Whilst enjoying a generous three to fours hours of frequently interrupted sleep a night, every night, for months on end, no wonder people were waiting for me to crash. My ever growing peri-natal team of consultants, midwives, community nurses, counsellors etc.. were prepared for the fall, and rightly so, without the four lots of meds that propped me up before I was pregnant, and my biggest trigger - insomnia - a bipolar episode would usually be in full swing by now. Faxes were being sent to 'Psych A&E' requesting I be admitted without needing an assessment if I showed up, the local Mental Hospitals' Mother And Baby Unit (MBU) were calling me to let me know they had a spare bed whenever one came up, just in case, etc.. It was like being stalked by a psychiatric version of Groupon, maybe a free glass of champagne on arrival?
But I didn't, contrary to statistics that put me in the seventy percent chance of post-natal psychosis, I held my head firmly above water. It wasn't easy, at times the water stank, many times, in fact most of the time, but I wouldn't allow myself - now a mother - to go under.
So how come? What did the job that my medication use to? How does a first time single mum with untreated bipolar and yoyo hormones cope with a newborn? Hmm..
Firstly, the scrutiny kept me going. When you're being monitored by psychiatrists and social services right down to being judged by the neighbours and corner shop cashiers, it's like being a contestant on Big Brother, and no one picks their nose on Big Brother. I even wash my curtains now. Secondly, routine, something us bipolees often struggle with, more like organising the chaos and option overload. Now, I'm trying to rescue animals, find Maddy, AND look after a newborn. The familiarity of the chaos is bliss. No I don't sleep, but I don't sleep the exact same hours every night. Daytime TV is dull, but it's the same TV show every day. Baby classes run the same time, same place, same faces.. it may well be all go twenty four seven and knackering but rather stabilising, yet without the side effects of lithium. Lastly, and I still can't make sense of it, such a small person takes up so much head space, so I simply don't have the time to obsess about my obsessions. The other day I was rocking my baby with one foot, ticking the cats belly with the other, breast pumping with one hand and copy editing with the other. I felt like a weird cabaret act.
After looking after my baby and everything that comes with it, looking after my sleep (rather, lack of), is my biggest priority, and self image has become my least. The indoor uniform for a new mum is knickers and a t-shirt, and I had to buy a 'boobdrobe' for quick release when out and about. I do have to remember to put my boob back in my bra after a feed when out in public; my baby has no table manners, he guzzles and chokes and I have to put him straight over my shoulder and wind, then, so relieved (OK, excited) by the satisfying sound of baby burp, I forget to put myself back in. My best look was when someone bought me tena pads instead of maternity pads by mistake, and, having run out of clean 'proper' knickers, I had to walk around the house with what looked like a nappy in a g-string. So tired, it bothered me for less than three minutes before welcoming visitors into the home. Tiredness is still a massive issue, but I'm tired of feeling tired and tiredness has become second nature, and I'm too tired to write about being tired, except, so tired was I last week I nearly booked myself vaginal rejuvenation instead of a house cleaner; when someone gave me the business card of a friend of hers who 'tidies up after birth' I genuinely thought I was gonna get someone to come and tidy my house..