Another Birthday Gone

September 6th was my birthday. It was a day that I would have rather slept through. A total of 8 people wished me happy birthday and one of them was not my son. I had to take the dog we just adopted to a rescue because my chiwawa mix (Beverly) was vomiting on herself, peeing on the floor, refusing to move, shaking and had been tossed around a bit by the dog who was an English Mastiff. A big dog was not a bad idea, a HUGE dog was a horrible idea. My wife and mother-in-law hate me, if only temporarily, for getting rid of the dog, but I really had no choice as I could not put my Beverly in any more danger. I cleaned the couch to get rid of the big dog’s smell and I made dinner. I took care of my daughter so my wife could work and I got no time to myself. My wife did not even wish me a happy birthday until after 5pm. She did say that we could observe my birthday some other day, but it was my birthday and it seemed like everyone just forgot and didn’t care which makes me think they didn’t care about me. I don’t want a party I just want a little “happy birthday” form those that are supposed to love me and be my friends. My family even fell short, but I stopped counting on them years ago.

Another day, another year, another disappointment.

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Scared Of Missing Out On Her Firsts

I cannot watch my daughter during the day. My anxiety levels get too high and I end up prone and useless before the day is half over. I can barely take care of myself (some days I can’t) and therefore it is best that my daughter spends her days with someone else.

Luckily we do not have to result to daycare as my wife and I are both against it for many reasons. The only good thing that we believe comes from daycares is socialization skills. We attempt play-dates as much as possible to make up for the fact that she is alone all day with her great-aunt.

Mi-mi (my wife’s aunt) watched my wife and her sister when they were young and now she watches our daughter. She could never have children of her own and makes up for it by treating our child as her own. This is a wonderful thing in many aspects, but in certain things I find myself insanely jealous.

I have missed so many firsts in my daughter’s life and will continue to do so. Mi-mi and her husband take our toddler anywhere and everywhere they can. They buy her whatever she wants and while attempting not to spoil her, give her nearly everything she want and do everything she asks to do.

I want to be that person. I want to take care of my daughter. I want to be there for her firsts. But I can’t. I cry more often than a man should, especially since emotion has come into my life.

Instead I am the disciplinarian as my wife refuses to be. She wants to be the fun mom when she gets home from work. So I nearly never get to be the fun guy. The exception to the rule is on the weekends when my wife wants to go shopping.

On the weekends when it is just my daughter and me we color, paint, watch TV, have tea parties, cook in her kitchen, go shopping ourselves, go out to eat, etc. It is rare, but I cherish every moment.

I have had an issue with memory in the past and it is not completely gone, but it is getting better so I take pictures of everything I can, every time I can and of her as much as possible, especially when she is smiling because of something I did.

Today, when I dropped her off with Mi-mi my princess would not let go of me. She clung to me like I was the last piece of chocolate in the box. She cried real tears when I said I was leaving and begged me not to go. Part of me felt really bad, but part of me felt really good. I know my daughter loves me, but it is nice to be reminded from time to time.

My Name Is W And I’m Mentally Ill

Rethink Mental IllnessI was officially diagnosed as bipolar sometime around 1990. I don’t remember the first time I got married, but I don’t remember a lot of things from those 15 or so years. Drugs were a huge factor for my memory loss, mental illness was another. My son was born October 28, 2005. My divorce from his mother was finalized in April of 2006. I got remarried on June 15, 2007. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2008. My daughter was born on March 3, 2010.

My son was not planned. We found out that my soon-to-be ex-wife was pregnant when we filed for divorce, a pregnancy test was a mandatory part of the divorce proceedings. My ex,along with my current partner and all of our respective families knew I would not be a good father because of the many issues I was having (I was drug free at that time, but there were many other issues that turned out to be one big issue), but I was determined to be a better dad than I ever had. I have no contact with my father anymore and when I did it was not the best. He encouraged me to continue using a lot of the drugs I was using – not a father and a horrible dad. I had more custody of my son than I probably should have had, but instead of giving up rights to him, which would have been better (read: easier) for me, I did everything I could and more.

My swinging moods, increasing anxiety, building fears, and growing paranoia made caring for just myself difficult. It made showing the love that I had for my partner nearly impossible at times due to the lack of emotion and, regretfully, that little boy took so much of a back seat in my life that he was barely in the car.

