June 2, 2016
Yay, you made it to the end! If you’re confused by that, and you’re coming here for the first time, you might want to go back to the beginning.
I started writing these last several posts for two reasons (and I realize that it would have made much more sense to mention this at the beginning of the story, instead of the end. But I’m doing it at the end. Let’s just make peace with it.)
I started writing them for two reasons:
To process. This part was entirely selfish (a healthy kind of selfish, I believe). I was dealing with a lot of new information, thoughts, and feelings, and once enough time had passed that those thoughts and feelings starting cohering themselves into words, I needed to start putting them down and getting them out of my head so I could move through them, and
To connect with others. A lot of people don’t understand the need/desire to open up about stuff like this. There’s a definite segment of society with an attitude of “We’ve all got issues, so what? Doesn’t mean you need to blab about them all over the internet.” Or “Why would you want to share something so private?” Or “Why do you think anyone would care about your problems?” And this is why: First, I think it’s important to stand up and say – again and again – that there is no shame in mental illness, and no shame in seeking help. Second, no one wants to feel alone, especially when they are struggling. When all of this peaked for me, it helped me in ways I can’t even express to see others telling their stories, being open with their struggles, and giving hope about recovery. Hope!! And so, whether this is shared with 10 people or 10,000, if ONE is helped in some way, if ONE feels a little less alone, if ONE finds a new sense of solidarity, if ONE feels a little more hope…. it’s worth the vulnerability it took to share it.
Having said all that, I have no intentions of turning this into a mental health blog (and the people cried, “Amen!”) I don’t want to start writing about bipolar all the time, and I don’t think anyone wants to read that. I know I’ll write about it from time to time as it’s part of my life, but …. I want to get back to talking about parenting, and unschooling, and the current
mess state of American Christianity, and current events, and all the other things that tick people off on a daily basis.
This was just something I had to write about until I felt done. And as of last night, for now, I feel done.
Because last night, my husband made a joke. Aimed at me. And bipolar. I feel like I shouldn’t actually repeat the joke, out of respect for the people who are raw and sensitive (and/or who don’t use wildly inappropriate humor as a coping mechanism like we do in my family), but to set the scene: we were all eating dinner, talking about what we perceived must be the pros and cons of long term RV travel as a family. I said something about nobody wanting to be in that close proximity with me for too long because I’m crazy, he made his joke…. and there was Dead. Silence.
It was only a fraction of a second, but I felt it. I felt the silence, I felt all four kids look at me, and I felt the unspoken question of, “Wait, is this okay to joke about???”
And then I laughed, because it was funny. And then the kids laughed.
And then we all breathed.
It’s now been two weeks since I wrote this last installment (and over 5 weeks since I started treatment), and I didn’t feel right posting it without giving one final little update on where I am today. The problem is that I don’t really know how to explain where I am today. I’m…. working on it. I’m making strides. I’m celebrating small victories. I’m taking my medication faithfully, and building routines, and getting exercise and forcing myself to go to therapy even when I don’t feel like it.
Therapy by the way, is very different than I thought it’d be. I thought I’d hate it, and it turns out that I DO sort of hate it, just for different reasons than I anticipated. I like my therapist. He is kind and knowledgeable and really good at what he does. But therapy is REALLY FREAKING HARD. Facing your issues and figuring out your shit when you’ve had the lies of bipolar yelling in your ear for 20 years is excruciatingly painful (especially when you’ve taken looking for answers in the bottom of a bottle of Captain Morgan off the table). Like, one of the most painful things I’ve ever done kind of painful. I told my therapist last week that for every issue I’m learning to manage, I unveil another 50 issues that I’ve been avoiding. A veritable Pandora’s Box of dysfunction. But I’m doing it. And I’m learning. And I’m taking baby steps. I have some tools now, rudimentary though they may be, and I’m adding to them every week.
I had a rough couple of days earlier this week, the worst I’ve had since I started treatment. I panicked. I braced myself for the downward slide. And I did slide. But I didn’t slide all the way. Instead I stopped, and I looked around and I clawed my way back up. Today is Friday, and today I’m smiling. And I’ll tell you what. Depression that lasts for three days is a hell of a long way from depression that lasts for six months. I will take it. I will celebrate the heck out of it. I have no doubt that there’ll be more bad days, but I also have hope that I’ll be increasingly equipped to handle them when they come. Good days are out there somewhere, too. And they’re so, so close.
I’ll be okay. We’ll be okay.
Thank you, for reading, and for being so awesome.