Friday, August 2, 2019

Columbus Day 2017

Exactly three weeks from giving birth to my daughter I had a knock at my door. When I opened it I said “what now?” because I was looking at two cops. I had been visited by cops several times by this point for welfare checks on my daughter. One night I had gone to the grocery store alone with my newborn daughter and when I got back I had dinner in the oven and my bathwater running when a cop had to come in my house and inspect the situation because my husband was concerned. This day was different though. That cop had come and gone. These cops had a civil warrant. Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t know what that meant.

The constables were kind and tried to explain things to me, but I was manic, so I had no patience and my mind was running at 500 miles per hour so nothing they said would have sunk in, most likely. They had a piece of paper that they gave me to look at but none of it made sense to me either. I can’t remember what all they said, but I know I asked if I could take my purse and they said yes. They led me to their blacked-out SUV and helped me into the back seat. We were separated by plexiglass. When we got on the highway I asked them why they weren’t taking me somewhere local. They said there was no availability. I was told that I needed to be assessed. Things didn’t sink in until we got to Intracare Hospital.

I had to give my purse to an attendant and that is when I first got mad. I was taken to a small empty room and told to take off my clothes. I had to be inspected by two female nurses. I just had a baby so I was very self-conscious of my body. It was very humiliating. I made sure they knew it too. I showed them my c-section scar and made it very clear that I had just recently given birth.  Once we were done I was told that I couldn’t keep my bra because it had an underwire and that could potentially be a weapon. At this point I was livid. There is a certain dignity that goes out the window when you aren’t allowed to wear a bra. Especially if you have to be around men. (Which I did have to be around men.)

I went to my room and just covered up my head and cried. I missed my baby. I didn’t know how long this was going to take. I didn’t want to be here. The staff was really nice and ended up giving me my own private room at some point. All I remember was being physically and emotionally in pain at the same time over the heartache of not having my daughter. The way I wept for my baby was gut-wrenching. My body ached to see my baby. My heart did too. I missed her so much. No one in the hospital would have even known I had just had a baby if I hadn’t told them.

We played stupid games, we had therapy with our counselors, we ate crappy food and we took our meds. I made friends with the smokers so that I could go outside and a few people even loaned me cigarettes. Everyone was pretty nice. I always make friends with people in the hospitals because that’s how you get by. My friend with the cigarettes, Robert, was an alcoholic and I think he might have had a drug problem. He hooked me up with some cigarillos because he had a whole carton. Sometimes I would trade other cigarettes for them, but I actually liked them. They were strong and lasted a long time.

Miss Glenna was a drug addict and her mind was gone. She was a round grandma looking figure and she was funny as hell (But I don’t know if that was on purpose or not. I think it wasn’t. ) When I first got there it felt like she was in a competition with me. I don’t think she understood what it was I did in order to get my own room but she wanted the same treatment. Unfortunately, she was on the side of the hall that needed more attention so she couldn’t get her own room. She was kind of annoyed with me so one day I just gave her my sunglasses. That made her so happy and we were good friends after that. This lady was my mom’s age but I would have thought she was a good 20 years older and in her 70’s. I guess that’s the effects of a hard life.

Stefan was my sweet friend. He didn’t really talk to people. He didn’t seem to trust people much at all. He would walk around looking for cigarette butts to smoke so I would give him some of mine because it’s really not very safe to smoke after other people, but I understand that when you don’t have cigarettes you have to do something. He was so innocent and sweet like a baby but I knew he had probably seen a lot in his life. I was never told his diagnosis, but if I had to guess it is probably schizophrenia.

The weirdest thing that happened while I was at Intracare is one day I was waiting to speak with my counselor and I saw my very first psychiatrist walk by. I felt so awkward because he had seen me so many years ago and now here I am again in a psych hospital after all of these years with no issues, He didn’t recognize me but I kind of wanted to say something to him. Turns out he’s the medical director of the hospital.

Intracare is in an area of town that is not the best. Some might call it ghetto. I did. Even though it was ghetto, I liked the hospital and I liked the staff. I didn’t like the situation. I wore the same clothes for days. I was isolated from my baby. I was angry. Every time I got on the phone I threatened my husband. Luckily a court-appointed attorney took my case to court and got me discharged so that I had only been there 5 nights.

