I Was Broken

Remember when I wrote this?

I have been overwhelmed by my life lately. I’m not sure if it’s PPD lingering or if it’s overcommitment or a combination, but I am struggling with my new role as a full-time work-at-home-mom of two.

Struggling is the tip of the iceberg, to tell you the truth.

I feel like a fraud.

I confessed that I feel like I’m drowning in commitments, that I’m struggling with time management, that I’m falling apart.bipolar mom

That’s what I said, right?

It’s what I meant to say.

I am falling apart.

Or I was.

I’m not any more.

For some time, I’ve been pretending to have PPD.

No, pretending is the wrong word. Pretending would imply some conscious thought, careful planning.

I haven’t been pretending. I have been assuming. I’ve been blaming everything – the irrational anger, the irritability, the fits of hysterical crying, the feeling that I’m drowning, the overwhelming worry about money – on PPD.

PPD, postpartum depression, is simple. It’s expected. It’s not nice, but it’s neat, manageable. People recover from PPD, get over it, get better. There are entire networks of people, kind, thoughtful, normal people, who have experienced PPD and survived and recovered. Become normal again.

Recovered.

Normal.

For the last few months, I have been a tower of cards, teetering, one gentle breeze away from crashing to the ground.

The breeze came. It came on my birthday, when I couldn’t get out of bed and wanted to kill myself more than anything.

It came one morning last week, when I found a dead hermit crab I’d worked so hard to save.

It came another morning when I put Allie down and she screamed in frustrated protest and then got poop everywhere as I took off a dirty diaper.

The breeze. Something that had happened many times before without incident, without damage.

A gentle, non-threatening breeze toppled my tower and left me broken, unable even to survey the damage or get up to gather the pieces.

This is not postpartum depression.

I sought help. First my doctor, then a Crisis Center, then a Behavioral Health Center (which really is a euphamism for psychiatric facility).

Now I know. This is bipolar disorder.

This is not something from which I’ll recover  or get over or move past. This will not go away, but it can be managed.

This is not me. This is not my personality. This is an illness.

This no more defines me than my struggle with weight or headaches or narcolepsy. It is a medical issue, needing to be managed.

I am getting better. I am rebuilding my tower one fragile piece at a time. I’m taking a new medication. I’m attending a partial hospitalization program.

I’m learning.

 Photo source

© 2011 – 2012, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh huge, enormous hugs, My Friend. You are walking a tough road, and I’m so grateful you are now not walking it alone.

    You are right – it is an illness. Don’t let anyone ever let you believe otherwise.

    Continuing to lift you and your family up in prayer -

    -Lauren

    • says

      Thank you, Lauren. I learned today (in therapy) that bipolar disorder responds poorly to therapy. Ironic, isn’t it? I’m glad I’m there because I’m learning tools to manage stress (and, as you well know, being a homeschooling work-at-home-mom is inherently stressful) and to deal better with the illness itself. At any rate, my therapist told me that research has shown time and again that the only effective treatment for bipolar disorder is medicine. Because it’s a chemical and wiring issue. It’s not just a mood. That made it a wee bit easier to handle. But really, just a wee bit. ;)

    • says

      I think God uses this blog to help people, so I hope this post helps someone out there going through the same thing. That’s what made me schedule it for publication in the first place.
      I wrote it last Friday and just yesterday scheduled it to publish. This evening, while talking to you about watermelon jam, I came in to un-schedule it. It had published one minute earlier. I guess I was supposed to publish it? But I had certainly lost all my nerve by now.

  2. says

    Thinking of you and wishing you the best. That diagnosis must have been staggering, but I am so glad you are getting help — however you need it.

  3. says

    Oh Tara, so glad you know what it is now and can help manage it. I think you are so strong for telling your story and think about all of the other people that you will touch and help. I’m thinking of you. XOXO

  4. says

    It sucks. But now that you know definitively what IT is, it can suck a whole lot less. Bipolar runs rampant in my family and like many other diseases it can be managed well. The big issue is the stigma and already you are facing that head on , I am proud of you. You can rebuild that stack of cards with solid bricks, you can do this!

  5. says

    thanks for sharing this – for being bold, honest and open. for showing everyone that it’s ok to admit it’s NOT ok. for getting help. for sharing your story to empower someone else to get help who might otherwise have been too intimidated to.

    thank you – and keep on keeping on.

  6. Cindy says

    Tara, I love you! I just plain old do. I know you’re going to figure this thing out and nothing’s gonna beat you for good. Not broken. Just a little cracked. ;0) Hey, you know, that would be an awesome tagline. I think I’ll use it for a while.

