My experiences with Bipolar or Manic Depressive Disorder have created a passion which has led to service. The courage it takes to be brought through recovery out into the open road of functioning daily in my life has left me with a storehouse of compassion. While I have only begun to step into this place of service and know that through its every act I will slowly develop my voice and hopefully one day be a great advocate for those with mental illness. I have found that it takes curiosity, exploring the terrain and seeing the depth, width and height of the problem. I have found that it takes perseverance to not faint or grow weary seeing all that needs to be done. And consequently, I have found belonging in a community fighting for what I believe in.
To introduce this short story which I wrote back in 1983, when in the 7th grade, I want people to be made aware as I understand it. An illness can have precursors and in my case it was a preoccupation with death. As an adult living with my disease, suicidal ideation is on ongoing issue I constantly deal with. I had my first suicide attempt at age 19 but unfortunately did not receive any diagnosis until age 29 when I went into full manic psychosis and was hospitalized.
Daddy says I have to do it and I just have to make him happy. I just have to!
Filing into the cars in their black and grey blothing, they lined up one by one getting ready for the drive to their awaiting destination.
Swimmers take your mark. BEEP!
As the procession of cars pulled slowly away from the curb, the first drops of rain fell upon the asphalt creating a sizzling noise like a boiling pot overflowing onto a hot stove.
When the beep sounds, Daddy says I have to shoot off the block as a porpoise darts through the air. With the acceleration from my legs I can really thrust off the starting block. For the start, Daddy says, is the most important part of the race.
They drove down the momentarily deserted street looking like a caravan of camels traveling across abandoned desert.
Maybe Daddy would happier with a porpoise than with me because he says on my entry I have to streamline and slice through the water just like that porpoise. My entry has to be deep enough so that I can get a good breaststroke pullout.
The summer rain caused the windows of the car to fog up. The humid atmosphere reminded them of the hot and sticky pool area.
Daddy says I have to turn over quickly and get a lot of force from my arms as they squeeze together and from my kick as my ankles snap together. I have to do what he says or he won’t be happy.
Looking out of the window they saw the rain falling more rapidly. The pounding upon the car windows made a tapping noise which would have made them feel secure in any other situation.
It’s already 10:30! If Daddys finds out I’m still awake he will kill me! I just have to do something so that I can relax and fall asleep. Maybe I should take a swim in the pool that I saw when daddy was checking in. Then I could relax my muscles and swim through my race both physically and mentally. My suits are in the bathroom so I had better walk really quietly and be very cautious.
Although the cars offered them some protection, the heavy rain didn’t bother them for they were used to being wet.
Yuk! My suits are still wet and they reek of chlorine. I guess they’ll have to do since my dry suits are in my bag next to Daddy’s bed.
Although the pedestrians in the rain walked rapidly toward the shelter, the procession of slowly moving cars caused them to stop and stare.
This door better not creak…Phew! I can’t believe I escaped without Daddy waking up. That was the easy part. Now for the hard part-getting into the pool without anyone noticing me.
Not only did the pedestrians stop and stare but the cars, too, stood motionless as the caravan passed splashing water in all directions.
7…6…5…4…3…2…1…TING! Now I’ve got to remember where I saw the pool.
The official lead car took them down the street after street, non stop.
I think it’s over by the…Oh! Here it is. Gosh, this pool isn’t nearly as nice as the one we work out in, but it’s better than nothing. I think I will swim through my race once and head back to my room so that Daddy won’t notice I’m gone.
Slowly turning the corner the procession of cars were within sight of their destination. The cold grey objects in the yard surrounding the building and the continuing rain put them further into their mood of sadness.
Swimmers take your mark. Daddy says I have to do it, and I just have to make him happy! I have to! BEEP!
As the casket descended into the open grave that was beginning to fill with mud and rain, the question of why went through all of their minds. As the priest intoned the words “dust into dust”, a sobbing man fell to the ground and furiously shouting, “Why did you have to dive so deep into such a shallow area? Why did you have to do it? Why did you have to be so stupid? We could’ve done it! We could have won!”