Tag Archives: family

An Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving may still be three weeks away, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I have to be grateful for. Life hasn’t always been awesome to me, especially not in the past five years or so; still, I have been blessed with many good things. Here are some of them.

First and foremost, I’m thankful for family. I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for them and their support. No matter how bad I feel on a given day, there’s always someone to offer a shoulder to cry on. Recently my daughter Mindy told me on Facebook Messenger that she was reading my blog and had come to the conclusion that I was “fucking incredible” (her words) and that “you need to be told you’re awesome”. Coming from her, that is high praise and it made my year. She is admittedly not good with talking about feelings, but I think she did a great job with these!

I’m thankful for nature and its connection to God. I love to watch the trees turn to red and gold and orange, to feel the brisk wind in my hair, to listen to the rain on the roof. (Even though the rain gets old after the first couple of days.) I love the green of spring and the golden summer days. I’m not wild about winter, but even that has its beautiful moments. Sometimes I look at nature in all its glory and say “Lord, you make such cool stuff!” Well, He does.

I’m thankful for the roof over my head. Once upon a time, Will and I came within a whisker of being homeless, and believe me I appreciate not have to worry about sleeping in a car or living in a cardboard box behind the strip mall. I love it that I live in a warm, comfortable house with people I adore. I think I’ll always be somewhat insecure in this area because of the trauma of losing my own home, but I take that one day at a time.

I’m thankful to be on Social Security and Medicare. I’d rather be able to work, and the amount is barely enough to survive on—I couldn’t live on my own even if I wanted to—but it does pay my rent and bills and leaves a tiny bit for fun. I’m still amazed that now I have little money to manage, I do a good job of it. I wish I’d figured this out when I was making 60K a year. I haven’t had an overdraft in years. I even have a credit card which I pay faithfully each month. It took some doing and some time, but my once-Very Poor credit rating has improved to Fair. I’m proud of that.

I’m also thankful for the medication that keeps me stable for the most part. It’s what makes the rest of my life work. I don’t like having to take so many pills, but the reason I am on six psych meds is because five weren’t enough. Thank God for the wisdom of the doctors who have prescribed them for me! I was just looking back at a post from 2014 in which I wrote of my dismay at having to be on two anti-psychotics, and I laughed because it was so ridiculous. Truth was, I wasn’t making it on one, and Dr. Awesomesauce knew it. Now, years later, I’m still on two APs and there are no plans to change that anytime soon. There’s a certain amount of security in that, so I just consume my meds twice a day and enjoy the fact that my moods aren’t all over the map.

Most of all, I’m thankful that I have so much to be thankful for. I miss my husband something fierce and I will yearn for him for the rest of my life, but in this second year without him I feel nothing but gratitude for having had him as long as I did. He visits me in my dreams on most nights, and in all of them he is happy and healthy, and he looks just like he did in the prime of his life.

Happy early Thanksgiving!


The Interview

So I just got off the phone after talking with an East Coast graduate student for almost an hour about my bipolar disorder. She is with a group doing research for the University of Virginia, part of which is reaching out to people with the illness and asking them a lot of questions about how it affects them. I found out about the study from a reputable source and thought I’d participate for the fun of it. I also get a $20 Walmart gift card for my trouble, but that’s not the reason I did the interview. I did it because I am passionate about mental health and I want to do whatever I can to further understanding of brain disorders…mine in particular.

I was asked first about when and how I came to be diagnosed with bipolar NOS, and why it changed to bipolar 1 a couple of years later. How did that feel? Well, gobsmacked was the first word that came to mind, and I said as much. Then it was relief that there was a name for what ailed me and a way to treat it, even though it was incurable. Then came the denial, which I still fight even today, because I’ve felt so good for so long that I forget how bad things really were in the past. It’s a good thing I have this blog to remind me of how it used to be when my illness was raging out of control, and it was even worse before I got help.

She asked me about my medications, and what I call my love/hate relationship with them. I think I’ve finally gotten over the temptation to tinker with them, but I had to admit I still hate having to take so many for just this one reason. (We won’t even talk about the blood-pressure meds or all the supplements I take for various health concerns…suffice it to say that I’m on a hell of a lot of pills.) I think she was actually impressed with the quantity because she let slip a “Wow” while I was giving her my  statistics.

We also discussed in depth the impact that BP has had on my life. I don’t think I’ve ever really put it all together before, but it boiled down to this: in the short term, the disease  ruined me. I used to be a high-functioning, employed, successful nurse holding down a very responsible job, maintaining a household, and participating in society. Now I’m on disability, unable to even imagine going back to nursing, relying on my family to help support me. At first glance, my life looks terribly depressing…and yet, there is incredible optimism in my heart.

After all, I’ve learned to appreciate my many blessings, like my current stability, the aforementioned family and the fact that I have a safe place to lay my head at night. My husband is gone, but I am used to it now and while I will always love and miss him tremendously, I know he wouldn’t want me to mope around feeling sorry for myself and crying for him (well, I still do that on occasion, but I think he understands). I have friends, both online and in real life. I have four little dogs to love and play with who tend to bark at unfortunate times, like during this interview. (She got a kick out of that.) My blog is doing well and I’m getting a lot of page views these days. I even get to go on nice vacations like the one coming up in December. What’s not to love about my life?

This all came tumbling out as we neared the end of the survey. I don’t know how useful my story will be to the research project, but to me it was worth the 45 minutes out of my day. I think she thought so too; “awesome” was the word she used.

I’m encouraged. 🙂

 

 


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