I’m diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Its manic depression. I have realized that my ups and downs change with the weather. Spring time is my favorite because as soon as the weather warms up, I almost automatically turn manic. For those that don’t know, mania is a period of time where you feel really happy for no reason. When I’m in a manic state I have so much energy, almost too much. My house is spotless, to the point where I get anxiety if there is even a small mess. I need little sleep, I’m up early and go to bed late. I run 100 mph at all times, no down time required. I make alot of plans, and talk very fast. My anxiety is usually at an all time high during this time. But the anxiety fuels me to get more done, I push myself to my extremes. Even it seems like a person in a state of mania is happy, it’s usually just a mask..but dont be fooled..what goes up will come down at some point. I have to really keep myself in check because I’ll start making rash decisions, I take bigger risks, spend more money, and make alot of plans that I can’t possibly fulfill. This is the time of the year that I would usually relapse because I’m not as cautious as I would normally be. Even though there are downsides I still like that time of year the most because even if its a facade it still feels good to smile and be involved with real life. Unfortunately the cold weather has hit and depression has kicked in. My house is no longer clean. I have the energy of a wet napkin. My daughter is fed and taken care but I no longer pick up her toys. My dogs are fed but they dont get their feet wiped as they come in the door. I usually stay on the couch most the day, and it’s a real struggle to make myself get ready to go anywhere. I stay indoors 90% of the time. I feel sad for no reason. I smoke more cigarettes and I eat sweets..anything to try and force my brain to give me the happy chemicals. Only upside is I usually crave drugs way less this time of year. The holidays make everything so much worse. I have to work up the energy for family meals for weeks. I know that psych meds are an option. And I know they work for some, however taking psych meds is an extremely personal decision and at this time I dont feel as if I need them. Doesn’t that sound like something someone who needs meds would say, Haha. But seriously, I’m not ready to commit to a medication that I would need to take for life. Or maybe it’s because I’m constantly told that I need them. I wonder if and when my damaged brain will finally tire of this eternal see-saw of mood swings. My hope is that one day, I will just feel neutral. And that day, I’ll walk around thinking “hey, I am totally just a normal person thinking normal thoughts” One day I won’t have to pray for spring time. One day, the winter won’t be so blue. I know people reading this can relate to at least one sentence or two. Don’t feel guilty if you spent the day wrapped up in a blanket, like a little gloomy burrito. Chances are, I did the same.
As a kid you are always asked “what do you wanna be when you grow up”? I had big dreams. Teacher, zoo keeper, astronaut, president. As I got older my career goals shrunk, I had babies and tried to think more practical. I focused on jobs that would make good money, eventually I settled for enough to cover the bills. My dreams became squished bugs under my hand-me-down shoes. I always did great in school. Excellent grades, an avid reader.. “huge potential” my teachers said. In high school I applied for my dream school UCO and I got in. I had just turned 18 and was living with my boyfriend and he was the one who took me to my orientation. We pulled up to campus and saw all of the students with their families and parents. Suddenly, I felt very small and overwhelmed. I felt sorry for myself.. little orphan jessica all alone in the world. It seems so silly now. I couldn’t do it, we turned around and went home. I wish someone had forced me into that orientation. I wish I had had more support, but I did not and that was just a reality for a foster kid. I had to take the long way around so to speak. A few years later I tried again at community college. I had a brand new baby and got the shock of finding out another one was on the way. Again, I had no real support so I dropped out, collecting a mountain of student loan debt on the way out. I stopped trying to further my education at that point. I felt like a failure. Turns out brains don’t get you very far when you lack the guts to make it happen. Guts was what I needed and guts was what God was about to hand deliver to me. About a year and a half after my second failed attempt at school, i was introduced to drugs..then homelessness followed shortly after. Let me tell you something. The fastest way to get brave is to be thrown face first into the streets with nothing but a bad habit and a backpack . I learned courage in the worst of situations..but I learned it and I kept it close to me. The kicker is now that I have no fear and all the motivation, I no longer have the opportunities I had when I had all the fear and little motivation. Go figure, right? What I still don’t have is support. As independent as I am, and always have been..sometimes I just wish I had a mentor to just call and ask for advice. Someone who would help me apply to schools, explain how everything works. Help me enroll, tell me which classes to take and why. Tell me insider tips and tricks. At times, I do still feel small and insignificant. It would be a joy to converse with someone who has been there before. Just someone in my corner to make the big world feel a little smaller. I don’t have time for wishes though. I can and I will figure it out, just like I’ve always done. Through trial and a shit ton of error Haha. One day, I will have a job that I love and enjoy. The career paths I have in mind will never make me rich, but I will wear my title with pride because I will know that I earned it. Student loans will be paid off at tax time which means I better be in school by no later than next fall. If I’m not, you’re all hereby invited to kick my ass straight into the admissions office.
