Tonight I’m taking it easy. Short version: I’m doing heavy duty healing work and it takes a LOT of energy just to walk around. I can pretty much forget about getting anything done. No problem. I’ve lived here before. It passes.
So tonight I am dedicating this blog, which is a retread, to everyone out there who feels they must hide who and/or what they are. There are lots of reasons, and I won’t presume to tell anyone what they need to do to make their life work. But as for myself, I’m with Glenn Close: Certain words have power over us, until we learn to speak them without fear.
Here are some of the words I have learned to speak without fear:
Borderline Personality Disorder.
Bipolar Spectrum Disorder.
Those are some big words. And they have even bigger weights attached to them. I had to live with more than half of these words for many years before it became clear that I was misdiagnosed. Or under-diagnosed. Or just plain judged. About a year ago, an entire lifetime of seemingly insurmountable difficulties reached fever pitch and the fever broke: I got what I needed. Now I just refer to it as “Better living through chemistry,” and it is just that simple. Take the drugs away, and I stop functioning well enough to do anything in the world but simply survive.
This is my “coming out” letter to my family.
19 December 2008
Dear Nik, Pam, Auntie Jan, Jim, Hal, Cliff, and all the rest -- dear friends and family,
Well, crap. Some of you deserve apologies. Others . . . well, I can’t figure out how to say some things face to face - lots of things, actually - so I write them.
I’m not dying, I’m not hormonal (at least that wasn’t the diagnosis - ha ha), and I’m not just being dramatic; a stretch to imagine, I know, especially if you’d seen the first draft of this e-mail: long, heartfelt, and depending on the hour, weepy, witty, wounded, happy, hopeful, hilarious, helpless and very, very, VERY chatty. Pick an emotion; I’m having it. Hourly.
I’m pretty damn sure that if I were going through this AND had children to care for, I’d eat my young. Or turn to drink. Most likely both. I certainly understand my mother in whole new way. Unbelievable. Bipolar Disorder is not for wimps. And I say this knowing that I have only the wimpy variety. It’s got a scientific name, cyclothymia, but I’m calling it Bipolar Lite. I’m on new meds and should be nearing normal in a week or month or . . . Well, there’s no clear time line, but soon enough. I think. I hope.
Many of you deserve the Purple Heart for putting up with me these last weeks and months. Truly. To Nichole I also grant the Medal of Valor. Auntie Jan, I bestow upon you the Star of Patience. (Bet you never thought you’d get an award for that, huh?) Hal, Jim, Cliff, in my defense I had, until yesterday, absolutely no idea what a ranting pain in the ass I’ve been since, I dunno, spring? I’m sorry. I will say this. With that word, bipolar, all manner of difficulties in my life are made clear. And Pam, with any luck, you just thought I was having an off day.
In a way, Bipolar Lite is just my usual dramatic, erratic, emotional “artistic” temperament -- squared. Make that cubed. So, if I’m talking very fast without taking a breath or you hear me obsessing with great irritation over some slight, just smile and nod sweetly while calculating your taxes in your head. I’m not dangerous. I’m just wacked out and embarrassed -- or elated or scared or hyper -- over being here. Again. I mean same train, different trip right?
Please forgive me. It’s so much easier than trying to cure me or get rid of me. And you all know I take rejection hard. Every writer does.
By the way, I know some of you are scratching your heads: What the hell is she talking about? I hide things, but it’s tiring. Besides, it’s dark and overcrowded here in the closet, what with sixteen different emotions every hour. Consider this my coming out announcement. I know, I know, most of you already knew I was crazy. Isn’t that always the way?
Love you all,
If any of you readers feel a kinship with this state of being, let me know. I'm happy to talk about any and all of it. Being bipolar, living with chronic clinical depression, being suicidal, and more, these things are no different for me than my size 11 & 1/2, extra narrow feet, my dark green eyes, my nonstandard neurology. They’re all features of the being that I am, and I can’t change or undo any of them. Except maybe my feet. I know all the places to get beautiful shoes that fit as if they were made for me.
Sometimes, all you have to do to get what you need is to say it out loud.