Please Don’t Touch The Mama

*Trigger warning for talk of mental illness, sexual assault and rape*

Right now, I don’t want to be touched.

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The simple act of my husband holding his hand out to help me up from the couch causes a subconscious revulsion.  My body reacts before my logical mind kicks in.  I shrink back and get up from the couch without help.  Hugs?  Forget it.  Kisses?  I’d rather not.  We can safely say that sex is so far out of the question it’s orbiting Pluto.

It’s hurting my relationship with my husband.  He needs closeness and physical intimacy – and I just can’t give it to him.  A simple hug feels like a violation of my space and I retreat as fast as possible.  Whenever I have to touch somebody (mostly my husband because there are not many people who require physicality from me) my brain just starts SCREAMING “stop touching stop touching stop touching”

This isn’t limited to my husband either.  Though not as common, oftentimes I have to force myself to touch my son.  He still wants to breastfeed once in awhile, for comfort and closeness, and I have to clench my teeth and fight back the tears.  The tension in my body is clearly visible when he snuggles up for cuddles.  I have to force myself to touch the one thing in this goddamn universe that makes me remotely happy.  That is so so so fucked up.

I don’t know if this is related to the fact that I am a mentally ill person suffering depression and am currently unmedicated and not seeing anyone.  (Not for lack of trying, believe me)  Or if it’s tied to my horrible past that has been seeping into my dreams unwanted.  Past trauma I had forgotten, or shut out is giving me nightmares.   As I’ve learned more about rape, about rape culture, and what sexual assault actually is, I’m realizing I’m a victim.  My past is littered with unwanted gropes, touches and assaults.  I didn’t know back then.  I thought it was just par for the course, that it was just what guys did, that it was just what happens.

I’m living, currently, in a roulette wheel of feelings.  One day I’m angry – angry at my husband, angry at my house, angry at my job.  I hate it all.  I want to leave it all behind, run away, hide.  Then I feel guilty and slip into depression where all I want to do is sleep, sleep and never wake up.  But sleeping brings no relief as I’m haunted by memories.  I fake my way through work, fake smiles, fake caring.  Sometimes it’s real, mostly it’s not.  And my patience is very, very, very thin.  I am losing my ability to deal with…well…almost everything.

The only thing, the ONLY THING, that brings me joy is Bean.  And even he suffers because his mom is sick.  He suffers my inability to deal normally with day-to-day toddler behavior.  The mom I wanted to be, the soft caring mom, she’s only around part time.  The other times I’m angry mom, sad mom, frustrated mom, too-tired-for-this-shit mom.  I’m the mom who doesn’t want to touch her son.  To feel his soft skin and relish in his silky, beautiful, curly hair.  To snuggle his rolls and kiss his little nose.  The fact that oftentimes I have to force myself to do these things kills me.

I can’t keep living like this.  Feeling like I’m swimming underwater and not quite ever reaching the surface, even though I keep following the sunlight.  Sometimes I sink so low I can’t even see the light anymore.  I hurt so much I’ve gone numb.  I don’t want to die, but I can’t keep going like this.  Something needs to give or I’m going to implode, again.

It’s hard for me to talk about all of this on here.  There are people who read this blog who know me in real life.  Family, friends, even work-related people.  But this is me.  This is the turmoil I am in these days.  Some days are good.  Some days are bad.  Mostly they are just days.

 

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Depressed And Tired

“Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding and no reassurance is ever enough. You’re frightened, and you’re frightening, and you’re “not at all like yourself but will be soon,” but you know you won’t.”
― Kay Redfield JamisonAn Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

I am depressed, and I am lonely.

People will ask me how I’m doing and I’ll always reply “fine” when I really want to break down into exhausted sobs until my body falls and my brain shuts down.

People will ask me what’s going on and I will say, “oh, nothing.”  When really I want to scream and yell in frustration and break open my soul for them to peer inside.

But I don’t.

I smile and chirp cheerfully about weather, or comics, or my son.

I’ve gotten good after all these years at faking it.  Faking interest.  Faking happiness.  Faking being well.

It’s hard for me to read positive thinking threads – where people are learning to love themselves, their lives, their bodies.

I can’t fathom what it’s even like to LIKE those things, let alone love them.

I’m so goddamn tired.  I want to sleep as much as possible because in my dreams it’s not like this.  In my dreams I’m a Ghostbuster or a Time Traveller or something equally as cool.

Unless I’m having nightmares.  Then I don’t want to sleep at all.

It’s so damn hard for me to put this down in writing.  To express what it’s like to feel worthless all the fucking time.  To look in the mirror and hate oneself so much.  To drown my depression in food and slowly kill myself with obesity.  To avoid drinking and smoking because I know, I fucking know, I would drown myself there too.

I feel like my marriage is falling apart because I’m this big ball of fucked up ness.  I feel like I’m failing my son because I just can’t seem to get a handle on anything.  I think I’ve managed to keep the worst of it from him so far but….

And I’m so FUCKING TERRIFIED that if I do open up, that I do start seeing someone that there will be repercussions.  They’ll deem me an unfit mother and take me away from my Bean.  I’m a depressed mom, someone who possibly has bipolar, and we aren’t painted kindly in the media.

Bean is my only sunshine.  He’s the only thing that keeps me gripping so tightly to the attempt at a “normal” life.  He gets my genuine smiles and all my patience and my love.  He is my touchstone to the future where I’m stable and happy and drawing again.

Gods, I miss drawing.

