I suffered with post partum depression after my second child at the age of 29. it morphed into depression and clouded my life for the better part of six years. prior to that anger and resentment, from my mother dying when I was 15, combined with the twists and turns that followed in the next four or so years, turned me into someone I no longer recognized. this lasted for about 20 years. let that sink in. two decades. of anger, resentment and grief. it changes you. changes who you are at the core. the face that stares back at you from the bathroom mirror is that of a total stranger.
the 'new' me at thirty was ill equipped to handle motherhood. I had never really been a very maternal person to begin with. I was adopted. and although I loved my parents deeply I suffered from some type of attachment disorder. I never liked to be touched. or hugged. being held and comforted in a rocker by the age of six was really just torture. I had a hard time expressing my love in words. I loved my friends more publicly than I ever was able to love my parents. pile onto this the shock and anger at my mother passing and the PPD that hung over me like a thunderstorm and you just get one really detached human.
I had my first child, Big'K, at the age of 21. I was in the Army with a great future in front of me. Cue unplanned pregnancy. The fear of being more than a thousand miles from everyone I considered a loved one, combined with the fact that her father was on the west coast and I was heading to the upper east coast, guided my judgment and I chose to exit stage left from the military. one of the biggest regrets of my life. I came home and had her a month early. with a horrible C-section, my inability to breast feed, complete ignorance at taking care of a child and no natural maternal fairydust to guide me, we struggled through the first few months. my cousin Harley took us in and helped so much. she was a different child. much like me. was uncomfortable being held. had reflux to the Amityville Horror level. could not tolerate most formulas. she was mostly a happy baby. literally cried hard three times before the age of one. two of those times we went to the hospital because I had no idea what to do. I was being spoiled. I had the best infant ever. so adorable and sweet. went along with mostly anything. we muddled through the first few years and made it. we never really were able to bond. two people who do not like to be touched do not make a loving mother daughter commercial. I deployed when she was six. not across the world. but across this huge state I live in. she stayed half the time with the BFF and the rest with my dad and step mom. she sunk into a horrible depression. and I was destroyed. I had thought that I would have been able to handle the distance and separation. but I sucked at it. horribly. after the year I returned and we actually began to bond. it was a great time.
cue second child.
things were wrong from the beginning. the whole pregnancy was hard. I was sick. and so so tired. I had tons of scar tissue from previous surgeries and endometriosis and the entire pregnancy each time she grew something would rip. I spent the entire pregnancy wondering when one of us was going to die. obviously neither of us did. we made it to the end. the hospital stay itself is another post. motherhood is strange. I believe it gives us the ability to block certain things out. for if not no one would have more than one child. maybe because the last four years have been so rough my brain did the only thing it could do, push those baby memories to the back so that there was a good part to remember. because in my mind her babyhood was great. but it was not. she wavered between being a great happy baby to head spinning pea soup spitting demon child. it was different than with Big'K. I felt like we had bonded. at this point I figured it was just something I was doing. my support system was great. so I knew it could not just be me. for the most part though it was all ok. we moved right before she turned two. she was a baby that had been in daycare since she was 10 weeks old. and had done well. once we moved though things changed. she began acting out. biting. throwing crazy fits. I had no idea what was going on. a lot had changed. we moved. I was working one week on and one week off. eventually things lined out a little more. we moved back 'home' when she was about four. the fits had become worse. she would clench her teeth and growl like a wild animal. her eyes would be glossy and full of rage. she began kicking and hitting. either everything around her or herself. leaving a virtual fall out zone for weeks at a time. nothing made her happy. when we would figure out what made her happy it would change.
cue the beginning of the end of normal.
it becomes harder to remember the further we get from that defining moment. but I know it was close to thanksgiving. she was 'raging' in the living room. I had started doing the ignore tactic. hoping it would lessen the severity and longevity of the fits. I walked into the kitchen to wash dishes. she was on the floor in the living room kicking and growling. my kitchen and living room are open to each other so I could still see her. I would glance at her every ten to fifteen seconds just to be sure she was ok. then glancing every thirty or so seconds. I could hear her kicking and growling the whole time. she was in a direct line of sight. I looked away to put a plate in the dish rack and wash another. when I looked back up at her, she had the cord to the vacuum cleaner wrapped around her neck and was pulling with all her might. my sweet beautiful four year old was... self harming. how does that even happen? I ran over and took the cord from her hands and from around her neck. I sat on the floor and held her tight crying until she calmed down. this was the straw that broke the camels back. the next day I called our local MHMR to schedule an appointment. I did not have insurance and could not afford to pay out of pocket. so I went with what I knew. this was a horrible time. the two weeks of doing paperwork to get her qualified and then seen was excruciating. it felt like a decade. with her self harming becoming more frequent how could we continue to wait. we were qualified and did eventually get it. this started the road that we have been on for the last four, almost five, years. we have found meds that have worked. but she metabolizes meds quickly. adapts. there are frequent updoses. and med changes. the one med that has kept her stable for so long we have had to stop. it was messing with her sugar and triglycerides. and her hormones were way too high. so after over a year of mostly ok times, we are at the start again. and I feel like I did four years ago.
