By: K. Hope
Source: Remembrance and Recovery Project by Mental Health America (Mental Health Minnesota)
they shrink in as Moles
(Nature’s mute Monks, live Mandrakes of the ground)
Creep back from Light – then listen for its Sound ; –
See but to dread, and dread they know not why –
Samuel T. Coleridge
When I was just in elementary school, I felt the pangs of depression. I was unhappy in school and longed to run away into the forest and climb the trees. Later, I began to be happy for about two weeks, then depressed for weeks. What happened?
What’s wrong with me? Why did I do that? Men, alcohol, words coming from my mouth from strange places. Would somebody turn that radio off?
When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoyed contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
There’s no radio. My doctor explained to me. The swings are real. The ups, the downs. If only I had a friend. God is my friend. And I scorn to change my state with kings. He has helped me, but the people who helped me the most are my parents. Sure, I put them through hell, but they always heard my “bootless cries,” and did their very best to see that I got to the hospital or called the doctor.
“Haply I think of thee…” Oh, Dr. Callahan, how you will never know how much you watched over me. You were my salvation. The medications, the kind words, the concern, and above all, your joy when I was well. Oh, how I wish I could sustain that joy. But never knowing if it was hypomania or just me – I still wonder.
I took all my sorrow out on my mother. She received the brunt of my illness. Now she’s gone, only eight weeks. And I wrote a note to put in her casket, which read, “I am sorry for all the trouble I caused you.” Many times she called my sister discussing my behavior and my sister, God Bless her, kept reminding her that it was my illness, not me. And as always, I would come around and love my mother again.
Bipolar: depression and mania. A strange combination. But natural. What comes up, must come down. Working can be torturous, leaving and coming. Hospital stays, and then answering the phone. Yes, I can do it, I am stable now. You don’t have to worry about me. There’s no problem with my work, you’ll see, I can work. And I can go to school. And I can buy a car. And I can own my own house.
Yes, you see. I can do all of these things because “I scorn to change my state with kings.” Finally, I love myself. I accept myself. There’s nothing I can’t do. With the help of my psychiatrist, my psychologist, and support from my family and friends, the radio is off. I can sing my own tune now.