Battling mental illness is hard. It’s even harder when you don’t know what you’re battling. I often feel like it’s me against the world and I’m armed with pride and sarcasm. Neither of those get you very far. In truth, one minute I feel like I’m on a raceway zipping through life in first place. I will feel good and feel blessed. I feel honored to have given birth to the most gorgeous set of Irish twins that I have ever met. But the entire time I’m sparring with a monster. Sometimes it is big, other times it is small. When I’m jumping hurdles and dodging bullets, it’s small but it doesn’t take much for it to grow. Things like waking up late, not eat breakfast, being reprimanded at work, or any form of interruption to my routine will cause the monster to grow. Then I’m battling Goliath.

I try to fight it off by thinking about things like caring for my kids and keeping my job. Those are the two immovable aspects of my life that keep me centered. The monster wins sometimes. Sometimes it will eat me alive but I’m still fighting and struggling to get out. I have to get back to my life, my kids, and my work. I CAN’T BE EATEN! Then I give up. I give up and curl in its belly. I stay curled in its belly feeling extremely defeated and overwhelmed.

While I’m in the belly of the beast, I think about my spending habits, the wrong turns I’ve made in life, and the missed opportunities. I wonder what I have done wrong and why my peers seem to be excelling but I feel like I haven’t budged. I consider what I could do differently going forward and then I kick myself in the back for being such a hard learner.  What the fxck is wrong with you? Why do you keep doing this? You’re clearly an idiot – or are you just insane? This is the beginning of the cycle.

Then someone, it could be a friend or a family member, will try to help me out of the monster’s belly. Even though their voices are muffled, I can still hear them through the monster’s belly. But it doesn’t always help. In my mind the Chaos Theory starts to run its course. I begin to imagine all of the things that will go wrong if I don’t manage to get out of the abyss I have allowed myself to trip into.

There’s a sense of responsibility that doesn’t allow me to wallow. My kids are usually the end point for me. I can’t struggle with being a single mom and having some form mental illness. I have to pick my battles and I choose not to settle in the the monster’s belly because I have something far more pressing to attend to.  I want to see my girls grow and excel. There’s a burning desire to give them everything I didn’t have. They need me far more than I need to feel sorry for myself. The pit in my chest that weighs me down gets lighter around my babies but what happens when they don’t need me anymore? I try not to think about it.

So it’s settled – this isn’t mental illness, it’s life. Right?

For my girls

To my lovely and beautiful children, this is what I have to leave you – my words. I leave these with you with the hopes that by the time you are older, I have something more to give. It saddens me, the world we live in. I can be taken from you at any moment, and you from me. The worse part of this fact is that should I go before you have the opportunity to truly know me, you will never know me at all. Your knowledge of me will be based on what others know of me and no one knows me anymore. In fact, I’m still learning me. I have been mulling this over for a few weeks now, maybe longer. Sometimes I wonder if other parents consider this or if I am being a bit morbid. Am I? Is it morbid to consider the words of others in the event of my untimely demise?

I analyze the behaviors of my past and the arguments as well as the losses. Promiscuous. Selfish. Mean. Rowdy. Obnoxious. Unambitious. Lax. Indifferent. Weird. Crazy. Quick Tempered. Hot and Cold. These would be the words of people who knew me growing up. People that are unwilling to know me now and I can’t fault them for that. These are words that I can agree with. These are adjectives that I am willing to admit that I once displayed and probably still do from time to time. Unfortunately, I have not met many people since I’ve had you. Introvert. Tactless. Amusing. Indifferent. Kind. Confused. Ambitious. Talented. Lost. Sad. Selfless. Considerate. These are words that I have been able to pinpoint for myself. We are all human, that is for certain and we are ever changing and developing. But at what point do we, as people, acknowledge the changes that other make? Or when do we acknowledge that changes that we see in ourselves?

I want for you to know me as I am in the present. I want you to know that I live and breathe for you. I want you to know that despite the views of others, I have made every attempt to better myself as a result of your presence in my life. I want you to believe in change and growth.  I will show you the best way I can. I will show you strength and resilience.  To be clear, I want you to be nothing like me. I want you to be better – to be great in your own right.