Mentally Ill and Pregnant

No, I’m not pregnant. My niece is. The same one that I wrote about in Runaway and Runaway Part II.  She has an odd diagnosis, basically everything on the extreme end of the spectrum: bipolar, schizophrenic, schizoeffective.  She is probably not all of those things but she is bipolar and does have visual and audio hallucinations.  She’s been unmedicated for over 6 months.  She started birth control pills a few months ago and then quit them.  She is 24, in college, unmarried, and still with the loser she was with before when I wrote the aforementioned posts.

All of that aside, she is an unmedicated, mentally ill, pregnant young woman.  Does anyone have any advice they can share on this subject?  If I can give her any suggestions to help her through this difficult time, I would greatly appreciate it.  One friend has already been kind enough to share her thoughts and suggestions, but I wanted to open up the suggestion box a little more by asking all of my readers for advice.

Naturally, I am very worried about her.  I wish she had waited until after she finished college and was settled into a stable relationship before getting pregnant.  I fear she won’t ever finish college.  I fear he will leave her again and she will become a single mother.  She already lives on medicaid, disability, and food stamps and barely gets by.  I fear post-postpartum depression the most.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

Fight Stigma!

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as National Mental Illness Awareness Week.  Here we are 22 years later and it’s still not acceptable to call into work as a sick day due to depression or other mental illness.  What happens if you tell your employer that you suffer from mental illness?  If you’re like me, you will lose your job.  Wait, that’s illegal!  Not if you work for a small company.  Check the fine print before you accept a job offer.

Some statistics for you to chew on…

Anxiety: 18% of the adult U.S. population, 23% of these cases are considered severe.  Women are 60% more likely to suffer from anxiety than men during their lifetime. (This includes Agoraphobia, GAD, OCD, Panic Disorder, PTSD, Social and other phobias)

Bipolar:  2.6% of the adult U.S. population, nearly 83% of them are considered severe cases.

Major Depressive Disorder: At any given time, this affects about 7% of the population, but when looking at lifetime prevalence, this increases to 16.5%.  Women are 70% more likely to suffer depression than men, and when looking at age groups, young and middle aged adults are most likely to be sufferers as compared to those over the age of 60.

Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.6% of the U.S. adult population.

Schizophrenia: 1.1% of the U.S. adult population.

I have selected to give you statistics for only a few of the major mental health issues.  Many more statistics can be found on the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/index.shtml

While these numbers may seem small, these illnesses affect millions of people.  Millions of individuals with families, jobs, and responsibilities that can be difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with while suffering from an illness.  For some people, illnesses are comorbid (occurring together) but this doesn’t make the numbers less formidable.  For example, anxiety and depression often go together, which makes coping extremely difficult.

Although Mental Illness Awareness week is at a close, I hope you will keep in mind some of these statistics.  For those of you who are sufferers, you are not alone.  For those of you who are friends or family of someone with a mental health disorder, we appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.  For those of you who are neither… please join us in the battle against stigma.  Together we can make the world a kinder place.

 

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A couple of down days

OK, I’m having a couple of down days here. Tuesday was great as I spent it with my BFF and we had loads of fun! But yesterday and today it was back to the job hunt, and that has me down a bit. There just aren’t jobs out there for me.  I’m going to a conference in August, and hopefully something there will work, but mostly I’m SOL.  I am still holding on to hope for a few of the teaching positions I’ve applied for but I’m getting nervous as August, and the school year, is fast approaching.  I realize that it’s just a numbers game and it only takes 1 success.  But what if that one success doesn’t come until after unemployment runs out?  I am half-way through unemployment, and since unemployment in my state is dropping, the tier 2 and tier 3 federal government unemployment won’t be available.  So I will be on my own.

OK, so I figured I would lower my standards and apply for any kind (within reason) of job after unemployment runs out.  I don’t need a PhD to type letters or file forms, but I have done it before.  It’s depressing work and last time led me to a suicidal ledge, but hopefully this time I can keep it together.  Hopefully, it won’t get that far.  Hopefully, I will have a job soon.  I am so over sitting at home.

I wish I could have written a novel or done something more productive during all this time off, but it was time well spent working on me.  Getting myself stable is no easy feat, and I think I should give myself some credit for it.  Even though I’m having a couple of down days, I don’t think this is going to turn into a mood episode.  I hope not.  I need to keep myself upbeat in case something good comes up.  There’s nothing worse than blowing a job interview because you are depressed.  (And believe me, I’ve done this several times before.)

Another thing that has me a bit down is my schizoaffective niece – Persephone.

She called me in a panic yesterday and asked me to co-sign on an apartment so she would have someplace to live.  I told her I had to discuss it with DH first.  She said she would call me back.  That was 12:30 yesterday afternoon.  I’ve not heard from her since.  When she does call back, I will have to tell her that I just can’t be a co-signer.  First, I don’t have a job, so I wouldn’t qualify because I have no income.  I think she would understand that.  But on a more personal level, even if I could qualify, this just isn’t something I could do right now.  I can’t make that kind of financial commitment to someone else when I am struggling to keep my own head above water.  Co-signing on a lease makes you liable for everything that other person does – if they trash the place, you are responsible, if they default or get evicted, it shows up on your credit score.  No, I can’t take that kind of risk.  She is un-medicated, unstable, and I know nothing about her boyfriend other than he appears to be irresponsible.  If I was working and making a $120k a year, I would probably do it.  But not now, not in this situation.

