When you reach the point of stability, genuine stability, you begin to reflect on your journey living with bipolar. You see with clearer eyes what you were going through. And, importantly, who went through it with you.
Recently, I received a medical form indicating I had reached a genuine milestone. I have achieved stability. It’s what every person with Bipolar and depression longs for and strives for. So it is hard to believe I’ve reached this point—even after working to manage bipolar for so long. And I have my share of ups and downs even now. But I am at the point where I see my psychiatrist only twice a year.
At such a milestone, it’s only natural that I began to ponder . . . How on Earth did I get here?
Well, there are two people who have been my everything since I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 back in 1995. My parents.
After spending years writing my memoir, Some Dreams Are Worth Keeping, it is only now, in this moment of balance, that I understand how much they love me and have sacrificed for me.
Are you familiar with The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein? It is one of my favorite books. The story begins with a tree and a boy. The boy loves the tree and spends time with it. As the boy grows older, he begins to need the tree for money. The boy, now a man, returns to the tree. The tree gives the man her apples so that he can sell them and get money. He comes back again and says he needs a boat. The tree tells him, “Cut down my trunk and make a boat.”
Throughout the whole story, the tree—eventually only a stump—was happy. Because she loved the boy.
There was nothing that the tree would not have done for him. There was nothing that my parents would not do for me.
On a Cruise and Across the Country
At 19, I experienced my first manic high and went on a cruise. My parents knew right away that I had bipolar disorder because my uncle has it, too. My mom found me a psychiatrist who would treat me in his office instead of having me go to the hospital, which I had a phobia of.
When we moved from California to Iowa, my parents made sure I had the best of the best psychologists and psychiatrists they could find. They made sure I was taking my medicine.
They supported me through five colleges. During that time, I experienced endless manias, depressions, anxiety, and mixed episodes. My parents and I argued often, but they never turned their backs on me. They were always there for me. Two shoulders to cry on.
They were a big source of encouragement through the challenges of going to college with bipolar. I recall wanting to drop out of school and literally rolling on the floor, screaming, “I can’t do this. I want to quit.”
They believed in me when I did not believe in myself. I did graduate.
Soon after graduation, I decided I wanted to move to Virginia to live with my aunt. I worked in a school and did not have a good doctor. I stop taking medicine. I denied having bipolar. I told the doctor I only had anxiety. I was in a toxic relationship. During mixed episodes, I would call my mom in the middle of the night, crying. Time and time again, she would hop on a plane from Iowa and try to help me.
My parents also helped me financially. There were times that I felt like I did not have money for rent. I probably had enough, but I was such a mess I could not handle finances. They overnighted me money. I imagine that some parents would have said no in that situation.
After I hit rock bottom in Virginia, it was my parents who saved me and moved me to their house in Las Vegas. Again, they found the right doctors and were a driving force behind my recovery. I would not be here today without them giving me my faith in God and strength for the journey.
In Black-and-White and at the Mic
When I decided to get my memoir published, they supported me even though it shares intimate details of our life as a family. They are so proud of me. I am proud of them, too.
As I began to speak out publicly about bipolar and continue to do so, they are incredibly supportive.
That was 16 years ago. These days, I am on the right meds and have been happily married for 12 years. I work as an instructional assistant for special-education students. My true passion is mental health.
From “a World of Me” to Recognition and Appreciation
Looking back, I was always in a world of me. I never really thought about all they have sacrificed for me. It is so hard to see how much love people have for you when you are in a mania, depression, mixed episode, or dealing with anxiety.
Now I see crystal-clear the love my parents have for me. I can honestly say our relationship is the best it has ever been. I love and appreciate all my parents have done and continue to do for me.
They are healthy and traveling the world, but I don’t want to even imagine what my life will be like without them. For now, I will enjoy all the precious days we spend together.
This is a question you can ask at any point in your journey with bipolar. Do you have parents or someone in your life who has been in your corner and supported you? If so, have you taken the time to say thank you
The post “Looking Back, I Was in a World of Me.” A Thank-You Letter to Mom and Dad appeared first on bpHope.com.