mental health

Holy Shit. You're trusting ME with a baby?

I am going to be a parent.  In less than 6 months there will be an infant under my care (and of course the care of my wife).

I’m excited. And honestly, I’m scared shitless.

This weekend we picked up a crib and dresser from some of our wonderful amazing friends.  And things got just a little bit more real.

I have fears.  Fears about how this illness will impact my ability to parent.  Fears about my ability to raise a child in general.

I know that it is entirely normal to have these fears.  I know that I will still be a great parent.

But I am scared.

And it is hard to fight these fears.  I don’t know how, other than to keep going.  I know I’m great with kids.  But I know I get stressed out and react in ways that are less than beautiful.  I fear that the stress of having an infant will shut me down and I will have post partum depression(even though I’m not carrying).

These specific fears are new and foreign to me.  This is a daunting responsibility.  One I take very seriously.

I have never been a parent before.  This is the unknown and I am leaping in headfirst and what if the pool isn’t filled with water and what if. . .

And what if it’s the best thing I ever do?

What if I find a fulfillment and wonder and beauty I have never known before?

What if this fear simply means I realize the great responsibility being placed on my shoulders?

What if I am an amazing parent?

I could choose to drown in the fears.  I could do that easily.  I’ve done it many times before.  Getting caught up in my own headspace is something which comes naturally to me.

What matters is that I give those fears their voice.  I let myself have them.  But I come back at them with the other what ifs.

Living in fear is a choice.

I choose to combat the fear.

What do you choose?

Why do I write? Because our youth are hurting.

photo by Daniel Watson

photo by Daniel Watson

There are days where I find myself wallowing in the thought of “What the hell am I even doing?”  Why do I have this blog, what’s the point, no one’s reading it, and all of the other bullshit we tell ourselves every day.  If I am good at anything, it is lying to myself about my value or the value of what I am doing.

But I have an answer for those thoughts.  I find that answer every Thursday night when I walk into a room filled with 25+ very loud teenagers.  I help run an LGBTQ* teen group in the town I live, and through that group I have found myself.  I have found my voice.  I have found that thing that pushes me to be the best I can be.

This work is easily the most fulfilling thing I have ever done, but it can also be the most heartcrushing.  I see these kids one night a week.  And I see them.  I see their self harm scars.  I hear about their medication changes, their hospital stays.  I see them smile when they announce their new name, one which fits their gender identity.  I see them grow and advocate for themselves.  I see them struggle in a society which either ignores them or tells them they are not good.

LGBTQ* teens are a vulnerable population.  The homelessness rates are through the roof, self harm and suicide occur more often among LGBTQ* teens than other populations.  Many people decide that these numbers prove that LGBTQ* people are sick, or wrong.  The interesting thing is, you take LGBTQ* teens with a supportive environment, and their numbers begin to match the national averages.

Yes, mental health issues affect the LGBTQ* population more than the general public.  At the same time, homophobia and transphobia affect the LGBTQ* population more than the general public.  We are told we are not enough.  We are kicked out of our homes, our churches.  We are told we are not good enough for the God who got us through rough times.  We are shunned from family members and in most states can be fired or lose our housing if we are outed.

This community; my community has come a long damn way.  We have so many who came before us to thank for the benefits and freedoms we have now.  Yes, I was able to legally marry my wife.  But that is not where the work ends.  In the state of Missouri I could be fired or refused housing simply because I am LGBTQ*.  I am not sure whether I will have to adopt my child or not. 

I see my kids fight to be who they are in a world which tells them they’re too young to know who they are.  I see them come out to parents and to friends and I see how damn brave they are.

I want to be like them when I grow up.

And so I write.

And so I speak.

Because I have a voice and I’m not going to be silenced: especially not by myself, or my own internalized homophobia.

So when I find myself full of self doubt and frustrated, I think of my teenagers. I think of their bravery.  And I push forward.

Because people are dying. 

And they don’t have to.

Yup, Still bipolar.

I wrote my post last night, only to delete it this morning.

My brain works better in the morning.

I am struggling a bit right now guys, and it sucks.

I can feel that my mood is off, and it's harder to keep my brain in check.  It jumps to dark places quickly and easily.  I know that is simply a symptom of the illness, but it will never not be scary.

Mixed episodes are a part of bipolar most people aren't aware of.  But they are the worst of both worlds, and that is where I am right now.

I'm calling my psychiatrist once it hits 8 am to see about upping my meds.

This is a fucking HARD phone call to make.

I sometimes forget that this illness is still a part of me.  I have learned how to manage this illness so well I forget that I have it.

And then this shit strikes.

I am ok.  I am safe.  I am calling my doctor and I e-mailed my therapist last night.  At this point I have the coping skills to make it through pretty much anything. 

This is a chemical thing, set off by certain stressors in my life.

This is my life.

I don't know what it's like to not be bipolar.  I don't know what it's like to not randomly think about suicide or self harm when I get stressed out, even when it's good stress.  I don't know what it's like to not have to fight every day to keep a hold of a brain that wants to run away.  A brain that wants to be sick.

I am told that I am incredibly self aware.  I am told I am a badass.  You guys, I HAVE to be to simply survive.  I have to ask for help when I need it.  I HAVE to listen to what I'm feeling and analyze it and decide what it means.

I am hurting right now, and most of it is because I am being reminded that I am STILL sick.  That I will always be sick.  Even though I know how to manage it, even though I have all the skills and tools I need to stay healthy and I utilize them.  I am still sick.

This illness is invisible, and I am good at hiding it.  There are very few people whom I let see the illness.  Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there.

I am ok.  I am safe.  I am getting the help I need.

I just sucks that I need help.