I became a mother September 15, 2010. 9 years ago. I became an addict, July 2013. I won’t go into how I became an addict, that’s a story for another day. I always wanted to be a mommy, I never imagined I’d be a mommy who ended up on drugs. The last 7 years have been a roller coaster of ups and downs.. using, relapse, recovery..and trying to grow as a mother in the midst of all of that. I never used in front of my kids. The same month I took my first hit was the same month i dropped them off at grandma’s and really never got them back. I grew up around heavy drug use and alcoholism. I NEVER wanted my kids to see me like that, and to date..they never have. But what I did isn’t much better than those who drag their kids into that life. I would go weeks without seeing or talking to them, then show up after a day or two clean hoping that they would accept me back with open arms. My oldest always wanted me there no matter how long I’d been gone.. my second oldest wanted nothing to do with me. He didn’t know me, and didn’t want to know me, but he was only a baby when I left. My third, my first daughter was only 2 months old when I lost her, it wasn’t because of drugs but because of the unstable life I had created around us. Then of course I used that as an excuse to start up using again and making things so bad to where I wouldn’t get her back. My youngest, I have been clean for her whole life. She’s with me daily, I raise her to the best of my ability. I’m the mother I wish I could have been for the older 3. I started this piece with the intention of talking about addiction from the perspective of a parent, but I wanted a little back story to go with it. So whoever reads this can better understand my story. Even though some things I say will leave me open to judgment and criticism. It’s easy to sit back and judge a mother who uses drugs. We all judge, its human nature ..hell even I still do it sometimes and have to catch myself and remember where I came from. Anybody can fall victim to drug abuse. They’ll say, “do it for your kids” “how can you take drugs? You have kids to think about” While that’s easy to say, you actually have no idea how hard it is to live it, until you’ve actually been there. I have quite a few people who will message me and say that they’ve never done drugs, but have a parent who does. They read my stuff to try and understand their parents minds. I hope I can help. Your kids are an excellent reason to stay clean, however it’s not a cure for addiction. Its not a magic potion for mental illness or pain. I can say with every bit of truth in me, that I love my children more than I love myself, more than I love anything or anyone. I’d give my last breathe for them. And I can say, that your parents most likely feel the same..even in spite of all the mistakes they’ve made that might make you think otherwise. If love could save us, nobody would be an addict. In April I will have 3 years clean and sober, that’s the longest I’ve ever went clean since I started using close to a decade ago. I still struggle every day. Some days are harder than others. If I think about the needle too long, my chest gets hot, my heart rate speeds up and I have to physically and consciencly make myself think about something else. I know my patterns and if I allow myself to think too long, then I’ll end up around someone who uses then I’ll end up using. I know this, and this is how I avoid relapse. Its so scary to think of how easily I could get drugs. One bad day, one weak moment, and I could be back in the gutter that I clawed myself out of. One of my triggers is boredom. That’s a tough one to avoid when you’re a stay a home mom. My mind, it wanders away and it always lands on ‘man, this would be so much funner if I was high’ Please think of this the next time you find yourself judging an addict. I consider myself to be a strong person, but something as mundane as doing the dishes can sometimes send my head spinning, and mentally seeking out a substance. We fight these thoughts at almost all times. If you love an addict and you’re trying to understand them..please consider how tough it is to constantly have to re direct your own thoughts. At times, it will appear I’m sitting there quietly when really my mind is at war because I spotted a random pill bottle, or I passed by a house where I had a good