Guilt and Mental Illness

DCF 1.0

I had my second appointment with my new counselor today, and so far, she is probably the best counselor I have had so far.  I’m very thankful that I spoke up about my last one and told the center that she wasn’t a good fit.  They paired me with Marissa, and bam!  Perfect fit.

Today was a very helpful appointment.  First, she gave me a more specific diagnosis based on my symptoms over the past several years.  She says I’m Bipolar II with moderate seasonal patterns.  She’s saying moderate until she gets to know me better.  She told me that she doesn’t want to “over diagnose” me.  The big thing with this is that it means there are times of the year that I’m in “remission” (March through July), and there are times of the year that I struggle more (August through February). It varies to some degree every year, but it’s around the same. I also may have good days with-in that, but overall, I have more struggle during certain times.  I also tend to struggle on rainy and overcast days, which goes along with this.

She has given me a “Beam” mood chart, and she wants to see how I do over the course of two months.  She’s trying to determine if I have rapid cycles.  We both think I do (during my rough months), but we’ll see what the chart shows.

Another thing that was helpful is that we discussed the guilt that I feel because of having this mental illness.  Right now, I’m up and down, but even on my good days right now I have struggled desperately with motivation.  I have forced myself to shower every day, continue taking care of my kids (mostly basic needs), get up in the morning and not go back to sleep (though yesterday I took a very intentional nap… that’s different than sleeping the day away), and yesterday I even baked (with my little helper, Levi).  But this is mostly basic stuff.  Getting laundry done, dishes, cleaning up the house, etc, are all very difficult for me right now.  I also don’t do the things with the kids that I would love to do, such as reading to them lots, doing devotionals, praying with them every day (other than dinner time), doing lots of seasonal activities (I have done some over the past few weeks, but not as much as I’d like), etc.  I just feel as though I’m failing as a wife and mom all around.  I also feel like I’m bothering my friends and family by talking about my illness and feeling as though it seems like I’m just trying to get attention for it (which I’m not, but I assume people think that of me).  I understand that it’s normal to have days in which there is no motivation to do things like laundry and dishes, but I’m home all day every day by myself, and I go weeks and months without doing it without Robert’s help.

She asked me a simple question, and it has completely transformed the way I think about all of this.  She asked me if maybe all of this guilt is a result of me not truly accepting that I have an illness.  I talk about mental illness all the time.  I address it as a true illness when I talk about it.  I understand that other people can’t help how they feel because it’s an illness.  But I am not sure that I have truly accepted it for myself.  I always feel like I should be able to “will myself” to feel better.  That’s just not true most days.

The extreme lack of motivation is part of depression.  I’m doing good right now to get out of bed (and stay out of bed), take a shower every day, and take care of the kids when they get home.  I need to be proud that I’m fighting hard to overcome this, and it may not look like dishes and laundry being done.  For now.  It’ll come.  That’s the beauty of this new diagnosis.  I have March to look forward to :-).

In the meantime, I allow my husband to help me (because he truly understands and wants to be there for me), I am open with my friends who are there to support me, and I fight to do what I can to take care of my kids because they need me.   I will also continue to share here because this is therapeutic for me.

Thanks for reading.

…until next time…

Whole Wheat Banana Pumpkin Muffins

This week has been so good!  I even have my desire to bake back!  It’s been months since I’ve baked.  And I used to bake everything from scratch.  I don’t know if this energy and these good days will last, but I’m taking advantage of them!

Yesterday, I baked my favorite fall muffins!  They were a hit this morning with the kids.  Robert mixed some cream cheese, sugar, with a dash of vanilla to top these yummy muffins.

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This recipe originally came from Passionate Homemaking (Banana Crumb Muffins), but I have changed it so much that it’s pretty much my own now!  Enjoy!

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (I use Prairie Gold White Whole Wheat- I buy it at Walmart)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sucanat (or 3/4 cup brown sugar)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.
3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, pumpkin, sugar, egg and melted butter.
4. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.