the baddest days

These days, I am extremely fragile. Free from madness for over a decade, I’ve somehow failed to find new trust in my unstable mind. Memories of the Bad Years haunt me, a tiny voice whispers at me, “Remember who you are.” A skinny beauty, weak and occasionally violent towards myself, arms dripping blood as reality swirled around me, dizzy from the pictures and screaming that I would be the one to rescue the latest band of medics from the end of days. A filthy-faced girl huddled in a cupboard as disembodied voices screamed at me that my mom would kill me if she had a chance, unrelenting paranoia and hallucinations, emerging only occasionally to see my caseworker, who sat my psychotic ass down in a ramshackle building downtown and grew impatient as she tried for the hundredth time to explain what a Medicaid spenddown was to a girl not even aware she was on a different plane …

Besides being a broke(n) infertile woman, I also have a psychotic disorder. I am bipolar I, and I hear voices whether I’m in the grips of a mood episode or not, making me schizoaffective, bipolar type. Does that frighten you? I’ve heard them all my life; I can’t imagine what it feels like to live in quiet like most of you. I function despite the noise, although within gentle parameters. I cannot hold a job without the madness creeping in, I have to avoid stress whenever possible. But now, with medication and unending talk therapy (which I am fortunate to have access too, and am fortunate that medication works for me because it doesn’t always help everybody), you’d probably not peg me a a psychotic woman. High strung, fuck yeah. You may see I lack basic social skills, I have a difficult time making meaningful friendships or maintaining them–I often disappear for years. But today, at thirty-nine, you’d see my anxiety and maybe witness a panic attack and see me cry, but you would not see a girl who used to get handcuffed by police and dragged off to the Crisis Unit in the ER of our local charity hospital…

She’s still in there but for now is quiet. I remember the perinatologist explaining Molly’s defects to us as I tearfully clutched my stomach. I thought it would break me, that maybe my brain would need a vacation from the incredible pain and the people that weren’t real would come back and whisk me off to madness again. I imagined my frantic husband waking to find me gone, getting in the car only to find me on a street corner shouting that I was chosen to save all of you from eternal damnation and then I’d maybe black out and find myself in four point restraints in some hospital and I’d be sick, really sick, and Geoff would go away forever. 

None of that happened. I’m not sleeping, leaving my house, or answering my phone but reality is intact even if it’s not good enough right now…mostly, I am very sad and angry, but I am right here.

And I am okay.

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throwing the towel way the fuck in…maybe.

I’m not sure where to go from here but I know I can’t stay in this place forever. I’ve been breathing ttc for years now, the cycle of hope and disappointment holding me captive as I barreled towards my own destruction. And I sit at home quietly, afternoons spent with hungry arms wrapped around my little cat, burying my face in his feathery fur and sobbing.

I have fought; I have been brave and proud. I am exhausted and I can’t bear this horrible addiction to hope any longer. The only hope that remains is scant and unreliable but I still chase that dragon.

I second guess myself. Maybe I should try to increase my dose of Femara, give it one last hurrah. Ovulation week was a total loveless disaster this month; I can’t do that again. I’ve reached out, listened to the dull sounds of the words “self-care” being bandied about and felt myself recoiling because “self” is my actual problem — I am the problem, with my self-centeredness and self-obsession. I cannot trust a self that is sent reeling into panic if my phone rings or I have to face a simple obligation. My self is sick, and I’m bumfuzzled on how to treat it.

And I have such terrible nightmares, such terrible memories. And the rain gushes like waterfalls down my bedroom window; I cannot heed the sudden call to hit the streets, to move, to get out and leave this place so far behind…

Freedom.

randomness and existential crisis

The rain is back and resolve stiffens my spine — I will not let another summer fall into the sucking hole in my life that is infertility, not when summer days in the PNW are so few and precious. I still dream of life elsewhere, somewhere sunny and warm and closer to family, but I lack confidence as I face the looming threat of slashes to Medicare funding. We continue on here, broken and isolated and desperate for healing.

What is healing, what does it look like when you’re as sick as I am? 

I remember seeing my first therapist; I must’ve been in the third grade or something. My mom arranged to have my best friend’s older sister watch my younger sister, so the whole school ended up knowing there was something wrong with me — I was crazy under my mask of timidity and fearfulness. My moods and tantrums baffled my parents and I never slept, and I had an overactive imagination to explain the fact that sometimes I heard and saw things that no one else could see or hear. I was only vaguely aware that there was something different about me, I was doing well in school.  It was the eighties and childhood onset mental illness wasn’t a thing that was recognized by mental health professionals. They said I had abandonment issues because I was adopted. Even I believed them. My poor mother was permanently traumatized, to this day convinced that this is all her fault.

