I have introduced you to Bip, the bipolar dragon, and to Pots, post traumatic stress. I have also introduced you to the twins, Ann (anxiety) and Nick (panic). Bip has been an intimate part of my life for over three decades. Pots is relatively young at a little over 15 years. I’m not sure when Ann and Nick joined the group, but I know that they have been around for at least 15 years. As much as these four friends have made my life a living hell at times I have learned much from them that has made a tremendous difference in my life.
Emotions Do Not Control Actions
Because of the chemical imbalance that causes bipolar my emotions were very rarely predictable. I was often depressed when things were going perfectly. I would be angry for no reason whatsoever. Even though my emotions were random, life kept going. I still had chores to do. School and homework never went away. My goals of college and success stayed the same. I learned that methodical planning and having mile posts to easily measure my progress made my goals possible even when I was having a difficult time.
Circumstances Don’t Have to Dictate
With the emotional challenges that are inherent to my illness I occasionally made some very stupid decisions. Some were life changing, others were expensive and then there were those that were just embarrassing.
The biggest change came when my boyfriend and I became pregnant. We were 16 and 17. My boyfriend had just graduated and I had just completed my junior year of high school. Needless to say both families were disappointed and a little angry with us. We discussed our options as follows:
- I could go live with relatives, have the baby and then put it up for adoption.
- I could stay home, have the baby and then put it up for adoption.
- I could stay home, have the baby and keep it.
- I could stay home, have the baby and he could keep it.
- We could get married, have the baby and make a go of it.
My boyfriend had just joined the military so he had a steady job. We did love each other and decided to make a go of it. With our parents permission and assistance we “eloped”. Both families drove from California to Reno and we got married. We moved in with his mother until he left for military training and then I went home to my parents. We were married for 14 years and have 5 beautiful children. My only regret, he left.
Things would have been much different if I had not made the choices I did. Knowing myself as I did I knew I had to complete high school before the baby was born or I would not finish. I did finish high school graduating with honors one week before our daughter was born. We had a good marriage despite the difficulties of age and illness. We chose to work at it and became the best of friends.
Life is a Choice
After my marriage ended, life no longer meant much to me. Bip, Pots, Ann and Nick had pretty much destroyed my mental and physical health at that point. My parents came and got me and the children. The heart-break filled me with anger. The exhaustion took away my will to live. I spent three weeks in the psych ward at our local hospital and don’t remember more than a few days. The one thing I remember most clearly is part of an interview with my doctor. It went something like this: I have to ask you a question. Everyone I know who has been in your condition is dead or comatose. Why aren’t you? My response: For my children I will do anything, even live.
I chose to live even though it was the hardest and most painful thing I have ever done. It has been a long journey back to life. Some really stupid choices made the journey harder and longer than it needed to be and I almost didn’t make it. The key is I kept choosing life. I wanted to see my children grow up. I wanted to be there for them.
It is oh so worth it.
I have spent 15 years finding my path back into life. I still slip some days, but I just keep choosing to get back up. Out of some of my most stupid decisions I have found some of my greatest joys. My second marriage was an absolute disaster, but I have the sweetest little girl who brightens my life. My best friend is my mother. Who’d have thought?! I have the best relationship with my father. I have the most beautiful granddaughters.
I look back at all the things that I would have missed and am grateful for the choices I made. Do I wish that Bip, Pots, Ann and Nick weren’t a part of my life? Sometimes. But they are and that is just how it is. I am grateful for what I have learned and the people I have met along the way.
Life is good because I choose it.