Luckily I had and have a wonderful support system. My partner was number one. My ex would not let me have my son unless my girlfriend turned wife was going to be with us for the entire time. She never took this or any other issue to court as I never gave her a reason by arguing with her. I don’t want to know what would have happened if she did and I find it is best not to dwell on it. Next came my now mother-in-law and by extension her husband. They were there even more than my own mother. It was more than I could have asked or expected from them. What I did get from my mother was more than was expected, but less than what was wanted; however, she came next. Then was my little sister and finally my partner’s sister (not that her contribution was small). I had others helping me, both mentally and physically (not including my mental health professionals), but those were the primary individuals. That amount of people assisting me was more than most people ever have in their lives to assist with their kids or their lives in general; I know that and I am grateful to them all.

The reason my ex would not let me have my son alone was because she knew I had mental issues (i.e. bipolar disorder, megalomania, compulsive lying, hallucinations and more). She believed that I was one day going to snap and, without someone else around, hurt our son – which was never going to happen. My ex also believed that I just needed to work hard enough (at a paying job) and I would be cured because hard work cures everything (except cancer, diabetes and anything there is a blood test for – other than migraines which she had so that made them real unlike mental illness).

Just like cancer, those with a mental illness can’t just magically “get over it” by wishing it away or “just not thinking about it”, but like the cancer patient that braves through it and doesn’t overreact, the mentally ill patient needs to take a page out of the cancer patient’s book and stop overreacting and attempting to get sympathy for their illnesses (if they are able to).

Another big misnomer is that every one with a major metal illness (especially schizophrenia) is violent and if they are not currently violent then the violence is just below the surface waiting to strike out at anyone and anything. I have a ton of anxiety and sometimes need to walk away from a situation or feel like I am going to have a heart attack, but I am less likely to explode in a fit of rage than the average parent of a two-year old who gets overly frustrated.

Some mental illnesses are brought on and caused by environmental factors such as a parent with wild mood swings or abuse of any kind or any number of things, but it is not always about “blaming mommy”. People whine and complain that people with mental illnesses constantly are blaming other people and they are right. Some of it is justified and some of it is just ridiculous. Most mental illnesses are the subject of constant study, but have not been completely unlocked. It is believed that the brain chemistry has something to do with a lot of the mental disorders (proven by scans and such) and genetics are suspected to also be a factor, especially in patients with schizophrenia. Drug use and self harm are also thought to be causes, but the causes why that is present in the first place is another unknown. Most illnesses, mental and otherwise, are still being studied to determine the cause and origin. Many may never be discovered, but we are working to fix what we do know about. The only mental patient that should be ever begin to be browbeaten is one who does not seek help. There are programs out there so anyone of any class can receive help. I did when I was broke, nearly homeless and completely beaten down. Even physical illness have a similar situation only sometimes it is not as easy for them to get the help they need.

So the big difference between the severely and permanently physically ill patient and a mentally ill patient is that one is more accepted than the other and the other can receive help easier. An illness is an illness and should be treated as such. Most of us do not wish to be treated any differently, however some of us have to be treated with a bit more caution and ease.

I will die will my illness, but my treatment will hopefully prevent me from falling into a world where my illness rules me and I lose control of my mental facilities.

To all those out there that share my situation, just remember to not only take one day at a time (minute by minute), but also keep goals and dreams in mind and share them with a partner or close friend so they can help you reach/achieve them.

Two Nights Without Mommy And Daddy

We hate being away from our daughter for any amount of time, but sometimes a break is required. A little one on one time is needed to ensure each other that the love is still there. We cannot justify having that alone time overnight without a reason that both of us are comfortable with – wanting to sleep through the night is not it.

My wife is obsessed with a certain band (Blue October) and would follow them around, attending every show if she didn’t have to work, but she does and so she only sees the shows that come within a certain distance to us and only if she can get the time off from work. I really enjoy the band as well (they are in my top 10 of all time) and am delighted when we get to go. My schedule is open more than(insert crude joke here). When we heard the band was coming to our hometown (something they haven’t done in a very long time) and two hours away we decided that we would make an outing of it. We would see the show two hours away and then the one in our hometown. The original plan was to have my in-laws watch our baby girl while we were gone and then she would still sleep in her own bed. As time went on my wife’s parents convinced us to leave her there for the entire time. One concert was on Thursday and the other on Friday so our daughter would stay there from Thursday afternoon until Saturday afternoon. It took some convincing but my wife agreed.