There was a lot stacked against me, and things got worse after my sister died. I struggled with addiction, I went on meds. Therapists paraded through my life, both caring providers and toxic wannabe do-gooders that should have never been allowed to practice, until finally I found someone that could help me. I was so unhinged but I fought like hell, found people to connect with in a meaningful fashion, and got my disease into remission in my late twenties. I thought I, too, could have a normal life, the sort of life I believe most people deserve. Then I met Geoff, who is amazing, and we lost Molly and spiralled into grief. And then the sickness came back. And I don’t know what to do.

It’s different now. My brain isn’t cycling through moods, my psychosis is as controlled as it can be. But here I am, shellshocked not just from my pregnancy termination, miscarriages, and infertility but from life and its infinite randomness, by the knowledge that lightning can strike arbitrarily and there’s nothing you can do to prepare for it. Children can be stricken with severe mental illness or they can die of cancer, babies can have their chromosomes put together all wrong, and the ones they leave as living witnesses will suffer. So I live my days in terror. I pray to no one that I’m wrong about the nonexistence of God. I do anything I can to ward off bad luck. And I never leave my house.

.

.

me right now and I’m adorable.

CD 16, so not in the mood. Overslept, missed my chance with Geoff. UGH.

thirty-nine years and three months 

Do I look hopeless? 

The soft light washes away the fine lines around my mouth. My hair has gone long from three years on prenatal vitamins, still black as ever with no help from Clairol. I still blush when strangers speak with me. I like to think I don’t look old and crazy.

Inside though…

An East coast neurosis simmers in my belly and I always feel a sense of urgency. I try not to do crazy things or inadvertently send out cries for help, but with my bipolar in check all that remains are the powerful vibrations of an anxiety that stands solid in the face of yoga, herbal teas, unending meditation classes. Yeah, I’ve always been high strung but since things started to go wrong in reproductive land I find myself struggling to make meaningful connections for fear of something, anything, setting me off in an all-too-frequent full blown panic attack. I battle with narcissism; no, not clinical, but a sudden dangerous obsession with both how I present to people and why I do certain crazy things. I talk too much, I don’t ask people how they feel. 

The real world calls, and I’m so lonely and broken. High school wasn’t bad for me; I had friends, albeit cruel ones, I never sat home alone in weekends. How did I end up trapped in solitude?

CD 15 and we’re barely moving…

Oh, the things that stand between me and the world: an unrelenting grieving process, regularly occurring psychotic symptoms, withered old ovaries and an empty pocketbook. If I can have a baby, will the world take me back? 

i’m in a pickle and it’s a pretty fucking big one.

CD 10 and Geoff and I are back at it the old fashioned way with low expectations of success. Well, I have low expectations of success (I could say I have no expectations of success), I’m not sure how he feels. I feel a horrible sense of panic wrapping around me, relentless and perhaps easily avoidable, if I could only stop the madness…there is no miracle on the sunlit horizon that promises me a healthy, breathing infant, there are no kind and soft women waiting in the wings to say, I did this too, I survived it, and you are going to be okay. No matter which direction I choose, I move forward with only my for-some-reason devoted husband by my side.

I think of all the things I’ve done in life because I just couldn’t handle doing otherwise. When my sister was dying, I didn’t go to the hospital in the city every day to see her because I just couldn’t handle it, not on top of going to high school and volunteering everywhere and riding horses and filling out applications for colleges I wasn’t interested in attending and dealing with the early stages of my schizoaffective disorder. Forgivable under the circumstances, maybe, but the price was a lifetime of regret. If I cry uncle and stop trying to have a baby, would the price be the same? I’m a severely mentally ill alcoholic/addict in recovery, is honoring that side of me, that fundamental flaw in me, a sufficient reason to take opportunity away from myself and Geoff, who has waited two times in tears in sterile lobbies while I had his babies scraped from my insides and who has squeezed my hand so tightly and wept as I bled out a third?

