It was back in 1997. I was twenty-seven years old. My children were twelve, ten, and eight. I graduated from nursing school in Boston two months earlier (at the top of the class). I passed the Registered Nurse board on the first try, and was now working in a rehabilitation facility.
It was a beautiful day. I dropped the children off to school, then came back home and took a bath, and got myself ready for the day. I was feeling pretty good about myself and decided to write in my journal about all of my thoughts.
At the beginning of the journal entry my handwriting was calm, well-written, clear, and concise. My first thoughts were that I was feeling well and that I wanted to order a new RN pin for my work. That little thought escalated into a tornado of distracted whirlwind thinking that got out of hand. Damn, how could so many responsibilities be put upon one person, at such a young age, (without the ability to share the load)? That one thought turned into I don’t have any money, the mortgage (how are we going to pay the mortgage), my daughter is getting her braces, and my son is having a problem with his teeth, I get paid tomorrow and should be able to do this, I deserve it after all the work that I’ve done, the kids need this and that, my husband needs this or that, the mortgage (how can I manage that), don’t pay Home Depot, all I want is a damn pin, I have to cancel that appointment for my husband, I have an appointment with my son’s guidance counselor, back to the teeth, but the mortgage, need cat food, got to pay the babysitter, make a list, I work all day tomorrow – how can I get this done, I could pay the electric (should I).
My writing became large and barely able to read. With each thought spewing off to the other. I managed by the end of my journal writing to convince myself that I can keep on keeping on, and I just have to do it, and that (though hesitant) I have to talk to my husband about all of my thoughts. “He will HAVE to understand”, I told myself. With that, I convinced myself to just go out and do something for me to enjoy the day. Telling myself that all of my thought processes were good because now I have a greater awareness of what is going on.
It’s hard to imagine that I kept all of these thoughts to myself the majority of the time because I hated to bring up anything to my husband that would cause discord. The elevation in the tone of his voice would ring into my inner being and cause me to have panic within. And of course a level of calmness always had to be maintained so that I could deal with the next moment. My level of trust in my husband to be able to maintain the children’s upbringing was always extremely low and for a sense of security I had to rely on myself, because even to bring up concerns to “my other half” usually caused an elevated anxiety and not a support system, as was needed.
I did not have a therapist while raising the children. My only supports were friends who would listen and SEE the level of anxiety that could be brought about, and my parents who were my true rocks. Otherwise my ability to parent and raise children who would be able to contribute to society and be happy was within the walls of my own capability. These children were truly my LIFESAVERS for their entire childhood. I lived to be the best for THEM. And if that meant figuring things out for myself and moving forward with unknown certainty, I would do it.
I can see how being a young mother to many people can seem like a wrong decision because a level of maturity is not there to one’s own identity. However for me, my identity immediately became into being a wife and a mother at an extremely early age. And with this identity I grew up early and matured much faster than others. But I believe that with my illness of bipolar always being part of my equation, God knew exactly what He was doing. I was able to survive and prosper with all of the LOVE that God had granted me at such a young age. I am NOT a debilitated individual. I am a high functioning individual who happens to have a mental illness. I learned early on how to pick myself up and move on, not only for me but (for those that I love with ALL of my being).