Love, Actually

Summing up today’s visit with Dr. Awesomesauce, I am reminded of the old MasterCard commercials:

Psychiatric Visit: $349.00

Gas to get to office: $3.19/gal.

Validation of your worth as a human being: Priceless.

I hate it when people blame their parents for everything that’s wrong with them, but I wish to high heaven that mine had made me feel I was worth something when I was growing up. Maybe I wouldn’t have to pay someone to do it if there hadn’t always been conditions attached to their love for me, and I learned early in life that their goals would remain unfailingly out of my reach (hence, my lifelong fear of other peoples’ expectations). That was why I didn’t recognize the kind of love and acceptance Will offered me when we got together; it took me literally years to allow for the possibility of it, and even longer to understand it a little.

Even so, I don’t think I’ll ever grasp the concept of unconditional love entirely, despite the fact that I love my kids that way. They never had to do anything to “earn” my love, it was theirs from the first breath they breathed; and with the possible exception of that oldest boy of mine, they knew it. No matter how rotten I could be (during a mood swing or otherwise), no matter how angry or selfish or petty I got—and sometimes I was pretty bad—they never questioned whether or not I loved them. They have told me this, and I believe them.

So with all this love surrounding me, how is it that I need a mental health professional to tell me that I myself am loved that way—by more people than I realize—and what’s more, that I’m worthy of it, even though I have this condition that frustrates me endlessly and makes me hard to live with?

Because I’m sick. Because I’m a mess. Because I’m rotten at my core and I have this stinking cesspool at the bottom of my soul.

On an intellectual level, I know that’s bullshit. I used to NOT know that on any level, so understanding it with my brain is progress of a sort. I only wish my heart didn’t still believe it a little, and that I could stop confusing my psychiatric issues with a deficiency of personal integrity. I mean, I know right from wrong, I’ve always had a strong sense of morality, and of course as a clinician I don’t judge anyone else for having a disease that they didn’t cause and didn’t ask for. So why do I judge myself?

Today, however, I may have taken the first baby steps toward wholeness. I was discussing my exasperation with losing bits and pieces of me to the illness when Dr. A smiled sympathetically and said in the most sincere tone I’ve ever heard: “I’m sorry”. My immediate reaction was to say “It’s not your fault”……and then it occurred to me that it wasn’t mine either. And I even admitted as much.

That’s when he told me that my mood swings were becoming less extreme and that I was actually making good progress. “Well, I’m glad you think so because I’m so OVER this I could scream,” I protested. “I can’t keep living like this—I’m sick and tired of it, and I wish I wasn’t like this.”

Ever the realist, Dr. A gave my shoulder a squeeze and said “I know…but then, you wouldn’t be you, and we LOVE you!” Uh-oh—there’s that unconditional acceptance thing again! But as he walked me to the desk to check out, I realized that it was the very same kind of acceptance I get right in my own backyard for free……the kind that’s available to me every single day of my life because of the people in it.


Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

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