A Day in the Life of a Bipolar Mom Raising an Autistic Son

My day starts at night. It begins around 9PM when I’m able to take my Seroquel, Lexapro, and Ambien. It begins when the darkness, stress, and sadness from the day fade away into a sleepy semi-coma; that’s when I feel my best.

That’s not to say that I can’t have happy moments during the day, because I do.

My son is 6 and he’s autistic; mostly non-verbal except for a few words he uses to get what he needs, like water or food.

Food … ha. He barely eats. His only food consumption consists of carbs because sensory processing disorder is real and it’s a struggle.

Because of the stringent diet he has come up with for himself, it’s almost impossible to prepare food for him to eat during the day.

You might be saying that I’m allowing him to control me and he’s a brat, or whatever you feel like calling my child.

The truth is, his autism controls him.

My bipolar disorder controls me, as does my panic disorder and agoraphobia.

If you think I’m nuts, that’s okay … most people do.

It’s why I take a handful of pills every night. It’s what keeps me alive. It’s also what keeps me from wanting to be alive.

***

I couldn’t move. My son was upstairs with my husband, playing. I knew he was playing because I heard the tinkles of the baby keyboard he had suddenly become attached to.

The alphabet song, pre-recorded, played on repeat for hours as I lay in bed, in a fetal position, the room dark as it would allow, while I cried uncontrollably.

I couldn’t describe the pain I felt to anyone but my husband. He was the only one that knew. He was the only one I told about how I wanted to kill myself.

It felt like a two-ton marble stone sat on my chest, preventing me from catching my breath, pushing my insides into contortions organs weren’t meant for.

It felt like someone was stabbing me in the heart, over and over and over again. The tears wouldn’t stop soaking my pillow.

I wanted the pain to stop. I finally realized this wasn’t “normal.” And I didn’t want to live like this anymore.

My husband set up an appointment with a psychiatrist my primary care doctor recommended.

I sat next to him in the office as I described, stoically, all my symptoms.

The doctor picked her head up from my chart and snorted. “You got lot of problems, you.” She taunted me in broken English.

“That’s why I’m here.” I said.

“I give you medication. You come back two weeks.”

And off I went with five prescriptions, each one at almost maximum dosage.

My body couldn’t handle the almost 1,000 mg of medication she let me walk out with. When I explained that not only were my symptoms worsening, but my heart was racing at a pace I can only assume was close to a heart attack.

“It’s you. Medicine is good. It’s you that’s problem.”

Having good insurance doesn’t guarantee that you’ll see good doctors.

It took nearly a year for me to find a doctor an hour away from my home that diagnosed me properly: Bipolar Disorder II, Severe Panic Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, OCD, and Agoraphobia.

I started on new medication slowly, smaller doses; it still took three years for me to find the perfect “cocktail” for me to function like a human being, and that’s pushing it on most days.

***

We knew something was wrong with my son’s development when other kids his age started speaking in full sentences and my baby just stared at things, unable to communicate his feelings, thoughts, or needs.

New York City: The greatest place on Earth. Or not. Month after month, doctor after doctor, therapist after therapist, and only 12 weeks before he was no longer eligible for Early Intervention was he actually diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

We moved to another state and were immediately greeted with wonderful teachers, programs, and help.

My son is a completely different boy than he was a year ago; the special program at school changed him  along with the fabulous teachers and aides into a little man that can communicate his wants and needs.

I’m still the same person. I’m still depressed, lonely, and obsessive.

There are so many other people suffering far worse fates than myself, and I always feel guilty complaining. But seriously, I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling tired. I’m tired of that marble stone that appears suddenly and without warning, choking me and putting a “Do Not Pass Go – Do Not Collect $200” on my life.

I love my son with every ounce of my being, but not being there for trips to the park hurts.

No, it’s not laziness. No, it’s not that I don’t want to be a parent. I very much do and it took quite a bit of time to conceive my son.

It’s the monsters in my head.

The bipolar monster that triggers the anxiety monster.

The anxiety monster steals my breath.

The OCD monster steals my thoughts and puts me on a spinning wheel like a hamster in a cage.

The agoraphobia monster tells me secrets; that there will likely be a mass shooter wherever I go and that I shouldn’t leave the house.

I know all of these monsters exist solely to kill me and that they lie, yet here I am, laying in bed, watching Jake Tapper on CNN as my husband takes our son to the swings that he loves so much.

On the days I allow myself to go out, my heart is filled with joy at seeing my husband fathering, and my son happily swinging and sliding … but it gets cut short, like a breaking news alert on the TV.

“This Just In: Liza’s Anxiety Has Reached An All Time High. Liza Needs To Go Home STAT!”

And that’s what I need to work on: getting rid of the monsters in my brain, learning to understand my son on a different level, and learning to love myself, despite myself.


Liza is a mother, wife, writer, and lover of all things cheese. She is the Social Media Coordinator for Roar Feminist Magazine as well as a freelance writer. Find her on twitter @NerdyLiza.

 

One Reply to “A Day in the Life of a Bipolar Mom Raising an Autistic Son”

  1. I actually know someone in this same position but she is a single mother. She is an amazing lady. Her son just turned 30 and she is bipolar, anxiety disorder, ptsd, insomniac. Her son is autistic, non-verbal. She has been his primary care giver all his life.

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