Imagine lying in bed at night… your eyes, although they feel slightly heavy, are wide open.  Your brain is unable to put itself into sleep mode.  Your building up frustration as this is the 4th… no maybe 5th night you can’t fall asleep.  Tears are now falling down your cheeks because all you want to do is sleep, but you can’t.  So you lay there for a bit, get up and go to the bathroom, go downstairs and watch some TV and then decide to read.  At about 2am you fall asleep.

Nothing a little coffee won’t fix, right?!

Downing the coffee the following morning works great to wake your body up physically, but mentally the damage is done.  The lack of just a couple hours of sleep for multiple days in a row has revved up my anxiety and with that my fears.  I have now become irritable at the smallest things and delusional in thought.  Not a good combination.

Last night I expressed a delusional fear of mine to my husband, Jimmy.  After hearing it, he kind of giggled and said that would never happen but he understood.  My fear, because something somewhat like this happened before, was that my Inlaws were going to send letters to DCF, a lawyer, doctors, etc about how I should not be allowed to be a mother to my daughter.  Crazy right?!  I honestly believe this.  I believe they will use my Mental Illness labels against me.  How did I develop this delusion?  My Inlaws have gone behind my husband’s and my back before… years ago.  Without notifying us they sent letters to our lawyer and our real estate agent about the “filthiness” of the condo we were about to purchase (It wasn’t filthy).  I took this bitter memory and fabricated this new illusion.  They are currently upset with me for some bizarre reason relating to our vacation months ago.  So much so that they won’t call our house for fear of getting me on the phone which in turn has led to many weeks of not seeing their granddaughter.  Me, a woman who has been in their only child’s life for the last 19 years.  A woman who has blessed them with their only grandchild.

I can visually see this letter and can see the phone calls.  In my head I see DCF and the police showing up to the door to question me and others as to my mental health and my parenting capabilities.  After all, I already lost 1 child to my illnesses, why would they not take away my other?!  With this delusion I am constantly questioning parenting decisions… are the decisions I make coming from my Depression, my Anxiety, my PTSD?  Or are they real decisions from my true self, this person that seems so buried deep down?

My experience with my children… my Postpartum Depression, my recent 6th episode of Major Depression… has spawned a new delusion about myself.  I feel as if I do not deserve to get better, that I should suffer from everything that has happened.  This has honestly worried my Therapist a little to the point that we have to stop EMDR therapy to get over this road block.  My emotions are telling me that I should hurt because I hurt Tyler by giving him this hope of being with us forever and then “returning” him.  I should hurt because of that.  I should hurt because years and years and years ago I had strong thoughts of hating my daughter, hating this tiny innocent baby because of her huge dependence on me.  I should remain in pain because I lied to my husband and parents about never being hospitalized again after my Postpartum Depression.  I should be in pain for giving my daughter several weeks without her mother while I was hospitalized.

It doesn’t matter if I know these to be untrue… my tired brain, barely awake due to the days of insomnia, believes these delusions.  It is foggy up there in my head.  I’ve blurred the line between reality and delusional that I do not know what is real anymore.  At times I can’t see the logical answer.  All I see is losing my daughter because I am “unfit” to be her mother.  Losing her would be like losing my lifeline.  She is such a strong life force for me.  I just can’t seem to get over it.


As the Thanksgiving holiday passes and we all take time to think about what we are grateful for, who we are grateful for, I am reminded that being grateful has a whole other meaning when talking with anyone who has a Mental Illness.

Sure, I am extremely grateful for my beautiful, caring, intelligent daughter.  I am grateful for my husband who took his wedding vows seriously and has stood by me through hell several times in the last 19 years.  I am grateful for my parents who helped me and advocated for me instead of abandoning me.  But, what am I most grateful for?

I am most grateful to be alive.  I am grateful I didn’t slash my wrists seventeen years ago.  If I had done that, my daughter would not exist today.  There would not be the light in many people’s lives that is Sophia Faye.  There would be no blue-eyed, dirty-blonde-Hermoine-from-Harry Potter hair.  There would be no sweet smiles and daily kisses.  She would not be here because I would not be here.  If I slashed my wrist then, I not only would have killed myself, I would have killed her.

