Welcome to my own personal Hell

Take a walk with me through my own personal Hell called bipolar disorder. First I will dispell some myths before I let you join me on this roller coaster that never stops. Just so the non-bipolar people of the world know, we cannot snap out of it. If we could snap out of it, we wouldn’t have if in the first place. Second, we don’t just like being this way. That’s like saying a person with a broken leg has the injury because they like it. Also, we will most likely not harm you, unless you say one of the above in our presence. People with bipolar disorder tend to be more self-harming and self-defeating. We have a grasp on reality, most of the time. And we are not “crazy” so there is no need to run from us. 

Now that the myths are out of the way, it’s time for you to join me on this winding path of a mood disorder. Ever been sad or depressed? Multiply it by 1000. Ever been angry? Like the love child of the Incredible Hulk ad Rambo angry? Multiply that by 1000. 

Every emotion felt by “normal” people is more intensely felt by those with bipolar.

I am in the throes of a downward spiral. I was feeling good for a while, then BAM. Out of nowhere it slammed into me like a freight train. 

The depression phase of bipolar goes way beyond sadness. To be perfectly honest, right now I do feel sad, but I also feel worthless, unwanted, and ugly. Maybe that’s not the truth, but that is what it feels like. It doesn’t matter how many times someone denies the truth about those feelings, they are still there.

Then there is the manic or hypomanic phase, depending on what type of bipolar disorder a person has. As someone with bipolar II, I have hypomania. This phase of bipolar disorder is not always happy and euphoric. It doesn’t always result in risky behavior. For some of us, myself included, it can be extreme agitation and anger that is uncontrollable. It’s really ugly for everyone involved, so I desperately try to stay away from hypomania. 

Another frustrating aspect of bipolar disorder is rapid cycling or mixed states. Not everyone has these issues, but they are really tough to deal with. I can find myself going from happy to sad to angry to sad then back to happy in a matter of hours or days. There is also feeling all emotions at one time. That is really difficult. 

Right now, I am depressed, severely so. Without reason. That’s another hallmark of this disorder, mood shifts with no situational cause. I do have situational depression from time to time, but at an extreme level. 

Extreme levels of depression lead one to feel ugly, unloved, worthless, useless. It also can cause a person to make poor choices in an effort to feel loved. That was how I fell into my 8 year marriage. 

Because we feel emotions so strongly, I think we all long for someone to love us as we are. That is a tall order for many nonbipolar people. Because of the misconceptions of bipolar as well as our own behavior that can be perceived as erratic at times, it’s understandable that we can be frightening. But people shouldn’t hesitate to take us on because no one loves as intensely as someone with bipolar. All most of us want is to be loved. 

When someone is very depressed, please don’t say it will get better. Really, all they need to know is that you are there for them. 

Please love us for who we are. Please support us when we go through mood shifts and remind us to go to our doctors if we haven’t done so. Medications are almost always necessary and need to be tweaked on a regular basis.

If you care about, love, or our friends with someone with this awful disorder, please hold our hands and walk through Hell with us. We need love and support. 

The Post I’ve Been Wanting to Add: Marriage with a Narcissist

This post is the story of a friend that lived in hell for years. She came out on the other side a better, happier version of herself, but she is still trying to erase the negative messages and hopeful that someone will come along who will love her and her children for they are. These are her words.

We were married on December 31, because I was, in his words, a tax deduction. He told me that I was wife #2 until we were married and then decided to let me know that I was actually wife #3.

I found out that I was pregnant the following October. I was very sick, with hyperemesis gravidarum. He mocked me when I was crying on the floor in the bathroom because I was vomiting every 30 minutes to one hour. I ended up hospitalized three times. One of those times, I had to drive myself home from the hospital. He did not stay with me at any point or time during this. At one point, he actually said he hoped I would lose the baby. He accused me of having an affair with his brother after our son was born because of someone’s offhanded remark about how much my son looked like his brother when he was born. Newborn babies look like newborn babies, period.

