Wednesday, June 8

This morning, a friend sent me a blog address belonging to a friend's niece who is a mom with bi-polar. As I read her posts, I cried as I realized there was someone else that had a very similar experience to my own, and for the first time I realized how I have had so many emotions related to being a mother with a mental illness.

My diagnosis of bi-polar come long before I had Justin, and while it was extremely difficult and brought about a great deal of upheaval in my life, it's impact has been much more real since becoming a mother. Having a small child who is dependent on me, mixed with not knowing the future has taken so much joy out of what is supposed to be an amazing journey.   

I am sorry to say that the first year of Justin's life, I did very little connecting with other people.  On top of being lonely, since my son was adopted, I felt guilty that I wasn't a happy mother after I had pursued motherhood for so long.  There were moments when I actually thought of calling Justin's biological mother to see if she wanted to find a more suitable mom for him.  While I knew I would never do this, and am so glad that I didn't, the feelings of inadequacy were sometimes overwhelming.  

Despite my feelings of hopelessness during the first year, I continued to do the "acceptable" thing, putting on a brave smile, and telling everyone how happy I was while truthfully, I spent my time sleeping and escaping reality as much as possible. The thought of transparency was unacceptable to me, as I thought it would surely lead to more isolation.   

The second year of Justin's life has gone much better, as I have gotten together with other moms and their kids.  Some know about my illness,  and many do not.  I am conflicted when it comes to disclosure of this very private part of my life.  (I have to laugh at the irony of claiming to be a private person while at the same time posting this on the internet). 

In the blog I read this morning, Sarah wrote about how the stigma of her mental illness caused her to fear the thoughts of other mothers.  Her words echo my thoughts. Here is an excerpt from her blog.

 "Stigma. Far and away, the stigma I fear most is that which I suspect may lurk in the minds of other parents. Just about the only hesitation I’ve had in blogging about my mental illness is the worry that it will negatively impact the way the parents of my children’s friends perceive me. (My other fear is about how these disclosures may affect future employers, but I’ve chosen to cross that bridge when I come to it.) If you are one of those other moms who reads this blog and still chooses to let your children play at my house, please know how very, very much I value your continued trust in me. If you’re a parent in my circle who reads this blog and has your doubts, please know that, one, you can ask me anything anytime, and two, I have been blessed with a very reliable co-parent, and if, in his judgment, my children are safe at my house, then yours are, too. I can say this in hopes that you’ll hear it, but still the fear remains, that this illness will freight my children with the burden of living in a world that whispers about their mother." (1)

These same thoughts have been on my mind as well.  While it saddens me to read those words, it is beyond comforting that someone out there can relate to what I am going through. This is the main reason I have chosen to be open with my story.  2nd Corinthians 1:4 says "He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us." (The Message) 


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Italy trip

I have been going through my pictures, and have enjoyed looking at this album of Italy. I was able to go over last year to attend a conference. This was the first time I have been back in twenty years. The pictures are made up mostly of places we lived as a family. My brother and I were able to go together, and we were graciously hosted by some friends of ours from language school in Perugia. I feel such a sense of nostalgia when I look at these pictures. I miss Italy so much. It was strange to go back as a tourist knowing I would be returning to the US after such a short time. Tonight I made cookies with Nutella in them, and I remembered how much I enjoyed the simple pleasures. Fortunately, you can find it here! Saturday, we are going up to my brother's house to celebrate a late Thanksgiving, only we will be making homemade tortellini instead of turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!