Two nights alone with my wife and no toddler to wake us up during the night. It was going to be heaven.

We got up to the first show and stood in line for nearly six hours waiting to get in so we could have a choice spot in front and at 11:00 pm, we decided that we were getting a hotel and not driving our wearied bodies home. The hotel was not what we expected and not what we paid for, but it was a bed, no interruptions and a late check-out. We headed home and ran some errands, without the toddler tornado, and made arrangements to meet up with friends who had never seen the band live but were fans. They were also going to the show and we all had VIP tickets (seats, no line, drinks, etc.). It was a good experience, different from the night before and almost not as good, but we still had a blast.

When we picked up our daughter we found out that she was not the perfect angel my in-laws had been telling us she had been over the phone and that they had been bending to her will in nearly all things.

Great. That meant possible days of trying to get her back on the routine we have been working so hard to get her on.

The master manipulator was still in her shorts and t-short from soccer that she apparently refused to go to and instead of pushing her to do it they just caved at the first whine and brought her home. No bath because she didn’t want one (she’s two – she doesn’t want a lot of things). She only ate what she wanted or she didn’t eat what was not exactly what she wanted and so had only eaten a can of tuna a few bites of food from a breakfast restaurant and a bit of fruit. From Thursday to Saturday morning!

At home I have made a CD of me singing songs to her that we play on repeat all night. We sent the CD player, the CD and instructions with her so that she would sleep. We also told them that she sometimes screamed for a half an hour. They swear they put the CD on, but she just wouldn’t stop screaming so they got her up (possible since she was out of routine). She finally fell asleep around 11:30 pm not in her bed and woke up at 1:30 am demanding tuna. This is where the can of tuna came in. At home we would calmly and with love, tell her no and that we loved her but she had to go back to sleep – and she would. They gave her the tuna and wondered why she didn’t go back to sleep. After further probing it turns out that she did fall asleep in her bed to the CD, but they didn’t hit repeat so when she woke up and it wasn’t playing she was awake and that was her way of convincing mamaw and papaw to get her out of bed.

The second night she went down at 9:00 pm (only an hour after her normal bedtime) because my father-in-law wouldn’t let my wife’s mother to deal with it and she slept until 7:30 am (they hit repeat on the CD player).

I was grateful to them for everything, but I regretted my fun even though it brought my wife and I closer together – which we desperately needed.

Saturday night could’ve been hell on earth, but she was out in ten minutes and hopefully stays down.

Hallucinations-The Past And The Present

I have been diagnosed with schizophrenia (as is obvious if you are reading my blog) and with that disease/illness comes a wide range of possible symptoms.

According to the revised fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, three diagnostic criteria must be met:

  • Characteristic symptoms: Two or more of the following, each present for much of the time during a one-month period (or less, if symptoms remitted with treatment).
    • Delusions
    • Hallucinations
    • Disorganized speech, which is a manifestation of formal thought disorder
    • Grossly disorganized behavior (e.g. dressing inappropriately, crying frequently) or catatonic behavior
    • Negative symptoms: Blunted affect (lack or decline in emotional response), alogia (lack or decline in speech), or avolition (lack or decline in motivation)
      If the delusions are judged to be bizarre, or hallucinations consist of hearing one voice participating in a running commentary of the patient’s actions or of hearing two or more voices conversing with each other, only that symptom is required above. The speech disorganization criterion is only met if it is severe enough to substantially impair communication.
  • Social or occupational dysfunction: For a significant portion of the time since the onset of the disturbance, one or more major areas of functioning such as work, interpersonal relations, or self-care, are markedly below the level achieved prior to the onset.
  • Significant duration: Continuous signs of the disturbance persist for at least six months. This six-month period must include at least one month of symptoms (or less, if symptoms remitted with treatment).

I have several symptoms, at least I did before the current regiment of medications (they are not completely gone, just significantly dulled). I believe I have delusions and what I mean by ‘I believe’ is delusions are defined in many ways. I do have delusions of grandeur and that falls under, in some cases, the definition of delusion. Hallucinations are something that I am very familiar with as I have had them most of my life. Hallucinations are not solely a characteristic of schizophrenia. Hallucinations can be the result of drug use or many other illnesses including sub-types of bi-polar disorder. I have had and still do in extreme anxiety situations (meeting someone new, etc.) extremely disorganized speech and my thoughts have never been linear or organized in anyway (including now – it is better than it has need however). Just those three symptoms are enough for a diagnosis, but they are not the only symptoms I have had and still have.

