If we truly do want stigma gone, we have to start treating ourselves better. We need to stop seeing ourselves the way stigma says we should. Acceptance and compliance to treatment does not make us weak, it means we see our limitations and that is a part of strength. Compliance to treatment says we are not ashamed. If I want to be treated well, I must first treat myself well. If I want someone to believe in me, I must first believe in myself. If I want someone to understand something, I need to first understand it myself. That is my responsibility.
This is an excerpt from my last post here on Ameena’s blog. I can not tell you that I have always treated myself as well as I do now. I can not even say that I treat myself as well as I should. What I can say is that I have learned on an extremely difficult road that if I don’t treat myself well, no one else will. If I don’t like myself I will change myself for other people. If I change myself for other people, I will never be with people that actually like me. If I am with people that don’t actually like me, how will I know it is ok to like myself? It sounds like a trap and it is. We trap ourselves, every time we accept less, we trap ourselves.
It is hard to step back and look at the trap we are in. No one around us sees us any better than the way we treat ourselves and so, when looking to our fellows for reassurance, which is normal by the way, we get none.
The thing is, we know. We know we are capable, yet we doubt ourselves when we look for reassurance from others and it is not there. In my life I have allowed myself to feel so low about myself and my life that I was spending my time just waiting to die.
Shortly after I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder in 2001 my life changed and I crashed. My husband at the time had been complaining quite a bit about the behavior of my son, who had also been recently diagnosed. My husband was also looking at me differently. He suddenly decided I wasn’t good at paying the bills, although I hadn’t had any problems doing so. He became quite controlling as though I were a child and everything I wanted to do became something he doubted I could do. Driving the hour to Boston, especially at night. Everything became something I should doubt that I could do and I did doubt myself. As I failed and the behavior of my son got worse, my husband and I argued all the time, me constantly defending my son. Everything just seemed to fall apart and the stress level was at a dangerous point.
I went to my son’s therapist and with her sitting with me, I called the Department of Social Services and reported myself. My claim was that I was afraid I was going to hurt my son. When I met with the woman at DSS, she asked me if I wanted her to open a case and I told her I did. I went through investigation and my claim was unfounded. However, this did get some help to come out to my house. I was then deferred to an organization called MSPCC. A woman was sent to my house to sit with me and help me to get respite services for my son.
Before I go on, I want to say that I do not believe any of this situation was directly caused by my son’s behavior. I believe more that his behavior was worsened to a great degree by the stress in the house.
Receiving help took time and I didn’t have time. I was falling into a deep depression, the stress from not understanding why my husband was treating my son and I this way and the final acceptance of my illness. I sent my son to live with his grandmother out of desperation and for a couple of weeks the stress level dropped. My husband was happy, but I was devastated and it was heartbreaking to hear my younger son, then four, ask why his brother had to go.
I remember I would always count the plates when I took them out of the cabinet for dinner. Always counting to four. Now, every night when I counted the plates there were only three. Every time I counted the plates I fell deeper into depression. I began sleeping fourteen hours a day. I remember my doctor telling me that as long as I wasn’t sleeping 16 hours a day I was fine. I knew he was not using that as a literal number, but I didn’t care. As long as I could say I slept under 16 hours, I didn’t say anything at all. I didn’t want to be awake. Having my son not living with me made waking up in the morning pointless.
The further I fell, the more my husband doubted me as a capable person. The more he doubted me, the further I fell. This was tragedy waiting to happen. My husband’s stress level went up. With the control, he was saddled with responsibility. I began to resent him and he certainly resented me.
Two summers later we bought a house and moved in on July 1st of 2003. I had started to come out of my depression. My doctor had prescribed Ritalin for ADHD and it helped me immensely as far as concentration and organization. My husband had started his own company and I immersed myself in being a housewife. Our life was quiet, just us and our young son. I was feeling relatively fine, except for arguments with my husband over my going to visit my older son. I was taking Concerta, long lasting Ritalin and Ritalin in addition to other meds. I was directed to take both during the day, but it was enough that I could take it during the day and night. I put everything I had into the house and that meant being awake for a lot more hours. Every couple of months I would crash for about a week and start over again, but the house was clean.
During this time, I felt as though I lived alone with my son. As long as my husband had nothing to complain about, he pretty much left me alone. I liked it that way. Life went on this way for a year and a few months and then, life changed.
The above story was submitted by Trae (Tripleclicka.com ) who will be back in two weeks with a continuation of how she dealt with living with bipolar, having a son with bipolar, the stigma surrounding it and basically life as she knows it. IMAGE CREDIT: HealthyPlace.com
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