Amid the chaos of moving and trying to figure out where Will and I are going to go, there has been little time for reflection on how we got into this situation. But now that I’m on my second batch of papers for SSDI—the ones somebody who knows you well has to fill out—I can’t help wondering where the person I used to be went, and whether I can find her again. Or if she even exists anymore.
The condition of my house is a great metaphor for my life these days: besides being a disorganized mess, it feels like it’s lost its identity and now can only relate to the shambles in which it finds itself. It’s almost as if that other life, the one where I was a reasonably successful nurse, wife and mother, happened to someone else…..I feel like I’m standing on the outside of it looking in.
Perhaps it’s the advent of the holidays that makes me wistful for Christmases past, when there were decorations everywhere and plenty of gifts under the tree. I used to walk around outside at night on Christmas Eve and look at the house covered in bright twinkle-lights, pretending I was a stranger who just came by to admire the display and wonder about the family who lived there. Who were they? Were they happy? Did they have enough of everything? Then I’d smile because the house and the family were mine, and we not only had enough but had it in abundance.
That is certainly not the case this year. Last December, I wanted a tablet for Christmas (and got one); now all I want is a roof over my head. The thing about homelessness I fear the most is not the threat of bodily harm or of being swallowed up in the horrors of life on the streets, it’s the idea of being cold all the time. I’d almost rather be in Hell…..at least it’s warm there. Of course, the last time I thought about making those arrangements I wound up in a locked psychiatric facility, but I’m not that kind of depressed now and I’m not allowing bad thoughts to rent space in my head, not for very long anyway.
However, I must admit that in some ways this is even harder on me because I used to have a purpose and a defined role in life. I wasn’t always happy with it—in fact, toward the end I came to despise it—but I didn’t know how much I would miss it until I didn’t have it anymore. Now I just feel lost, as if I no longer play any useful part in the world, even though I know on an intellectual plane that I’m still needed and wanted. I just don’t know if it’ll be enough to sustain me when things get worse. My faith in humanity is not at its highest, but I have even less in myself.
So yes, I miss the woman who used to stroll around the yard at Christmastime, secure in the knowledge that my family had plenty of everything and that as long as I could provide for them, all would be well. I had no idea that the bipolar juggernaut was about to overtake me and sweep that life away in its whirlwind. I never saw it coming. One day I was fine (or so I thought), and the next I was in the middle of a mental health crisis, and the next I was losing jobs and applying for food stamps and getting evicted.
And as always, I wonder: what the hell happened?!