Are you a single Mom? How tough are your struggles? How do you manage when times get rough? Now imagine living your life while also battling mental illness. It just became even harder. Mental illness can be a crippling disease if not treated properly. I am a single Mom and I also struggle with mental illness. I have Bipolar Disorder. Mental illness was hereditary for me.

I struggled with bipolar disorder long before I was clinically diagnosed at 26. I would experience moments of deep depressive states like my college years at Centenary and then my manic states like my years at a local community college where I held a 3.8 GPA while dealing with being a victim of domestic violence. The constant ebb and flow of things in my life are very daunting and there are times when I want to give up and walk away. But then I think of my legacy, my daughter and then I push on harder. Now ladies we know being a single Mom comes with its own set of challenges. But try doing it when battling things like postpartum depression. When I first had my daughter I endured emotionally painful fits of rage and many nights of suicidal ideations. When my baby would cry at night I would bang my head against the wall to drown out her cries. I always thank God that I lived with my mother during this trying time because I don’t think I would be here to tell this story. I never knew how real postpartum depression was until I experienced it for myself.

Let’s backtrack it was not until 24 I actually sought counseling for my bipolar disorder. It was after a suicide attempt over the demise of a relationship that I realized I needed some serious psychological intervention. I was on a downward spiral and the domino effect was taking a toll on me.  For four years I fought with my doctor about taking medication I did not want to pop crazy pills. It was not until I had my psychotic breakdown and he wanted to admit me to an inpatient clinic. I refused to go instead I sought outpatient services instead under his advisement. My first day there I was adamant about the fact that I did not want to hear anyone’s sob story let alone tell my story. I would walk out of sessions when something triggered me emotionally. I did not want to face the music. I was sick and needed help. I would endure going in and out of outpatient therapy for years. All the while my daughter was none the wiser. She just had a mommy that would go through really bad moments. Even now I do not let on to my now thirteen year old daughter that Mommy has a mental health problem. She is not oblivious to my struggle but I have never said aloud that baby here is my struggle. I never show her my blog posts but this is the first one I will share. I want her to know that mental illness is real in our lives. It is something that many before me have struggled with and something many more will face but not alone.

I can recall as a child my mother having a severe panic attack all I remember her verbalizing was she could not breathe. So my stepdad open all the windows and doors in the house. In that moment we all believed my mother was dying. Years later we came to terms that my Mother had a severe panic attack. One fate that I would face several times, it was years after being the victim of domestic violence I went out on a date. When my date tried to drop me off home an overwhelming sense of fear enveloped me and I was consumed by this fear and asked to be dropped off at my Mother’s residence. I know my daughter wonders to herself what is wrong with my Mom. Thankfully, this piece will open the door for that conversation. I know that she too may suffer with issues of mental illness like me and I want her to know that just because she has a mental illness it will never define her as a person.

As of late I have been in a depressive state been failing out of school and it has had a domino effect on my emotional health. I now have to take a medical leave from school. I have been depressed for weeks and have had thoughts of just walking away from everything. Just up and disappearing but the glue that holds me together is the bond between my daughter and I. I refuse to allow mental illness to take me away from her.

Mental illness is alive and well in many of us or many of those we know. Please encourage them to seek help. Therapy and an amazing support system have managed to get and keep me through some really rough patches. It is not simply going to some strange doctor and telling him/her your business it is so much deeper than that. There are skills that stay with you for a lifetime. I am so thankful for doctors that refuse to allow me to give up on myself. For a while I thought I was a lost cause but I look back at how far I have come.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness please seek immediate help. It may seem dark and desolate now but I promise you there is a bright light gleaming at the end of the tunnel. It is often an uphill battle but trust me you are worth the fight. A healthier you await you in the end.

Did something I said here resonate with you? Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts below. I want to say thank you to The Good Men Project for their inspirational piece that helped me write this post. You never know who you will inspire.