Having been spared from the relentless rain of the Pacific Northwest for a few days, the familiar sound of water coursing down my bedroom window at midnight seems particularly cruel. I don’t toss and turn anymore; these days I accept waking for my day while it’s still the middle of the night and indulge the insomnia. I’ve never slept well and these days there are few to whom I must be accountable.
Bipolar disorder is, of course, chronic. I’ve manifested symptoms since I was an adolescent, full of untraceable rage and hypersexuality. I require continuous health care to manage my illness; this was true before, during, and after I lost my daughter Molly. Termination for medical reasons has been around since prior to Roe vs. Wade, but the phenomenon is increasing in frequency due to medical developments and the adoption of prenatal diagnostic techniques such as Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (a blood test that can detect fetal chromosomal abnormalities at around 12 weeks gestation). I’ve found that my “mental health care team” has been especially ill-equipped to deal with my experience.
It’s incredibly isolating when the psychiatrist you’ve worked with for fifteen years is stunned by your refusal to participate in a support group for women with postpartum depression because you cannot speak to a roomful of new mothers whose babies have not died. And your anger at that basic lack of understanding should not pigeonhole you as an irritable manic that is noncompliant with treatment.
Your therapist of fourteen years shouldn’t stare at you like you’re an alien when their patient that has never once teared up during a session spends months crying her eyes out for a 45 minute hour. And she shouldn’t demand you “just let it go”.
I’m pretty sure I’m the first chronic mental patient that has suddenly found out her baby is incompatible with life and chosen not to prolong her suffering, like, ever. If you’re out there, give me a holler.