conscious and informed state can figure out how to stab your stomach.” Surely.

I just feel myself hitting that wall. I think the past events of the last few years have caught up with me. I’m tired. The other morning I woke up and as Hubster kissed me good bye I told him “I don’t want to adult today. I may or may not be arrested for diving into the ball pit at IKEA. Just a heads up.”

Meanwhile my near four year old told me over breakfast that he couldn’t wait to be an adult because then he wouldn’t have to hold anyones hand in the carpark. It never ceases to amaze me the intensity in which children want to grow up. The biggest compliment I can give him is that he is “grown up.” And then you really DO grow up and suddenly you start buying anti-aging creams, getting cagey about your age, and recounting the “good old days” where your biggest problem was whether to choose the chocolate or rainbow paddle pop (still a dilemma. To be fair).

But I have had my cry and “poor me” whinge. Now, I will put on my big girl panties and do what I need to do. This is it. Three cycles and we’re done, whatever the outcome. We have had so much stress and disappointment and waiting. Now we are getting the help we need. It’s time. Time for me to “woman” up.

I have hit this runners wall in various situations before, and I have always managed to break through to the other side.

You can say many things about me. But I don’t give up easily.


So This is Pressure…?

I just cried. And yes, I hardly ever cry. But I cried that awful raggedy gut wrenching sob that has no place in front of others. So I cried it alone. And now, here, with swollen eyes and mascara over my hands I start to wonder why.

I spend so much time at the moment devoid of feeling. The highs and lows have levelled out and I like it that way. I never feel anxious anymore, I rarely feel upset. Others on mood stabilizers complain of the flatness, but I enjoy it. After the trauma of my last episode flatness is relief. The flatness is freedom for me.

But that doesn’t mean I am not affected by experiences anymore. I seem to breeze through a particularly stressful time and then suddenly become briefly incapacitated. I suddenly feel all of the pain “It HURTS!!” I recognise, quite angry at this realization. Then I cry, or I dissociate, or I hear voices, or I dip my foot into hypomania. But it always passes. And then I sail away on the Lucky Lithium once more, feeling no sea sickness even in the fiercest of storms.

I realised the moment I dried my last tear what this was about. For some time I have felt like I am being pushed into a box that is too small to cage me. I feel as though I am constantly running through time trying to get everything done yet always arriving late. I feel as though my internal resources are being sucked from me and I’m left running on empty.

Pressure. That’s the word of the day. Most of the pressure I feel is self inflicted, some of it isn’t. I believe all mothers will relate to what I am saying. It’s the daily grind, the balancing of work with family. It’s making sure there is food on the table and laundrey in the cupboards. All normal, everyday pressures.

But having a mental illness affects people in funny ways. I suddenly realise that I feel intense pressure to perform as a parent. As an individual with bipolar disorder I assume I my parenting skills will be scrutinized and I feel I must prove to everyone that I am a good mother. I thought many strange things when I had psychosis, but one of the scariest was that the police were after me and they were going to take my baby away. I know I was psychotic and this was a delusion but I will never forget that terror of losing my child. I feel I must prove to everyone around me that I am capable. What pressure to put on yourself!

Clearly Master D hasn’t received my memo, as he has chosen this particular shaky time in my self development to become a perfectly normal naughty toddler. I have left social events with Master D, almost in tears, after a typical toddler tantrum (his, not mine ;)). But instead of thinking “he was so NAUGHTY!” I think “Everyone must think I’m a terrible mother!”




But I forget I am not the only mother of an almost two year old. I forget all mothers go through this experience. Last week as I ‘ignored’ D’s terrible tantrum on the floor another mother came up to me. She gave me a grin and gestured to Master D “You’re doing the right thing” she said. I wanted to hug her.


But I know I’m doing the right thing. I know I’m a good mother, and that my illness has never had any impact on my ability to parent. I know I have nothing to prove. But just like I can still feel the fear of a previous delusion, I still feel pressure to prove what I already know I am.


If there is one thing that my GP, child health nurse, psychiatrist and psychologist all seem to agree on, it’s that I really didn’t express much emotion during my last depressive episode. They all cite this fact as one of the reasons why I slipped through the cracks for so long, and things got as bad as I did before receiving adequate help.

They are probably right. When David was only a few weeks old I visited the child health nurse, talked about Master D for the majority of the session, only asking for some resources for post natal depression at the very end. “Are you feeling depressed?” the nurse asked, clearly surprised. I told her yes and filled out the Edingburgh scale for her. It was only after seeing my score that she became concerned, urging me to see a GP that very day. I remember her telling me that I didn’t look or act like someone who was depressed. I wondered what a depressed person was supposed to look or act like.

Months later, in the midst of a mixed state, I poured my heart out to a community psychiatrist. Telling him how I thought the police were after me, that I was considering drinking toilet cleaner, that I simply couldn’t go on. But actions do speak louder than words. It wasn’t until I broke down and screamed at him that he believed I had a problem.

My weeks in hospital were a baseline of emotional detachment with occasional blips of insanity which invariably resulted in me being medicated and escorted to my room. I was off or on. I was quiet, off in my own little world. Or I was falling back to earth with a thud, and screaming with the pain of it all.

The thing is, it wasn’t that I didn’t feel pain, I just didn’t know how to express it. How can you express a deep intangible pain? Where do you even begin? “I feel depressed” just doesn’t seem to cut it. Because of my attitude, and the way I described how I was feeling, people didn’t seem to take me seriously. The more my attempts at asking for help were unsuccessful, the less inclined I became to talk about it. It just seemed like a no-win situation.

At some point in hospital my medication was adjusted so that my pain went away. It was incredible! I didn’t feel anxious anymore, I no longer felt depressed. There is so much that you can achieve when you aren’t weighed down by depression and insecurities. The best thing was that although my negative emotions were dulled, my positive emotions soared. I feel happy and excited so much more than I used to. I don’t know whether that is due to the medication, or simply because there is more room for positivity now my negativity has been dealt with.

But in the recent weeks I became a little concerned. While at first the absence of negativity was freeing, now it felt a little…odd. I never felt upset – even when I had a good reason to be. I never felt stressed – even when I should. On one occasion, shamefully, I even picked an enormous fight with Hubster. Just to see if I could feel upset. We fought and shouted he stormed off, and I sat there screwing my face up trying to cry. Nope. Nothing! While Hubster fumed in the bedroom, I went back to my book.

This week I talked to my psychiatrist about this, and she recommended that I reduce some of my medication, particularly since I haven’t had any problem with depression. So I cut down my dose and forgot about it. Until last night.

Last night Hubster and I had a little argument. Nothing too upsetting. But as he stood outside, talking on the phone I suddenly burst into tears. Now I’m not talking a little sniffle, I’m talking loud, messy, gut wrenching sobs. Alarmed, Hubster raced inside and tried to calm me down. But I was unstoppable. I cried about all the things that I never had a chance to deal with while I was on the medication and couldn’t feel. I mourned the lost time I felt I had, I cried for what I had been through. I cried for purely selfish reasons. I sobbed and bawled, and GOD it felt good.

What’s more, I slept better than I have done in weeks.

Like a storm after a drought the air is clearer now. Although I’m scared I will feel to much again, I’m relieved I can feel something. I guess it’s a balancing act, trying to find a steady point between the two poles. And I’ll get there. I know I will.