Bipolar – You Seem “Normal”

It really is difficult to know what to say. Should I begin at the beginning? When I knew something went “wonky” with me? Should I share some of the ways I’ve tried to improvise to survive myself? Perhaps just today?

I saw another new counselor this week. I like her I think. Today.

I mentioned to her that yes, I am on disability… as in collect disability, and that I was approved within minutes it seemed of walking into the interviewer’s office. My new counselor said what so many others have said, “You are one of the lucky ones.” Most people don’t get on disability and they should be. (See note below on defining “crazy” and similar words)

I imagine that to her, on that day this week, that I seemed like I’m pretty well together. Life is giving me a crap load of stuff to deal with at the present time, but I seem to be dealing with it. How, she asked, could she help me?

Teach me to know when I’m having normal feelings. Please… please help me to know when I leave the area of normal grief and loss when my child goes to basic training and when I’m crashing. I have to know. I have to be able to get help. I need to know when to stop. I want to know if it will ever stop.

My eldest daughter is coming home for a few weeks from where she’s stationed at MacDill AFB in Tampa, FL. She’s recently received her certification and is a real, honest to goodness… wait for it… air traffic controller. I’m certified disabled, a single mom, food stamps and am supported financially (Only to pay my bills, not to do anything like buy my cats a toy, but I am very thankful for what they do do. do do? due duo… lol) by my parents who are in their 70’s. My kids are Sydney 17, Kyle 19 and Jessica 22 and they are all amazing. And I’m amazing too. AND, so are you.

When they were young and I was already bonkers. I didn’t know it then, but I was. Sometimes religious experience can mask what is really mental illness.

I admit to being very intelligent. Not always smart or having the commonsense of a turnip, but I’m intelligent. I realized when I divorced my kids’ father that being Bipolar and being labeled “crazy” could possibly allow my ex-husband to have custodial rights over my kids. There was no way in whatever hell that that was ever going to happen. I wouldn’t allow it. Not on my watch and my watch is every moment of every day.

Let me cut to the chase. Because I’m “intelligent” (ehem… little pride check) I realized that there was a possibility that he could “take” the kids from me, that they would live with him and visit with me. I knew absolutely that if that came to pass I would crack and I might not come back from that broken place. I …. I raised them. All by myself. Without a job. Without money to speak of. Without so many of the normal “stuff” kids get and have today.

I was the only parent I know (still know) who couldn’t take my kids to fun and often expensive places (I’m talking about the local zoo here, not Disneyland). We live near Mt. Rainier. I had a reliable Ford Explorer (till it was repossessed…. you Bipolars out there might identify with that) and we used to pop up to the mountain and have a snowball fight, have a meal of summer sausage, cheese and crackers; then head home again. We counted deer too. Got something like 17 or so in one trip. We did these trips in under 3.5 hours. Then they’d do homework, eat and pass out.

It was pointed out to me was that I was building memories with my kids and that is the most important kind of “gift” I can give them. I’d never thought of it like that.

I coached sports teams and did all the “normal” things a “normal” super mom would do. And you know… no one in my family ever told me that hauling the sports equipment to the baseball field was NOT supposed to leave me collapsing in a chair trying not to cry before I was full of joy and energy and the person those kids needed me to be. I tried to be that person very hard. Now I  realize that my perception of doing a great job might not be the same as the two women over yonder not cheering for their kids but doing a lot of talking. Normal. Who the hell knows or cares anymore?

No I don’t.

Then I went far far beyond that. My days and nights have been full of the pursuit raising my children, of making them into the adults they are now. Yes, yes… all the other factors. Sure. But I have always been there. I am still here. I will always be… BE.. for them and be here for them. They know I would fight the legendary devil, Satan himself, to protect my babies. Heaven help you if you get in my way.

My pursuit of seemingly being normal today is a direct product of the hysteria that accompanied the thought of loosing my babies.

You all, my friends, you probably know what may lay beyond the surface of my “normalcy”. If you do… it should terrify you and, or because, you know it too.

Back to the counselor – “How can I help you?” she asked me gently. “Help me to know when I’m feeling normal feelings. Help me stop when I cross into the uncontrolled feelings that can destroy me.”

I look normal.

How about you?

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