Rainey Daze and Crazy Nights

Poetry, Paintings, and Ponderings: Through My Eyes

Just a Child March 26, 2012

She is just a child

who wants to feel safe

who needs to feel loved

but

she is

crying inside

no one knows

dying inside

no one sees

hurting inside

no one feels

screaming inside

no one hears

broken inside

no one cares.

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Bipolar Betty July 14, 2010

Well, Bipolar Betty has reared her ugly head again this week.  Who is that, you may ask?  Bipolar Betty is the nickname we have given to the horrible cycles my daughter suffers as a result of being bipolar.  She is on medication ($325 a month), she sees a psychiatrist ($70 a pop), and she gets her sleep.  Still, the cycles happen, and the world turns upside down.

I feel so selfish to say this, but I wonder if my life will ever be “normal” again.  It once was,  you know.  My sweetheart and I married young (I was 21, he was 26) and had two kids, both girls.  I was a stay at home mom who baked cookies and made crafts.  J, my oldest, was a bright, bubbly child.  She was a fast learner, outgoing and sweet.  Fifteen months later, S joined the family.  She was as quiet as her sister was talkative.  They were a good pair, and our little family was complete.  When the girls started school, I went to college and obtained a degree, which led to the beginning of my career.  My girls were in 4th and 5th grade at that time.

As I said, life was normal.  Were there clues that a monster was beneath the surface?  When I look back, I see some signs.  J was always dramatic, given to ups and downs that I attributed to her personality.    She had lots of friends and a great personality, so I didn’t worry too much.  She began to put on weight at an early age, but again, I thought it was normal, just something she would outgrow.  As she got older and heavier, I tried to not make food an issue, but instead tried to focus her attention on softball, swimming, and other activities she enjoyed.  When she was in high school, things began to get worse.  Her weight ballooned, I saw that vast amounts of food was missing from the kitchen, and she suddenly lost all friends.  To this day, I don’t know what happened, but most of those friends she never talked to again.  One, however, called me and told me that J cut herself because she was upset.

I guess that was the point of no return.  That is when my life began to spin out of control, slowly at first.  I took her to a psychiatrist.  This was the first of many. J sat in that office with the beige colored walls and the plum-colored couch and talked.  About the latest book she was reading.  about her favorite movie.  She talked about everything, except what was wrong.

Fast forward:  J graduated from high school (a great feat we were not sure would happen) and applied for college.  When a college accepted her, we celebrated.  I thought this would be the answer to my prayers.  She would make new friends, join in school clubs, and have a great career.

This plan backfired.  The first inkling that she was out of control was when we got a phone call that she was in the hospital.  It was diabetes.  The next middle of the night call was when she tried to overdose on pills and alcohol.  This pattern continued.  Why didn’t we just bring her home?  There is no easy answer, other than we did what we thought was right.  She continued to see her psychiatrist, she took medication for her diabetes, and she would seem normal; for a while.

The next time she tried to overdose, she almost succeeded.  After having her stomach pumped, we decided to bring her home.  She ranted and raged, out of control.  In calmer moments, she would confide in me.  She was binge eating.  All of her college money that was to be used for books, supplies, and tuition was gone.  She used drugs and drank on a nightly basis.  She was cutting again.  She slept around, and caught an STD.

She was given meds and sent home.  What was I to do?  I called doctor after doctor, but no one had an answer.  Insurance was another problem.  I had great insurance, but mental illness seems to be a murky area.  None of the local places would help her.  In desperation, I took a leave of absence and took her to a treatment facility on the other side of the US.  This was when we finally heard the words “bipolar disorder”.  She stayed for 6 months, and had great success.

J came home, and life continued.  We tiptoe, because we don’t know what to say or do.  She switches from a manic, I-can-do-anything mood to a depressed, I-can’t-get-out-of-bed mood repeatedly, sometimes ten times in an hour.  My heart breaks for her, my family, and myself.

Here we are, five years later.  She is 23, and still lives at home with us.  Her younger sister moved out, partly due to the pressure of living with her unpredictable sister.  J is more stable than before, but the manic highs and scary lows still grip her on a regular basis.  I’ve gone through much depression in the last five years as well.  My husband tries to be supportive, but he has never been good at handling J or helping me with problems.  Every time there is a problem, whether small or large, I am the one who must deal with it.  On the good side, J kicked the drug habit, and only drinks occasionally.  She still binges and purges, but not as often as before.

I now feel as though I am in a cage.  When Bipolar Betty demands attention, I must drop everything and be supportive.  The doctors tell me I must be patient when she is like this, I need to listen and not get angry.  You know what?  That is damn hard to do.  I am angry, but not at my daughter.  I am angry at this monster that lives here and comes out and possesses my beautiful daughter’s spirit.  I am furious that none of us get to lead a normal life.  I am pissed that the doctors cannot or do not really help her.  I am sad that my once bubbly baby girl looks in the mirror and hates herself.