I’ve been having a pretty good run of stability. And I’m beyond grateful, I really really am. But, stability is the time when you can spend a LOT of time thinking about your issues and how to deal with them and it’s HARD.
When I was a child, I pictured my fairy tale life with a husband and children and a long fulfilling life. I was a kid though and everything could be seen through the lens of a child’s eye. Romanticized and Disney-ish, I had a glamorous life ahead of me.
When I was a teen the depression came. I didn’t know it was depression. I didn’t even suspect that there was a problem. The reason I was so miserable, I thought, was the emotional abuse. And, sure, that was a big part. But, I never suspected depression. Even after my suicide attempt, which no one even knew about, I didn’t suspect depression. Why would I? My parents kept telling me that I was just a liar and not living up to my potential. If I could just do that, I would be fine.
When I was in my 20’s, things got messy. I left college without graduating and moved to a shitty little apartment. I got a job, then a better job, then a better job and so on. My life started to be defined by my career here. My relationship with my parents got significantly worse when I got a serious girlfriend. In fact, I was disowned until we broke up three years later. My living situation got better as my professional life got better. I broke up with the girl and started up with a guy. We broke up after I found out he was cheating. My self-esteem took a major blow and for the first time I started to notice my extreme need to make sure others were happy with me, which took precedence over my need to be happy with myself.
When I was in my 30’s I quit romance entirely to focus on my career. No more pretenses of defining my life by what I did for a living. My living situation continued to improve and I bought my first house. I got happier and happier and more and more active. I slept less, worked more and played hard. When I was 35 I met Joe. When I was 36 he moved in and when I was 37 we got married. And while this all sounds great, another part of life was falling apart. My next door neighbors (we shared a wall) started doing drugs (I think) and started going bonkers and vindictive on us. Joe and I finally had to put the house up for rent and move out. My parents and I entered the rockiest part of our relationship by trying to plan my wedding (should have gone to Vegas!).
When I was in my 40’s life started telling me, quite forcefully in fact, that things were going to change. If I wouldn’t see that, then life was going to force me eyes open. I had my first nervous breakdown (I still call it that, because it’s much more descriptive of what is happened then “major depressive episode”). Joe and I decided that we would move to South Carolina. He would be able to get a better manufacturing job there and the pace of life was so much slower that we hoped it would help with what ailed me. What actually happened was a succession of nervous breakdowns, coming just about every two years. I had to file for disability which began a three year battle with the Federal Government. Because of this, my battle for my own self worth came to a head. But towards the second half of the decade I started to get fed up. Fed up with the stigma of mental health, with the misunderstanding I was facing even from those in my own family and then the battle for health care in this country. I started getting political and started to look at my life in a different way.
Now I’m in my 50’s. 51 to be exact. And things are looking up at the moment. Yes, I had a nervous breakdown again last year, but the new meds seem to be working out great so far. No, I’ll never work again, but I think I’m finally figuring out this housewife thing. It’s been a very hard transition for me, but I may actually be pulling it off now. I think I may have found my way to contribute to society without having a job. And I’m having a nice run of stability. I am afraid of the next bipolar shift. My therapist and I just discussed this the other day. I got a phone call from someone today who showed me that people are starting to look at me as a smart useful person.
At the moment, things are looking up.