I miss Halloween.
It used to mean dressing up in my pirate costume and taking the kids/grandkids trick-or-treating through dark streets, where ghosts and kittycats and superheroes gathered at houses with decorations that lit up the night. I loved the mingled aromas from chimney smoke and the leaves that crunched delightfully underfoot. I also enjoyed the occasional candy bar from people who thought Mom/Grandma deserved a treat too.
But that all changed two years ago. Life has a way of playing tricks on us, and on that Halloween night in 2014, when I should have been out with my grandsons, I was instead being driven through streets teeming with costumed toddlers on my way to the psychiatric hospital in a neighboring town. You see, I was suicidal and no longer safe to be at home, and both my psychiatrist and the one who saw me in the ER agreed that I needed to be admitted right away. I agreed too. I was so depressed I literally couldn’t stand myself anymore; and though I’d always feared the hospital, I knew that whatever awaited me there couldn’t possibly be worse than what I was going through inside my own head.
It’s weird, but I barely remember many details of the hospital now, except for the admission process and being horrified that I’d been diagnosed Bipolar 1. I’m glad I wrote about my experiences there right after I got out, or those memories would have been lost to me…memories that held some very valuable lessons for me. I had a lot going on in my life at the time, and much of that time is a merciful blur. But I met some good people on the inside, and I still correspond with two of them on Facebook. None of the three of us has had to go back; we’ve all gone on to bigger and better things. However, we also know there’s no guarantee that we’ll never have to return, because of the cyclical nature of our illnesses. One of us has major depression and PTSD, the other has Bipolar 2 and PTSD, and then of course there’s me with BP Numero Uno. But we are managing, and for the most part we are managing well.
Still, it bothers me that Halloween has changed, and there’s no unringing that bell. Last year my grandsons spent the holiday in Vermont with their parents; this year they’re older, and while they’ve returned to Oregon they’re still too far away for me to take them out. Besides, I can’t drive at night anymore…I’ve been pretty much flying by the seat of my pants for the past several years, and I really shouldn’t keep pushing my luck. I’d hate to have gone through all the shit life’s thrown at me in recent years, only to get myself killed in a traffic crash. No way…I’ve got too much to do and too many things to see before my life is over. I have no idea what they are, but I’ll figure it out someday.
However, I’m not anywhere near as downbeat as that last paragraph may have sounded. On the contrary, my HappyLight is doing its job and keeping the SAD away. Obviously, looking forward to my vacation next month is part of it, but the dreary weather that never fails to send me into a tailspin hasn’t even made a blip on my radar, except for about two days just prior to starting light therapy when I felt myself slip a little. I sit in front of it for 30 minutes each morning, and I feel noticeably better in the AM than I’ve felt in months. Now that’s a treat!