My mom brought Vivien and picked me up. It was a hard car ride home because we couldn’t agree on anything. She couldn’t believe they even released me. I had waited several hours for her to pick me up and I was pretty annoyed. But anything was better than being in the hospital. Even going home to my husband would be better than that. What I didn’t know is that I wouldn’t be home for long.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Don't Mess With an Angry New Mother or Her Baby

I wasn’t very happy once I got home from the hospital. What I’ve been trying to avoid writing about is my marriage, but I have come to the point where I can’t ignore it anymore. Before I got pregnant my husband and I were facing divorce. I told him two weeks before I found out I was pregnant that he needed to pack his shit and leave. He wasn’t happy when I told him I was pregnant and he was actually relieved when the midwife at the birthing center told me that I was not pregnant. That really hurt a lot at the time.

During my pregnancy, my husband slept on the couch and I slept in our bed. I didn’t have his support during my pregnancy. He never went to an appointment with me or rubbed my back or held my hair back when I puked (Luckily I didn’t puke a lot.) He told me he wanted a divorce on the day of my gender reveal party. I was so mad that he even showed up to the party. I felt like he ruined it. I had asked him not to come. I basically felt single the whole time I was pregnant. I’m not sure if you paid attention, but he wasn’t there in the OR to see her be born. He didn’t come to see us until after he got off of work that day. He actually never took a day off of work for my daughter’s birth or homecoming.

He did give me a ride home from the hospital and he did try to help me when we got home but it was too little too late by that point. He wouldn’t take off so that I could have a ride to mine and Vivien’s doctor appointments. He didn’t help me go get my pain meds. I actually quit my meds early so that I could drive since I couldn’t rely on my husband. I had been so sad when I was pregnant, but now that I had my daughter I was MAD. Beyond mad.

I took this photo that night.
One night I had entrusted him to take care of the baby while I tried to catch up on some sleep.  We had both downloaded an app so that we could be on the same page about her eating and diapering. When I woke up I found him asleep on the couch. The app told me that my daughter hadn’t been changed in 4 hours. I went to check on her and she had thrown up formula all down the sleeve of her sleeper. I was so pissed! I took care of changing my baby’s clothes and shitty diaper and then I found some scissors and used them to cut my husband’s beard. At first, I only cut a little, but then I had some encouragement and I cut off more. He didn’t even know until he woke up. I was laughing this weird laugh that I never heard before or since. It was definitely an evil laugh.

first swipe
second swipe

When he woke up he went to the bathroom and I started laughing again and then I asked him if he liked what I did. He was so scared that he left. He said he was scared that I had held scissors so close to his neck but I never had any intentions to hurt him. I fantasized about it but I would never do that. When I told my daughter’s pediatrician about all of the turmoil that had surrounded my baby’s life, she told me that I needed to get ahead of everything and get back on medication for my bipolar disorder and anxiety and I did just what she told me.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my self under control. I wasn’t sleeping right, I wasn’t eating right and I was all energy. At some point, I took my daughter to my mom thinking that maybe if I had a few days to myself I could pull myself together. I was such a mess that I couldn’t stop crying and I felt like a terrible mother for leaving my daughter but I had to figure this out. So what did my bipolar ass do??? I rang up my ex and cheated on my husband. I didn’t feel wrong when I did it because I felt like my marriage was way beyond over. I had been talking to several of my family members about getting a divorce lawyer. I hadn’t been laid in almost 9 months and I didn’t want to sleep with my husband so this is what I did. If I could take it back today, I would. Unfortunately, I can’t. My husband and family found a way to use it against me though. During my second hospitalization, I had to go to court and my mom got on the stand and said that I had been promiscuous. I was so pissed when she said that because sleeping with one person,  one time, is not being promiscuous.

That wasn’t all I did. I also had packed up most of his shit and I went and got two new pairs of glasses on his Health Spending Account. I think I spent $600 on the glasses. I felt like I deserved them after all that I had been through and I had waited until after my baby was born to do it in case pushing during labor affected my eyes.