I found out in December 2006, that he was having an emotional affair with one of his  classmates. It was actually getting physical, too, though he says they never did more than kiss each other. It is still an affair in most people’s eyes. I’m not entirely sure it was only emotional.

Our son was born in the summer of 2007 after an exhausting and harrowing delivery in which he had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. I got to hold him so long as anyone else was present, but his father would take him from me as soon as we were alone. When I nearly passed out during this hospital stay from acute blood loss, my husband became angry because I woke him up.

I developed severe postpartum depression and anxiety disorder because he forced me to go back to work three weeks after I delivered the baby because he was full-time in college and refused to get a job. He also wouldn’t let me be treated for postpartum depression, so I had to sneak to appointments with a psychiatrist who specialized in postpartum mood disorders. I also had to sneak out to see a therapist. He also forced me to travel halfway across the US to get his son for a summer visit during this time, knowing that he wouldn’t be home much and I was in a mentally fragile state. It  certainly didn’t help that he forced himself on me again and again while I was in a state of healing from an incision called an episiotomy which my doctor had to do to get our son out quickly because his heart rate was dropping and the cord was around his neck. I still remember the pain and the tears this many years later

The verbal and emotional abuse continued through our marriage. He thrived on his ego-stroking job. He was stronger than me at that time. By the time I was pregnant with our second son, he was shoving me around regularly, usually against walls where he would get in my face and curse at me. I was ready to leave at 7 months pregnant with my 2 year old son. Then my husband got sick and I felt that I had to help him. It was like I would go to Hell if I didn’t. If I had only realized I was already in Hell and it was about to get worse.

I had our second son unplanned and three weeks early. I required a cesarean section, as he was in a transverse breech position. My husband had just gotten out of the hospital the week before, but rather than stay home, came to the birth. He never once touched the baby. The day I came home from the hospital, I remember clearly that he was sitting in the recliner. I walked in holding our newborn son with our toddler trailing after me, and he, knowing that I could not lift anything heavier than my baby, gave me an evil look and ordered me to help him out of the chair. His family was there and helped him, but it was another instance of how little I was regarded by him.

For further care, my husband was sent to a hospital in another state not long after our second son was born. Thus began my internal tug of war between working all week at home while caring for four children (two mine, two not) and traveling on weekends to play caregiver. I was unable to bond like I wanted with my baby, as he and my toddler ended up being cared for by their grandparents during this time.

My husband could not physically harm me, but the emotional and mental abuse escalated during this time. I could never be good enough, never do enough. Some things he said were so hurtful, I’ve blocked them from my memory and only remembered that horrible things were said. Conveniently during this time, he complained of memory lapses and that he didn’t remember what he said to me. He continued to use this excuse for every time he yelled at me from then until I decided to end our marriage.

He came home 8 months later and the emotional abuse continued, along with the crazy idea in his head that he was deathly ill with all manner of things (if only). He worked for a short time, then left his job and stayed at home, though he did not take up the duties of a stay at home parent.

In 2012, I ended up being emergently hospitalized with a completely obstructive kidney stone and massive infection. I had been assigned to a hospital room for hours before he would even take me to the hospital because he had errands to run first. He stayed at the hospital long enough for me to go into the OR, then he left. According to the nurses, he said he had to go home and take care of our kids. Meanwhile, my mother was at her home taking care of our kids. I ended up having two surgeries a month apart and was on antibiotics for two months.

Later in 2012, I got pneumonia. He refused to take me to the hospital, even with a 103.0 fever. He wanted to call an ambulance instead, not out of concern for me, but because he didn’t want to be bothered with me. I made two trips to the ER because I was unable to keep the antibiotics down. He showed up on my second visit to insist that the ER doctor put in a PICC line and send me home with IV antibiotics so he could take care of me at home. My pneumonia was in two lobes, so I should have been admitted to the hospital. He did not take care of me. I administered my own antibiotic and he still made me take the kids to school and do all the work around the house.