I am grateful I did not run away nine years ago.  I am grateful I could not think of where to run away to because that kept me home.  It kept me with my husband.  It kept me with my daughter.  It kept me from missing so many firsts in her life including her first word, “Mama” at 10 months old.  If I ran away, I would have missed her first step, her first real hug, her first day of school and eventually her high school graduation, marriage and any future grandchildren.

I am grateful I did not gain access to that screw on the lunch tray table in the Behavioral Crisis Center last January.  If I did, it would have pierced my skin and gone into my head.  I could’ve caused myself extreme damage that would have made my daughter motherless.  It would have caused her so much pain, years of psychotherapy and possibly hospitalizations.  She would feel the grieving I felt then and so much more… the grieving I still feel now.  I would have given my only ever supportive husband a vegetable for a wife.  I would have extolled my pain, guilt and anger on the 2 people I love the most in this world who have only ever supported me.

As we all sat just a day ago, going around the table saying what we are grateful for, these are the things I instantly thought of… not committing suicide, not running away, not giving myself a lobotomy.  The real answers of someone with a Mental Illness.  But when it was my turn I said, “I am grateful for my loving supportive family.”

The Death Of Evan William…

A little boy around age 5… straight medium brown hair bordering on chestnut in color.  Wide blue eyes eager to learn.  When he smiles, you can see dimples in both cheeks, rosy in color as he plays with leaves on a brisk autumn day.  He’s wearing blue jeans with a red and black plaid shirt and a denim jacket.  I’m watching him as he runs around chasing his big sister.  They are giggling.  They are playing hide and seek.  Before I know it, both of them have fallen down on a big pile of leaves and are now wearing them in their hair.  They’re both still smiling.  As the camera pans around, there is an image of myself, overjoyed, watching these children interact.  Watching my children interact.

And then a sudden acknowledgement that one of these children was never meant to be.  One of these children only resides in my head where he lives frolicking amongst the leaves of red, orange, yellow, green and brown.  One of these children lives with an eternal smile on his chubby-cheeked face playing with his big sister whom he has never met.  One of these children died… a dream whose flicker burned out.

This is Evan William.  This is my son.  A boy I never birthed.  A boy I never carried.  A boy I never even conceived.  He was born on a dream so long ago with me as a preteen at camp sitting on a bus with a little boy very similar in description and having the same first name.  Evan, named after my mother’s uncle and William, named after my paternal grandfather.  My young warrior and determined protector by definition.  The image of him so strong that I thought I was in fact carrying him prior to having my 20 week ultrasound with Sophia.  Unscathed by having a girl, and completely in love with her, I just went with, “My next child will be Evan.”

But, there is not a next child.  There almost was, a little boy similar to the vision of Evan.  But he was not meant to be.  Gone into a family whose mother would not suffer a mental break or two.  As I mourn losing him, I mourn Evan.  A sweet boy who has just plucked a dandelion and handed it to me, “For you Mama!”.  His tiny arms embracing me.

Pain.  Heartache.  Tears.  My son.

The death of Evan William… beloved son, brother, grandchild, nephew, cousin… and dream.

Hitting A Wall…

It’s Wednesday.  I’m back at work following a whirlwind business trip that had me awake at 6am on Monday and back at home by 4pm Tuesday.  There were flights, driving, appointments all in the midst of those 36 hours that right now seems like a bowl of mush sloshing around in my head.  I can visualize the trip but pinpointing where I was at an exact time of day is a far off dream that can only be solved by photo and text time stamps.  Just like the trip 2 months ago, I am experiencing deja vu all over again with my Business Trip Bipolar Disorder.  Coming down from extreme highs of feeling important at work with thoughts of, “Wow, it’s only been a year and I am being entrusted to do this landlord turnover myself?!” to “I finally feel so respected.”  Then enjoying a meal with friends you haven’t seen in a couple of years from your good ole’ college days… hearing their work tales, reminiscing… completely fabulous…

Then why do I feel so cruddy?