One day I was at home and there was a knock on the door. I answered it. There was a lady from CPS there that wanted to talk to me. My dumbass got on facebook live. I guess I thought my facebook friends were going to help me. They didn’t. So, the lady from CPS informs me that I can no longer be alone with my baby. I have to be supervised. Guess who can supervise me? MY HUSBAND. Other relatives were able to supervise me as well, but if I wanted to live with my baby, I also had to live with my husband. CPS ended up taking a hair follicle drug test on me because they were told by my husband that I had a substance abuse problem. I did not, and do not have a substance abuse problem and the test came back negative to prove that. CPS was a real joke if you ask me. If my daughter had been in real danger CPS would have failed her. Luckily it took a few months and CPS was out of our lives. 

None of this is easy to talk about. I had to talk to my husband about this post because it is embarrassing. I didn't want to hurt him in the process of writing this blog. I had a sick feeling just thinking about this blog post for the first 12 hours after I wrote it. I don't want to put all my dirty laundry out there, but I want to write the truth. The truth is, I do some really stupid shit when I am manic. This may not even be the worst of it. I'll let you be the judge of that because for myself it's all bad. I hate being manic. But let me say this; I know what I am doing when I am doing it. Sometimes it feels foggy and I can't remember all the details, but I know. I guess I just lose my sense of right and wrong and caring about who gets hurt in the process. 

Monday, July 29, 2019

My Birth Story & Where Things Went Horribly Wrong

On September 17th, I checked myself into St. Luke’s Hospital. My original due date had been September 24th, but my doctor wouldn’t let me go full term. I was considered a high-risk pregnancy because I was 36 years old and because I had gestational diabetes. My doctor had me come in the night before I was scheduled to be induced so that I could have Cervadil to ripen my cervix. I really thought it would be an easy night so I told all of my family that I would be fine alone. I was wrong. In the middle of the night, I woke up and I was so high and in pain. I had such a hard time getting to the toilet. I didn’t sleep well because I was tossing and turning from pain. The next morning when I woke up there were so many nurses standing around my monitor when I woke up that I knew something was wrong. I went to rub my belly and realized that my baby was curled up in a little ball on my right side. I wanted to know what was wrong, but the nurses wouldn’t tell me.

Luckily my doctor came in not too long after that and I told her: If we’re doing a c-section let's make it quick. She knew I had a major fear of having a c-section. Once they took me to the Operating Room to get prepped, I was like a deer in headlights. It was so cold, and I was so scared. I just knew I was going to die. I think I watch too much Grey’s Anatomy because I saw images of moms dying on the operating table in my head, so I started praying. I prayed like I never prayed before in my life. Or since for that matter. My mom got to the OR at the last minute, but she still made it in time. I was lying on the table when I heard a baby start wailing. I was shocked at how loud and angry she sounded. My doctor lifted her up and said here is your baby! My mom and I were crying and in shock! My mom said right then and there that my daughter looked just like I did.  I don’t know how long we were in that OR, but Vivien didn’t stop crying until they gave her to me. It was the best feeling in the world. We were both alive, both healthy and both happy. I came to find out that Vivien’s cord had been wrapped around her neck so every time I had a contraction she was in distress and her heartbeat would weaken.

Things took a turn when we got back to my recovery room. My little brother was excited and showed me this balloon that played music really loud. As soon as I heard it, I told him not to do that again. I was in a bitchy mood and it was hard for me to conceal it from my guests. I had already been annoyed that my room number was put out on facebook. People were able to visit me that I hadn’t wanted to visit me. I wanted a little bit of privacy because I was trying to breastfeed. I had so many visitors and if I could do it all over again, I would have limited who could have visited me in the hospital.

That first night my mom stayed with me in the hospital. I was so irritable, and I was having trouble sleeping but I slept some. The next day came and I was able to walk, and I was so happy that I wasn’t in a lot of pain. My mom left for most of the day and I entertained lots of visitors. I know you’re going to judge me for this, but I really needed a cigarette and my mom had to be on the floor in order for me to have one. (Actually, when I went to go smoke a cigarette, I was breaking rules.) I have social anxiety and anxiety in general, so I really wanted a cigarette badly. My mom was coming back at 7:30 and when she was running late, I really stressed out because I didn’t want her to get there after the doors would be locked. Mom got there in time, so I went to go smoke a cigarette. On the way, down to the parking lot, I told myself I was sending my mom home. She had irritated me a lot during my pregnancy and she had really been getting on my nerves at the hospital, so I decided I was going to be alone that night. When I got back to the room, I let her and my stepdad know that they needed to leave.

