I have been battling bipolar depression for my entire life. I was raised in an alcoholic and very dysfunctional family. It was like living in a war zone. You think the war in Afghanistan is bad – try living in my house for one day.
My mother was an abusive alcoholic and we did not know it at the time she also had bipolar disorder. We did not find out until she was admitted to an Alzheimer’s unit along with my father.
My father – where was he you ask? He was either working, was hiding behind the newspaper, or shut down emotionally at the dinner table. The dinner table was where all the volatile action happened. A daughter was pitted against daughter and it is a miracle that we are still speaking to one another.
Now that I have painted that picture of home life, I can tell you how I got out. I started going to Alanon meetings and then to A.A. meetings even though I did not have much of a drinking problem. I left home for good eventually never to return. I ended up in a homeless shelter for a while but then I had my own place.
It has not been easy. I have had to make several trips to the psychiatric hospital a few times, but I am okay. I will with the grace of a God of my understanding graduate with a master’s degree in creative writing which I did online one class at a time. I am a survivor and thrives.
The dream I had was early Wednesday morning. I dreamed I was in an antiques store and all the stuff I had growing up was there. The radio my grandfather or my mother’s father I saw and I could see all the history or meaning that it had for me. I could see all the times I had listened to it growing up and all the time he had spent refurbishing it came to mind. I could see grandma’s rocker and all the times I had rocked in that rocker.
I went throughout the store and gathered things in my hands and handed it to my mother or the person in charge of the store. I saw that it turned into FaithWorks store and Joyce was in charge and all the antiques had their own story to tell. As I sat in the store which resembled a house I saw the wind blow outside as the whole house moved along as if time was passing as the wind blew. I then thought of Virginia Woolfe and in her book To the Lighthouse she showed the passage of time in the rain and the wind and the effect on the house. Out here in West Texas, it is the wind not the rain or the storms seem to mark the passage of time.
People don’t realize that people with bipolar disorder have normal ups and downs like everybody else. They seem like they want to stick you in a psych hospital at the first manic or depressed mood. Granted that manic episodes can be terrifying to those around the person and to the person having one. Those need to be addressed quickly and appropriately. What I am talking about are just ups and downs of everyday life. I can be up one day and down the next. Now when I start hallucinating and thinking I have a hot line to the Lord, then I need to be hospitalized quickly. I won’t argue with that. What I am talking about are feeling good and that everything is going my way and then feeling a little sad or a little down because of the anniversary of the loss of a friend or a loved one. Or I may not have gotten the job or promotion that I thought I was getting. Now if it lasts several weeks or a month then it needs to be addressed.
I don’t like having this illness and I wish I didn’t have it and I was like everybody else. However, I have it and I have a choice to make the best of it and help others who have the disease as well. I want to try and educate people who do not have mental illness what it is like to have it and ways that they can help. I don’t want people thinking that everyone who has a mental illness are deranged killers. I will probably do something to myself and not to others around me. I am not homicidal. I don’t keep guns or anything that I might use on myself. I don’t believe in carrying or owning them contrary to popular opinion.
These are my opinions so I hope I don’t get hate mail for these comments.
I am rewriting my final paper and I am shifting the focus of the paper to today and the peaceful protests gone violent. I am going to argue that some people find it easier to take a gun and kill people in protest and instantaneously have it seen all over the world. I have not seen any clear leadership and structure. It is like violent chaos without soul and without meaning. No wonder people are flocking to ISIS with a structure and a soul of hate. Where is the army of light? Have we forgotten who we are?
Everyone seems to be mad at one another and pointing fingers at each other blaming them for the problem. I need to search for what the soul of the civil rights movement really was and how we can easily get it again. I think the soul of the movement was a spiritual belief in God. The music was the key to the whole thing and what kept it together and gave it strength. It had good leadership which came from the churches and absolutely refused to become violent no matter what. They were prepared to die for what they believed in.
We need that now more than ever with the clouds of ISIS forming around us. Many people are living in fear and they have every right to be afraid. When ISIS starts killing priests, then you know it is serious.
These are the things I need to be writing about which is very timely and to the point. Everyone jokes about a KUMBAYA moment. I think it is now a COME TO JESUS moment. Hopefully, I can express these things in my paper. Ann
There is something deep inside of me that craves magic. I have found myself drawn to witches and spells and anything that is different from my ordinary life.
I know I am Christian and like all good Christians I need to abhor such things, but I find myself fascinated by it. I have been fascinated by it ever since I was a young girl and my grandmother exhibited clairvoyant behavior by telling everyone when the phone rang who it was, and what they wanted long before we had cell phones or answering machines.
