I recently have reduced my prescription of clozapine from 450mg to 400mg a day under the care of my doctor. My dreams have been much more vivid throughout this process probably due to being less sedated and thereby remembering things. I am keeping a log of my dreams and their potential interpretations. This is something I did in my twenties and thirties but haven’t done since. A lot of the dreams include my being pregnant which according to writings shared with me by my therapist may mean a new chapter in my life is beginning. We will see….
I may or may not share my dream work depending on how intense things get.
I was working as a project manager for a major telecommunications firm during the time I was pregnant with my daughter and during the time of her birth. After my daughter’s birth, I took time off as I was experiencing debilitating postpartum depression.
Oddly enough, I did not experience any pushback in the workplace associated with seeing the OBGyn every month when I was pregnant. There was no stigma to deal with – everybody can relate to being pregnant, right? So taking a few hours off once a month to go to the doctor was no big deal. In fact, I had support from my project management peers as well as from my program manager.
However, after the birth of my daughter, I experienced crippling postpartum depression. This was not so readily accepted by my management at the telecomm agency. There seemed to be suspicion as to whether I was ill or not and what kind of work I was capable of doing. During this time I took short-term disability to deal with the postpartum depression. I did not believe at the time that the project management work I had been doing in the telecomm space made sense for me going forward. It was just too stressful. As it happened during the time I was on short-term disability leave, the principal of a local environmental and planning agency approached me to offer me a job in environmental project/program management. I thought at that time that work in the environmental sector would be less stressful than work in telecommunications project management.
So I accepted the environmental job while I was out on disability and began that work when my daughter was not quite a year old. That job was very rewarding in some respects. In some respects the postpartum depression was still an issue. What came to pass is that my boss developed lung cancer and within a year or so had retired and shortly after had passed. There was very little room for exploring this employment opportunity long-term. So once again I was preparing for a sea change in my career.
Becoming a Mom has been the greatest gift God has ever given to me.
I got married at 38, got pregnant at 39 and had my child at 40. I often talk and think about how as a person with a behavioral health diagnosis I have done everything “late.” I have to talk with myself about how life events like graduating from Ivy College or graduating from Business School or obtaining my professional project management certification may have occurred on God’s timeline rather than on my own.
Perhaps I am not late in achieving these life events any more than I am early in my perceptions or thoughts about time and matter and anti-matter. Perhaps all of these thoughts and events and timelines are under control with the ultimate project manager – God himself.
Still, I have a hard-time accepting that these successes are on God’s timeline rather than my own. I want to be able to say “I’m normal” and therefore “my successes have occurred in the way I have prepared for, planned and executed.” In reality these successes are contingent upon allowing myself some “grace” and the opportunity to pursue my accomplishments in an elongated timeframe. There are many goals that I have currently that I continue to pursue – the message to myself along these pursuits is that God is in control of these developments, even though I would prefer to be in control myself. I would prefer to be in control just as that ten-year-old child within does so as perhaps despite myself to take full blame when things don’t go according to plan. If my child within is six and/or if God is in control, I am no longer in control of the outcomes of my life. If I give my life over truly to God, then every outcome including the potential for child abuse at age six is part of his plan for me and I need not accept any particular outcome as “my doing” or “my fault.” Perhaps my role in God’s eyes is to tell my story of abuse so that others will not have to endure such happenings or at a minimum can feel some solidarity surrounding those events.
So it was with having my daughter — the biggest accomplishment of my life. For years, I heard that Lithium was contra-positive toward being pregnant and carrying a child. For years in my twenties and my thirties, I asked to change my meds so that I might be ready once I got married to carry a child. When I met my husband, we talked at length about the fact that bipolar illness has a huge genetic component and that there would be some risk of passing the illness along to my child. I considered this strongly and even looked into the idea of surrogate eggs and surrogate Moms. In addition, there was a study occurring at a local university hospital which posited that risks to the fetus for heart impacts associated with lithium use by the mom were grossly overstated. My husband was not keen on the surrogate or adoption alternatives, so about 7 months after we were married, we started to try through traditional methods to get pregnant. I was 39 at the time. I believe that prior to this time, I may not have been ready to be a Mom, at the same time I do not really advise people to wait too long to have kids. My husband and I were very blessed to become pregnant within two months of trying. For most people at the age of 39 in vitro and other pregnancy/fertilization tactics would have been needed.
Even amidst the throes of postpartum depression and related problems, having my daughter in my life and experiencing her as part of my family with my husband continues to be the greatest blessing in my life. Even now in the midst of the teen years and our occasional head-butting, my daughter continues without a doubt to be the love of my life tying with my husband.