Later on that evening I made a really hard decision. I decided to let the staff supplement my breast milk with formula, which just about killed me. (Breastfeeding was a top priority for me. I wanted to do it for a full year.) I also let the nurse take Vivien to the nursery instead of having her sleep in the room with me. It was gut-wrenching. I cried and cried and felt like such a horrible mother, but I had to do that so that I could take an Ambien and get some rest.

The next morning I woke up and my doctor came to check on me. She noticed the pain meds that were listed on my chart and informed me that those were not the meds she had ordered. My doctor knew about my illness because I had told her years before that I never wanted to get pregnant because of bipolar disorder. She ordered specific meds for me because of my illness. Once she was done checking me out, she told me that I could go home that day. I had a few visitors and then a nurse came and told me that I had to see a caseworker. I was like WTF?!?! When the caseworker got there, she told me that someone had called my doctor with concerns about my mental health.

The caseworker asked me questions and my aunt was in the room at the time so she also helped defend me to the caseworker. In the end, the caseworker decided that I was not a danger to myself or others, so she allowed the hospital to release my baby and myself. This whole caseworker situation really stressed me out. It also made me angry and I knew who called my doctor. MY MOM. At the time I thought that what she had done was malicious. Almost two years after the fact I have come to accept that my mother’s intentions were good. She had no idea a caseworker was going to get involved.  I’m calm about it now, but unfortunately, things were going to get worse before they got better.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Why did I have a baby?

If you read my last blog post you may be wondering, “why would you have a baby after your doctor told you not to?”, and I wouldn’t blame you for asking. It’s so weird because, at the age of 12, I pretty much knew I didn’t want to have kids. My whole adult life I said I wouldn’t have kids. Once I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was very afraid of passing it along to a child. I didn’t want to have a child and watch them struggle with mental illness like I have and know that I passed it on genetically. So what made me change my mind? My mimaw and my mom.

One day before my mom’s birthday, on July 27th, 2016, my mimaw passed away. It hurt so bad because no one has ever made me feel as loved as my mimaw did. Once she was gone I knew no one would ever love me as much as she had. I was her first grandchild and we had a very special bond. In Mimaw’s eyes, I could do no wrong.

As the months passed my depression set in. I was drinking a lot and had been for years. At Christmas, I was so saddened by the faces of my family. It was supposed to be a happy time, but we were all missing my mimaw so much that it was a hard day. I had been thinking that it would be so nice if we all had something positive to focus on. Maybe a baby? On New Year’s Day, I was thinking a lot and making resolutions. I decided that I would try to be pregnant by the following Christmas. According to my original due date, I got pregnant the night before, on New Year’s Eve.

A few weeks later I was moody and cramping a lot and I even told my little brother that my coworker needed to back off because I was about to start my period and I wasn’t going to take much more off of the guy. Then a week went by. I went to the grocery store on my lunch break one day and bought a two-pack of pregnancy tests. I was so nervous that I messed up the first test. I took the second test after reading the directions and I was PREGNANT. I couldn’t believe it. I had been seeing a little girl in my mind’s eye. She had my hair and her daddy’s blue eyes. I had asked people to be praying for her before I even knew I was pregnant. I had gone to Lakewood Church and asked them to pray for me because I was going to try to get off my meds and become pregnant. Now here I was pregnant and I was still on my meds!

I called my OB/GYN and was told that I would be considered a new patient and it would be a few weeks before I could be seen. I had always wanted a water birth so I contacted a place I knew of that offered water birthing and they could see me in a few days so I booked an appointment. The day came and they took my blood and vitals. After my exam, I was taken to a room for an ultrasound. I was so excited. The midwife ran her device all over my belly and after about 5 minutes she told me: “There is no baby.” I was devastated. My blood test showed that I was pregnant but the midwives said that my medicine could have caused a false positive. The first thing I did was call my psychiatrist. She told me that I had to get a transvaginal ultrasound before she would write to me any more prescriptions. My OB/GYN squeezed me in within a few days.

