Parenting And Mental Illness – My Take

Approximately 85% of adult United States citizens will give birth to children in their lives. That doesn’t count those who adopt. Somewhere around 1 in 9 of those parents have a mental illness that they will deal with. About 10% of those people will have what is classified as a serious mental illness.

The law defines the following conditions as a serious mental illness:

I live with a serious mental illness and have most of my life. I had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder most of my life until hypomanic episode HYPER-manic episode (Sorry for the confusion) four years ago that triggered the schizophrenia that had been hiding just below the surface. At that point I already had my son who I saw very rarely. It didn’t effect him very much as I leaned heavily on my mother and my in-laws. He just ended up spending more time with him grandparents. It was actually a good thing in his eyes. I just hope he always feels that way.

A year and some change after things started getting really bad my wife and I started thinking about having a baby. We figured that since I was under the care of mental health professionals and taking a barrage of medications that I would be well enough to take care of a child relatively soon. What we didn’t know was that I would have trouble taking care of myself at times even four years into it. My psych has told me that it will get better, but I will never be “cured”. Wish I would’ve known that before we had a baby. I don’t know if I would’ve listened anyway.

At the time, because of the medication I was taking, the idea of sex, not the idea of sex with my wife, disgusted me, but I wanted a kid that I could be a full-time father to even more. I manned-up and did my dirty business, trying everything I could to make it enjoyable for me. At one point we even resulted to watching porn, all types of legal porn, to see if it would spark more of an interest – it didn’t really work.

Long story short –

We had a baby in March of 2010. A little girl. My precious princess. My wife and I were assured that I would be able to take care of her during the day once she went back to work, but after a couple of weeks of hardcore panic attacks and sleepless nights (not because the baby was crying or sharing our bed – she wasn’t) coupled with increased hallucinations and paranoia that went so far that I was barricading the doors and windows. I had seven bars pf wood shoved in the sliding glass door so it couldn’t be opened from the outside, but didn’t know what to do if it got broken, so I tried to buy a shotgun, but the wife wouldn’t let me – kudos to her.

We got my sister and my wife’s sister to sit for us until about 14 months ago when we moved and my wife’s aunt started watching our daughter during the day and that has been one of the best things for her.

Currently I am on a few medications for my illness. They include: Lithium, Klonopin, Lamictal, Latuda. This is much better than the 9 – 11 that I have been on at a time. These four are efficient and I am happy with not having to swallow a ton of pills each day. I am also on pain medication for arthritis, scar tissue pressing on a nerve in my back, and fibromyalgia. They include: Morphine, Percocet, Gabapentin.

The Lithium assists with the mood swings, the Latuda is an anti-psychotic that assists in curbing the hallucinations, The Klonopin is supposed to help with the anxiety, but only makes me tired in high doses. The Latuda is another anti-psychotic that assists with multiple things including the paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, i.e. I just started this particular regimen about 2 and a half months ago. It is stated to get much better. My mood swings are coming under control, the anxiety swings between tolerable and where it has always been, I actually want to get out of the house some of the time and I actually feel silly for being as paranoid as I have been.

Before this regimen this have been varying degrees of bad. My wife has been nothing less than amazing as she has stood by me through it all.

How has this effected my parenting? How has this effected my marriage?

I haven’t been a parent. I haven’t been a partner. I have tried, but I have failed.

I lied, cheated, and stole in order to make myself look good. I pretended to be someone I wasn’t so that my daughter would love me and my wife wouldn’t leave me. I had my breakdowns in private if I could control them or blamed it on something that could be explained if I couldn’t control them.

The hallucinations, which I couldn’t tell were hallucinations, forced me to seek solitude as often as possible so that I did not interacted with a sound or vision that was not there around others. My social anxiety kept me away from everything and everyone, including family and friends.

I shirked responsibility because I just couldn’t handle it and I just didn’t know how to explain it or what to say at all.

I neglected my wife and I neglected my daughter. I fantasized that my son found another dad.

I had no memory and therefore my lack of concern was aided by not being able to recall anything at all let alone anything important.

I never cried, because even though I cared, I didn’t care and I didn’t really understand emotions. That doesn’t mean I didn’t fake cry when everyone else was crying.

I tried to spend tie with my daughter, but my mind was always somewhere else.

Things were bad, worse, and horrible – never good, not really.

I hope that those days are behind me. I hope I can move forward. My relationship with my wife and my daughter are getting better. I have emotions again. I understand what empathy is. I am startign to remember things. Hopefully that will make me not only a better person, but a better father and husband.


One thought on “Parenting And Mental Illness – My Take

  1. Hope…..what a simple word, but so hard to hold onto when we are in the midst of an episode. I hope you have found the peace you need to hold onto what you have. We fight the fight for our children, nothing more and nothing less. Sorry to have bombarded your blog with comments….It’s just I understand so much of what you are going/went through.

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