I am Humpty Dumpty: The toxicity of Bipolar II, PTSD, and Overwhelming Life Stress

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again

Bipolar II, PTSD, Sciatica, Fibromyalgia, hormonal fluctuations, poor sleep, battling in poverty to keep the electric on, household needs met, parenting a child experiencing High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, and too many people in too small of a living space – that’s the wall I’ve been sitting on. Today, I fell, hard. Actually, it feels like I took a flying leap off of it. Only, I didn’t just break myself, I broke others too.

I just don’t know how to make things better. I keep trying, honestly I do. However, it often seems like no matter how much progress I make, I’m just treading water against the tide and the shore looks farther away than ever.

Today’s trigger was when I discovered that my oldest daughter’s boyfriend had not only used my youngest daughter’s bedroom as his escape space to hang out with a friend in last night, but that he had slept in there and all of his things, which my six year old doesn’t need to be around, were all still in there this morning. She may not sleep in her room, but, it IS her room. It’s where her toys and things are. It’s her go to space when she needs to fixate on her toys and organizing her internal world. It’s her treat in the morning before she gets on the school bus, if she’s cooperated and has gotten ready for school with enough time to play. It’s her space.

He doesn’t ask. He just goes in and “cleans” it by piling everything up and shoving it to the sides, in corners, and in the closet area. He’d taken over her TV when we were at her dad’s for three weeks, just because we weren’t here and she wasn’t using it. He didn’t text or call to ask if he could use it. He just appropriated it because he got himself a game system. Since I don’t do the things around the apartment he thinks I should be prioritizing: dealing with the clutter and deep cleaning, and he vacuums and sometimes declutters the living room in order to vacuum, by piling all my things up on the couch, which is also my bed, or straigtens up the bathroom and degunges the toilet, then I’m useless and not doing anything.

Nevermind the fact that I am continually taking care of their dishes. After three weeks of being away at the end of December, I came home to a fruit fly infestation and just about every dish in the apartment being caked with food, some with mold, the sink being full of standing water, dishes, and food. I spent probably 6-8 hours over the course of several days cleaning the kitchen. I still don’t have all the dishes done. Nevermind that they have only helped pay the electric bill one time in the nearly ten months they’ve been staying here. Nevermind the fact that I gave up the big bedroom so their little family would have at least one area that they could have some privacy in. Nevermind the fact that it took six months for them to get onto my food stamp grant because they wouldn’t get their own and, although they bought some food for themselves during that time, my ex and I both were helping to buy formula and I ran out of food stamps every month at least a week before the next allotment was due, because they still needed to eat.

There are five of us in a tiny two bedroom apartment, with a new baby on the way, due in the first week of March. It’s a Section 8 apartment. They aren’t on my lease. They brought a kitten in. No pets are allowed. I wasn’t asked if they could have the kitten. I just came home to discover it had been moved in one day.

He and I don’t communicate well. Him being him triggers all of my PTSD crap, all the time, even when he isn’t doing anything wrong, even when he isn’t being a 21 year old male from a difficult and challenging past. He tries to be a good guy and he does his best to be a good father. He wants to make things better. He just wants to do it his way, on his terms, in his time. That doesn’t work for me and I’ve spent a lifetime trying to please other people, trying to manage other people’s moods and emotions, trying to fix everyone’s problems. That isn’t working for me, either.

Last week, the first full week of January, after three weeks being gone and after realizing I had managed to go off of my mood stabilizer meds, I came home to the kitchen, the fruit flies, my youngest daughter’s TV being gone, a relatively clean living room, a cleaner kitchen floor, and a notice from the electric company I was on the verge of a utility shut off. My back started going out and triggered an episode of sciatica, which had happened exactly a month before. I had to push through it anyway. I reapplied for public cash assistance. I scheduled an energy assistance appointment. I met with my med prescriber and my mental health therapist. I went to the DHS Self-Sufficiency office three days in a row. I went to the Social Security office. I went to the Vital Statistics office to replace misplaced birth certificates for both daughters and get my granddaughter’s birth certificate. I did most of it on the public transit system, with my cane, hobbling because of the sciatic pain. A friend drove me around for several hours on Thursday to get some of those things done, as well as get some groceries. By Thursday night, the pain was so bad, when I contacted the advice nurse, I was told to go to urgent care or the emergency room. I went to the ER and it made things worse. The next day I hobbled to the doctor’s office for a follow up.

This week had a second, fruitless trip to the Social Security office, to attempt to order a replacement social security card for my youngest daughter. My back is still in pain. I’ve still been using the cane. Yesterday was the LIEAP energy assistance appointment. I also got a call from the Division of Child Support and notified my ex about it. The ensuing emotional conflict was not good. On top of it all, my hormonal cycle peaked during the last two days. I have decided that trying to find a job and maintain it while figuring out how to stabilize with the Bipolar, PTSD, and physical health issues, can’t possibly be worse than the stress effects of juggling all of this other crap in dealing with TANF/DHS, Child Support, jeopardized utilities, and never having enough to even get my hair trimmed at Great Clips. I don’t know how I’m going to do it or what I’m going to be able to find, but I have to do something.

Anyway, it all boiled over and came tumbling out of me this morning. Regardless of all the things he’s done or that I have perceived he’s done, I went over the top. I screwed up. I took things too far. I was justified in my anger, just not in some of my actions. It was loud. It was ugly. It was me being physically beligerent and threatening – although that was totaly pointless. He’s more than a foot taller than me, 20+ years younger than me, and much more physically fit than me. He was trying to be calm, but he was also saying things and using facial expressions and tone of voice to trigger me. My nearly 8 month preganant daughter tried to intervene and pull me away from him. I kept shaking her off and pushing past her. She was yelling and screaming in my face and was upset with both of us. My granddaughter was crying in the other room.

The TV? It got completely broken.

My relationship with my daughter? Well, it’s pretty broken too.

My relationship with him? Same as it ever was.

I forgot to remember that God is in the midst of all of this. I forgot to remember that I love all four of them. I forgot to remember that stuff is just stuff and not as important as people’s hearts. I forgot to remember that the emotions running amok inside of me weren’t about him at all, but about all the stuff I’m still needing to process from the past, the mental and physical health issues, and the neuro-biological issues I’m still trying to get the medication right for.

Justified anger doesn’t justify bad behavior. Period. Dot. The End.



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