My mom and I grieved. I went straight to her house and we cried and cried. My mom wanted me to have a baby more that I wanted to have a baby. My mom had been begging me for a baby since I was 19 and I was 36 when I got pregnant. I prayed a lot and I just gave it to God. I basically told god if it’s your will I will have a baby. If it’s not, I trust you. When I got to my OB/GYN’s office I was a ball of nerves. I laid on her table and waited for the truth. She said, “You see that little speck that looks like a piece of rice? That is your baby.” I just cried and cried and cried. I couldn’t believe it. I was pregnant, my baby was alive and I was going to be a mom.

My psychiatrist started weaning me off my meds and within a month I was med free. We caught it early so she didn’t think that there would be any damage to the baby. I went my whole pregnancy without taking meds and I did really well, despite a lot of stress in my home and work life. I went to church a lot and to free counseling at church which I think helped me get through it all. I missed my anxiety meds the most but I got through it. The shit didn’t hit the fan until after my daughter was born. One day after she was born to be exact.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

I can't say that I didn't have a warning.

Most people don't know that I have a brother in prison. His name is Ramsey and he's been in and out of prison most of his adult life. I've been writing to him for many years. I wanted to post this letter I wrote to him because in this letter I tell him that my psychiatrist told me not to have kids. She said it wouldn't be safe for me to quit my meds in order to have a healthy pregnancy. I ended up getting pregnant 3 months after I wrote this letter.

Tiffany Fairbanks
10/8/2016 5:24:53 PM
Sent To:


Dear Ramsey, I was happy to read your letter last night. I had hoped you had a good birthday and it seems like you really tried to stay positive. Well, brother, I went to the psychiatrist and she prescribed me antidepressants. I thought at first that my depression was just the sadness of losing Mimaw. Well, a week before my appointment (which had been made three months prior) I realized I have been depressed. I haven't really wanted or done anything but sleep. Waking up every morning was so hard. I felt like waking up, showering and putting on makeup would be about as hard as climbing a mountain. Oh, I was also only wanting to eat while I was awake. I wasn't putting on makeup and barely putting any effort into my appearance. Just as little as possible. I weigh 180ish which is more than I have ever weighed in my life. I was having GERD (heartburn but really freaking bad, like waking up with the taste of vomit and that acidic barf burn in your throat.) even if I ate peanut butter crackers I was still getting heartburn and living off tums. As soon as I started taking my antidepressant it went away. 

I have been on the new meds for 1 week today and I feel like it has made a huge impact. My mental outlook was so bleak and I felt so overwhelmed. I feel really lucky to take meds that help with my anxiety, bipolar disorder and now depression. I never really had many struggles with depression, my main issue in bipolar disorder was mania. The issue with taking antidepressants has typically been that they can instigate mania. I am hoping that this one doesn't. I know you say you feel depressed but don't want to take meds. Mom is the same way. I think because of how she saw Mimaw abuse pills. Well, I don't abuse mine. I take as directed and they don't make me high, they help me live a manageable life, but even still, I struggle. They aren't magical and they aren't happy pills and they don't make me a robot. 

I know I have told you about my fears of becoming pregnant and having a baby. I have also felt great guilt about not having one. I have stressed about it for years. Well, I asked my doctor if she could tell me if a time frame I would be looking at to be weaned off my meds in order to have a pregnancy. I told her not yet but so I could tell my husband. She told me that she does not think it is or ever will be safe for me to get off my meds. I know this might seem weird but I thanked her and felt so relieved that it is no longer all on me. I will risk my health and well being if I try to get pregnant. I don't have to feel selfish and inadequate anymore for not supplying everyone with a kid. Mom is in denial about it and doesn't think I really need my meds or that I should take my doctor's opinion as fact. Brandon is very sad about it. I don't think he wants to 100% believe it either. And maybe they are right. Maybe there is a chance it will happen and maybe I won't turn into a raving psychopath. I don't know but I am really scared to risk it. That was on a Friday and the following weekend I felt so good like a huge weight had lifted off of my shoulders. I'm okay with not having children. Honestly, I think I prefer it. I think I have told you, but I have actually prayed that I could be infertile if I'm not meant to have children because it would take the blame off of me for choosing to not have a child. I know all of this probably sounds crazy but it is how I feel. I can barely afford my two dogs so I seriously doubt I can even afford a child. Don't get me wrong, I love kids and I would love to give Brandon a child, but I seriously don't think I can do it mentally. 

