Being on disability, I’ve had a good long time to process what has happened to me in the past few years, and finally some clarity has emerged. Not only am I dealing with the loss of my husband, but I still have unresolved grief for the life I had before my bipolar diagnosis.
As those of you who have followed bpnurse for a while know, I’ve suffered a number of losses due in no small part to this damned illness. It had actually begun to destroy my life long before I received the official label, but in my innocence I never put two and two together. I thought my job-hopping was a result of being restless and bored, and I was completely flummoxed by my problems with money. I was grateful for my blessings, but I couldn’t figure out why I was unable to enjoy them fully. In fact, I didn’t really connect the dots until relatively recently. And now that I know the truth, I’m faced with the task of putting my life back together somehow.
But first, I’ve had to acknowledge that even after three years, I’m still mourning for a world I no longer live in. I sorely miss my home, my career, my status as a solidly middle-class wife and mother. I miss having my own car and my independence. It hurts, dammit. I love my family that I live with and am thankful beyond words for all they do for me; I simply wish I didn’t have to depend on them for so much. I wish I didn’t have to depend on anyone, except of course for Will. I also wish I hadn’t had to lose almost everything in order to appreciate what I have left.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m as happy as I can be under the circumstances, given the fact that my love is gone in addition to all my other losses. Some days, particularly on our rare sunny days, I feel almost giddy, a sensation that reminds me of springs past when I danced on the edge of hypomania. Oh, for a dose of that! I know I’m not supposed to want it, but I can’t help it—I need that burst of energy and the motivation it gives me, to say nothing of pure joy. It’s been a long time since I felt joyful. I miss that too. Maybe it’ll come along when the weather improves and I can get outside.
So how do I learn to live with what’s happened and make peace with myself again? I’m beginning to suspect that my anger and sadness about what bipolar has cost me is why I’ve had so much difficulty accepting the illness as a part of me, though it doesn’t define me. Perhaps if I can get past the feeling that I’ve been betrayed by my own brain, I’ll find out what I’m still capable of, whether it’s work, reading a book, or being able to remember things. We shall see.