personal essay. identifying a part of my struggle with bi-polar disorder.
|This is a story written by mother (Julie) and daughter (Kassy) and our separate experiences with bi-polar disorder as well as our journey together.
we are still working on it...
Inherently Nomadic – my way of defining “It” the it that kept us moving, always moving. One house to the next, one town to the next, one state to the next, without reason, excuses maybe, but not reason. “We must be inherently Nomadic.” I shrug when my twelve-year-old daughter, a beautiful girl with huge blue-eyes named Catrina, asks why we always move and why my mother also took her children and moved and moved and moved. I have no other explanation. It’s what mother did, what I’ve done and it’s just what we do.
The feeling comes in the spring when everything is new. It starts small, a ripple in the mind, a tingle in the tips, like a new seed unraveling in moist, sun-warmed dirt. Then it gains momentum, until finally it towers large and thundering, silent sound crushing reason, drowning out all that is stable and steady until there is nothing left to do but jump on or get smashed like a girl caught in a torrential downpour with a huge flash flood coming fast. There’s desperation to get in the boat and get out of there! Sink or swim, jump or drown, it’s essential to go immediately and take the children. Those are the only options, or so, for a long time, I believed.
I am forty-one-years old now and tired. I am tired of riding the waves of life, tossing along on the wind like a chaff of wheat, never knowing where I might land. Looking for a place to grow roots, deep, heavy, grounded roots, like that of an old Oak or Maple tree, but at this point, even the shallow roots of a Redwood Cedar would be just fine with me.
I’ve begun to make progress toward growing roots. The toe-hold purchase of our eight-thousand-dollar house, plus the five-thousand we spent making it habitable, helped. It’s a small anchor in the tide that comes and in it I find some stability.
Come this July we will have been here three years. That is one year longer than anywhere else I have ever lived in my entire life. Even as a child, I did not live in one home longer than a year or two at a time, with the exception of my grandparents house, but that was before I turned five-years-old. That was a long time ago.
I am battle-weary, yet bright with new knowledge. It is a kind of funny knowledge, it’s what other people take for granted and probably never remember learning, for instance, what to do with all the things that they acquire over the years of staying in one home. Our seventeen-hundred square foot house seems to have shrunk by half. I don’t know what to do with all of the excess.
In my nomadic life I would have found it very simple. Sort, prioritize, pack and move.
Whatever didn’t fit was thrown away. That’s the way it always was and it was easy. I’ve left behind furniture, knick-knacks, clothes, appliances and all kinds of things, even keepsakes, and never looked back. That was before though, before I met and went out with Gordon.
Gordon is my current husband. We have known each other eight or nine years, we’ve been a couple for seven years, and we’ve been legally married for four or five years now. I always count the anniversary of our first kiss as ‘our anniversary’ because it’s easy to remember, it was my grandma’s eighty-fifth birthday.
Gordon is my enigma. The same things I like about him are also the things I hate about him and figuring him out keeps me happily entertained. One of those things is that he hoards things. I really hate the hoarding. It makes our house full and messy and our yard is embarrassing, piled with old cars, lawn mowers that don’t run, bicycles we’ll never ride again, planks of wood and boards that are worn and rotting, nicely cut firewood stacked and drying (even though we don’t have a wood stove), buckets, barrels and just about any other thing you can name, he’s probably got it and it’s probably in our yard.
It’s not so much the mess I mind, nor the cost of these things, nor even how much he fusses and worries that someone is going to steal some of it. No, for me it’s the weight that all his stuff puts on us when I want to go. When I want to move, he wants to take everything. Part of the point of moving is starting fresh without the mess. That point is ruined when the mess goes with you. I’ve tried to explain this to him but, to him, taking the bulk of his things with him is not optional, even if it costs an arm and leg, he’s bringing them. Needless to say, that has restricted my ability to leave anywhere comfortably, unless I leave him too, and that, I can not do.
Before Gordon I was married to Travis, Mark and Truman. Each of these previous marriages lasted about three years before ending. To put it simply, Travis and I were to young, Mark is a large child (still) and Truman was a pedophile, I thought I would never meet anyone worth raising a family with, and was resigned to doing it alone, well, actually, with Joyce, but that’s a whole different story.
I didn’t choose Gordon, my youngest girl, Catrina did. And, even though she was only five-years-old, she showed good taste in men, at least the qualities that counted for me at that time. He’s a hard-worker. He’s reliable. He’s dependable. He’s steady and straight. So, even though he is a puzzle to me in some ways and even though I hate what I also love about him, and there are some things about him that are not easy to live with, over-all, I am satisfied. And even though he has far too much stuff to move like I want to move, he seems to fit with me, having been with me longer than any other person in my life, with the exception of my children.
The other thing that has kept me in Jewell, Kansas this long is my newest hobby, gardening. When you move every spring and often don’t settle in a new home until fall, gardening is impossible, so it’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing, but had not done until last spring.
Last spring I had Gordon till the whole front yard and then I planted it with vegetable seeds. I know it looked crazy. I don’t know many people who grow vegetable seeds in their front yard, but, it isn’t the first time I’ve ever looked crazy, that I am certain of. procrastinate on caring for the garden if it were right there where I’d have to walk past it every day to get into the house, and I was right, having to walk past it every day did make caring for it easier.
Having never planted a garden before, I did not know that it would take so much time and work, but I did enjoy it. I planted corn, green beans, peppers, beets, turnips, carrots and radishes in one section. The melons, squashes and other vegetables that are planted in mounds were in the other section. The last section held my herbs.
I tried to get my family to help plant the garden with me, they weren’t really interested, but, finally one evening, I did get them to help. It took about two complete days to plant the whole thing.
I was surprised at how fast the little seeds turned into plants and how fast the plants grew. I stopped and admired them every day and spent hours tending them. They were, oddly, like little children to me and then came the accident and the tornado.
A silent scream for help doesn’t do you much good when no one is around to listen to you. All you can do when you’re manic is keep riding the roller coaster of death praying to God that you don’t die holding on for dear life waiting for the ride to impede. I decided to write about my the adventures and experiences of my bipolar after I read the book Manic by Terri Cheney.
When you wake up one morning afraid that your going to live, thoughts racing so fast you only start to comprehend one thought, when twenty thoughts have already consumed your mind you will do anything to make it stop.
You find yourself upside down in a world inside out, and your thinking that everything is exactly how it should be.