My name is Bek. I am a 34-year-old mother who has PTSD and postpartum depression as well as unspecified bipolar disorder. For the first time in my life I actually feel somewhat stumped when it comes to writing about my mental illness and the road of recovery. I started attending NAMI meetings as part of an outpatient program, which was proceeded by my first ever manic episode and my diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Depression has been a part of my life since puberty and high anxiety layered itself on top of that. Sharing my story with others has been part of my overall healing and I hope by writing this that someone out there feels less alone. The episodes are real, the panic is real, the mental strain and trauma is real. You get the picture.
I feel like my emotions have always overwhelmed me, struggling to “get out of my own mind” and did not actively seek any mental help until my mid twenties. I initially sought out cognitive behavioral therapy which was something very foreign to me. Change your habits, change your thoughts, feel better, right? It allowed me to move through some of the issues that had grown deep roots in my psyche and medication was prescribed to work in combination with the therapy. I didn’t really care what I put in my body. I felt like I was in permanent survival mode but at least I was taking steps to “feel better.” I survived.
Although I have a long history of anxiety and depression, it wasn’t until October 2016 when everything in my life seems to spiral out of control. I was a new mom to a premature baby and had experienced postpartum depression which was my worst fear. My husband was a natural dad. It seemed simple to him to love and care for our daughter. Me, not so much. I was in shock, denial and angry all the time. I reacted to every cry as if she was dying which exhausted me around the clock. I was angry and I wanted to kill myself.
My husband removed our daughter from our home and went to the courthouse to filed an EP for me. Emergency Petitions include the police, which up until now I had never been involved with the law. The officers showed up, handcuffed me in my front lawn and drove me to the emergency room to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. I was so angry.
In the emergency room I was given two options: Calm down and go home to the exact same situation with my daughter and husband gone, or accept some sort of treatment plan which included an immediate inpatient program. I decided to seek the inpatient program and accept the help that was being offered. It wasn’t easy though. I spent the night in the ER waiting to be evaluated, alone. When my husband came to visit we screamed at each other. I was so angry.
I was transferred to the inpatient program via ambulance, which was a first for me also. I spent 11 days in their program which consisted of a lot of angry phone calls home begging for my husband to come pick me up. Ultimately I gave in to the schedule, to the medication, to the entire experience of opening up to doctors, attending group therapy and spending my free time doing art. It was a time to reflect. It was a controlled environment. I was still very angry, feeling a little like I was “going through the motions” but after inpatient comes an outpatient program.
Outpatient is more of the same. You spend the entire day in group therapy and break for lunch only. By the time I was attending outpatient, the medication they put me on to control bipolar was starting to kick in. I still felt exhausted, but the anger was being tamed and I was absorbing the information they were giving us during the day. I was coming home at night to enjoy my daughter and husband, which ultimately was the goal. It wasn’t perfect, but it felt slightly better.
I was released back into the real world after ten days of outpatient. I had doctor appointments lined up as well as a scheduled therapist appointment. The program I attended really set me up for success, but ultimately it was me vs me going forward. We even asked my mom to fly in to help with the baby while I got better. I started attending the local NAMI meetings where I met other people living with a mental illness. It was at one of these meetings that someone told me about the blog submissions and here we are.
I wanted to share my story because I’m alive. I survived the anger. I survived the program. I thrive today because of good doctors, medication and weekly therapy appointments. I do things like go the YMCA and mommy and me classes with my daughter instead of having panic attacks four times a day. I consider myself lucky, but I also give myself credit for doing the work.
Thank you for your time.
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