He continued to stay home, while I worked. I have no problem at all with stay at home parents, but he did nothing for our children or to assist me. Our children went to daycare, even though he was home all the time. He did not help me with household chores. My day consisted of dropping kids at school, working a full time job, picking up kids from daycare, making dinner, doing homework with kids, cleaning house, and falling in bed somewhere around midnight, while he was up fueling his addiction to porn and online games, spending upwards of $100 per day.

I was ignored in my own home. Yet, even though I was being ignored, I was expected to keep to my wifely duties and be at his beck and call. He even used verses from the Bible to justify his treatment of me. There were at least two times that he forced himself on me, which is rape in my book, I was just married to my rapist. Everytime I protested, he threatened to take the children. If only I had realized then that he would never take the children because it required too much work to care for young kids.

I finally had enough when he got in my face again about sex and I told him no. He grabbed me by the arms, called me an ungrateful whore and a bitch in front of the children, and locked himself in the bathroom. He shoved me around several times between that incident and when he actually left the house for good.

Two years later, I can say my children and I are getting to a good place. Everyone is in therapy. My kids still have a hard time transitioning between the routine and order in our home and the chaos in his.

A few things I have learned on this part of my journey: I was married to someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and possible sociopathic tendencies. Because of this, true co-parenting is not possible because he attempts to create chaos wherever he goes. I try anyway for the sake of my kids and their need not to be in the middle of this battle that their dad and stepmother are waging against me. The most important things I have taken away from this experience is that I am good enough, no matter what the negative messages in my head tell me. I can take care of myself and my children. I am a loving and capable mother. I am worth loving and I have friends and family who do love me.

I hope by telling my story, I can help someone else in a similar situation. I hope I can give that person the courage to leave their personal hell. I hope others can see that they are not alone. Too many people are living like I did and desperately need to get out. Breaking free was the best decision I ever made for myself and my children. I will never go back to living in hell again.










Letting Go

I’ve been doing some soul searching lately. I realize that I am having trouble moving forward in my life. I’m caught up in past emotions and heartache. I’ve noticed that I still talk negatively about my ex-husband, way too often and to way too many people. I don’t really know why I still bring up the long, torturous story. I doubt anyone else, including me, wants to hear it anymore. I’ve moved past relationships prior to that one and I really need to let this one go, minus the co-parenting and his crazy new wife. Lol. 

I don’t think I will be able to enjoy another relationship unless I let this one go. I’ve already let a potential one slip through my fingers because of fear and just got out of another because I like my independence too much. So how does one let the hatred and hurt feelings go?

I’m not sure of the answer to that question. If anyone has any ideas, feel free to tell me. I’ve done a lot of work on me in the past few years. I’ve learned new things about who I am as a person. And I’ve lost 50lbs! I have spent a lot of time helping my children adjust that maybe I haven’t adjusted myself?

Don’t get me wrong. In no way do I want to go through that sham of a marriage again. But there is a deep hatred there that started long before the marriage ended. I try to be as civil as possible, since for good or bad, he is the father of the two greatest blessings in my life. 

I feel like God has someone else out there for me. I don’t know who, where, or how to find him, but I would hope that God would bring me someone great, not perfect, but fun. Someone who enjoys life. I just don’t think that can happen unless I let these old hurts go and the past go. I have to let the hatred go. I don’t have to like my children’s father. That would be expecting a miracle, but he is my children’s father, so like it or not, he will be there. Hating him is not doing me any good. My hating him doesn’t hurt him in any way, only me. 

So I pray this prayer tonight. Lord, please help me let go of the hate and negativity which has taken up residence in my heart. It doesn’t deserve a place there. It needs to go to make room for my future. Please help me. I have to let go. 

