I am recording all of my Bipolar Mama posts in hopes that if there is anyone out there finding it difficult to read because of their meds, they may be able to listen to the posts instead.

Alone, finally. In my own apartment. Life—this new life—this life I have no idea what will bring. I am chained to Lithium, yet freed by it. The scary thing is that I at least knew who I was when I was sick—healthy, I don’t know what is me. A blank slate. I begin anew. Beginning again. For the first time, really. Because every other time, I was sick. This beginning terrifies. Because there are no supposed-to-be’s. No boundary I haven’t crossed—or set for myself. I love that I am alive—that is all I know. I love this life most minutes—but every day, there are minutes that span lifetimes, and those moments I am paralyzed by fear, frustration, panic, terror. TKA

This entry was taken directly from the journal I kept the spring I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder. I’m not changing punctuation or spelling or any error at all because that special girl’s voice pierced through the fog of drug and depression to record her journey. I’m going to allow her to speak for herself. And I know there a lot of you out there who can’t find the will even to pick up a pen, to do anything but swallow those damn meds, and lay back down again. So, I would love to spend some time on the couch with you. Don’t worry; you don’t have to take a shower or do your hair. I don’t mind if your eyes cry even if you’re not meaning to. And I could care less if you use correct grammar or can even string a sentence together without getting confused. If you need to smoke, smoke. I get that, too. Today’s about you and me and who you’re going to be. This series is about how to get you there.

Now, first of all, let me get one thing straight: I’m not preaching at you. I’ve sat there and listened to a million well-intented phrases well-intended people (you know the ones.) We’ve all got them, don’t we? We all try to duck when they come ’round. Most of us need them, though, don’t we? Most of us need help from they. we just wish they wouldn’t talk so much, cuz the fetal position is difficult to walk in. They say you need to fight harder? They say you need to take a shower, get dressed, and “shake it off”? They say “a little makeup” might help? They watch shocked with disgust when you lick the sugar straight from the bowl and breathe in smoke just to feel alive?

Well, friend, don’t worry. This corner of Red Vine’s dedicated to you and the war you’re fighting one, two, three times daily just to swallow those pills. This series is dedicated to you because sometimes waging war is pouring a glass of water, sometimes the enemy is the creature climbing up your throat to strangle you from the inside. And what they cannot see–the horror your mind creates for you–is that you war, slice, mount up and attack in one gulp.

I know from the inside that this isn’t hard, what you’re doing. This isn’t some “tough fight;” this isn’t something normals can ever sympathize with. This, my friend, is your defense of your life: all your gifts, all the treasure buried within you that will be lost if you are lost. You are fighting a physical and spiritual war; you are fighting for your dignity and your purpose.

I wish I would have known then what I know now. And I wish it hadn’t taken so long for me to learn it all. I wish I could have seen Bipolar for what it truly is: a physical illness. I know that may seem silly, but how do you view your diagnosis? I saw it as an explanation for my behavior, not necessarily a medical illness, no matter how much head knowledge I acquired. How many cancer patients do you know blame themselves for their illness? How many patients with Epilepsy or Diabetes or MS decide they don’t deserve prayer, healing, or even breath?

This disease made me hate myself, and I exercised that hatred by accepting that being miserable was the only way for me to live a benign life. Well, my friend, I was wrong. And if you are sitting on that couch thinking you deserve this, or that this is as good as it can be for you, YOU’RE WRONG. Let’s work on this together: step by step. Let’s change the way you look at this “one, wild life” of yours. Let’s change the way we see your beautiful brain: let’s treasure it, cradle it, nurse it back to a new and–dare I say it?–BETTER life.

For the first time in history, we crazies can not only survive, but maximize our gifts. We can learn to balance our madness, to mete out our giftedness, to catapult to the dark side of the moon securely fastened within our own, grounded skins.

It’s time, my friend, to step out of sick and into the beautiful life you were created to enjoy. Meet me here every Wednesday, and we can figure this out together.

Until then, go gently. Oh, and don’t forget my friend: love yourself . . . and know that you are loved (Jeremiah 31:3).

Gently, bravely, and dead-serious,