There are a multitude of triggers for Bipolar disorder.

  1. Changes is sleep patterns or lack of sleep
  2. Blowout arguments with partners, coworkers, friends
  3. The stress of a bad relationship or a breakup
  4. Alcohol abuse and drug intoxication and the after effects
  5. Antidepressants (your read that right), Corticosteroids and other medications
  6. Changes in season
  7. Birth of a child and all of the changes that come with it
  8. Financial and emotional strains due to job loss
  9. The death of a loved one

I was about to hit a perfect storm of triggers.

My daughter (Bear) was eight months old when the first cracks in my marriage appeared. I’m not going to go into what happened our of respect for my ex and to preserve our friendship today, except to say that mistakes were made on both sides. The deterioration of our relationship led to some intense moments that I’m sure both of us regret.

My depression was ramping up as I wrestled with what to do. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think. Everything in my life started to falter; my work, my ability to parent, my ability to make decisions. Every day was a struggle to stay afloat. I couldn’t stay in a marriage that was irrevocably broken but could I make it as a single mother? All it took was one incident with my ex to seal my decision.

Women go to emergency shelters for a lot of different reasons. They might be leaving an abusive relationship, they might be experiencing homelessness, they might be in crisis (mental health, financial, etc.). I wasn’t in a physically abusive relationship but there was a scary moment and I didn’t know where to turn to. I didn’t have friends or family nearby to take me and the Bear in.

So I found myself at the intake office of the Sheriff King Women’s Emergency Shelter, an 18 month baby in tow. This was a new low. Knowing that this was going to be an epic rough patch, I booked an appointment with my doctor and we increased my Celexa to the max (remember now that antidepressants can actually be a trigger for Bipolar episodes and it would be years before I was diagnosed). I wasn’t feeling much relief with the medication at this point.

For the next 26 days the Bear and I lived at the shelter. I would drop her off at her day home in the morning and go to work. I told very few people about our circumstances, I was embarrassed and barely keeping it together. I had no idea where we were going to end up or how I was going to make it. I was in pure survival mode.

Depression is a real son of a bitch. Every bad thought is amplified and your brain is constantly working against you, telling you that you’re nothing, that you certainly can’t provide a good life for your daughter on your own. You’re going to be homeless, poor and alone. How can you tank TWO marriages?? What is wrong with you?? Those thoughts rained down like cement blocks, chipping away at me.

I would lay in my room at the shelter every night crying, trying to soothe the Bear at the same time. She didn’t know what was going on, what my motivations were for ripping her out of her home and everything she knew. I felt like a failure as a mom and lost as a person.

I was falling and there seemed to be nothing that could stop me…

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