One of the Hardest Things About Being an Adult

There are many things that are hard about being an adult. One of the hardest is seeing parents ill. I saw this first hand this week. My dad is sick and in the hospital. It hurts to see the man who you still think of as being young in a hospital bed. He looks so fragile lying there. I know lots of people say this about their dads, but my dad is really the best dad ever.

My dad is a retired pediatric oncologist and relates to children in a way I have never seen other doctors. He worked a lot when we were growing up, but made as much time as possible for us kids. When we were young, he used to hold us upside down and let us walk on the ceiling. It was great fun for everyone but Mom, who wasn’t thrilled to have tiny footprints on her ceiling. This same man hung many a swing in the trees in our backyard. He played with us at the beach and taught us about hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs. He pulled out sand spurs and stitched up hurt chins and heads.

I have so many fun memories of my dad. Like the time we had a tornado warning. Mom was at work and Daddy discovered we had no batteries for the flashlights. So we piled into the station wagon and headed to Bi-Lo. We bought a cake, ice cream, and cookies. I think we forgot batteries. To this day, we laugh about “tornado supplies”. Then there was the time that Daddy, my sister Julie, and I wanted to make a red velvet cake. We tried to follow the directions. It ended up being pink and not quite as much like velvet. Daddy crowned it our pink felt cake because it had the texture of felt more than velvet.

He always came up with crazy ways to wrap gifts for Mom. One year, we packed a ring box in the middle of a huge box and filled it with newspaper. Mom kept pulling newspaper out of the box. She almost missed the ring box. The best was for their 25th wedding anniversary. Daddy kept telling her that it was the aluminum anniversary. He actually bought her a new wedding set, which we put in a cheap aluminum pot with a silver bow on top. Her smile faded when Daddy handed her the pot, but she was pleasantly surprised to find a ring box inside the pot. She actually kept the pot!

Life was so much fun growing up. I remember the year he decided that Mom was no longer allowed to pick out Christmas trees, because she always chose the Charlie Brown one. Then there was the time he decided to cut a white pine from our yard to use as our tree. It got heavier and heavier as he was dragging it into the house. Turns out, out dog Beau was handing on to the end with his teeth and was getting dragged along behind the tree. He harassed our Corgi D.C. with a white ceramic dog someone gave him in the 70s. Always making us laugh.

He is an even better grandad. My kids think he hung the moon. We had a bat get in our house a few years ago, so he came over, found it, and got it out of the house. It unfortunately met its demise as a result of his bat capturing skills. Eli now calls him The Supreme Bat Killer of the Universe. He and Eli love to look at the solar system and moons on the computer. He and Caleb love to watch car races and Barrett-Jackson auctions on TV.

That is how I prefer to see my dad, as the fun dad, the best dad in the world. The fragile looking man in the hospital bed is not how I want to think of my dad because to me, he hung the moon.





My little blond haired boy is nine

My little blond haired boy is nine years old today. He’s not so little anymore. He’s kind, thoughtful, sensitive, and loving. He’s also stubborn, bossy, and oh so talkative. I’ve heard many a detailed Hemingway-esque account of every second of every dream he had the night before, usually while I am trying to sleep in. He is now debating over whether his favorite color really is blue or if he’s decided red is better. He is a rabid Clemson Tigers football fan and was despondent that they lost the National Championship. He says he’s going to Clemson someday, but he doesn’t know why or exactly what for.

This kid I gave birth to is so smart. He wants to be an astronomer, astronaut, and work for Nintendo to create more Mario games. He still doesn’t believe me when I tell him that I played Super Mario Bros at his age.

This child was my gift for my 33rd birthday. Having birthdays two days apart is great, except when I am at the pharmacy picking up meds for both of us and I give 6/10/07 as my birthday. What? I look like a little boy, right?

When he turned seven, he asked me how old I was going to be. I told him fourty years old. He said “Wow Mom, fourty is A LOT older than seven!” The fact that he’s still here after that statement speaks to the love I have for this kid. He has now made it a habit to tell me that I am young.