  7. Lisa@BlessedwithGrace says

    Oh Tara, I am so glad you found the answer you have been struggling to find. I am so sad to read how hard things have been and how derp in despair you have felt.
    You are strong and brave- do you know how I know this? Because you just wrote this post and shared with us about your new diagnoses. Thank you for sharing with us.
    I am praying for you, my friend, just as I would pray for any other friend struggling with a chronic illness and thanking God there is medication to help and great people to offer support.
    You are loved!

  8. says

    {hugs} but ya know what? Now ya know. And knowing is so much better than pretending to know and have it together. I commend you for taking the steps you needed!

    Do you follow Casey at Moosh in Indy? (http://mooshinindy.com/index.php) she has bi-polar and she just had a baby. She expresses herself in a beautiful way – and I believe it’s exactly the same place you come from – one of willingness and of finding beauty anyway and admitting whens he just can’t.

        • says

          I am going to do that. I love her style and her writing. I remember her story about trying to commit suicide and ending up in the psych ward (and actually thought about her story many times during my own pregnancy, when I was feeling suicidal, but I didn’t connect that with what I’m going through. I am definitely going back to read some of her older stuff. Thanks again.

  9. says

    I hope you don’t mind but my cousin’s wife shared this blog post with me as I have Bipolar I and I in turn shared it with some fellow members of this “club”. If you ever need support or more education on the subject don’t be afraid to ask. I, and my fellow Bipolar “suffering” friends can be found on Facebook at “Ask A Bipolar”. There is a community organization page and a group page. The group page is a “support group” which is secret so that no one can find out what you post there and you can let your frustrations, struggles and triumphs out in that environment. If you would like to be invited to the secret support group just give a shout out on the community organization page or contact the founder, Marybeth though our website: askabipolar.com. I found Ask a Bipolar last year when I was first diagnosed and that site and the support everyone offers has saved me from going back into the hospital. I’m now a writer for the site. Another great site is bringchange2mind.org. This website and the Ask a Bipolar one are all about getting rid of the stigma this illness holds. Good luck and take care! We’re here for support if you need it. :)

  10. says

    I think you are just about the bravest, coolest woman I know- and I am in awe of your ability to expose such intimate details about your life. And in doing so- you are proof that there is life after this kind of diagnosis and that it can happen to anyone. I Loved you before you posted about this- but now I just love you all that much more.

  11. says

    Tara, I’m so glad that this did post before you could un-schedule it. It has to be scary to put yourself out there while you are in the midst of it. I have posted before about my struggles with depression and anxiety, but I’ve been doing ‘this’…this fighting it…for over 20 years. You are in my prayers, and if you ever want to talk, I’m all ears!! I can certainly relate some of what you are going through. Hang in there, and if meds are what you need to take for the rest of your life to make you YOURSELF, then so what?? We wouldn’t expect a diabetic to handle insulin without meds, so we also shouldn’t expect someone with a chemical imbalance to handle their illness without help. The more people who are brave like you and speak out, the less stigma mental illnesses will have. Bless you again for sharing!!

    • says

      I completely agree, Christi. If I need meds to manage this, then I’ll take them. The thing that has bothered me the most (aside from the suicidal thoughts) is that I’m not myself. I’m not patient and kind to others. I’m angry. I don’t want to live my life like that.

      Your analogy is a great one. We certainly would not expect a diabetic to go without insulin. Medical technology heals us. Even though this can’t be healed for good, it can be managed through the miracle of medicine, and I’m going to do whatever it takes.

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

  12. says

    I just love you! You are a beautiful and amazing person.

    I have tears in my eyes after reading this because I feel like this sometimes and I always mean to do something about it. What a huge step you have taken in actually doing something about it. I am proud of you and a little jealous. :)

    • says

      Stacie, those feelings are entirely mutual. You are also a beautiful and amazing person. If you feel like this, you must go find yourself some help. Go to a Crisis Center. Go to your family doctor. Go to the ER. Ask people you know for a recommendation. Just get help. It will be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself, I promise.

      No one should have to feel like this, ever.

  13. says

    Oh Tara, I didn’t realize. Thank you for being so open to share this. I know you will be helping others in your same situation and I am so glad that you didn’t just end it all and that you are getting help. Please let me know if I can do anything to help, in the meantime I’m praying for you and your family!

  14. says

    Tara-
    Big hugs to you. You’re so brave for sharing your story with us. I’m sure just sharing it helps though. Remember that you CAN do this. You now know what’s been happening with you and that’s the first part (a big part) of the battle.

  15. says

    I am so glad that you reached out, got help. So glad. You are an amazing woman and I hope you will allow your friends and readers to hold you up as you soldier through all of this. xo

  16. says

    I am so glad you have gotten help. It’s a step. A huge step to feeling like yourself again. I am so sorry that the recent months have been so difficult. You are an incredible person, a true friend, and a loving mother. You can beat this. Hugs!

