In about 12 hours, it will be a new year on my neck of the woods.
I was gifted “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher this year, and have been reading it in bits. It’s painful, too painful. The mirror of who I was, who I could be, how bad it could get, could have been, sometimes is. How absolutely difficult this all is somedays, how heavy the burden I am.
I can’t read it all in one sitting. Hearing my thoughts echoed, but by someone even sicker than I will (hopefully) ever be-it’s salt in a wound I fear won’t heal.
I nearly died this year, by my own hand. I nearly lost my family, by my own doing, sowing the seeds years ago by refusing treatment, by neglecting myself, by not learning.
I have bipolar. And I have let it get to where it’s been.
Someone with cancer doesn’t get better by just laying back and hoping, by only taking the chemo, and still eating garbage and sleeping too little. They rest. They follow the doctor’s advice. The try and fix what they can fix, those things within their power. They play an active role in their recovery.
I spent time believing that my meds were all I needed to worry about-that if I took them religiously, all the voices would stop, my anxieties about cars and people would diminish, my paranoia’s would trickle away to nothing. I believed that i would suddenly know how to handle all the problems that had festered in my mind, hidden by 3 years of madness, and years prior by the onset of all this mess. I thought 4 pink pills would solve everything, and I’d be happy, fun and easy to love. I thought, I thought…maybe I figured I could hold the box open so long as I wasn’t the one looking in it.
2008 wasn’t a happy year. Or in many respects even a good year. It’s been the hardest I’ve had things in a long while-full of fear, loathing. I’ve seen my own death in my hands for the first time since about 1993, closer than ever, fluttering behind the lights in an ER. I’ve sat alone in the aftermath, with only voices reaching from a distance to sustain, to hold me.
Lessons are learned from this. Lessons are cobbled together-that yes, it’s good to have people to fall back on, who support you. But it’s even better to learn how to support yourself, how to learn to live a good, honest, worthwhile life that draws people to you, that draws you to yourself.
It’s ok to love yourself as much as anyone else.
I don’t think I truly wanted to die this year. I don’t think that’s what I’ve ever really wanted. I just wanted it all to end-the noise in my head, the chaos that has surrounded me, the crushing weight of real life-the things people do everyday, without pause or fear. These things are not easy for me, and may never be easy.
And that is ok. I can work with that.
But you know? It’s not all bad.
I have two fabulous daughters-daughters who continually delight, frustrate, awe and move me. Their love-their joy, the incredible wonder they provide me every day-it reminds me why I fight, why I struggle with this, why I don’t just lay down and let it take me. I see the women they will become, and know that they deserve the best me I can possibly be, even if she’s still not enough when they’re 16. I have a husband that loves and advocates for me, even when I can’t. Even after a tough year, I know that love is there, regardless of how muddled and difficult I’ve made that. I know I am fought for.
But love isn’t always enough, and 2008 has brought me that realization-that love is a fine, wonderful thing, but so is respect, courtesy, care, gentleness, the things I cannot be-the things I can write but have trouble acting or saying. I have to be better. I have to find the kinder, better version of me that had been buried for so very long.
Tonight, weather permitting, I will go out to a club for New Years Eve for the first time ever, and out for NYE period for the first time since 1998. I want to bounce and dance and sing with fever and joy at finally being able to do what everyone else has accepted and done for so long-go out and have fun. I can do this now-now, finally at 31, I can set foot out that door and just have fun.
It’s been a long time coming, and a hard road. It’s still uphill, and always may be. But without the land mines and lions and tigers and bears, I’ll take it.
Happy Year my friends. Fill it with all kinda of awesome, will you? That’s my plan.