shot one time. I’m screaming at myself to go to my happy place, putting myself down for even thinking of that shit in the first place. Making myself play the tape all the way, to remind myself of what will happen if I pick up. With a little grace from my higher power and alot alot alot of self talk, I can usually back away from the ledge. I make my decisions with a process, thinking not only how this will affect me, but how will it affect the 4 little people who call me mom. With a heart full of gratitude, I can say that since I’ve been clean I have my second and third oldest back in my life, and even tho I will never have them in my care full time, they still love me and know me as mommy. My oldest, I signed rights away to him a year and a half ago. It was a long time coming. It was the best decision for him, even tho it breaks my heart every single day. Doing that was a major turning point for me. I decided that I wouldn’t lose him in vain, and that day in court runs thru my mind on loop when I think about going backwards. I know one day he will come back to me, and it may not be the joyful reunion i imagine. He will have tough questions for why I did what I did, and I hope to answer them as truthfully as I can. I want to build a life that makes my kids proud. I can’t ever get the years I lost back, I wish I could turn back time. But I can’t, and nobody can. The only thing we can do is push forward. My guilt and shame kept me sick for so long. I had to forgive myself for what I did so that I could have a chance at success, and more importantly happiness. It’s sometimes impossible to pull yourself out of the pit of shame. .and all of the addicts you know who still use are probably deep in that hole. They think they’ve fucked up too bad, gone too far for too long and they feel like it would be futile to try and come back now. I hope what I say and how I say it, can reach someone who doesn’t think they can recover. The worst pain I ever went thru was losing my kids, I didn’t want to live. I didnt plan to or want to have any more when the baby came along. She gave me a second wind and a second chance that I did not deserve. I had to push away the thoughts of I dont deserve this, and the guilt of having another when I had lost my other babies. She needed me and I needed her. And now, even knowing my kids won’t come home, and my oldest is out of reach for years..I still KNOW in my heart that I’m a good mother. I know I deserve grace, and redemption. Even if you think you’ve gone too far. You can still always come home and be the person you should of been all along. And I can say with truth again, that my kids do love me..they light up when I’m around and I pray they never remember the pain of those first few years. I pray I stay clean the rest of their lives, but I know the reality of addiction, it’s a lifelong battle. I no longer use the past as an excuse to use. I apply my coping skills, my self talk, prayer, anything that helps me believe that I am worthy of a clean and sober life. I fail as mother still, I make mistakes and I stumble but I’m here and I do my very best that I can do. And really, that’s all kids want. They just want you. Happy and healthy you.
Being born poor then being thrown into foster care really didn’t give me a lot of the traditional life tools that most kids are given in their lives. You know what I mean.. mom teaches daughter how to do her makeup, how to handle her first period, how to cook and how to be a mother. Dad teaches daughter how to depend on a man, how to change oil, check tire pressure, and about money handling. Plus, an array of other family members to learn from. Yeah, I didn’t have that. The foster parents that I did have, did their best to teach me but I was moved around so frequently that I never got a chance to learn how to be an adult the right way. So I put all the pieces of parents I’ve had together and the rest of what I know, I learned on the internet. Older generations like to give younger people a hard time about “always being on your phone” but they don’t understand the vast amount of information we have at our fingertips. I taught myself how to cook, how to prepare my baby’s bottles, what taxes are and how to file them…the list could go on..all on Google. Its my ultimate life hack. Also, baking soda. Use that shit on everything..seriously.