I am coming up on the 10 year anniversary of my mental breakdown, my psychotic break, my come apart. The details of the weeks leading up to the day I was found walking down I-75 barefoot with three children under 6 in tow are sparse. I know I didn’t eat for around 7 days prior, and I didn’t sleep for 5, so a psychotic break was inevitable. I remember the details of being picked up by a stranger in a black SUV and transported to a police station where they were finally able to get a hold of my ex-husband to come and get me.(The privilege is not lost on me there.) I remember every single minutiae of that day, as the details haunt me even to this day when I feel like my life is spiraling out of control. But one big difference between Destiny 10 years ago and Destiny today is a sense of self and a sense of purpose.
The 18 months after my come apart were literally spent trying to put me back together. My brain chemistry was all out of wack, I had a diagnosis of depression then PTSD then finally bipolar 1. I had taken a sabbatical from my job in September of 2010, a month after my breakdown, and was living on alimony and child support. People have done it on less, but raising a family of four on less than $1700 a month means you are barely making ends meet. I relied on government assistance as I tried to figure out what was wrong with me.
As anyone with any familiarity with bipolar 1 can attest, if you’ve broken once, you’re gonna break again. And I did. In February 2011, I was back in the hospital. I was put on the gamut of medications all while trying to regulate my cycling. My mania would throw me into psychotic episodes where I would be a divine being, a werewolf, a movie starlet, or an alien ambassador just to name a few. I managed to eke out some semblance of sanity for me to get hired back on as a copyeditor for my old journal in November of 2011.
Another trip to the hospital in May of 2012, thankfully work was understanding and Will took the kids. I was so doped up I don’t remember much of 2012-2013 other than trying to stay sane enough to keep my job and keep my kids. I couldn’t put in many hours at work, so I was still just above the poverty line, but I had a boyfriend at the time who helped keep me afloat. After that relationship ended, I threw myself into work to try and make a decent living as a copyeditor. In 2013 I no longer qualified for government assistance, so my diligence was paying off.
The first half of 2014 was full of horrible relationships and I had just about given up when I met Adam in July. A relative neophyte in the world of relationships, he instinctively knew what I needed and has supported me from the moment we met. In October 2015, I put our relationship to the test and was admitted back to Good Sam’s psych unit for a week. Just another case of going off my meds. Thankfully that was the last time because the formulary that they put me on after that trip seems to be the magic cure. Since 2015 I have had only a handful of depressive episodes and a handful of seasonal manic episodes, but no mania to psychosis. My meds have no side effects, other than requiring 8-10 hours of sleep at night, something I can do now that my kids are older.
In May 2016, I had saved enough to buy my house. Since then I have been working on paying down the nearly $40K of debt I had accrued. I’m halfway there, and every week I eagerly hop on Credit Karma to see how my score has changed with each additional credit card payment. My days are long as I put in long hours at work to try and pay off my debt faster. But I try and balance out the long hours with quality time with the kids. Especially as they are getting older and Jolie will be out of the house soon. I am constantly running the kids somewhere for something, as any mom of teens will attest to, but I honestly would not change this season of my life for anything. Adam and I are in a good place, the kids can come to me with their problems, I am still working on moving beyond waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I am happiest when I can live in the moment.
Today I look back on how far I fell and how I scraped by to make it where I am. Thanks to Will, I don’t think the kids have ever wanted for much. They all know we have to wait for payday for any major purchases,and we have had our share of mac and cheese or ramen nights. I still have the scars from being under the poverty line. Every time I hand my debit card over, I cringe just a bit as I pray it goes through, even if I have plenty of money in my account the dread is still there. I wonder if that will ever go away, or if that’s my own brand of PTSD.
So on this 10 year anniversary of my come apart, I think it’s important to recognize all the people that helped put me back together. My parents, my siblings, my boyfriends along the way, Will—I couldn’t have picked a better father for my kids, I wouldn’t change that for anything. Douglas, my rock, my bff. Adam, my partner, my true north, the one I want to have coffee with forever. It’s been a long road to get here, and I know I still have a ways to go, but I feel confident in who I am as a mother, lover, friend, child of the stars.
I love you all, some more than others.