As a kid I was quite adventurous. I climbed trees. Climbed up to the rafters of newly framed homes in our neighborhood. Roller skated backwards over a cobble stone street. My most favorite thing to do was swing. My father built us a swing set in our backyard when I was about 7. He was quite the craftsmen back then. He made it extra sturdy because he had two rambunctious and athletic kids. We crawled all over that wooden structure. In addition, we had a sand box. My brother, 4 years younger, spent a lot of time kicking sand around. He had such a vivid imagination. Me. I got my kicks out of sensory activities. Stomping the pavement In Hop scotch, out jumping everyone on the pogo stick and feeling the wind on my face swinging.
When alone, meaning my parents were inside the house arguing somewhere, I stood up on the swing and tested my balance. I’d ride the rubber sling on my stomach til I almost lost air. I’d sit and lean back as far as possible to feel that rumble in my stomach, or if I was super brave do a backflip. Swinging brought me simple joy. Pumping my legs, finding a rhythm was soothing. I’d be out there for hours.
Unlucky for us, we lived on a corner. The street behind our house was quite busy. One night someone was speeding down the street and didn’t give himself a wide enough berth. Through our back fence he flew. His car demolishing our swing set. Everyone for weeks maybe months said, oh you are so blessed it was at night and the kids weren’t playing. No one was hurt. True, physically no one was hurt. But emotionally I felt demolished too. My number one coping mechanism was stripped from me. But no one talked about that. I wasn’t allowed to share my young thoughts on the matter. I was to feel blessed my beloved swing set was destroyed in the dark. I felt nothing of the kind.
If anyone were to tell me I would be swinging from the bipolar rafters or down below sea level later in life I probably would just smile and hang upside down from the monkey bars. But I needed some help starting in high school. I fell into hopelessness writing poems alone in my room. Or I was playing tennis for hours at a time. Other times I went to the courts late on a Friday night crouched in a corner and just cried. Big lights blaring on me. Darkness surrounding me. A level of despair I’ve never felt before took over. I would literally cry it out and return home to fulfill the role of perfect daughter.
I tried to approach my mother. Tell her I was struggling. Let her know I might be unhappy. I imagined she would wrap me up in her arms and promise it would all be okay. Instead, she was a bit angry. Her words stern. I was to buck up and appreciate the hard work of my father who gave his life to the Air Force..for me. For us. That was it. The defining moment of a young vulnerable, most likely depressed, teenager being shut down. That door slammed so loud and so hard I have yet to be able to open it. I have yet to find a way to communicate my true feelings and emotions. Except here. Through words. Where you can’t shut me down.
The pendulum can swing in a hurry as I seem to be experiencing right now. 4 days ago I was in the grips of suicidal depression and psychosis. Crack open the antipsychotic I gingerly put away in July when this last occurred. Now here I am 4 days later hypomanic. Jumping out of bed after 3 hrs of sleep, Super talkative, super social, the funniest in the land. Working in the yard, working out after that. Cleaning the house. Dancing. I’m havin me a jolly good time. Swing, swing cheerie!