And I have a terrible confession that might make you hate me. I’ve been sober off drugs and alcohol since I was twenty-five (13 years), but if I choose to give up trying to have a baby, I could soften the blow so easily with pills and cigarettes and a couple of shots of whiskey upon awakening. Fuck, right now I could get dressed, walk a block down the road and purchase fucking weed at a weed store because it’s currently legal here and all of this could go away. I hate the smell of grass, but these days I hear there are delicious baked goods that a person can just buy and consume and it makes them stoned. I know from experience that for me, substance abuse is extremely effective at driving off the demons that assail me. No, if I am to let this go, I have to know I can do it clean because as much as this path beckons me with promises of ultimate comfort, I owe this much to Geoff and my family and yes, to my broken and battered self. But let me tell you, these thoughts are real to me because through and through, I am and always will be an addict that just can’t handle feeling scared. Btw, if I do continue trying, I couldn’t soften the blow of that choice and I’d stay off the bad shit because as selfish and terrible as I am, I would never do that to my child and I know this in the core of my being.

I still have a bottle of Femara on my nightstand. I hate Femara with a passion and really, it promises untold suffering but with a glimmer of hope. There’s always next month, if I can decide…




anniversary day

Despite the dreadful rain coursing down my window, I feel a bit lighter today. I’m allowing myself some time to rein myself into my own head, to daydream more than usual, to relax without the usual social pressures that I without fail, usually crack under. I’ve detached from anything that could be described as social media save for this blog. My husband and I agreed to take next month off from medicated cycles and stick to the ole fashioned way with no tracking ovulation save for my fairly consistent CM patterns (I know, gross!). We’ll resume Femara the following cycle.

Today is our five year wedding anniversary. I have no idea how he puts up with my moods and neuroses, which our battle with infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss has amplified to an unholy degree. Getting married to my dream guy was exhilarating and we spent one heady year as blissful newlyweds before contemplating baby making. I spent a year adjusting my psychotropics to levels and dosages suitable for our endeavor (all the changes ultimately turned out to be dead wrong thanks to my inexperienced prescriber, but that’s another story). Oh, how I long to have that year back! And we dove in, conceiving Molly in our first try. 

Losing her broke us. It felt like it completely broke us, but we stuck together and since that fateful day in which we made the agonizing choice to let her go with love…well, we’ve been broken a little more with each passing month. Immediately after our pregnancy termination, I developed a condition called serotonin syndrome in our attempts to mitigate my grief and post-partum depression with the powers of antidepressant medications–very rare, and psychologically debilitating. I then suffered dental issues due to a combination of my having a fucked up jawbone and having had bad orthodontics, leading to a botched surgical procedure by an unscrupulous oral surgeon, so for months all I could eat was mush or slop. Fourteen months of negative home pregnancy tests, two traumatic miscarriages that brought on symptoms of PTSD from my original loss. We now contemplate childlessness, with unfathomable sorrow.  And through this all, my husband has been my rock. I literally think I would have died without him.

He reads this blog sometimes, which I find sweet and endearing. Geoff, if you are reading today :

Thank you for being in my life. I love you, and always will.

another day on the fringes

I break a little more every day. People pass through my life, trickling through my fingers like sand and I’ve given up trying to keep hold of any of them. They find me in their darkest hours whether struggling with infertility or a mental health episode or even a fight with their spouse; I offer comfort and advice and they get their shit together and move on to better things, leaving me longing for my luck to change, for my turn, for just one fucking chance to have one good shot at getting.the.fuck.out. And they feel guilty about their good fortune, or perhaps they’re scared my curse will rub off on them and bam! they disappear. I sit with loneliness gripping my upper arms, and it shakes me and I cry and think of being anywhere else but here.

I sit on my patio, trying to enjoy some of the last sun of the year. A young child rides a bike awkwardly over the grass and I concentrate on my writing, as if I have anything new to say; I hover in limbo and hear the echoes of some of the more unpleasant things people have said to me over the last three years and I try not to think about the bottle of tranquilizers that sits next to a new bottle of letrozole on my bedstand and these pills offer such false hope because in the end I am home alone with no one to write to. And I’m jumping out of my own skin even being this far out of my house.

I think I’m 8dpo. I, as usual, have not a one LP symptom to speak of except perhaps moodiness which could be attributed to the Femara or the bipolar so I sort of regret blowing off my P4 draw but at the same time idgaf about this war anymore or at the very least, don’t want to live through another loss, another bad ultrasound. They talk about this tipping point on the online forums I’ve eschewed: when the fear of another loss outweighs the fear of being childless. I think I might be right about there.

