For Him

Some days, I just tire of taking medications. I tire to my core.

Other days, I think I can manage my dosages, maybe skip a dose here or there, or just go raw.

Of course, not taking my cocktail of medications has drastic repercussions. And I have witnessed some of these repercussions in myself and in others.

One person whom I witnessed living with an untreated severe mental illness and who left massive repercussions in her wake was my mother. A woman who lived in paranoia, a manufactured reality, obsessive behaviors, narcissism, and mood swings, my childhood with my mother in her untreated state was Hell. She could not mother and she  was abusive. Her behavior was erratic and unpredictable. There was no trust, no connection, and a bond was never established.

I remember the confusion when she would report back lies about my behavior to my father (he also was untreated, but that is another story for another time). She was so certain in her reporting of falsehoods that doomed me to punishments. Now, I see it was part of her skewed mental chemistry left to its own devices. Also, she wouldn’t provide for me the basics, such as clothing, so my grandmother would buy me clothes for school or dresses for me to wear to church. I will never know her reasons, but she would either give away the clothing or take them to consignment stores for money. I was not allowed to keep to the clothing. Nothing was permanent- anything could be taken away. Add in her issues with Munchausen by Proxy, and my childhood became a shell. I counted down the years until I was eighteen.

Now, I am here nearing forty and I am a mother. A mother of an eighteen month old boy. An innocent little being who relies on me, trusts me, and is fully bonded with me. So, while I tire intensely from my medication cocktail; I push forward, not just for me, but for him as well. While I sometimes think I could alter my medications to gain a little more energy or handle things “better”; I don’t, for myself, and for him as well. I can be a true mother living with my illnesses, but I have to learn from the lessons I have witnessed.

So, for him I take care of me.

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Stepping Out in Faith

It has been one month since I transitioned from college professor to stay-at-home mother. This decision was the best decision I could absolutely make for my son and I’s well-being.

I have always been one who drives myself hard. I vividly remember the summer before my sophomore year of high school and attending the Kansas State Student Council Conference. The speaker was discussing motivation. He stated we should always strive for “harder, faster, higher, stronger.” I took that in to my core. I actually took it in to my detriment.

What many don’t know is that for me to finally admit to myself that my psychiatric illness has progressed to a point I can no longer balance my academic career with parenthood is a monumental achievement for me. To finally put the mantras of doing just a little more aside, is an achievement my psychiatric health providers thought they would never see.

There is also another aspect to this astounding achievement. I finally began to quiet the childhood messages I had been harboring for thirty years. Throughout my childhood, I was told how I was lazy or wouldn’t be able to work for a living due to my laziness. The repeated messages drove me to destruction. I would often work two or more jobs, teach overloaded semesters, or even drive ninety miles one way to work at a particular university just to prove to the universe that I was not lazy.

But, I finally said no to this self-sabotage. My illnesses were rapidly progressing, my cognitive decline was gaining momentum, and the most precious soul in front of me was growing faster every day. My doctor stated she respected me, but that my work ethic was my detriment and was hastening my demise.  And truly, at the end of the day, I had to ask who I was trying to prove my worth to… myself or the messages?

So, I stepped out in faith.

I now spend my days with my amazing child. I am also able to set up a routine for myself, which is so important for anyone with a schizophrenic disorder. There is not a lot of money rolling in; but, there never really was when I was teaching. Sometimes, the rewards of faith carry value that cannot be counted by dollar bills.