And in comes the lows… the deep dwelling I hate falling into as it takes a few days to climb out.  Taking a 5 mile walk before my flight back was exhilarating… brisk sunny day, and yet I only feel the physical drain of it.  My ankles sore from power walking on pavement and my mind just wishing it had more time to rest, getting anxiety because it is unsure of the rest it will get.  Everything after that went smoothly… car rental return, security line at the airport, the flight.  And then I got to my car.  Ugh, the 1 hour and 30 minute drive home without traffic.  My eyelids were heavy, very very heavy.  Oh so heavy… and I was only 20 minutes into my drive.  I have never been so scared of falling asleep while driving as I was yesterday.  Somehow I made it home and when I did, I climbed into bed for a nap.

Now we are onto the next day, and I’ve hit a wall!

I can’t.  I just can’t function.  I am still so tired, drained of all physical strength.  Drained of mentality.  Drained of all emotions.  I can’t focus.  My brain is so foggy I feel like a scene of a Scottish Moor after it has rained is in my head.  I want to focus, but there is no use.  Once again, I have read the same line in an email for the 5th time and I still do not know what the email is about!

The kicker… I never felt this way when I wasn’t in the middle of suffering from Depression and Anxiety.  This is all new to me.  New, yes new, new to this veteran of these Mental Illnesses.  I am constantly questioning myself about all my thoughts, feelings and symptoms.  Am I foggy because I am tired?  Am I foggy because recently I am living with constant Anxiety?  Am I foggy now because I have a mild form of PTSD?  Am I foggy because of my ongoing war with Depression?

I don’t have the answers.  Everything changes with age.  It just seems that for me as I get older, my bouts of Depression and Anxiety worsen and tend to hang out with me longer.  Now I worry.  I worry the brain fog will be more constant. I worry about it affecting my driving.  There are many things I have learned about myself over the years, but  what happens when you keep learning new stuff about yourself and you still haven’t corrected the other stuff?  What happens when that new stuff plays games with you… mental games… twisting thoughts, erasing emotions, draining your battery until there is no juice left?

It is Wednesday and I know there is still at least 1 more day of recovery for me.  1 more day that will add to the predicted mental break that is beginning to grow inside of me.  1 more day I will try my hardest to remain present.  1 more day for my anxieties and fears to grow.  1 more day that might grow into 2 more days…

I’m Trapped…

Five days a week I am good.  Some of those days are better than others, some worse.  All of them end poorly, they end at my house.  My house, a place that use to provide safety and comfort, is now a place I hate being in.  It is a place where my Anxiety hangs out, a place where it decides to throw dance parties.  And the last two days of the week, Saturday and Sunday, I attempt to leave, but have nowhere to go.  Nothing needs to be bought.  It’s raining so no outdoor exercise.  I’m trapped.  No hopes of escaping for another year and a half when we move to get Sophia into a better school system for Middle School.

I despise going home.  I feared it to an extreme a year ago.  I would cry, in silence, when it was time to leave work.  The darkness outside only mirrored the fear that grew within me.  At home was where all the tension was.  It was where all the noises were.  It was where my children, my newly born annoyances, were.  I didn’t want to go there.  Bedtime, my Anxiety only grew.  It was a Goliath.  What noises would I hear tonight that would keep me awake? Would I hear coughing?  Would Tyler wake me?  Would Sophia wake me? Ugh, the heat just turned on… I just want to sleep.  I NEED to sleep.  All would be better if I slept.

Sleep didn’t come for a long while.  I thought once Tyler was removed, I would return to my normal sleeping habits.  Problem was although Tyler left, my Anxiety didn’t.  It remained as strong as before.  I was only growing weaker, submissive.  Every morning, I woke up gagging when I opened my eyes.  Every night, I shook out of fear of this house.  This house, that my husband and I bought so our family could grow, so Sophia would have a yard to play in.  This house I used to love so much.

I still hate it.  It still hasn’t kicked out the one resident that was never invited to stay.  That relative you so desire to leave but doesn’t.  I force myself to go home.  A bit easier now than a year ago, but I still need to force myself there.  The nights are still full of Anxiety.  I still take medication to subside it, but it is still there.  There are no sounds from that bedroom right across the hall, only the residual ones that play in my head.  The heat still goes on.  The neighbors still come home late and slam doors.  The dogs outside still bark to each other carrying on a conversation.  And I still fear it all.  I still sit wanting to plug up my ears.  If only I didn’t hear all this.