I’ve heard it said that little boys really love their moms. He sure does. I get hugs and I love yous all the time, except in public, of course. He always compliments me on my hairstyle and how pretty he thinks I am. He even helped me pick an outfit for work last week.

As I look at him sleeping right now, I see a tiny glimpse of that little baby I gave birth to, the one who turned into a rambunctious toddler and preschooler and is a daredevil extraordinaire. I’m not sure we were going to make it through the twos and threes, nor did I think he would ever learn to potty train! I also see the little boy who took kindergarten by storm, had a crush on his first grade teacher, and has adored his second and third grade teachers. I see a child who is a people pleaser and loves to help. I see a boy whose mission in life is to protect his little brother and make his mommy be proud. I also see a child who is an expert at Minecraft and playing his Wii U and is well on his way towards being a Lego master builder.

This child is a blessing and God blessed me by making me his mommy. I love you Eli, my favorite nine year old boy.


Lighten Up People!

I am thinking about taking a Facebook sabbatical. It seems as though people are getting bent out of shape for insanely minute reasons. It became crystal clear to me tonight just how ridiculous people have become. I was attacked personally for making a joke about Donald Trump’s hair. WTH?!? I don’t think the woman who attacked me is one of his relatives or a personal friend of his. She then went on to call me a Bernie Sanders-loving nazi-feminist or something like that. That’s quite a leap from making fun of a man’s truly terrible hairdo. In actuality, I don’t like any of the Presidential candidates and have no clue which is the lesser of evils. The only nazi attitude I have is towards bad grammar.

Now I am not saying that it is okay to make fun of everyone. But it seems to me as though priorities are screwed up when people cannot laugh anymore. Everyone is so easily offended these days. No one can speak their mind anymore.

An Anniversary Came & Went Without My Noticing

This is not a post about my former wedding anniversary. Nope, this is a post about the first anniversary of my divorce being final. February 2nd, 2015 is the day I closed that chapter and started another one. Funny thing is, I am just now realizing it. I guess divorce anniversaries are odd. Maybe I’m just enjoying life more now so I forgot to notice.

So much has changed, mostly good things. I could name them all, but then I would be repeating my last five posts or so. I will spare everyone a rehashing of the story.

Now that I am 41 and will be 42 in June, I’ve decided to get rid of as much negativity in my life as possible. Part of that process was letting go of being an admin of a group I had belonged to for several years. I felt like a school marm most days in a group of 8000+, many of whom acted like a room full of 3rd graders. It’s funny how letting go of something so simple can make such a difference. I feel free now. Not that I don’t still belong to Facebook groups, but I am now unburdened by them.

Another step in removing negativity was letting go of my former job and diving headfirst into a new position in a new department. I was at my former job for 4 years, so I made quite a number of friends along the way whom I miss. The job itself, however, was impossible. Now I am actually having fun at work! Who would’ve thought that was possible?

There is one area that I am still working on. I am trying to forgive my ex-spouse. That has proven extraordinarily difficult and downright impossible. Not so much for the emotional roller coaster I was on, but for my kids. I feel for them. They don’t think they have a real dad. It’s sad to me that my eight year old keeps asking me when I am getting him a new dad, a real dad. How do I answer that question?

I am dipping my toe in the dating pool, I guess. For me, it’s a foreign concept and downright frightening. After being married to someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and whom I consider borderline sociopathic, how does one trust herself to choose wisely and not hurriedly jump into another doomed relationship. I wonder if other ex-spouses of people not unlike my ex-husband feel the same way. Scared to put myself out there for fear of getting hurt. Not trusting myself to make wise decisions. How does one who has been traumatized open themselves up for possible further trauma? That is a question for which I do not have an answer. All I can do is pray for God to lead me in the right direction, wherever that may be.