I had little to no emotions and had not cried since I was a small child until very recently (weeks). The rush of emotions is too much at times and I cry at the most inconvenient of times (standing in line at the grocery). So I definitely suffered from blunted affect. Alogia, a verbal expression decline, is not something I had an issue with. I stutter started and had issues getting words out, but I always talked – people said too much at times. The big problem was that it would take me two minutes to greet someone, not because I used so many words, but because the four words that I did use took that long to get out. If I was meeting someone new and was not under the influence of narcotics I would not speak at all, run away (literally), or, if forced, shake, sweat, and it would sound like I was either in severe pain or ecstasy trying to release the H from my throat. I, like so many, also had a severe lack of motivation – none at times, lying in bed or on the couch not moving for days (voiding and defecating on myself and the furniture holding me). Not all of these symptoms occurred after I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Prior to that time my diagnosis was bi-polar disorder and because they are so closely related I am not sure if it was a misdiagnosis or if the schizophrenia just reared it head after my breakdown in late 2007.

So I have established that I have the disease/illness and that I have multiple symptoms, but I only really want to focus on the one symptom that, to me, is misconceived the most. Hallucinations.

Prior to 2007

In my youth I had been diagnosed with PTSD, ADD and then Bipolar Disorder in my late teens/early twenties (my mother tells me there were others, but her memory is worse than mine). I was medicinally treated the entire time except for a period of four years where I heavily self-medicated; I self-medicated while being medicated, but during that period my part was the only part and it was more than drastic (I nearly died more times than I can count and I lived more times than I should have).

When I was young I had a friend that only I could see and hear, my imaginary friend. That was not a hallucination associated with an illness by with an overactive imagination, bored and with a need to be loved and to garner more attention than I was getting.

I started using LSD at a very young age and contrary to popular belief there are very few incidents of hallucinations regarding what popular belief of them are associated with it. Primarily there is a sense of altered reality. Meaning nothing new appears; what is already present is altered. Tracers, fisheye effect, ‘melting’ or the running of surfaces and more. I can only think of one time that I believe LSD was contributing factor (but not the only one) to a hallucination that created something entirely new. It was the beginning of a significant amount of hallucinations and at the end of my LSD use. Some say it was a result of the residual LSD in my system, others think it was associated with the bipolar disorder and then others believe it is a mixture of the two. I am prone to believe it is the later of the three.

I was about twenty years old and was in the car with a friend coming home from a party when I heard a voice come from the back seat, shouting over the blaring sound of Depeche Mode coming through the speakers of his Ford Probe.

What the fuck are you doing asshat?

I whipped around and there was no one there. I asked my friend if he heard anything and I got laughter in response. We pulled up to my house and there was someone sitting on the front porch swing. My chest tightened because I was extremely intoxicated and it was three in the morning so whoever it was must have been waiting on me for some unknown reason. I sat in the car for a few moments until my buddy asked me if I was going to sit in his car all night or get out any any point. I said my goodbye’s and reluctantly got out of the car, never taking my eyes off the swing. I walked up the driveway and turned to glimpse at my cohort driving toward the stop sign at the head of the street. When I turned back I hit the ground from surprise. My dead uncle was standing in front of me, fake leg, cane and all. He was murdered several years prior and I was extremely close to him. He stood over me and put his can in the middle of my chest. I could feel the weight of it getting heavier and heavier.

What are you doing with your life that you are coming home at 3:00 am smelling like weed, with blown pupils and walking erratically? You are better than this dickhead. You need to clean up. You are seriously disappointing me. You realize I can see everything you do, right?

I stuttered and had issues breathing, from the pressure of the cane and the shock of the situation.

I … I … I … I … I don’t want to change right now. I … I li … li … li … like living like I ammmm right now.

Then do it little at a time – for me. No more acid. No more drinking.

I nodded. Somehow I knew that I would never trip again. I knew I would never get drunk again (I was wrong, but I didn’t know that at the time – it wasn’t often though). My dead uncle removed his can and helped me up. He was as solid as I was. He lead me up to the porch where we sat and talked on the swing until my little sister woke me up in the morning. I will never forget that and yet I have never told the story before. I always felt it was something that was just for me.