I am exhausted. I worry constantly. she rages. but has turned her anger towards me. she hates me. and not like 'oh yeah my daughter told me she hates me' and it is a phase that every child goes through. my daughter truly with every cell in her body hates me. if only for thirty minutes. she truly hates me. but does not know why. and it is not constant. but when it hits the destruction she leaves is almost irreparable. the first new med we tired was a no-go. it made her very self sabotaging. we are on a new med now. it seems to be working. but she is metabolizing it fast. so it is wearing off. and between that time and the next dose it is all death and dismemberment. one of her meds is a time med. it HAS to be given every 12 hours on the dot. with no more than 15 minutes each way. this is not a joke. we have found that even twenty to thirty minutes late or early changes everything. we need to add in another dose during the day of the new med, but the doctor does not agree. he thinks is would sedate her. a sledge hammer and a WWF wrestler could not sedate this child. I know the doctor has the degree and the schooling. but I am the mom. I have her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I see her. I know what the meds do and do not do. I am not stupid. I am educated. I have read and researched everything I can to better help her and us. he tells me I am a good parent, but gets irritated that I know the names of meds and their half-lives. did I mention I have been a lab tech since 1996? I am IN the medical field. I know things. you have a parent that is willing to read. and learn. and be proactive in their child's mental healthcare. that can understand dosages and half-life's. that should be used as a tool in helping this child. but instead I get chastised for researching and learning. it is sad. a medical community that often does not believe in childhood mental illness' because they do not understand them. tells parents they are wrong.
in the last three months we have had one of the roughest times since the thanksgiving stunt. she has tried to jump out of a moving car. asked me to drown her in the canal. set the house on fire. cut her hair off. wrote stories about not having a mom. ran away. stolen her sister's money. told me she hated me. asked to be institutionalized. waged mental warfare with everyone she loves. self harmed. she has also laughed. shared her ice cream. helped a kid with their math work. dressed up in play clothes and make up. helped cook dinner. took up for a kid being bullied. made straight A's. fixed her own bento box for lunch. played in the rain. sang at the top of her lungs in the shower. woke up and fixed her sister breakfast. and given the best hugs.
this is not normal behavior for an 8 year old.
my name is Loco YaYa. my Big'K is smarter than 96% of the population. beautiful in a natural way. empathetic. loving. nerdy. not affected by peer pressure or social expectations. strange and wonderful. she is her own person. she is determined to go to college early. she is not defined by her Asperger's or severe OCD or anxiety disorder. but if she was she would not care. she is so special. I wish everyone could do that. not worry about what others thought. and continue to push forward.
my name is Loco YaYa. my Lil'K is beautiful. can sing like an angel. highly intelligent. funny as hell. loves ice cream. is flexible like a gymnast and wants to cheer. loves being independent. wishes she was not different. hates the voices in her head. she is bi-polar. my sweet beautiful baby is bi-polar. she cycles anywhere from 8 to 20 times a day on a bad day. and will struggle the rest of her life with an invisible illness that will define her. and she cares. I worry about her future. where she will be and how she will continue forward.
mental illness needs a punch in the junk. it sucks. it makes your life hard. it begs to be hidden. well I am tired of hiding. I am tired of the stigma. I am tired of society dictating what is right and wrong. that child you see melting the fuck down in the grocery store is not always a result of bad parenting. and that mom that is gritting her teeth and holding back tears praying that her kid can hold it together long enough to get the groceries in the car is overwhelmed. she is tired. she does not need your stare of disapproval. she is doing the best she can with what she has to work with. and I guarantee she would be more than willing to give you a weekend in her shoes and watch you fail miserably. that parent that speaks more sternly or with truths that you believe are too much for a child to understand when explaining something is not being bitchy. she may just be explaining something a little more logically to a child that only sees black and white. only understands logic. and that child may have a 160 IQ and understand far more than you do. I am tired of a mental health system that studies symptoms and patterns of adults and because they do not fit to a child, thinks it is not possible. or a doctor that thinks a parent does not know as much about their child because they do not have a PhD. I call horseshit on the world for making parents of mentally ill children suffer in silence. and a big fuck you to the universe for even making it possible.
I am the mother of a mentally ill child. and I refuse to be silent...