I don’t even know what do do anymore.  I don’t know how lost I am … and I don’t know when there will be a “coming out the other side”.   Trying to get help is a long and drawn out process.  Three months I have been waiting to see someone.  I want to find someone I can forge a professional relationship with, someone with whom I’ll feel safe, someone that can help guide me back from the edge.  I’m so tired of being shunted around from place to person to place.

The depression, the loneliness, the anxiety and the anger…it’s eating me up inside.  I can’t cover it forever but for my Bean I will keep swimming.  I’ll keep my head just above water so that I can still breathe and I will begin my long swim back to shore.

Because even though I think I’m not worth it, I know that he IS.

“In every way that counted, I was dead. Inside somewhere maybe I was screaming and weeping and howling like an animal, but that was another person deep inside, another person who had no access to the lips and face and mouth and head, so on the surface I just shrugged and smile and kept moving. If I could have physically passed away, just let it all go, like that, without doing anything, stepped out of life as easily as walking through a door I would have done. But I was going to sleep at night and waking in the morning, disappointed to be there and resigned to existence.” 
― Neil GaimanFragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

Sitting In Mental Health Limbo

About 5 years ago I had a complete breakdown and ended up living in the local mental health ward for two weeks.

During that time I was seen by three different doctors and a dozen stern (but awesome) nurses all trying to piece me back together and figure out what broke me apart in the first place.

I have a history of depression and anxiety.  Sure, not much of it is on paper.  I didn’t talk about it, didn’t even think there was anything wrong, and drowned myself in drugs and alcohol and bad relationships.  Not many people know about the darkness I faced a few times.  Even fewer know about the other things I do to get through the day.

And I broke.  Life got too much and my body shut down to stop the screaming in my brain.

I believe I had my first manic episode in the hospital.  Bi polar was written down along with “generalized anxiety disorder” and “borderline personality disorder”.

I took part in the outpatient program.  Seeing a nurse and a psychiatrist.  Borderline personality disorder won out in the end.  

But 5 years later and I’m still not well.  I drift along experiencing life with a kind of “meh” mixed with often crippling anxiety.  The only time I feel happy and relatively normal is when I’m with my baby.  I’m down so much of the time though that when I think I’m happy it’s not the kind of happy I think I should feel.  I wonder, if I’m so low these days that when I am “manic” that it just comes across as normal?

I thought at first I had some sort of late-onset postpartum anxiety and depression.  I’m on the lowest dose of cipralex for the anxiety and have been throughout my pregnancy – but it’s not working for this.  It’s not working for the part of me that has been struggling all these years.  

I finally convinced my doctor to refer me to a psychiatrist.  He was one of the ones I saw briefly in the hospital.  He was aware of my case and had reviewed my history.  He listened to my “new” symptoms and nodded.

He wrote down Bi-polar.

He believes I was misdiagnosed.

I asked my hubby about it and he looked at me thoughtfully.  “I thought you were bi-polar 5 years ago.” He knows me best of all and has watched all my ups and downs.

My regular doctor is arguing this find.  She has, in her notes, borderline personality disorder.

They often get misdiagnosed as one another.  Here’s a quick what’s the difference blurb:

From Psycology Today

Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings, from overly “high” and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.

A cycle is the period of time it takes for a person to go through one episode of mania and one of depression. The frequency and duration of these cycles vary from person to person, from once every five years to once every three months. People with a subtype of bipolar (rapid–cycling bipolar) may cycle more quickly, but much less quickly than people with BPD (shifts can even last minutes/seconds).

According to Dr. Friedel, director of the BPD program at Virginia Commonwealth University, there are two main differences between BPD and bipolar disorder:

1. People with BPD cycle much more quickly, often several times a day.

2. The moods in people with BPD are more dependent, either positively or negatively, on what’s going on in their life at the moment. Anything that might smack of abandonment (however far fetched) is a major trigger.

3. In people with BPD, the mood swings are more distinct. Marsha M. Linehan, professor of psychology at the University of Washington, says that while people with bipolar disorder swing between all-¬encompassing periods of mania and major depression, the mood swings typical in BPD are more specific. She says, “You have fear going up and down, sadness going up and down, anger up and down, disgust up and down, and love up and down.

Another difference is that Bi-Polar is, as far as my research shows, is a chemical thing.  There’s something going on upstairs that isn’t right.  And BPD is a psychosis – something that is up with the personality and psyche and can be worked on with cognitive behavioral therapy.  Not to say that the therapy can’t be helpful to Bipolar people but I know, for me, it wasn’t – and if the chemicals are still wrong in my brain no amount of therapy is going to fix it.

So I’ve got differing diagnosis now and I’m sitting in mental health limbo.  My reg doctor, who can help me with the meds, doesn’t agree with the Bipolar one and is questioning it.  The other doctor thinks it’s Bi polar (and thought so 5 years ago) but the meds he prescribed have terrifying side effects and aren’t breastfeeding friendly.  I need my reg doctor to change the meds to another mood stabilizer but she won’t because …. well you see the circle.

Not to mention I can’t really afford these medications, and I want to apply to get some help from the government until our situation improves, but until the doctors agree I can’t.

So here I sit.  Depressed and possibly on the wrong medication.  I am on a wait list to go see a nurse with the outpatient program.  I might get in before April.  If I’m lucky.

I’m confused and frustrated.  I am having trouble dealing with day to day life.  My tolerance is super low for anybody but my baby boy.  I have no energy and have to fight every morning with myself to just get dressed and walk out the door.  

I really need something to give.  I just have to make sure it isn’t me.