  17. says

    Oh Tara- You are so brave. I come from a family with a long history of mental illnesses. That illness tries to trick you and suck you in and tell you there is no help. You are so strong to have sought help and taken steps to be better.
    I will be praying for your continued strength and that you feel all the love and support that is surrounding you!

  18. says

    Bless you for getting help! My mother was dx w BPD II a few yrs ago. It’s been quite a process and I am not the one that had to go through all medical part. Big Big Big Hugs to your bravery and honesty. I am an email away if you are in need of people who understand this .

    Farah

  19. Becca H says

    Oh Tara… you have me sobbing like a baby. My “breeze” is blowing… as I type these very words. All day, I’ve felt like you did on your birthday. Your courage to get help is amazing. Right now, I just don’t think I’m worth the trouble.
    I’m praying for us both. <3

    • says

      Oh my goodness. YOU ARE WORTH THE TROUBLE. Getting better is so much easier than living in the turmoil, I promise. You can do it. I can’t tell you how much better I feel already, after just 6 days in the program.

      If you struggling, call 9-1-1. Go to the ER. Find a Crisis Center. You will be glad you did.

  20. says

    Oh Tara I had no idea. I am so proud of you for realizing something was just not right and taking the steps to seek help. That takes an incredibly strong person to do that and not just “deal” or live in denial. You are in my thoughts and prayers and we are all rooting for you hun.

  21. says

    After going through my own struggle over the past year with depression, I can only imagine the relief you feel with knowing what is happening. The uncertainty – especially when things are “supposed” to be getting better – is the worst. So glad you sought help – and I hope you feel like you again very very soon. :)

  22. says

    Sharing something like this takes a tremendous amount of courage. I think that because you were able to reach out, get help, and open yourself up to the world, you will in turn help others to do the same. Keeping you in my thoughts…

  23. says

    You are a very brave person. Reaching out for help is the best plan of action. For me, it was asking the pediatrician for a referral to a counselor. I was at my wit’s end. One carefully worded and barely audible request was just one step in the direction of getting my life and my family under control. 13 years later, I’m still working on getting life under control. Meds help. Counseling helps. Take care of yourself.

  24. Lara DiPaola says

    The first step is often a fall. How we pick ourselves up and put the next foot forward is the measure of our strength. You are NOT broken, us embarking on a deviation in your path. You are stronger than you know. You are more loved and supported than you can imagine. You need not “recover” but will overcome. I am here for you.

  25. says

    I feel for you, Tara. You’re talking to the girl who insists on going on anti-depressants before the babies are even born because PPD scares me so much. It’s hard to admit that I have plain old Depression, not the postpartum kind but the hide-in-bed, under-a-rock, take-these-children-away kind that I battle quite frequently.

    It’s so hard to admit that we have problems … but for the listener it helps to know that others are in the same boat.

    Take care of yourself and do what you need to do. Love you.

    Jessie

    • says

      I could use some help with childcare, if you think she really seriously wants to. I have been relying on just one friend and my in-laws, but this isn’t a week-long process. I feel like I’m taking advantage of their kindness.

  26. says

    Oh Tara. I’m so glad you sought and found help for yourself. It’s not an easy step to seek help.

    I’m thinking of you and wishing I could help in some way, but hopefully it’s enough to know that we’re all here surrounding you in light and love.

  27. says

    Oh, Tara…I am so thankful you’ve uncovered what’s a war with your mind and heart! Once you KNOW what you’re dealing with, you can treat it! It’s SO hard to be honest with yourself; of course we all want to travel the path that’s easiest to digest or explain to others.

    I know your words here and experience will benefit others; and I can’t help but think of it this way, a way I’ve heard several people express their cancer diagnosis: “I have bi-polar disease but it doesn’t have me.”

    By naming it, you’ve assumed control.

    Much love (and tons of prayer) from me to you :).

    xo

  28. Debbie says

    Bless you! Praying for you and all those with mental health issues. Thank you for not being silent. Love & Prayers!

  29. says

    Proud of you. It takes a lot of courage to face what’s going on inside and be willing to go and figure out what it is and what to do about it. It’s so much easier to ignore it and keep going. Now you know — you have a name and information and a way forward.

    Also, you’re not the first person to have a baby and think they have PPD when they have bipolar disorder, so please don’t feel bad. It happens fairly regularly, believe it or not.

  30. says

    As part of my PPD, it came out that I am most likey bipolar II. I did a treatment called TMS. It has helped greatly, but I am still learning to sort it all out. Thank you for a beautiful post and your wonderful comments to people who are commenting.

