Tag Archives: Family

My Support System

I am one of those people with bipolar disorder who happens to have a very strong support system.  These people include my family and friends, doctor and therapist (well, I’m in a transition with that, but my previous one was Rockin’ Awesome Therapist Lady) and also, my cat.  I can call up any one of my sisters and they will lend a solid listening ear no matter what time of the day or night it is.

I also have a simple, low-stress job currently.  It doesn’t provide much pay and doesn’t provide benefits and barely supports my family, but I can surely say it’s the best job I’ve ever had.  I have no worries whatsoever, the owners adore me, and the customers are sweethearts.  (Did you hear that?  I just said the word “customers” and “sweethearts” in the same sentence.  And I totally mean it.  I know you don’t believe me.  You should.)

So in saying all that, I’m pretty lucky.  I once was a manic mess battling myself in a mental hospital.  It gave me a deep, sincere empathy for certain populations of the mentally ill in this country – those who you might see outside a department store, homeless, muttering to themselves.  I truly and honestly believe that that would be my life if it weren’t for all the blessings I have been given to maintain a certain level of sanity in the maintenance of my bipolar disorder.

I did lose my job at one point when I had a manic episode and had to be hospitalized.  I almost didn’t finish college when I had my first psychotic episode and took time to recover.  But I did it.  Thanks to the support.

So if you are someone who loves someone with a mental illness and is supportive, please give yourself a hug.  Because it is HARD WORK and for some of you, you may be the reason that the person you care about is still alive right now.  I know that is true for the ones who helped me when I so desperately needed them.

 

Dull Fuzzy Fog

I got the job.  They called me the same day.

All the stuff I was alluding to last night (in my last post) is right up at the forefront now.  There’s not denying it.  Here’s the basics:  marriage in shambles, finances in disarray, family breaking apart, personal mental health going down the tubes quickly.

I should be thrilled that I got hired.  But I feel nothing.  I’m in a dense, heavy fog, like I’ve been sedated.  It’s not just tiredness.  When I’m so exhausted and sleepy that I can barely walk to my bed, as soon as I lay down I’m wide awake with thoughts.

They don’t go away.  None of this is going away until it is dealt with.

Sigh.

I don’t have the answers.  I quite honestly don’t know what to do.  And I’m so godawful tired that I can’t think clearly whatsoever.  Any ideas?

You Know We’ll Have A Good Time Then

I can’t satiate your need for play.  I know there will be a day when you won’t want to play with me anymore, and there will be a sharp and sudden reversal of our roles – me begging for a minute of your time, just a second, puh-lease! but you won’t have one and all I will be left with is “Cat’s In the Cradle” lyrics rolling through my head.

I work hard, only for the purpose of keeping the house warm and having food for us all to eat.  I work hard, only to come home tired and worn, with sore feet and an ache in my back.  I work with you on your homework, you struggle, I struggle.  It’s bedtime now and you hate bedtime.

And then I’m in bed and I know I’ll do it all over again tomorrow and I have to remind myself I do it to keep the house warm and to have food for us all, but it never fails to hit me each morning that the only thing I want is to have time with you.

So I’ll make the most of today and I’ll try not to snap at you when you’re out of your bed at way-past-bedtime.  I’ll hug you just a little longer than I normally do, and I’ll take a second longer to look right into your eyes and tell you I love you.  And I’ll pray that those are the parts you’ll remember.

Find My Way Back Home

I saw your parents yesterday.  They looked older, which always surprises me, as I always like to imagine that things stay exactly as they are whenever I’m not around.  I wanted so badly to ask about you but I didn’t.  Because I knew.  I might have even seen it in their eyes.  I no longer exist to you.

I still don’t know why and it hurts so bad.  Did I do something wrong?  Did I say something awful?  What made you turn away from me so quickly?  What movement did I make that made you jump and run?  I’m so very sorry for whatever it was.

I need you back in my life, but I know you won’t be back.  It’s something I haven’t yet learned how to accept.  Your support, our laughter, our memories.  Why did it all have to change so suddenly?  Is this just how things go?  If so, when will it happen again with another?  These are the fears I have.

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Another gone for good, only this time, it’s family.  There is nothing left in your voice, nothing left to hold onto.  I receive controlled glimpses of your life, parts that I can see you have thoughtfully prepared before hitting “send.”  I miss the raw, open wounds we used to share, discuss, analyze till there was nothing left to pull apart.  Though others try to convince me you’re still in there, I know better.  I’ve seen it before, only this time, it’s closer to me than I ever would have imagined.  Because it’s you.

The one who guided me.  Who wrapped me up in your arms whenever I cried out.  The one who knows my deepest thoughts, was with me through my most awful experiences.  The one who made me laugh and laughed for me when I couldn’t find the humor in myself.  I feel cheated.  You’ve been stolen in the worst way.  And I was the one who was robbed.

I try to follow along with the parts that you’ve selected to share.  I tried to find you once, but you weren’t there and it was then that I knew you wouldn’t be back.  I can’t come to terms with it, and I am positive that I never will through the rest of our lives.