Six Years Ago, This Happened

My baby boy, my last child, turned six years old yesterday. My oh my how time flies. Just a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that there was no trace of baby left. He is all boy. That revelation brought a proud tear to my eye. He has been through some obstacles in his six years of life, but has the most joyous outlook on life. His smile and laughter are infectious. It is truly amazing how much he has grown in six years.

Caleb has always done things his way and in his time. He was my c-section baby because he changed his mind on being born after my water broke and changed positions. When he was born, he cried once and didn’t cry again. The neonatologists were brought in to examine him, but could find nothing wrong. I guess he just had nothing left to cry about.

He wasn’t a very fussy baby, which I thought at the time was a blessing. Then he didn’t hit his growth milestones. He wasn’t crawling by nine months, did not transition to solid food, and could sit for short periods of time if he extended his legs out. I couldn’t remember how old his brother was when he hit his milestones, so I tried not to worry about it and thought that Caleb would catch up. At his one year well-check, his pediatrician was concerned about his delays, so she referred us to the Babynet program and a pediatric neurologist. He was placed on the waiting list to see a developmental pediatrician.

He immediately started receiving early intervention therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. He did well with PT and was discharged at 18 months, as he could walk and run by that point. The speech and OT continued.

He finally saw the developmental pediatrician just after his 2nd birthday. He had a battery of tests before we got the diagnosis, autism. I already knew that he had it, but was devastated nonetheless. Then I set about trying to make sure he had everything he needed to succeed. Mama Bear was born.

He started school at age three and it has been a journey. I am still in Mama Bear mode and I imagine I always will be. Fighting to ensure your child gets the best education and best care is a constant battle.

Now he is six. He is in K5 and loves it. He has friends. He loves everyone indiscriminately. He has broken every stereotype of autism. He is kind, empathetic, smiles all the time, and is such a silly boy. He still does things his way, in his time. He is joyous and a delight to everyone who comes in contact with him. He still does things his way and in his own time. I have come to accept this as just his stubbornness to be himself.

I have no doubt that this kid will go places. I think he can do anything he wants to do in life. He is obsessed with vehicles, so maybe he will design cars when he grows up, which would make his Grandaddy especially happy. Who knows? The sky is the limit for my little peanut. This mommy will be there every step of the way to watch my little ball of fire and energy grow up. I love him more than can be put into words.


This child keeps me on my toes, laughing the whole way.

Oh my little monkey Caleb. He’s a mess and always keeps me laughing. I really should write down all the funny things he says and keep it for when he is older.

For people not familiar with special needs kids and how the school district manages them, there are meetings upon meetings to come up with individualized educational plans (IEPs), and behavioral intervention meetings. I had a meeting with the school not too long ago. The teachers, school psychologist, and principal were there. The kids’ school has a great principal. He knows all the kids by name and always has a smile on his face. During the last meeting, he shared with me a Calebism. Every morning when Caleb sees him, he tells him “Mr. McCray, you have a bald head!” Usually Mr. McCray responds with something like he forgot to put his hair on that morning, etc. He just loves that Caleb says that every day, like it’s news to everyone. But my little guy is observant and honest, sometimes brutally so.

Caleb turns six this weekend. I have a hard time believing that the baby I once held is now a little boy, full of joy, and lots of mischief. Autism has not slowed this kid down. He barrels through life like a freight train. He hugs people like a linebacker. Backstory: Caleb’s occupational therapist is not only working on his fine motor skills, but also helping him know how to react in public. She went grocery shopping with us on Saturday. She made Caleb push the cart the whole time, so he could figure out how the maneuver around people and things. I think he had an extreme hatred for the cart by the time we left the store. I am hoping he’ll stop acting like a whirling dervish in public now. I doubt it, because being quiet is not his personality, but a mom can hope, right?

