Um, hi. It’s been awhile. Like maybe a year-and-a-half while. Which is totally my fault. Obviously. I stopped writing. And I probably worried some of you, and I am so sorry. I’m okay. I’ve been (mostly) okay since my last post in the fall of 2017. I’ve had a couple of really not okay moments and I will get to those eventually, but for now I wanted to try and explain why I stopped writing and why I am starting to write again and how I hope you’ll be interested in reading.

I stopped writing, largely, because I started to feel better and I felt less and less like talking about being sick. I didn’t have to think about or feel my illness every minute of every day for the first time in over a year. Continuing to blog about it felt counterproductive.

While I could have written about getting well, frankly, it felt boring and also more like purposeless navel-gazing than writing about being sick. Writing about being sick felt like it might be helpful; it made some meaning out of the madness (pun aboslutely intended). Without that larger purpose, I felt lost in terms of what to write about or why to write it.

I also had a bit of a shame hangover (hat tip, Bren√©¬†Brown). I shared a lot on this blog, about my mental health, my guilt/fear/shame as a parent, partner, and human, and my struggle to accept and make my way through life as a person with “late onset,” or at least late-diagnosed, biopolar disorder. I was broken when I started this blog and I stopped writing when I had reassembled enough pieces to feel capable of moving forward from not exactly where I left off but close enough to be my life.

And I did move forward, and I do, but I’ve also taken like a million steps back and fallen once so hard I almost died. But I didn’t and I’m okay but not always or in the way that I’d like to be. Being well is a struggle, every goddamn day, it’s a struggle. And I’ve found some things that are really, really helpful to me. Also, things that are particularly unhelpful. I’ve got some thoughts and ideas and tips and tricks and questions and answers and questions without answers that are still useful to ask. I’m back at work. My oldest is about to finish kinder and the twins will start pre-K this fall (?!). I am the ringmaster of the shit show that is our family of five. I’ve started taking epic hikes and gone to two meditation retreats and one in-patient psych ward and my weekly pill organizer could kill a horse.

I am okay and not okay every day and most often at the same time. And I’ve been thinking I’d like to write about that. That it might be helpful to know that getting better is always just that and sometimes it involves getting worse, at least for awhile. I have absolutely no answers to Any of the Things, but I can point them out and write about them in a way that might make them more approachable, less scary, sometimes funny, and always shared. It’s not just me and it’s not just you and none of us can do this alone.

So, if you’re not still totally pissed at my for disappearing for 19 months, please come back. I promise I’ll write as often as a mentally-ill, working mother of three kids six and under can, which I hope is often. XOXO, A

Letting go of the rope

Since leaving IOP, I have had moments of pure joy with my babies: watching C grow more confident in his walking; seeing L waive her hands and shake her booty to pretty much any song with a good beat. I have spent every morning driving my sweet H to school, having in depth conversations about transformers and whether he will be a policeman or a helicopter pilot when he grows up.

I have also spent entire days listening to unremitting screaming at a volume I would not have believed such tiny beings capable of. I have been to the pediatrician three times in the last four weeks. I have had all three children hit, pinch and push each other in an effort to be the only one in my lap. I have felt overwhelmed by the depth and strength of their need for me.

Even so, none of my experiences with my children have precipitated a panic attack. And while I have felt some depression, it has been nothing like the debilitating depression I experienced last year that kept me in bed for days at a time. Overall, I am feeling better. Not having to fit my family and everything that goes along with managing a household of six in between work hours has made my life feel fundamentally different. I still get stressed and impatient and exhausted but in a normal, manageable way. There was nothing normal or manageable about my life last year.

I also feel different because I am taking time to take care of myself (most days). I am learning to value myself. And recognizing that I have value — as an individual and independent of my relationship to anyone else — has made it imperative, although not necessarily easier, to speak up and take a stand, to refuse to compromise when my head or my heart says no, to ask for what I need and what I want.

At the same time, I am learning the frustrating but important lesson that I can only control myself — my own words, actions and responses. I can control my willingness to say out loud what I feel, what is acceptable to me and what is not. I can control my courage to ask for the help I believe I deserve.

I have no control, however, over how the person I am talking to will respond to what I say or what I ask. That response is on them. That is their shit to deal with, not mine.

Learning this lesson has been painful but ultimately freeing. As my therapist says, I have let go of the rope; I have stopped trying to drag anyone with me down my ideal path for recovery. All I can do is ask and then keep moving.

Someone somewhere once said, “The only way out is through.” Having someone to hold my hand as I make my way through this crazy ordeal (pun intended) would be immensely helpful. But that is not my decision to make.