I also felt it whenever I picked up a guitar and sang. I could get lost for hours in my music which was a good thing because it shut out the violence and chaos that went on in our upstanding family. It nurtured me and kept me sane until I allowed others to take it away from me. I was called a “bum” because I wanted to follow my musical passion in college by my parents, one guitar teacher who thought that no one but those who were musical since the age of 3 had any right to study music. My hands were too small to play the guitar.
I was also good at art and the memory I cherished was the day after my parents had ridiculed what I was painting jaw dropped when it was finished. I am the only one in my family that made it onto the society page for my art being in an exhibition.
My parents are both dead now and I am still here. They would roll in their graves if they knew I was studying Creative Writing. I don’t care. I am too tired of hiding my light under a bushel. I encourage others to follow their passions and not worry so much about what others say. I am not concerned anymore that I was a disappointment to my parents and my family. I have spent years trying to recover from it. So I say to you dear reader don’t make the same mistakes that I have made. Follow your bliss.
I have had a couple of people who were contemplating killing themselves recently and I was forced to re-examine my own life and death struggle with suicide. There came a time in my life where I had to decide whether I was going to continue the way I was going and doing something radically different.
I stormed out of aftercare thinking that this was it and I no longer felt like trying anymore and I was wanted by the police because of suicidal tendencies. I drove over to the church and decided there and then that I did not want to give the priest who sexually harassed me the satisfaction of destroying me. I became angry and wanted to live just to spite him. I talked to my sister into giving me some gas money to get down to San Angelo to a facility there where I could get some help. I wanted to do something different.
I spent about two or three weeks there and then came back a changed person. I was put on some medication where I could finally function without the mood swings that had plagued me most of my life. The depression had lifted because I was journaling daily and making a gratitude list. The depression lifted. I came back to Abilene and started aftercare and found a counselor. The counselor wanted to take the spiritual approach with me and I was eager to do anything I could to stay healthy and become healthier.
I have also been on the other side of suicide because a little over 10 years ago a friend blew her brains out in front of her sister and her children. I will never forget the sadness surrounding the funeral that this much loved person in the community could not feel the all the love that was surrounding her. She failed to realize what a wonderful person she was. It had a huge impact on me and I told those people that you do not know who will be affected by your death. It can affect people in ways that are unpredictable. Life is a gift from God and suicide is like trashing God’s gift to you. In other words, you are saying that you know better than God what should happen. To me it is incredibly selfish and self-centered not to mentioned very sick and distorted.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The problem will go away eventually but when you are dead there is no going back. You’re dead.
I have lived through many dark days and now it feels really good to be on the other side of depression and suicide. I have spent 30 or 40 years in the hell of mental illness. Now I am finally free and it feels good.
I was writing in my journal this morning having my coffee when it occurred to me that I have everything that I have ever wanted out of life. Life is not perfect. I don’t have the fancy car, but I have a car that gets me from point A to point B and I can afford the gas to put into it. I have an apartment where I receive housing assistance where I get free cable. I have a computer that works that I can take different places. I can afford yarn to make prayer shawls and Afghans. I have money for food and basic necessities of life. I feel I am truly blessed.
I don’t have a lot of things that people have, but I have decided to focus on the things that I do have and be grateful that I have them. I find by doing that I am a lot happier than if I focused on the things that I don’t have. I have seen people who focus just on things and having the material things of life and how miserable they are because no amount of money or things will fill up that hole in their soul.
I have learned since I have been in Abilene that it is more important to be of service to those less fortunate than I am. There is always someone worse off than I am and even if I cannot help them monetarily, I can be there cheering them on. Sometimes that is what they need the most.
There is a spiritual side of recovery that includes things like gratitude, being of service to others, and giving of oneself. For so many years I wanted to be the top dog and the center of attention. I had to learn to allow others to shine and be supportive of others’ gifts and talents and not focused just on me and what I was going to get out of it.
Life is not perfect. All this talk about spirituality does not mean that there will not be problems, but that I will be able to deal with them in calm and sensible manner. I don’t have as many melt-downs like I use to. That doesn’t mean that I won’t have one when I go out to start my car and it doesn’t start. It just means that I have tools now to use when faced with a crisis and I have people I can call that will help me out. I just need to keep a cool head and try to think my way through a situation instead of reacting emotionally.
It has taken me many years to develop this manner of dealing with life. I know that this too shall pass. This gets me through many overwhelming problems. Life will not be like this all the time. Each episode that I overcome I get stronger and stronger. Life is all about choices and how I choose to react to them.