I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.
I saw my psychiatrist today. Seven years into our relationship, he is steady in my life like one of the huge maples rooted in our back yard. He is shelter through each season: a father, a friend, invested but distant enough to hold razor ripped arms and public drunken breaks gently and without judgement.
I met him when I was 24, beginning to stabilize, dying to be a mother. I was assembling my dream team of doctors necessary to approve my getting pregnant and to accompany me through the uncharted waters of a bipolar, lithium pregnancy. Several months later, I succumbed to a second bout of my illness that dwarfed my first manic break into amateur hour. It was then that I realized this illness was bigger than I was: it was powerful enough to claim my life. Had he not been treating me, it may have.
We spent a half an hour talking about this blog, the little dramas in my life. We veered into my history as his patient. I asked him questions I’ve never asked him before: why didn’t we examine my hormones during that last almost-fatal strickening? Why not Sam-e or fish oil? What about gluten? Is anyone of his other patients having success with these things?
He nods. He tells me we didn’t know then that estrogen and serotonin are linked, and that as estrogen levels rise and fall, so do serotonin levels. Sam-e and fish oil were just coming on the scene; no one was talking about gluten as an allergy then. He told me there is an arc to my life, to this story, to the book I am writing. What we are learning every day benefits the patient diagnosed tomorrow. Life is getting better, and we are understanding the brain more and more.
We sit silent for a moment. I wince at the memory of that pain, the depth of suffering I endured. I mourn those years of my life, that darkness I cannot understand or place or resolve. In the same breath, I stun at my recovery. I will say my whole life I don’t know how I’m still here. We discuss positive predictors, and I guess I had a few: a husband who stayed, faith, success before becoming ill, a kick-ass work ethic, an ability to see myself in perspective.
But I know it comes down to one: love. And I think there is something special about romantic love, but I also think that if someone feels from their scalp to their toe nails that someone loves them whole, then maybe just maybe that can save them. I couldn’t love myself, but Jack did. I felt his love save me; I felt God love me right through him. He held me, and God held him, and together we found a way.
So, I would say if you love someone who is really sick, just hold on and don’t let go and love with all your heart. Love them through crazy, love them through broken. That’s how Jesus loves us, and that kind of love is the only reason to stay and fight this crazy disease.
And if you are a crazy just like me, Jesus is loving you whole and crazy right now, even if you can’t believe me. He loved the crazies. He searched them out on the edge of town, in graveyards, in sin. And He saved them.
My doc and I also talk about Mary Magdalene as we sit there, and marvel at the suspicions that Jesus may have married her. Wouldn’t that make perfect sense? That is the God I serve, the Savior whose feet I will wash with my hair and tears and brokenness. He falls in love with us as we lie handcuffed to hospital beds, as we ruin yet another relationship, as we decide to stop taking our meds again. He loves us. He loves me. And He loves you.
Forget the religious bullshit that separates us crazy specials out from the “normal” people. That wasn’t Jesus, and anyone who insists it is doesn’t know Him. Anyone who shakes the book at you, quotes lines from the Vatican about suicide, doesn’t know that living with this illness is already hell.
Love can find you. And Love can keep you alive. I don’t know how, or why, but love saved me. I can’t be the only one. I just can’t be.