Surviving The Stigma of Mental Illness, Suicide, and Fighting to Be a Mom Again

Day 235:

Why has it taken me almost three months to write again?
I can barely believe I am still alive.

I wrote goodbye letters to everyone I loved. I began making financial plans to not leave lose ends, pay for my daughter’s college, and my funeral. I did not yet know how I’d end my life, but I was coldly resigned to do it. I lost the fear of death. I just wanted the peace. To some degree, I still long for it…

I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want to hear anyone tell me things would get better, this too will pass, or that there was so much to live for. Things move too quickly inside of my mind. Images. Words. Letters. Memories. Sounds. Even little things like a passing butterfly or the honk of a horn can rattle around in there for days…incessantly in loop…driving me mad while I look normal on the outside.

I feel like biting my nails, curling up into a balls, naked in the tub, under a hot shower…and laughing at my own insanity….crying out of helplessness….praying for a miracle…

Am I bipolar as well? I don’t know…

The last months I have been in and out of court trying to fight for custody of my daughter – the only reason I’m still alive today.

It’s been so hard without her this past year. My family has seen me struggling, but no one truly has any idea how bad it is. No one…and I can’t show it because my family sees mental illness the way that the Spanish conquistadors saw the Native Americans, in ignorance and fear. They “love” me by telling me I can’t see my daughter until I medicate, can’t take her alone to the park, and accuse me of things I would never do to anyone, let alone my own daughter – an innocent child.

Why does having a mental illness make me dangerous? I ask in deep pain and real wonder because I truly want to know. Why? Am I unfit because my mind is in turmoil? Does my child not get bathed, fed, nurtured, loved, and raised well? I feed her GMO Free food, don’t let her watch more than 2 hours of tv a day, limit access to Disney, give her an exercise game a day, help her with homework, let her have her own opinions, encourage her creativity, read to her, hug and kiss her, and make sure she’s always safe.

I suffered in silence. I suppose I still do. When I felt overwhelmed, I went to the bathroom and if it got really bad inside my head, I used to call my aunt and mother for help. They’d take care of her while I tried to slow down my mind. I was responsible. So….why did they take her? Why’d they betray me when I always asked for help and didn’t let my child see me suffer?

Two words: stigma and fear.

My aunt said so many things about me, in court, that were untrue. I know I have to forgive her ignorance and love her, but how? I’m trying so hard. She has my child. She’s singlehandedly led me to suicide because of her fear of ADHD-PTSD-Bipolar disorders and the stigmas society carries for each.

I’m diagnosed ADHD PTSD, but not Bipolar. Though sometimes…I wonder if I am. Still, that didn’t stop her from telling the courts I am Bipolar, unfit to mother, let my child watch inappropriate things on tv, listen to inappropriate songs, and don’t protect her. It’s insane to me because I actually filter so much. I won’t even let my daughter listen to Katy Perry, Enrique Iglesias, or any songs not written to build up her self esteem. Why would my aunt lie so blatantly? It hurt me so badly….

I reached a point where I could no longer defend myself. I gave up. I couldn’t live with the idea that my own family felt I didn’t deserve to raise my daughter because I was this immoral monster. I prided myself in the values I instilled in my daughter, the love I gave her, the educational and emotional guidance I offered her, the protection and support I wanted her to carry into adulthood. Yet, by the sound of my own family’s testimonies – I was no better than a Jerry Springer guest.

My emotions overwhelmed me until I was finally dull. I felt no more. I felt like a black hole of empty life. Meaningless. Lost. Alone. Hopeless. It was just the memory of my daughter’s smile which held me from a thin string on the day I planned to die.

I remembered her eyes, her long lashes, how she used to call me “mommy,” how she learned to walk…how she might need a mom one day when she got older.

Feeling came back to my heart.
And so I got up! I took a shower and told myself to snap out of it! Wake up! Walk! Fight damn it! FEEL!!!!!!!

It took weeks, but I finally started talking. My body was still on strike in the menstrual cycle that lasted four months, but I pushed on.
I looked for Obama Care so I could get help and medication.
I moved to to a new place, looking to change the energy around me.
I threw out my bed, where I was sure my demons cuddled me at night.
I quit my job.
I took a risk and opened up my own business.
I began rebuilding in spite of the noise in my head.
I started doing groceries again, and not eating out anymore.
I didn’t let my aunt’s or my mom’s opinions define me.
I asked for information.
I looked at every youtube video of people like me.
I told one person.
I was honest about the torments I was undergoing in my mind.
I cried. I slept. I breathed deeply.
Then, I went to court and filed an Emergency Motion to get my daughter back, I got organized, and I sat with my family and just agreed to all their demands.

It was no longer about whether they understood my illness, knew who I was as a person or a mother, or approved of me. I didn’t need to be right or in control. I just needed to raise my child. So I agreed to everything, in spite of knowing I was allowing their stigmas to lead my life.

Some day….I hope they learn what I finally learned, I can live a full and loving life in spite of the noise inside my head. I can even be a good mom.

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