I sleep with earplugs.  I have for years.  They go into my ears when I decide to roll over and sleep.  Before that time my ears hear the sounds of the world while reading and watching shows on the Kindle.  In addition, they hear the overwhelming voice of my Anxiety, that gripping annoying tone that forces you to listen.  That is something the earplugs will never cover up.  I just want to yell at it, to just shut up for once, to leave me alone.  I want it to take a vacation, travel the world, but it doesn’t. 

I turned everything off, put my earplugs in my ears and went to sleep.  Tossing and turning, brain overloading with racing thoughts.  Geez, just shut up already!  I turn toward my clock, 45 minutes later.  Ugh!  Not again.  Knowing I shouldn’t stay in bed, at least all those doctors say not to, I rise and go down to the basement.  Laying down on the loveseat, with the cat curled into me, a throw on my legs, I watch a DVR’ed show.  One more hour I’ll lose of sleep.  So many hours wasted. 

I’ve let me Anxiety in.  I’ve embraced that it doesn’t want to leave.  I’m so drained of fighting it.  I give up.  You can stay.  You can keep me awake.  You can do what you want to me.  Just take away the fear of my home.  Let me enjoy my evenings and weekends.  Let me enjoy the occasional day or two with my family.  Let me live again already.  You’ve trapped me and I want my freedom.  I want to have control again.


I am sitting here… antsy, ants in my pants.  Internally shaking.  I know it is coming, but I don’t know when.  The ticking time bomb inside of me.  When will this geyser blow?  When will I have a complete mental breakdown?  I can feel it, feel the bubbling within.  I’m writhing in my chair.  I can’t focus.  My breathing is quick and shallow.  An anxiety attack that will most likely continue on and off for the rest of the day, for many days.

I woke up this morning with a heavy heart after therapy last night.  Hearing Jimmy and Sophia talk about our time with T in the house… hearing them say they missed him.  It was helpful after they have cautiously tip-toed around me trying to avoid those stubborn painful Lego pieces of my brain.  I needed to hear it.  I needed to know I was human with all my emotions.  My husband was hopeful, saying he could see the person T was turning in to.  He could see our family of 4.  He wanted to try to make it work.  My anxiety and panic ruined that.  Hearing him say he could not handle the 2 kids, his full time job, and me.  It was an emotional blade that kept stabbing me with guilt and anger toward myself.  Hearing him say he was frustrated because he didn’t know what to say to me, trying to avoid triggering me, knowing logic wouldn’t work.  All this I appreciated and only made me love him more but on the flip side made me self loathe more.  Hearing him say that right after T left the house when he was hoarding all of the toys and stuff into T’s old bedroom was painfully hard, sent more heartache.  But I wanted to know.  I needed to know.  I wanted to know he felt something.  I wanted to know that they both felt something.

It isn’t just the heavy heart.  I can’t stop moving.  My fingers keep wiggling.  Fists clenching.  I keep slithering around.  My heart is rapidly beating.  I know it is coming.  Something I desperately fear, the mental breakdown.  Unsure of what it will bring as I already spend most days with anxiety attacks and tears.

I need to subside my fears, to disconnect the ticking clock but my incredible amount of guilt lies in the way.  I know what I need to do.  I need to call in sick.  I need a Mental Health day.  I need a day that breaks this deja vu routine.  A day where I put myself first.  But, my guilt is strong.  Guilt… Stigma…  I’d feel guilt because I am  not physically ill.  No fever, no headache, no vomiting.  What some would view as a day of freedom, even call me a liar, although that day would most likely consist of me in bed maybe taking a hike.  What am I so afraid of?  Work knows my history.  My brain is ill and at times it needs to rest, yet I don’t allow it to.  As if a different outcome would arise this time.  As if it would all just go away.  I am stupid to think that.  My illnesses have only gotten worse with age.  Come on Stephanie, why would you think this time would be different?!

Tick, tick, tick… still can’t focus, still shaky… tick, tick, tick… Go home Stephanie, you need the break… tick, tick, tick