Have you heard any more news about your daughter? What's going on with that situation? I hope we get to meet her one day. I hope she is happy wherever she is. I guess I will wrap this letter up. Do y'all get your mail on Sundays? If so you will get this tomorrow. I wish you were able to email me back. It feels like I have to wait a long time to get a response from you. I was really worried after the last letter I sent you, but your words were a comfort. You may not feel like you can help from in there, but just writing to you and getting my thoughts out in writing actually helps me a lot. I'm glad we can mutually benefit from writing to each other. I love you and hope you are well. We miss you! Tiffany.

Monday, July 22, 2019

My First Commitment at a Psychiatric Hospital

The first time I was hospitalized at a psychiatric hospital was Monday. September 3rd , 2001. Labor Day. My family had previously taken me to the emergency room where I had been drug tested, pregnancy tested and given a sedative. The staff at the hospital had told my mom that if the sedative wore off and there was no change then I would need to be seen at a psychiatric hospital. The sedative only knocked me out. It didn’t fix me. But luckily I had slept a little and I had barely slept at all in the span of a week. My mind just wouldn’t shut off.

First, my family took me to The Woodlands Mall where I got a haircut and my mother bought me a bible. I had been insisting that I needed a bible. My mom bought me a beautiful Women’s Devotional Bible but that wasn’t good enough. I wanted my great-grandmother’s bible. (She ended up getting that one too and I have both to this day. I’m so grateful I was a twerp about my great-grandmas bible because it is very special to me.)

After the mall, there was a quick bite to eat at Chili’s and then we were off. My family pulled up to Cypress Creek Hospital and I had no idea what was coming for me. I’m sure my mom filled out paperwork while I was taken to a room alone with several staff members.
“What year is it?”
“Who is the president?”
“What is your date of birth?”
“Where are you?”
At this time I am manic so I am getting irritated and annoyed. Why are these people asking me such stupid questions? What is the point of all this? Why am I here?

Something in my reaction and answers must have told the staff that I was manic. They decided to keep me. I didn’t realize I was booked to stay until my mom and boyfriend walked me to the hall I would be staying on. It really hit me hard when they walked away and the doors shut and locked behind them. Then I knew I wasn’t leaving and it freaked me out. It’s scary to be in a place when you know you have no option to leave.

At the hospital, we had group counseling, family counseling, individual counseling, activity therapy, outdoor recreation, and everyone’s favorite: smoke breaks. When you are locked up with other mental patients you really look forward to the smoke breaks. I struggled in getting along with people because they really got on my nerves in our group counseling sessions. It was very hard for me to not say rude things.

A guy that wanted to be called Ronald McDonald sat next to me one day and saw a scar on my knee. He told me that was from blow jobs and proceeded to tell me about having sex with a person on a slide in a park. I was 19. This guy looked to be 40 and homeless. I was freaked the fuck out. I ended up telling my family and they had my room moved off of a co-ed hall. I met another lady and she told me her daughter was named Tiffany. We talked and she also told me that upstairs was where the electric shock therapy takes place so don’t let them take you up there. I was so scared once I learned about that. The next time I saw my doctor I asked him about it. He said that was not a legal treatment option and no one does that there. I was so relieved.

During my stay, I was diagnosed with Bipolar I, which means I suffer from mania. as a feature of my illness. I felt really broken once I was given my diagnosis. All of my life I had been told how smart I was and that I had all this potential and I just felt like a huge failure. Something was wrong with my brain. I didn’t realize I was about to get another blow to my confidence because the meds were going to make me gain weight and become insecure about my looks too. I was prescribed Depakote and Risperdal.

My doctor told me on September 10th that I would be going home the next day. I was elated. I was fed up with having to be supervised to shave or blow dry my hair. I just wanted to go home. The next morning I had my bags packed and I was waiting on a couch after breakfast. My mom couldn’t get there soon enough. They had the TV tuned to a basic channel so it was probably Good Morning America that I was watching while I waited for my mom. Things were fine until I started seeing planes hitting buildings. I was so devastated. I had just been to NYC a few years prior and those twin towers were special to me at the time because my mom was pregnant with twins. I had always been in love with NYC so seeing these planes destroy such a wonderful place really hit hard. I cried and cried and asked God why. I had felt so low as a result of my hospital stay and diagnosis and now this. I felt like God had kicked me when I was down. I was mad at God.