PSA

One thing you can say that will throw me into a blinding rage, especially if you have just wandered idly into an infertility forum, is this:

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve been trying for two months or two years; we’re all in the same boat…”

Have I mentioned how fucking enraged I become when someone says that? I think I just may have brought it up a couple times. But right now it doesn’t matter. I am stepping back from my online forums and hope never to return. I’ve had to let go some dear friends to protect my heart. Instead, I will focus on living my real life. Which is also sort of a mess. I am a messy person.

This cycle has been hit or miss on every level. I spread my final refill of letrozole on the bed beside me. These 2.5 mg pills are tiny and only five of them! How do they wreak so much havoc on my delicate sanity? I tuck them away, firmly twisting the cap on the orange bottle as if I’m sealing Pandora’s Box and I place them in a drawer. I am on the fence about trying another round; my RE recommended three cycles. I’ve again blown off my 7dpo progesterone draw as I’m fairly sure I ovulated and if I did not I don’t care–I obviously will not tolerate a dosage increase, and will not risk taking Clomid, so the information won’t really change anything.

My mind is jumbled; my emotions wild. Later I may regret burning bridges, but I can’t support others when they have so many huge advantages over me. I feel hatred seething in my gut, and I can’t inflict that on anyone no matter how badly I want to.

I’ve had episodes of disorientation and confusion this past week, forgetting for maybe an hour how I got here, how old I am, where I’m located. I’m not sure what’s going on but I know for sure nobody would understand, and that if I brought them up people would not know how to deal so they’d say nothing. But I’m scared as fuck.

Btw, my psychiatrist is on vacation until next week. Oh, well. I don’t think medication changes will help at this point. I feel like the hormonal upheaval would trump any tweaks to my neurotransmitters at this point.

I don’t feel optimistic about this cycle. I just want to live through it.

My whole life, I’ve been told that what I was feeling was wrong. And it is. Being bipolar, I can never control the intensity of my feelings, the heart-stopping rages I get, the profound depressions that despite my best intentions, make me crave oblivion and have me wanting nothing more than to leave my blood all over everyone’s hands.

I hate the world right now, and everybody in it. I don’t trust anyone who I feel has not suffered, and the lines I draw are completely arbitrary.

I’d rather embrace the horrible loneliness that kills my spirit than let anybody hurt me ever again. My mother, and her audible sigh of relief when I told her I had to terminate my much wanted pregnancy. She doesn’t think I should have children. Fuck her. I’m sure, as usual, she’ll end up getting her way. I think she sort of hates me; I think she always has. And her tyrannical sister, who when I was upset about terminating my baby tried to soothe me by telling me the baby was “no larger than the tip of your little finger, with no discernible features whatsoever”. My belly was round, I was feeling her move. I had just shared a fucking ultrasound picture.

I’m pro-abortion, btw. I just think it’s a much more complicated issue than the rhetoric of both sides makes it out to be.

Anyway, I will no longer show vulnerability to anyone but my husband, who I trust implicitly most of the time. And in my semi-anonymous writings, to people I’ll never know. All my angst over facing the end of my fertility…well, I have to get it out somewhere.

For the record, I am 6 dpo on what will be my final Femara cycle. 
 

they do it all the time (yeah yeah)

I bite my tongue until I taste the sharp metallic flavor of blood. I stay quiet, keep my legs crossed neatly at the ankles, fussing over high necklines that obscure the collarbone and ribs jutting through the thin skin at my chest. A sickly girl that once inhabited a body of soft flesh, robust with health–today I grapple with hair made thick with prenatal vitamins that nonetheless manages to hang limp in stringy tangles, making me look feral, strung out, disheveled and wild. I am breathless while walking to the mailbox, knees buckling when I stand to brush my teeth. 

My body is wracked with the fever of moods. I was expecting to feel better after a couple days post-Femara but I imagine the hormones wake faulty neural pathways setting off the neurotransmitters and leaving me prisoner to horrible rages and the heavy burden of profound depression. My energy waxes and wanes like the moon on acid; I sequester myself, cower in my chrysalis until I can trust myself to go out in the world without inflicting intolerance and the bitterness of my many human failings on my friends and strangers. Me and my opinions, I usually struggle to keep them under wraps but they come boiling out from under my delicate facade. Right now, I feel as if you are an asshole–all of you, every last one…14 years in therapy and that’s the communication level I operate on.

Ovulation approacheth. I have all the signs and I’m nervous as fuck on top of my simmering moods. Please God, let me get pregnant so I can lose another one. The absurdity of my situation is almost hysterical at 1am when I’m delirious and free…