The other day I reminded him that his birthday is coming up soon. Then he informs me “Mommy, when I am six, I am going to get a job!” He gives the same answer to everyone who asks him. He’s not familiar with child labor laws, so his work will be helping around the house for now. What six year old tells you that he is getting a job on his next birthday? He’s a hoot. His OT and I decided that his first job should be an intragrocery transporter, i.e. push the cart.

His OT has been working with him on his handwriting as well. He’s got great penmanship for a kindergartner. She discovered recently that Caleb loves to write letters and put them in the mailbox. He wrote his grandparents, thanking them for his Christmas presents. He wrote a letter to his school principal, reminding him that he has a bald head. This week, he’s mailing a letter to Spongebob Squarepants. I’m not sure what it’s about, but I am sure I will laugh about it.

Oh this child! He is a gift from God. Obviously, the Man Upstairs knew I need to laugh daily, so he gave me a humorous child. There is no telling what this child will become in the future. I think he will do great things. And we will be laughing all the way.

The loss of innocence

It’s been awhile, too long, since I wrote a blog post. I am in a weird head space of late. I’m feeling nothing but feeling everything, all at the same time. I am mindful that January is my most difficult month. Many of my emotional traumas occurred during this month, and I guess I still have an anniversary syndrome of sorts. At the same time, one of the best things ever happened to me this month, and that was the birth of my second child. He was to be a February baby, a birthday present for my mom, whose birthday is the day before his due date. But he decided to show up early. That’s just how he is. He does things in his own time.

Despite my love for my youngest child, January is still difficult. It’s really the only time I cry over losing my paternal grandfather, even though that was 26 years ago. God help me if I hear “It Is Well With My Soul” during this time. It was his favorite hymn and makes me cry every time I hear it. I know he is in Heaven with my other grandparents, looking down on us, but it’s not the same.

The absolute worst thing that happened in January and what the majority of my friends and family don’t know the details of is that I was sexually assaulted by my then boyfriend in January 1992. He was emotionally and somewhat physically abusive and caused so much damage to my psyche that I ended up being admitted to a psychiatric hospital because of severe depression. I don’t remember every detail, being that it happened when I was 17, but I still remember enough of what happened. I also still get flashbacks when I drive past the street where he lived and when I see someone who looks like him out and about in my hometown. My logical mind says this is all completely ridiculous to still be concerned with so far after the fact, but something important was lost, my innocence.

The power of the loss of innocence cannot be measured. It hardens a person’s heart. I lost the love of my life due to my unwilling heart. I don’t think I ever allowed myself to love someone else fully, though I did come close. I think it was also the beginning of a long line of bad relationships. It didn’t help that my self-esteem was nonexistent for years. I wanted and still want to be loved.

I often feel broken because of my life’s experiences. Having bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder doesn’t help in any way. I was diagnosed with clinical depression after that event. I would go on to have two additional inpatient hospitalizations. I finally got the correct diagnosis at age 34 of Bipolar II Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It was both a relief and shock to receive those diagnoses. The stigma associated with mental illness plus my barely existent self esteem made life pretty difficult. I married a man I never truly loved, but have two beautiful children because of him, who are the joys of my life. He also tore me down, emotionally. The verbal, emotional, and financial abuse was almost as bad as being sexually assaulted. Having the very thing that stigmatizes you then be used against you is immensely hurtful. I stayed because I thought it was the right thing to do, but in reality, I should have left a long time ago.

So here I am, at 41 years of age. I am a mother to the two coolest little boys on the planet. I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish in my career as a RN. We have a lovely house in a lovely neighborhood. Although my youngest has autism, I have never seen a child with such unbridled joy. My 8 year old is very sensitive and shy, as I was when I was a child. I just hope he can avoid the genetics of bipolar.

Something is missing, however. Maybe I will never be loved again. That thought hurts me to the core. I would like my children to experience what it is like to have a great dad, a loving dad, an involved dad. I would hope that my children and I are worthy of that. I can’t say that I don’t have any regrets, because I do have many regrets. I miss my innocence most of all.