Barry’s Note – Prior to Bonnie and I sharing our experiences, I wanted to do a little disclaimer of sorts. We are sharing our story in hopes that someone can relate and know they aren’t alone. It’s OK to say you aren’t healthy and need help. There is light at the end of the tunnel, even when you can’t see it. While we believe our story can be inspiring and hopeful, you have to understand where we came from first. The events we will be discussing occurred over 5 years ago. You’ll read some painful and downright frightening thoughts and situations that we’ve been in. We’ve worked hard the past 5 years. Through those efforts and a whole lot of love, patience, communication, and most definitely therapy, we have progressed quite a bit. Although we deal with The Companion that is Bipolar on a daily basis and even have some very rough days from time to time, we are better for it. Bonnie is an incredible Mother. Jordan and Samantha are lucky to have her and it’s obvious in the way they look at her and constantly fight for her affection and attention, which she so freely gives. She’s also my perfect companion. I guess you could say the motto for our marriage is this: We are far from perfect, even a complete mess at times, but we are perfect for each other. Now, I’ll turn this post over to Bonnie.
My name is Bonnie Mills, wife of the notorious Barry Mills. Our life story got really interesting after I gave birth to our 2nd child in 2007. Let me first tell you that I have always struggled with depression and experienced postpartum after the birth of our 1st child, Jordan Michael Mills. I know what you’re thinking and yes there is a connection to our idle; Michael Jordan. Jordan was a great baby and I felt I recovered well from my postpartum and got back to my normal depression which we knew how to handle.
When Jordan turned one I figured it was time to start trying for our second child which is the status quo for Mormon families. Our original plan was to have 4 kids. My 2nd pregnancy with our daughter was much more difficult. I experienced almost every kind of troubling loss of control of my body possible. Let’s just say I wasn’t the best mom to my little 1-year-old, Jordan or wife to Barry. I was relieved when my due date came around and I talked my OBGYN into inducing me a little early. Samantha Faith Mills made her début and my first thought was, “Thank God that’s over”.
A lot of my friends were saying how much they loved being pregnant, fulfilling the role of bringing new life to this earth and here I was counting the days till it was over. I thought something was wrong with me, but I couldn’t change the way I felt. I made the rookie mistake of expecting that Samantha will be just as easy as Jordan’s infancy, but man was I wrong! She wasn’t colicky and didn’t have any problems that the doctor could pin down, she was just a difficult baby that cried all the time. Most of the mothers out there know having a toddler and infant at the same time is really difficult, to me it was some crazy kind of hell.
My postpartum wasn’t going away and I found myself being more irritable and mean to my toddler, Jordan. This is when things started going down hill for me, it got really bad to the point that I only have a few very disturbing memories which I will share, but I ask that you withdraw judgement because this is very difficult for me to relive in writing about it.
I remember throwing Jordan into bed in anger most nights. I didn’t want to spank so I thought my plan for time out was better. It’s only better if you don’t do it out of anger. I remember screaming in my 2-year old’s face how mad he was making me and him screaming in fear. The hardest part for me was that I could hear myself doing this to my son and thinking how crazy I was behaving, but I couldn’t stop! I just couldn’t control my anger and my behavior. It scared me. I remember thinking every morning of just throwing both kids down the stairs. I didn’t want to be there myself! I felt like I must be the most horrible mother, yet I couldn’t stop the thoughts every time I walked down the stairs and I wouldn’t even be angry, it was just always there.
I remember one time after yelling at Jordan just falling to the floor crying because I had been praying for a long time asking for these thoughts to stop, but they wouldn’t go away. As I sat there on the floor with my toddler I started asking God “why… what had I done wrong… what am I supposed to learn from this”! I believed through lessons at church that God doesn’t give us any trial that we can’t handle if we have faith and allow Christ to help us through it. It wasn’t working for me though, I thought I wasn’t being faithful enough. I had horrible violent thoughts of hurting my kids. I wanted to die. I started forcing myself to take the kids out on walks when I couldn’t control my thoughts and anger because I knew I wouldn’t harm them in public. Again, the hardest thing about all this was not being able to control my thoughts and feelings!!!
I decided I should try to get into a psychiatrist. I called two different offices but was told that I couldn’t get in for months, I would tell the receptionist that I would probably kill myself by then and she just said, ‘I’m sorry.” I just hung up the phone. One day got especially hard for me and I had thoughts of just abandoning my kids somewhere so they could be found by someone else that would make a better mother for them than I ever could. I took the kids out for a walk to try and distract myself. As I was walking a friend of mine from church was driving into my neighborhood to bring me a baby gift. She stopped to talk with me and asked how I was doing. I broke down in front of her. I just kept saying how it was too hard for me and I couldn’t control my thoughts anymore. She hugged me for a long time then told me a story of a friend of hers from college that had a difficult time with her first baby. Her friend confided in her that she just wanted to leave her baby in a park where it could be found by another family and then just go lie down in the middle of the highway and die. I looked up at my friend and just whispered, “That’s me, I’m that person.” I felt so ashamed admitting it out loud.
One of the most wonderful things about the Mormon church is the closeness the women can share in helping one another. My friend immediately went and talked with the Relief Society (women’s group) president to get me the help I needed. Within two days I was in with a therapist who then got me into to see a psychiatrist a day later. I learned then that I had bipolar disorder.
Along with that came anxiety. A typical episode for me would start with “anger and frustration with my kids, then thoughts of how screwed up I am, how I’m going to screw up my kids, then how everyone on this planet is screwed up, what’s the point of even being here, I will cause more trouble than good. I wish I could just disappear!” The anxiety causes me to have trouble breathing and shaking from losing control of my anger. I did take the advice of my psychiatrist to separate myself from the kids when I could feel myself getting upset. I would lock myself in the bathroom and just wait for Barry to show up.
I can never thank my friend enough for the service she did for me. I was in with the psychiatrist within a week from the time I told her about what I was experiencing. I truly believe the spirit led her to me. I will always believe that. I felt that God had finally answered my prayers. It took a very long time to find the right medications that would stabilize me. Barry was a rock through it all! I don’t know how he did it. Another friend of mine from church told me how much it meant that Barry didn’t give up on me and leave me. That’s when I realized how much he was sacrificing for me, how hard this was for him too and it motivated me to try even harder to get stable. It still took about a year to find the right balance of medications and that in itself was its own kind of hell. I will never forget that year. I have and still struggle with forgiving myself for my thoughts and behaviors I had during that time. I had no idea what I was up against with bipolar disorder!! There is more to this story, but this is all I can write for now.
I don’t want to leave you with just my dark side. This video of one of my favorites showing some of the better times I had with my little ones.
Editors Note – Please proceed to the next story, Our New Companion, Bipolar, for more experiences and Barry’s perspective.