I deal with many challenges in my life being mentally ill, but my biggest challenge is being a good parent to my son. People tell me I am doing a good job as a mother, but sometimes I feel disappointed in myself for not trying harder.
When my son was born, I was in a very bad mental and emotional state. There was no doubt I loved this tiny little boy who just entered my life, but something inside of me felt like I wasn’t strong enough as a person to provide for him what he needed.
When he was two months old, I did what I felt was in his best interest and I gave him to his grandparents to raise. I have always been a part of his life and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that we love each other, but I have missed out in so many important parts of his life, and I don’t know him as well as other people do.
None-the-less, I would do anything for that boy. During the darkest parts of my life, he has always been my reason for living.
I left his father a year ago after a very unhappy and unhealthy relationship. I did my best to let my son know that he was still the most important person in my life, but I still wasn’t as available to him as I should have been.
I am now engaged to a wonderful man who makes me very happy. He gets along pretty well with my son, and we have big plans for the future. But I think I let him down when I told him that even though he is very important to me, he will always come in second to my son. Was I wrong to say that? Am I wrong to hope that one day my son will understand that it is my mental illness that has been holding me back as a mother but he is still my favorite person and I want nothing more than to build a stronger relationship with him?
Returning to new jersey to visit my family for thanksgiving, I was excited to see my cousin again. We practically grew up together and I have always considered us to be best friends. But being here now, I almost long to return home.
The bond we shared in our childhood and teen years has roughened up a little as time has changed who we are and what we know. I still love her dearly, but when did the simplicity of youth pass away, leading to the reality of broken lives and heavy frustration.
I wish we could go back to simpler times when the reality of career and starting a family wasn’t as important as what movie to watch or where should we go out to eat.
I’ve known for a while that it was time for me to stop living in the past and claim my duties as a responsible adult, but I wish there was some way to hold onto our old innocence, even for just a moment longer.
Today I proved to myself that there is such a thing as “overdoing it”. This January I am auditioning for a musical at the local community theater. I have an extensive history with musical theater and have quite the experience considering all the singing solos I have had in the past.
Since I was seven years old, up to the age of twelve, I used to act and sing in two musicals a summer. It was, and still is, a passion that will never burn out. I started acting because before my mom died, she thought I would enjoy the activity. Boy was she right. The acting bug had bit me at a young age, and it bit hard.
Growing up, all I ever wanted to be was a professional actress. I was going to make it big in Hollywood and then I was going to light up Broadway. I had it all figured out. But too many years of people warning me about how hard it was to make it in the business finally had me singing a different tune.
My passion for singing never ceased as I continued to frequent karaoke shows on a regular basis.
I don’t go out and perform as often as I used to now that I am in my 30s, but the passion is still there.
Just recently I found out about the upcoming auditions and I figured it was time to warm up the old pipes. After careful debate, I decided on a song from one of the plays from my youth. I finally found the time today to start working on my arrangement. The song choice was perfect. I was able to convey just the right emotion, keeping it comical like it needed to be, while in my opinion it had fit my voice perfectly.
I practiced and practiced and practiced some more, really feeling the thrill it gave me. Eventually, though, all the practicing began to backfire. I had sang it so many times today that I was starting to psyche myself out. I couldn’t stop messing up the words. It was then that I realized it was time to give it a rest for the day.
Oh well, there is always tomorrow.
…Part three of the mental illness chronicles
So there I was, pregnant, and off of my meds for fear they would harm the baby. During one of my first four hospitalizations, I had been diagnosed schizo-effective, which is schizophrenia with bipolar type two. My pregnancy hormones were making me even more moody than usual, and problems were starting to form in my relationship.
It seemed some of my fiancee’s friends had a problem with me, so they told him a lie that I had been cheating on him. The fight that pursued was almost too hard to bare as the seeds of doubt had been planted in us both. Heartache began to overshadow the joys of our arriving bouncing baby boy. I eventually had to find a medication safe to take just to keep me sane.
When our son was born, we were fighting all the time. I was dealing with so much anxiety and depression that I kept on passing my son off on his grandparents just to reclaim sanity. We were fighting so much that I decided to grab our son and run away from home. At first, I felt empowerment, but fatigue and loneliness set in, increasing my depression.
I ended up calling my son’s grandparents, telling them where I was, and asking them if they could keep my son for a while until I was able to start over and get back on my feet. Saying goodbye to my baby boy was one of the hardest things I had to do, but I was given the promise that he would remain in my life. A few days later, I made the mistake of returning to my fiancee.
Another installment yet to come…
I am pleased to announce the two yet to be titled writing projects I have underway. One project is a memoir and one is the first in a novel series of the steampunk genre. Both are still in concept and research, but I am making good headway.
My memoir, the most challenging of the two projects, will be about living with mental illness, and how it has affected my interpersonal relationships. I know that it will bring up great emotion in me, so I hope it will do the same for my readers.
The steampunk series will prove to be a little more challenging because I want it to be authentic. I believe that steampunk is the most fascinating genre in fantasy writing and mythology. I’m hoping to write a story both complex and gripping.
More details to come as my work progresses. Thanks for your attention.
…continued from before
Shortly after my first four hospitalizations, I started dating a younger guy. I was just so happy about the attention that I ignored all the warning signs in our relationship. It started like a fairytale; staying up all night talking on our first date, meeting his family a few days later, getting engaged on our fifth date. We were moving way too fast, but I didn’t see the problem with it. Or at least, not entirely.
I knew my parents wouldn’t approve of me moving so fast in my relationship, so I decided to keep our engagement a secret for a while. Then, one night on a romantic whim, we decided to try to have a baby. And of course, I got pregnant on the first try.
Now I was keeping two secrets from my family, and I knew I had to act fast, so I didn’t hold back.
Naturally, my parents were upset with me. Because of my schizophrenia, they had a hunch that I would not be responsible enough to be a good parent, and since they didn’t really know my new fiancee that well, and all they knew was that we had rushed things, they assumed he wasn’t too responsible either. They tried to convince me to have an abortion, but I wouldn’t agree to it, so we arranged a family meeting with my psychiatrist.
The meeting was an all out war between me and my new fiancee vs. my parents with my doctor and fiancee’s mom as bystanders. During the meeting, I was mortified and outraged when my parents told my future mother-in-law that she would more than likely be the one raising my baby. She didn’t know what to reply, so she just said it wouldn’t be a problem. The meeting ended on a very sour note.
The dramatic climax to follow…
My whole adult life I have struggled with mental illness. When I was 17 I started hearing these voices talking to me. One claimed to be a young teenage boy who told me had grown up in my childhood neighborhood of Chevy Chase, MD. The other claimed to be my mom who died when I was 9. They started telling me things about my life with such accuracy that I believed I had acquired a 6th sense. By the time I was 19, my doctor diagnosed me as schizophrenic. I really didn’t know much about the illness at the time so, naturally, I was a little scared. Soon after my diagnosis, I went to see the movie “a beautiful mind” in theaters. For those who don’t know, it is the true story of a brilliant man with a bad case of paranoid schizophrenia. When the movie was over, I was terrified. I kept rocking in my seat and sobbing because I was afraid that I would have the same fate as this man. The friend I was with assured me I was going to be ok.
I had my first four hospitalizations at age 23 because I felt my mind was completely out of control. I almost felt like there were times I couldn’t control my physical actions either. I was not dangerous but I was still afraid of what I could possibly do without my own control over the situation.
To be continued…