Editor’s note: This is a guest post from a woman I know, who needed to write and needed to do so without attaching her name to it. She asked me if I’d publish it. While the journalist in me says “no anonymous sources,” this is different. This is her story. And it’s scary and brave and all sorts of other things, and it might resonate with some of you. I know she isn’t alone. So I decided yes, her story should live somewhere and why not here with all of you? I decided maybe it might help someone else. Maybe someone else might help her. So here it is.
The house is quiet, as everyone sleeps soundly.
Everyone but me.
Sleep eludes me, as it does every night. My mind just won’t stop thinking.
I feel the anxiety in my chest, tightening its grip with every minute that passes.
Part of my story is this: I was diagnosed years ago with mood disorder NOS (not otherwise specified). Before treatment, I experienced periods of depression and periods of great enthusiasm and energy.
But always sleep eluded me.
Thankfully, now, I feel almost “normal” with antidepressants, a mood stabilizer, anti-anxiety pills and sleep medication. It’s a cocktail I take every day.
Because it works. Because it allows me to live my life.
But as I lay awake this night, every night, the feelings of intense guilt invade my thoughts.
It’s my fault, you see, what’s happening to my daughter.
I believe I have passed on my mood disorder to her, to my 10-year-old baby girl.
My love for her is indescribable. That’s a given, right? A guarantee.
But recently her extreme moods have escalated to the point that I am 99 percent sure she has early onset bipolar disorder.
One side of my beautiful daughter is sweet, extremely intelligent, caring, funny, talented. Loving.
But on the other side of my amazing little girl, her moods are explosive. They change without warning.
One day last week, she became agitated because a tiny speck of carbon from the water filter made its way into her drinking glass.
She came unglued.
A horrible, unspeakable rage erupted from this little girl like you wouldn’t believe. The screaming was piercing and never-ending.
It was MY fault, she said, that the speck of carbon ruined her drinking water.
The water glass, of course, was thrown across the kitchen.
I tried my very best to calm her down – I just want so badly for her to find peace.
But it continued.
She tried to tear the blinds from the window. She raked her fingernails across the leather couch. Books and toys went flying.
I sent her to her room, where the destruction continued. Everything was knocked from her desktop and dresser; her brand new iHome smashed against the wall. Her desk chair thrown across the room.
And always this shrieking, this piercing scream that seems to never end.
Sometimes, these “fits” or rages continue for two hours or more until she can’t scream any longer and her voice is all but gone.
I am always incredulous when, a few moments later, she emerges from her room, seemingly unaffected by what just occurred.
She is even cheerful as she goes about her chores or completes her homework. After this, she may run laps through the house with boundless energy.
Other days, she may come home from school and retreat to her bedroom. I will find her in her bed, in complete darkness.
I turn on her light (how can she not want light?). But she always goes back to the darkness. She prefers it somehow.
She has even told me she feels this world would be better off without her.
And so sleep eludes me this night, as it does every night.
I am aching for my daughter, for this little girl who has lost her way and doesn’t know how to find the light.
I am ready to face this long road of intense psychotherapy and medications with her. But it is scary, oh-so terrifying to know she may have to cope with this illness for life.
I just keep assuring her there is nothing she could do to cause me to love her any less. Ever.
Yet sleep eludes me.
The guest author would appreciate comments – of support, encouragement. Of hope.