TW : This post contains themes of suicide, self-harm, and a feeling of hopelessness. Please don’t read if it trigger
I used to wake in the morning entirely unsure if I would make it through the day.
My eyes would, of course, open, but it was rare that I really saw anything. I was in a trance, and the best I could hope for was for one more breath. The chance to rise from my sleep just one more time. I remember I’d wonder if I’d ever want to live. I’d wonder if I’d ever have a happy future. It felt like I was a ticking time bomb as my path led me to suicide, my inevitable end. It’s estimated that between 25 and 60% of people with Bipolar Disorder will attempt suicide and between 4 and 19% will complete suicide. (You can learn more about Bipolar Disorder at my blog post – Bipolar Myths Uncovered) Daunting statistics that I felt no hope against.
Day after day, I barely existed. Quickly gaining weight, and functioning with zero motivation. Attempting to cope, I had turned to cutting. I felt better. Relieved almost. As I would watch the fiercly bright red blood drip slowly on to the floor, my head felt peace. I’d sigh. It didn’t take long before I was cutting all the time. Things were tough with the kids, I felt so invisible, and this one outlet made me feel. It brought me out of the constant numbness and gave me a fierce and fiery sensation as I took over control. It still makes me so sad when I see my arm. It clearly makes other uncomfortable as well. I’m often left wondering if I should just tattoo “trigger warning” on my face. Everything felt too hard. It felt too heavy. It wasn’t a matter of “when it rains, it pours”, this was extreme, constant downpours. Existing in this state is so hard. You’re basically just fighting to survive. Every single moment of every single day.
Let’s add, existing in a space where the expectation is for you to function how society perceives a mother to function. I could barely take care of myself. I wish I could tell you that this is what saved me. I wish I could say that my love for my children was so strong and that’s what carried me through all this. I think there’s a lot of stigma around moms with a mental illness.
Questions I’ve been asked:
Have you tried cardio?
But why? Don’t you love your children?
What would your children think?
Do you want your children to grow up without a mother?
And, the list goes on and on. Let me tell you how it made me feel.
My own life has zero value and my purpose is simply to exist and ensure the quality of life for my children.
And, maybe, for some moms, their children DO help them, and that is awesome. But, for me, it makes me feel very stressed, and like my only purpose in life is being a mom. It leaves me feeling hopeless. And then I feel inadequate. It’s a vicsious circle. For me, thinking of my children reminds me of responsibility and triggers this circle.
Life with bipolar disorder can be unpredictable and leaves me with many emotions that take time to understand. it’s hard. Life was feeling very out-of-control. I was cutting more and more, and I was living in constant pain.
Fast forward, and now I’m quite okay. I’m stable, and learning to identify and cope through triggers. I don’t feel encompassed in rage, and I can hold a conversation and even care about it, with my children. I’m softer, more affectionate, and I feel like I have space for my kids, finally. It’s been 4 years of trying medications in hopes of stability. Throgh 7 anti-psychotics, many at the same time, numbness was taken to a whole new level. I am now on one for sleep, and during the day I smoke weed. I also take an SSRI for anxiety. For the dirst time in 4 years, I am doing me. Everyday I get dressed, I go walking, I write, and read, and I think that has been really healing. Making space for me.
Also, I became a dog mom.
In the eye of the storm of yet another manic episode, I went and got Rooster (my dog). I quickly started learning how to be a dog mom.
Here’s a few things I’ve noticed:
I want to wake up.
I laugh a lot.
I feel loved and needed.
I feel proud.
And, these moments have carried me through some intensely dark fog. Every single day I wake up and I have the privelege of taking care of Rooster. He has taught me patience and calmth (or calmness maybe? Whichever word is right, ) during the active puppy storm. I’m not cured. I still struggle. The difference is that I WANT to live. Rooster gets me active and outside. I’ve slowly been connecting with other dog owners in my community, and I feel like I belong. It’s not that Rooster is so well-behaved and brings no stress. In fact, I often joke that I’m accidently raising him like my third – my wild child. Free-spirited, bold, and unafraid. Rooster has brought challenges, but it’s the exact challenge I need, every single day. Every single day Rooster is exactly what I need.
I’m a work at home mama, so Rooster and I spend all our time together. And no, I don’t need anyone’s opinion on this. I’m thriving, happy and excited. My dog will always be surrounded with intense love, compassion and care. I work at home, so he gets anything he needs/wants immediately. I owe him my life, so I do absolutely everything I can. He is showered with snuggles, cuddles, games, walks, and I’ve made it my mission to be my best. To do my best. To live every day as best as I can, because Rooster deserves it. He deserves everything. He taught me love, and helped me make space for it, and that overpowers all his shenanigans. And believe me, there are many.
Anytime he goes downstairs, you can assume he will pee in at least 1 location. However, seems as his new trick is peeing and walking at the same time, follow the trail.
If something falls on the floor – consider it eaten.
He seems to believe that the cat, Simba, is his squeeky toy.
He’s a bed hog. Yes he sleeps in my bed.
He loves to sing at anyone having a bath, and by sing I mean bark.
And, that’s just a few of his quirks. I’ve quickly learned that similar to parenting, and raising a child, everyone knows how to do it, and they all want to share their opinion.
Here’s what I know:
Rooster won’t know fancy dog training words like heel or stay. Well I hope he learns stay. But, you know the fancy dog lingo? We are definitely not doing that.
He will know fierce, and unconditional love.
As for the rules like who goes through the door first, or should he be allowed on my couch, that’s not something I’m interested in enforcing or adapting.
Rooster lays on the couch. He lays wherever he wants. He sleeps in my bed, and he never leaves my side. He has brought me so many laughs and makes me smile all the time. I love him so darn much that I’m literally crying while writing this. Becoming a dog mom has changed me. When I used to picture myself with a dog, I pictured a very pretty, polite and poised dog. Rooster is floppy, clumsy, and in line with his new passion of jumping in puddles, he’s really quite filthy. He’s nothing what I pictured, and everything I needed.
Do you have a pet and have you found life is just… better.. with your pet?