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To my son:  I’m sorry I’ve passed this enemy onto you.  I’ve seen it in you since you were first born, as we who carry it can recognize it in each other.  I knew it would happen, but I didn’t know how much it would hurt for us both.  Your seriousness, your wants, your needs so strong and so full of passion.  They will only become more intense, though it’s hard to believe your young self can take much more.  I am helpless to save you from it.

All I can do is tell you that you are smart, you are creative, you are incredible.  You have a light inside you unlike any other.  Your teachers comment on it.  Your friends are drawn to it.  Your family feels it.  I cannot live without it.

Your life is not going to be easy.  As often as your anger rises and falls and your joy rushes unexpectedly in boundless limits throughout you, eventually you will require maintenance to maintain a certain degree of sanity.  Some feelings you will have and some things that will happen will be difficult and most won’t understand because they are not like you and I.  Just promise me you will hold on.  Just promise me you won’t give up.  And if you do that, if you promise me, then I will, too.  I will make that promise to you and we can both survive, in whatever way, shape or form we have to.

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Please, make the tears stop.  Please take down the sun and make it dark again so I have somewhere to hide.  There are so many hours, so many minutes and seconds before the day is done and I just don’t know how to hold on till then.  My consciousness hurts, like an endless pain that just won’t subside, no matter what I do.

Please cover me, give me a shell to crawl into, send me underwater so I can find relief.  I’m too old to lock myself into a room.  Give me the keys, let me drive far far away.  I promise I’ll come back if I can find my way back home.

 

 

 

 

 

Messes

Knock, knock, knock.
Me:  “What?”
Son:  “Mommy, come see.”

I know what this means.  It means there is a mess somewhere in the house.  I know it was the baby’s fault (it’s always the baby’s fault).  I know it means someone left the fridge unlocked.  I know it means someone left the bathroom unlocked.  I know it means someone left the door to the upstairs open.

It means there are a dozen eggs smashed into my carpet.
It means there is an entire jar of Parmesan cheese sprinkled throughout the kitchen.
It means my bathroom cabinet has been ransacked, and there are several layers of shaving cream and body lotion covering each square inch of floor and counter and rugs and shower curtain.

It means I will approach the disaster and feel deflated when it is discovered.  It means as much as I’d like to not be shocked, I am still shocked.  It means it will take me several seconds before I can come up with something to say.  It means the silence in between the initial shock and the subsequent yelling will be filled with smiling eyes and a look-at-this-face grin.

It means I will yell and enforce a time-out and get on my hands and knees with a towel or sponge or washcloth depending on the size of the disaster, and I will scrub and curse and scrub and curse.  And then I will stand up and be exasperated and wonder how long the stain will remain.

And now it is bedtime and the lights are finally out and the noise has stopped and I look again at the stain but I cannot find it because it doesn’t really matter when they are both in bed and I have the house to myself and I am already forgetting about the struggles of the day and feeling excited for the moment when I open my eyes to either the morning sun or my very own sons, their bright eyes shining, ready for a new day of messes.

Family and Cuddly Cats

My sister-in-law came over yesterday.  She talked to us, ate, and played with the kids.  She brought them each a glow stick – both of them went to bed with theirs.  We talked about the stress she is going through.  I told her I was depressed.  We wished each other better.

It was so good to see family, especially when you’re feeling low and really don’t care to see anyone.  Before she came, I had been covered up on the couch, hiding under the blankets, unable to speak to my husband nor play with my kids, who were practically begging me to get up.  (Okay, not “practically.”  Literally.)  When she arrived, we all sat in the dining room together and talked and laughed and played.  We showed her recent videos we’d recorded of the kids, and she took some pictures of her own.

So her visit gave me a brighter outlook.  She told us before she left that we are a beautiful family – we have nothing to be sad about.  Depression hits you in a bad way; even though you may not have a reason to be sad, it still clutches hold of you and won’t loosen its grip.  But she is right at the same time.  I do have a beautiful family – two fun-loving, hilarious boys who give me so much to love and be proud of, a caring, sympathetic husband who doesn’t put pressure on me when I’m feeling depressed, and a sweet ol’ cat who cuddles me (and does a whole lot of purring.)  Even though I still am sad inside, I know in my heart that I have many reasons to be happy.

This, too, shall pass.

detroit

Life Goes On Around a Firepit

campfire

We placed the rusty steel ring atop the stones in the driveway.  We filled it with split wood, one piece at a time.  We rounded up some lawn chairs and lined them up in a circle.  Then, we lit the fire.

My sisters came back home and everyone gathered.  My cousin arrived.  The sky grew dark as the colors of the sunset faded into a black, starry night.  As the wood collapsed onto itself, we added fresh wood to it, keeping the flames alive and the red coals burning.

We told our childhood stories.  About getting in trouble, sneaking out, skipping school, and playing games in the yard.  We laughed all together, a chorus of laughter with the same tone and same pitch.  We spent time together, all of us reminiscing about days gone by.

Grama’s memory stays with us.  The finality of the funeral weighs on us.  But life continued and there is hope.  We found strength in each other.