That’s when the voices started. They were not familiar in any way and they did not tell me what to do. They gave me a running commentary of my life, like I was living in a book and they were reading it out loud. I did see things, but I don’t know how much as I was always afraid to ask if someone else saw what I did after being told that I was crazy several times, by family and friends.

That stayed the same until the breakdown in late 2007. It wasn’t my first or last breakdown, but it was the most significant.

The Breakdown

I was married and my wife and me were living at her parents to save money. I was between jobs and on the mend from major back surgery – okay, I thought it was major. I was interested in getting back into photography as I did some work in my early twenties and was interested in doing something creative again that was not writing.

EyesFarmhouseTapping the Vein1Watching Waiting

I had sold all of my camera equipment not long after I started to pay rent and buy marijuana so I needed new equipment. We had little to no money and what we did have we were trying hard to save and failing. I went into a high manic state and decided I needed to do absolutely anything to get that equipment. I thought about stealing it, but I knew I would easily be caught so I struck that. After removing quite a few ideas from my list I cam to credit card theft. I looked in trash cans for info and found nothing. I finally found information on my sister-in-law’s husband who was a marine fighting in Iraq at the time. I applied for a card online in his name and got a significant amount of credit. I ordered the equipment from a store that I knew had a blind pickup system and had it shipped there. Avoiding their cameras I picked up the equipment and returned home. I got rid of all the boxes and such and even scuffed it up a bit to make it look old. When everyone came home I told them that a friend gave it to me to get it out of his apartment because his wife was tired of looking at it. They all bought it as they had no reason not to trust me because they had no idea that I had been lying to them since I met them about every little thing (I lied just to lie at times).

I was in the clear for four months when my father-in-law called me out and showed me statements that he had been receiving. I denied it at first, but it was obvious I was to blame. I broke down and cried. They kicked me out and my wife came with me (there is no one that can compare to her). I cried for three days. It was the only time I had cried since I was very young until just recently.

My mother took us in and I was not charged with anything as my brother-in-law knew the police and a judge. He was nice enough to get it wiped and somehow transferred the debt to my name. I started seeing a new psychiatrist days after we moved into my mother’s basement.

Several psychiatrists and a barrage of medications later brings me to the present, but what about the hallucinations during that time.

They continuously got worse until I had people following me around convincing me that everyone was watching me and they were all trying to steal my identity. I was convinced people were trying to kill me as I had been shot at several times (hallucinations). I spent a lot of time on the ground in a corner curled up in the fetal position – but no crying, just shaking and rocking. I thought I was going to end up in a home or something for the rest of my life. I didn’t know what to do. I tried to push everyone in my life away from me, but my wife stood by me. She gave me strength to figure out that the cat that I thought I owned was not real and the birds that constantly chased me around were also not actually there. She helped me get to where I am now. Without her I would have ended up in a mental health facility long before I did and I would have stayed there instead only visiting for a couple of weeks. She is my savior.

Present

I hear whispers. I see flashes and glimpses. The paranoia is strong at times. The anxiety is uncontrollable. I am better. I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I would not be writing this if I were not.

Drugs That Changed My Life (Good And Bad)

Ritalin, Depakote, Wellbutrin, Adderall, Clozaril, Geodon, Haldol, Klonopin, Cogentin, Lithium, Neurontin, Paxil, Thorazine, Trazadone, Valium, Xanax, Zoloft, Zyprexa, Risperdol, Seroquel, Latuda, Effexor, Pristiq, Lamictal, Ativan. Marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ketamine, ecstasy, acid, ‘shrooms and more.

When each of these drugs was prescribed or abused or both is not something that is easily remembered.

I have said before that I have been under the care of a mental health professional since I was five. I think I also said I have been on medication since then. If I did I was wrong. I did not start on the medication until I was about nine when Depakote became part of my daily life. At the time they believed that I had a “chemical imbalance” (pretty vague – I know). Not long after, when they realized the Depakote wasn’t working they added Ritalin (keeping the Depakote) and diagnosed me with Attention Deficit Disorder. That didn’t work either, but they tried several different combinations of medications to “fix” an illness that I did not have (something was wrong, it just wasn’t what they thought).