My mom picked me up and she and I were so scared because there had been rumors that Houston could be next. We got on I-45 and probably saw two other vehicles from FM 1960 to Conroe (about 20 miles). I-45 was always a busy highway so it was very creepy to see it so wide open and empty. I got home and all I wanted to do was sleep. I hit what I now like to call my depression wall. It hits after every hospitalization, but I didn’t know that then. That was just my first time.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Stigma Will No Longer Shame Me

What is stigma?

Public stigma is the reaction that the general population has to people with mental illness. Self-stigma is the prejudice which people with mental illness turn against themselves. Both public and self-stigma may be understood in terms of three components: stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. (Source)

Let's start with stereotype - a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. What is the #1 stereotype title I've been labeled with? Crazy Bitch or Bipolar Bitch. I've had those terms thrown at me many times. It used to hurt. It used to make me cry. I've finally grown comfortable enough with my own illness to know that if someone throws that type of slur at me, they are the ignorant ones. Am I bipolar? Unfortunately. Can I be a bitch? Absolutely. I guess that makes me a bipolar bitch. So let's say I'm owning my stereotype, which by the way I do not, but let's say I am. I go around telling people, "don't mind me, I'm just a bipolar bitch." "Oh, you didn't like what I said to you? That's just me being a bipolar bitch." I don't do that. Do you want to know what really hurts? I'm pretty sure that I have family members who do. The way I can tell is the way they treat me. I can tell that they think differently about me because of my illness and because of the things I've done when I was manic. 

Maybe they don't call me a bipolar bitch behind my back, but I definitely feel like there is this consensus: "That's just crazy Tiffany back on her bullshit. Here we go again." I feel like I'm definitely not taken very seriously and I'm so different from most of my family that I get written off because of my illness. This could all be attributed to self-stigma because I could be wrong about how some of my family members perceive me but I am left with this "less-than" feeling because of the perception I feel. And the reality is, it's probably not just my family. There are probably many individuals I know that write me off in the same manner. They would never tell me to my face.

Public stigma, prejudice, and discrimination mean that in the future if I were looking for a new job, this blog right here would probably prevent me from attaining the desired position. If a future employer found this blog and just took a few tidbits of info from it they could easily decide that they don't want a bipolar woman working for them. It's possible my current employers could read this blog and change their mind about my employment. Could they fire me for this blog? I don't think so, but Texas is a right to work state so it probably wouldn't be very hard to terminate my employment if they wanted to. That's why I'm careful about what I write. I wish I could be 100% open, but at this time I can't. 

Real talk: people treat you differently when you have a mental illness. One time, many years ago I spilled some drinks when I was waiting tables. My boss yelled out to me "Tiffany, did you take your meds today?!?!?", He sounded angry and I was embarrassed and ended up crying over it. I was really young then and new to my illness. I thought I could tell my employer because he had a background in mental health. Because of the way he treated me after I told him about my illness I rarely ever told other employers about my illness. If I did tell, it would be years after I was hired because I knew my illness could be held against me. I've heard people use bipolar as a slur because they didn't know I have the diagnosis. I've heard people talk about other people with mental illness in a derogatory way. When people don't know about your illness you can fly under the radar and really get more of an idea into how people really feel about mental illness. 

I'm sure there are some people in my life that think this blog is a joke or embarrassing and that I should keep it to myself. Some of the things I write here are embarrassing. I do a lot of embarrassing things when I am manic and I wish I didn't. It's hard to share something so personal on the internet where so many people can see it but I feel like I have to write this blog. Writing this blog has been therapeutic and it has given me a project that is my own. I've really enjoyed writing about my experience and if anyone one wants to look down on what I am doing here that is none of my business. I'm doing this for myself and for other people out there who suffer from mental illness and for those who don't suffer from mental illness. I want more people to know and understand mental illness because that is how you bust stigma.