I’m pleased to introduce my sister who is guest blogging here with the following post.  Enjoy. 
“On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the worst, how would you rate your bipolar symptoms?”
I gave him a look that said zero, I think I may have said it out loud too.
“Ah, yes, yes. Remission.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“So it is in remission, then?”
Remission…that’s a cancer word. I couldn’t help but think back to the previous summer when my beautiful 93 year old grandfather finally slid into peaceful slumber and met his maker.
“Will I ever be off meds?”
“I don’t see why not. With good sleep, exercise, and managing stress, you should be fine.”
Ten years ago during this season, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder following a nasty manic episode. I thought about writing down my flashbacks of this occurrence, they are quite dramatic…angels and demons and shit…but what for? It was a tragedy for me and my whole family. We made it through in the end…but not without scars and writing it down to make it visceral again wouldn’t help anyone. Instead, I choose to remember scores of my parents’ loving friends helping where they could. I remember hospital and home visits during the aftermath. I remember the outpouring of love that I will never be able to repay. Individuals took me on walks, brought me coffee, visited and talked with me. A dear pastor friend and a few professors came to see me. I was cared for while my broken mind tried to heal itself.
I am forever grateful. It was an episode that was bad enough that had it occurred at a different time in a different place I would have been institutionalized for life. I could have been knitting socks while staring out a window in a room with yellowing walls forever. Let me tell you, I want to knit the day away in my own home, thank you very much.
I was able to graduate from college, right on schedule (sort of…after 6 years of transfers and changed majors), two months after the incident. I don’t remember much. I remember walking across the stage and concentrating on not falling even though I wasn’t wearing heels, and to walk in a straight line even though I wasn’t drunk. It wasn’t a happy day for me, although I look fairly happy in the one picture I still have of the event. I was in a cloud of lithium and risperdal, just trying to figure out how to live again.
Shortly after graduating from college with a studio art degree, I took a part time job at a major natural and organic grocery store chain. I remember my mother telling me I needed to pay for my medicines and I had no money so I had to get it some how. I couldn’t take the job offer at the art center that I interned at because I needed benefits.
So I got plugged into retail. In my original interview I said I didn’t want to work nights. I had worked 4 to 12am shifts at a different grocery store prior to all of this mess, and I didn’t think working that late would be helpful for someone who had just had a psychotic break from reality. But I got talked into it by the only connection I had in the biz. I got to work on time, I did my job, I cared, I advanced. I moved out on my own, I wanted something different, I went back to school to get my art education certification, I met a boy, we got married. My husband got a new job, we still needed health insurance…and I stayed. I stayed and stayed and stayed in retail for 10 years.
When I finally got my job offer for my new gig, I felt like my eyes had opened up for the first time again. In hindsight, I was tired, scared, stressed, bored, fearful, sexually absent, and hollow. My husband stayed. And my husband will stay and stay for years to come. I realized how long he and I had put up with what I needed to do…as they say, surviving instead of thriving. So during this time of transition, I see colors with more clarity, time moves slower. I cry a lot, but they are tears of joy.


About OpenFaced

Hey, I'm Ree. Thanks for stopping by.
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