When I was somewhere around 17 a new psychiatrist diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder. I stopped taking my medications not a year later because I was sick of constantly changing medications and diagnoses. Self-medication became extremely intense. I start using illegal drugs at 7 and continued into my twenties. When I abandoned my prescriptions it got really bad. I was selling, running, and smoking marijuana. On an average day I would smoke about a quarter pound (a joint is between 1/32 and 1/16 of an ounce). I was also using cocaine, acid, ecstasy, heroin, ketamine and more (no meth or crack though). I candy-flipped (took acid and ecstasy at the same time) for over a week. I once stayed awake on coke for 9 days. I had more blackout periods during that time than lucid periods. Most of the (relatively) lucid periods are difficult to pull even the most vague of memories from.

I did a lot of stupid stuff and hurt a lot of people during that time. There was no difference between good and bad at the time. I cheated, stole, lied, etc. from friends and family. I convinced very good friend’s significant others to sleep with me, ruining countless relationships. Sex was only a way to have a moment of intimacy that I quickly ran away from, almost before it was finished. I was not a good person to say the least. Many said I was psychotic or had APD (Antisocial Personality Disorder). I didn’t want to believe that anything was wrong with me even though I had been told by professionals, friends and family that there was. Eventually I came to terms that something was wrong, but I attributed it to the drugs (which were definitely a large part of the problem and would effect me for the rest of my life).

Eventually I realized that I had lost everything and I crawled back to my mother. She only let me stay with her (and only for a very limited period of time) if I agreed to go to rehab (she said I would have a place to stay when I got out). I had nowhere else to go so I agreed to her terms. She had me in a non-profit Christian farm that hosted an all male drug rehabilitation center. I didn’t want to get clean. I made plans with the few friends who still spoke to me to get back into things when I got out (I did not plan on staying with my mother long if at all). They hooked me up with a guy who was going to let me run drugs for him and give me a place to stay as well as a vehicle. While in the rehab facility the other guys there and me found out that there was a cow pasture that butted up to the woods that we were allowed to walk in. It was early fall and we decided to hop the fence one day and flip cow patties (cow poop) to see if there were mushrooms (Psilocybin mushroom – the magical kind) growing underneath. There were. We boiled them in the mess hall and dried them in the game room inside the wall (there was a piece of the wood paneling that came away from the studs relatively easy). Rehab became just another place to use. One of the counselors ended up distributing weed in exchange for the money that our families sent us. When new men came in we made money hand over fist. I left the center not long after to work for the guy that I was set up with. Three months later the place was shut down and 150 pounds of mushrooms and 25 pounds of weed were confiscated.

I got home and started running weed again. It was within the states so no crossing international borders that time. I was running from Florida to Ohio and Ohio to Washington state. I always told myself that I would never run anything but weed, but when green dead presidents were flashed in front of me weed turned into coke and coke turned into heroin. While I was on my way back from Washington I got pulled over by the highway patrol who called in the DEA who apparently had been following me for a while. They had photographic evidence of me making drops. I agreed to give up my supplier for immunity. I told myself I was done at that point. I was 22 years old.

I went back to my mother and she helped me get into another rehab that very night. She drove me to Elwood, Indiana the next morning and I pledged to come clean. Several months in the program I was ready to go back into the world. I left expecting a place at my mother’s house, but she had taken in four of my step-father’s nieces who were sexually, physically and emotionally abused by my step-father’s brother and his wife. The only male figure that was allowed to be around them was my step-father after he took a lie detector test and was evaluated by two different psychiatrists. I was living in my car, and not for the first time.

I had no friends and most of my family didn’t want a drug addict around. Eventually my grandparents took pity on me and let me stay there.

I met my first wife and she convinced me to get back on medication. That lasted about two months as they changed my medications three times and I knew that wasn’t enough time for them to even get in my system.

I didn’t get back on medications until I was married to my current wife for a year and a half and had my breakdown. I have been on them since. Just recently (two months) the medications have leveled out. I am on Lithium, Latuda, Lamictal, Wellbutrin and Klonopin. It is the least amount of pills I have ever been on and I am happy about that. It is also the only combination that has brought back my emotions which I am not sure I have had – ever.

The only issue right now is that my insurance won’t pay for the Latuda and my doctor and I refuse to take me off of it so right now I am living off of samples (thank you Latuda rep). Hopefully the insurance company approves the authorization soon. Thinking positively – this will be what works and I will not have to change anything. Here’s to a happy, steady life.

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.