I wrote this in response to Kitt’s blog post. http://kittomalley.com/about/my-story/ . Her unedited response is below my edited email.
On Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 7:30 AM,I wrote: To: Kitt OMalley From: Me
Subject: Re: [Kitt O’Malley] Contact Me
Comment: Dear Kitt,
Thank you for posting your story on your blog and for following my blog as well. I am STRUGGLING with my mental illness as an artist/musician/writer/mother/etc.etc.etc. We all are I guess. I have a history partially similar to yours, I guess, but with abuse, constant low level depression and at least two major depressive episodes (one hospitalization.) I have been treated poorly by friends, lawyers, magistrates and acquaintances. My divorce really made me feel like I was better off invisible.
I recently have dealt with children’s services regarding my youngest child who is almost 15 months now. They just closed my case after a four month investigation as there never was neglect or abuse. It took four months of fear, severe anxiety and paranoia. I guess, you’re not really paranoid if people are investigating you, calling all your friends, inspecting your house, implying that I am a hoarder (all the sculptors I know fight with that label, trying to get you to willingly “take a break” from your child. I was being treated with bipolar medication that did not work for me. Seroquel was like a tranquilizer. It knocked me out. I could not wake up until my daughter started shrieking for me in the middle of the night. I lived alone, so this was not good. I made an appointment with my psychiatrist and he gave me Buspar. I had emotional lability as a side effect. It was the second medication that helped my case worker decide to call Children’s Services.
I’m sorta okay most of the time, but this was not good at all. I had just received pretty horrible news from another friend and that triggered an anxiety attack that rolled into a full blown panic attack. I try to keep my almost daily anxiety attacks private, so I don’t frighten people. My panic attacks are rare and not something I want anyone to witness. I put the baby in her playpen where she was safe and lost it. The case worker refused to leave until someone came to be with me. I made some calls, got someone to promise to come over, then the case worker left. I did not know that she was going to call Children’s Services. If I had known, I would have preferred for her to call in front of me. All of my other case workers, nurses, therapists, say that it is common practice to call in front of the client, unless they fear for their personal safety.
I was injured during my pregnancy in the fall of 2013 and re injured as I gave birth. Then I had post partum depression, which was also in the middle of my very long contentious divorce that took from 2012-2014. I couldn’t walk after my daughter’s birth, I was in a lot of pain, on pain killers and exhausted. I had had a high risk pregnancy, during a stressful (big ass understatement) time. Mysteriously, I didn’t do a lot of sorting and organizing from my upstairs bedroom. My teleportation skills are rusty. So, my house was not deemed safe for a child to live in by a very young case worker who reported me, then quit her job and left the state. I’ve said before, I couldn’t make this shit up.
In 2012, my three boys were taken by my angry, narcissistic ex-husband, who has a history of mental illness. He had a psychotic break (he claimed due to LSD) and was gone for three weeks when he was a teenager. He was found in a small chapel in England, fixated with the architecture. He became a _________ and moved to America where he met me. A naive, young college student on break due to my first major depressive episode. I did go back to College and graduate two years later.
My ex was aware of my mental history and cobbled together a scary version of my mental history to gain custody of my boys through the court’s emergency temporary restraining order process. He is a very convincing actor. If you lie, (by changing the details, slightly,) change the date and location that the supposed events occurred then you can sound dangerous in a rural county court. The court awarded me supervised visitation because I had been portrayed as such a monster. I thought that by having supervised visitation, I could prove that I was a good mother who was never a threat to her children. I did not realize the stigma attached to mental illness, until another lawyer I consulted told me that my lawyer had suspected that I was guilty and advised the supervised visitation to cover his ass.
My ex told everyone that I had been beating and abusing the children for years. He had a friend of his, email my “rant” email list and told them that I was unstable, dangerous and that I was making up the abuse that I received at the hands of my son. Some of my friends let me know about the email, then emailed them back telling them that the letter was inappropriate and they needed to butt out. These people also gave very private information regarding my relationship with my husband to my young children to influence them against me.
My ex alienated me from my children, former friends and tried to influence my family by lying to them about me to make them feel sorry for him. He refuses to seek help, but continues to manipulate the boys and destabilize them any chance he gets. I was thrown out of the house and my studio and stripped of most of my belongings except for my clothes, books and tools during the divorce. I have no divided marital property, no spousal support, though no child support to pay (I would be in jail.) He mowed down my gardens, took my phone books and printed journals from the past 18 years, then denied it all in court.
I thought that truth was more important than pride, so I admit whatever faults a traditional state feels they should put a woman through when she no longer wants to be a slave to her husband’s emotional cruelty and abuse. Ohio is a no fault state, so legally, I was supposed to be okay, morally, I was going to hell and was treated as someone deserving shunning. This county fights for no victim.
Long story, I left a lot out. This is why I write poetry. It is a softer way of describing my hell. This is not so coherently expressed, but your story made me aware of some similar issues. Thank you for giving me a place to talk to someone. Yes, I have a team of care workers for me and my child, plus a therapist I see twice a week.
I have a new psychiatrist who tried new meds for my supposed bi-polar diagnosis, but I had very bad side effects and he has changed his diagnosis. I’m trying to pin him down. I think I just don’t fit well in the little diagnosis boxes they try to put you in. My depression and seasonal effective disorder in the winters is crippling. My anxiety and panic levels are very high. I’m also ADHD. I have been preliminarily approved for disability based upon my previous doctor’s diagnosis. I’m waiting to receive another confirmation letter. I really don’t have mania. Sometimes, I can create and do wonderful things, when I can leave the house. I am a good mother and a good art teacher.
NAMI here is non existent. Support is sporadic. I work, very part time as an art model and art teacher and am trying to have a relationship with my daughter’s father (not my ex-husband.) I miss my boys who have grown up in my absence. I have made smaller artwork due to my living situation. Art and blogging are my lifelines. My music is on hold. Thank god for the internet.
From: Kitt OMalley
Subject: Re: [Kitt O’Malley] Contact Me
Date: January 29, 2015 4:28:54 PM EST
There are many WordPress mental health bloggers who anonymously blog. We support one another. I would post this anonymously. You would get lots of support. Not just from me. In fact, I’m considering removing my new contact page, for I prefer communicating publicly, so that I feel the support and love of the community. One-on-one, I tend to get overwhelmed and take on others’ problems. My problem, as I have poor boundaries and can be too empathic.
Please do join our online community of mental health bloggers, either as a part of your current blog, or a second blog if you want even more anonymity. You will receive lots of love from fellow mental health and bipolar bloggers. I promise. (You can even copy and paste this email conversation as a post. You have my permission to include my email content.)
As to what you are experiencing, I first received therapy at 18 years old and was diagnosed depressed. Did not get diagnosis of bipolar type II (hypomania) until 39. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly what my diagnosis is now – type I or II, rapid cycling or not, etc. The main issue is that I have bipolar disorder and am properly treated for it. Diagnosing and medicating is currently a trial and error effort. Just where medicine is today, but advances are always happening. Brain scans for diagnosis and treatment are currently prohibitively expensive and probably not clinically necessary. Scanning is useful for research, but not yet for treatment.
Best of luck,