There have been many questions about where I have been and why this blog has been so quiet over the last 8 months. I have alluded to some things, and some of you know parts of the story, but I want bring everyone up to speed. It has been a roller coaster, to say the least.
|I don’t mean this kind of roller coaster.|
|I mean this kind of roller coaster (the longest inverted roller coaster in the world). Yikes.|
A lot of this story is extremely personal. It includes many experiences I never imagined myself going through or putting my family and friends through. Some events I’m not proud of, some I’m still a little embarrassed by. But, I want to get my story out in the open. This blog has always been about my journey, and I’ve always prided myself on my openness and honesty.
In addition, if I have learned anything throughout the latest portion of my journey, it is that my experiences are not as uncommon as I thought they might be; they just seem that way because few share. If I can help even one individual by sharing my experiences, this story will be worth telling.
So, here we go.
In the interest of full disclosure, the roller coaster ride really begins back in high school when I first began binging and purging. Disclosure #1: I am a recovering bulimic. The eating became worse during my first year in college, and I finally found the courage to tell Nathan about it. We worked together to battle ED (My endearing name for the disorder – it also concidently stands for Eating Disorder) in the only way we knew how: stopping the behavior. I didn’t seek professional help at that time, and now I know I was never really over it.
|Greta at about 3-4 weeks old. I miss those snuggles; now she doesn’t have much interest in snuggling, she would much rather be moving!!|
I recovered remarkably fast, walk/running 4 miles just 13 days after my C-section. I was excited to train hard to try to snag a second OTQ, so everyday I ran/pushed the stroller through sub-zero temperatures (remember the polar vortex?), ice and snow. December and January I logged several 50+ mile weeks. Which reminds me, please, please, shovel your sidewalks! Pushing a stroller over un-shoveled snow is not only very difficult but also really annoying!).
|We bought an infant sling so we could start running with her in our Chariot. She looks sooo tiny here!|
|Beast 2 Feast 5k at 6 weeks post partum!|
When Greta turned 3 months old something changed. Disclosure #2: postpartum depression is awful. A lot of things happened all at once:
- My knees and hips started hurting to the point where I couldn’t train without significant pain. My dream of a second trip to the Trials was becoming more and more impossible as each day passed… and as that dream slowly slipped away from me, even the thought of trying to stay in shape via the elliptical fell to the wayside.
- Nate was gone more frequently because of the nordic ski racing season, which meant for longer days and weekends where I was home alone with Greta. I made a point of getting out of the house and doing something or meeting up with someone every day, but it wasn’t the same…
- I stopped breastfeeding, even though I didn’t want to. I was just a terrible milk producer at that point; I remember the last day I pumped I spent about 2 hours pumping and got just an ounce…
- All of a sudden I couldn’t start on the most basic of tasks. I’d walk past our sink, piled high with dishes, and couldn’t get myself to start on them. I knew I should do laundry as well, but that task seemed gigantically impossible. I felt so awful…
You thought the roller coaster ride was just about over, right? Ha! Far from it! Last week I started to notice strange symptoms. I hardly slept at night, but was incredibly energetic and super motivated. That’s a good thing right? 🙂 I was able to accomplish so much!
By the middle of the week I couldn’t maintain concentration and was forgetting things. It was just plain odd. By Thursday evening I didn’t know where I was and Nate brought me to the ER (for the 6th time this summer). On Friday he brought me to the University of Minnesota Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Unit (aka psychiatric ward). Disclosure #4: I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after manic psychotic episodes with auditory and visual hallucinations. I will have to elaborate on this experience, but let me assure you it was intense (as in a “I had an actual conversation with God” intense).
As a side note, if you have to be admitted to a psych ward (and I now have experience with 3 of them), the U of MN is the place to go. The psychiatrist, doctors, pharmacists, and medical residents that were on my care team were brilliant. Absolutely, astoundingly brilliant.
|I was fortunate to be able to be seen by one of the country’s leading experts in bipolar disorder here|
Another side note: Nathan joked as he was packing for my latest admission that he is now a bona fide expert at psych ward packing: no strings in clothing, no laces in your shoes, enough reading material or other things to try to pass the time. I think I could call myself an expert at trying to stay in shape while admitted. Even though they don’t let you have shoelaces, you can procure drinking straws to lace your shoes. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to find one of those “walk-in-place-and-you’ll-get-fit” videos and you can run and jump in place to the video instead. You can really get your heart rate up, surprisingly! I’m sure I also provided entertainment for the staff there!
|Yes, this is actually THE workout dvd I ran and jumped in place to at the New Ulm Hospital Psychiatric Unit. How cool am I?|
Is your jaw on the floor yet? Turns out, a lot can happen in 8 months.Each of these disclosures is worth exploring in far more depth than this post was able to cover, but I wanted to get all of this out there up front, so that as I find time to elaborate (I have some good stories I want to tell!) there will be some context. I hope to link future posts that fill in more details back to this post.
I have been in hospitals or treatment facilities for a total of over 2 months since March, a dismal statistic if there ever was one. My heart sinks every time I think about it. Instead of focusing on what was, I am turning my energy to the days, months, and years ahead that are going to be even more fulfilling and joyful because of what I’ve been through. I have learned SO much about myself through this process, and know that I have family and friends that I can count on through anything. I want to especially thank my husband Nathan, both our families, our friends Craig, Jeff, and Teresa, and the many others who lent a hand, cooked a meal, or watched Greta when we needed it.