  31. Shannon says

    I. love. you. I love your honesty. I love your vulnerability. I love your ability to get help for yourself. I played the “it’s just PPD game” for far too long as you know and I’m glad you are breaking the cycle and doing what you need to do to take care of your beautiful, courageous self. I love you. I am here….. any time.

  32. says

    What an amazing post. I just adore how honest you are, just as much as I adore you. So glad you are seeking help and medication. SO so glad you are recognizing that there is help in this area.

    You’re inspiring, Tara.

    Also, reading through the comments, the person who offered her mother for help with childcare sounds like a wonderful friend. And it was even more impressive that you said “yes. I need help.” Asking for help is so often the hardest part.

    Hugs. Love.

    • says

      You are right about that.

      Asking for help with this was incredibly hard. And you know what? I didn’t really know who to ask or how to get help with this. Isn’t that sad? (I don’t mean sad in a I’m so pathetic way, but sad in a why don’t people know more about this way.) I think I would have gotten help sooner (maybe much sooner) if I had known where to go. Now I do, so if I ever find myself in this situation again, I’ll call the Crisis Center. It’s good to know.

  33. Donna Schumann says

    Hi, I’m Vanderbilt Wife’s mom. We met at the Harrisburg Mall. I would be more than happy to help with childcare. I’m sure Jessie has told you that I am a very frustrated long-distance nana. I would love to have some little ones to love on. I am currently in Memphis and have company coming this weekend but send me an email and I will give you my phone number and we can work something out.

    • says

      We surely did. You are wonderful to offer, Donna, and I may well take you up on your offer! I hadn’t asked up til now because I didn’t want to impose, but we would love to spend time with you (babysitting or not, honestly). I’m going to email you my phone number, too. You are welcome to love on my girls any time. :)

  34. says

    Lots and lots of hugs! I know it’s hard to dig deep and write about stuff. I just wrote my 1st honest post about being a mom in all of my 4 years of blogging because I figured if I was going to talk about a balanced life, I ought to be talking about being a mom. However, a longtime reader and friend just didn’t get the post and where I was coming from. I’ll keep writing however, and I hope you do, too. My hope is that by putting my struggles out there that I may help another mom, that I have gone through what I’ve gone through so I can help the next person.

  35. Jessica @FoundtheMarbles says

    Beautifully said, my friend. So glad to know that you are on the path to recovery and getting the care you deserve.

  36. says

    Tara,
    As someone who suffers from manic depression, and has survived PPD twice, I can tell you that I’ve been down that road, sometimes go back down that road, and you are not alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!!! Please know that there are friends, like me, who are here fro you. You will come out the other side feeling like an all new you, and what could be better right? You’re awesome, you should know that! Take care of yourself, and remember most of all to forgive yourself, for you did not make this happen. <3

    • says

      I had no idea, Candice. I have been thinking that I couldn’t possibly know anyone with this who’s managing it successfully. I have been really worried about that, actually. I’m so thankful that you (and several others) have reached out to say that you are in the same boat, and that you’re doing just fine. You are awesome, and you’ve given me so much hope.

  37. anonymous bipolar girl says

    I found this post on Twitter. This is very brave and the realization that so many of us come to is not an easy one. I was finally diagnosed in November after years of back and forth, of inexplicable mood shifts, of a whole lifetime wondering why nothing ever stuck, why I always felt …wrong. You have a long road ahead of you — It took me some time to find the right medication, and I finally found it and have been relatively stable for over six months now. That drug is lithium, and one I was terrified of at first b/c it has such a terrible reputation, but it’s truly incredible, inexpensive, and much less intense than some of the other drugs out there like Abilify.

    Anyway, the most important thing for you is to get into a routine and get a lot of sleep. My psychiatrist always tells me I need at least 8-9. Lack of sleep and big changes are what push most people into hypomania or depression. Good luck, and thanks for writing this!

  38. Nikki O says

    You are wonderful. To take the steps to find your diagnosis must have been difficult, to receive and accept your diagnosis must have been difficult, and still be hard at times. But to do those things, you have enhanced your life and your family’s life. You are wonderful!

  39. Debbie says

    I am new to this site and so far, I am loving it! I must say how very brave you are for admitting you are struggling with an illness!!! It shows great strength. Thoughts and prayers are being sent your way as you learn to deal with things and as you care for your sweet children!

  40. says

    Tara, your words speak volumes for what you’ve been going through and for others who live with Bipolar. I commend you for getting help and sharing your story. You have my support and I know there are others who will be there for you too. Yes, Bipolar is an illness and only medication can help, but going to the program will do wonders for you too. I wish you the best.

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