So I am upset with her – she only calls me when she wants something.  She isn’t going to see a doctor for either her mental or physical health.  She is acting irresponsible (not surprising since she is a manic state), and spending money on geckos that they don’t know if they can take care of.  They had one month of free rent, but instead of using that month to find their next place to live, they spent it having fun.  There’s nothing wrong with fun, but you have to take care of the real world too.  (I’m one to talk, but we aren’t talking about me right now.)  So instead, they paid for a week in a hotel while they look for a place to live.  Then I get a panicked phone call and now nothing.  She’s 24, in love, in a manic state with schizophrenic hallucinations.

It is so frustrating when you watch someone you love throw their life away on partying and bad relationships.  She had such a promising future when she graduated community college, but then she took a year off, and now she is in a mess.  She had been stable on medications for nearly 10 years, but she got sick and tired of the side effects and the fact that she couldn’t go out drinking while taking them.  So she stopped taking her meds.  First the Lithium, then the Seroquel.  She is allergic to Lamictal and Trileptal, but doesn’t keep very good medical records so she doesn’t know what she has tried and what she hasn’t, or what makes her sick and what doesn’t.  “I’ve tried everything,” she said.  I know that feeling, but it’s probably not true.  I don’t know.  There’s nothing I can do to help her.  I don’t like feeling helpless.

And I think that is the reason for my melancholy.  I feel helpless.  I feel helpless to help my niece.  I feel helpless in the job hunt.  Now that I’ve identified the problem, I can work on it.

 
© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Runaway Part II

A big THANK YOU to everyone for their help on my post Runaway.  This post is followup to that one and I wish I could say everything is OK now, but honestly, I’m no longer in the loop.  My sister sees her daughter as just in one of her moods, and my niece doesn’t want to talk to me right now.  But my last conversation with her was frightening.

I am going to start referring to my niece as Persephone, representing both her dual nature (bipolar) and particularly the darker side of schizophrenia.  I’ve also decided to refer to my sister as Hera, not only because she is a mother, but she can also be a selfish bitch.  Names established, I will get back to the story.

Conversations with Persephone went from strange to stranger the night that I posted Runaway.  She was referring to herself in the third person saying that Persephone is lost.  Imagine my shock, on facebook chat, when I asked who I was talking to and she gave me a new name.  (I will call this second personality Proserpina, not for personality reasons but because she is the Roman equivalent of Persephone.)  I was speechless.  Meanwhile, after hours of cajoling, DH convinced Persephone/Proserpina to call me.  It was like talking to a stranger.  Proserpina spoke differently – in monotone, devoid of interest yet with a touch of anger by some of my questions.  She said she takes over when the emotional turmoil is too great for Persephone to handle.  Whether this is a true manifestation of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or not, I cannot say as I have no real experience with this illness.  Proserpina believes this situation to be a manifestation of her (their?) schizophrenia.

She said that Persephone will have no memory of what has occurred while Proserpina is in charge.  Her purpose is to keep Persephone’s body from dying, although she made it quite clear that she could hurt (but not kill) the body if she chose to do so.  She is supposed to be in charge until Persephone returns, but also to help “find” her, whatever that means.  Proserpina told me that when my niece “blacked out” while driving home, it was she who took over to keep Persephone from driving off the road and committing suicide.  When I asked if she was Persephone’s protector, the touch of anger shone through the mostly monotone speech.  This is when she informed me that she could hurt this body if she chose to but she could not destroy it because it did not belong to her.  Proserpina told me that she intended to leave for a few days, going camping in the woods in order to “find” Persephone.  Proserpina said that the switch lasts typically from 12-24hrs, but it had already been 24hrs since the switch by the time I talked to her.  To say that I am worried, is putting it mildly.

Update:  I just received an answer to my text and Persephone said the last couple of days are a blur.  Her memory is fragmented over the past few days and she feels as though what she does remember doesn’t belong to her.  She isn’t concerned, she thinks maybe she was on a drinking binge.  Now what do I do?  Is it my place to tell her about this conversation with Proserpina?  How do I convince her to take her drinking, partying, and medications more seriously?  Next time, things might not end so well.

 

 
© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Runaway

I need your help. I need your advice. My niece (age 23) is running away from home. She is schizophrenic and bipolar I. She is off her meds and driving a car that isn’t very road worthy. She won’t talk to me or her mother, but most likely this is over a boy. She lives 1800 miles away from me. How can I help her?

She told her mother that she doesn’t remember her drive home last night and that the “darkness” is coming back so she must be on the verge of a psychotic break. She has audio and visual hallucinations. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I can do.

Please, if anyone has any advice, I would like to hear it.

Thank you.