Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Knowing Your Limits

The beginning of my bipolar illness was a nightmare, which included a suicide attempt. I willed myself back to life during the charcoal treatment, since the attempt had nothing to do with a desire for death. It was a message to my husband. New York City is a harsh place to begin a career. I had a public sector job which allowed for a normal schedule. He worked for top law firms in the private sector. He was never home and I had no idea how to manage my unraveling. With the aid of medication and therapy, we managed to put together enough of the pieces to allow us to move to Buffalo, my husband’s home town.

Prolonged recovery didn’t begin for another decade, when the drug that would ultimately save me came on the market and prompted my upward climb. I had gotten to the point of not needing to think about my disease … or so I thought.

Feeling better led to a desire to work more. I always had a desire for public service and got involved in my children’s school and with the local Democratic Party. Then, in the Hell of Trump, I wanted to run for office, specifically County legislature. I had an excellent academic background and worked in jobs with tremendous responsibilities. Mental illness did not hold me back either: I had many good years behind me. I made a valiant effort, but in the end, I was too green to be on the ticket. After the fact, I got a lot of, “You wouldn’t have been able to do this, both the campaigning and paid work.” I started to doubt myself, not only in politics, but in any role, including parenting.

I withdrew my name in February. My son had an MRI, detecting a tumor, in March. It was easy to tie my depression to my son’s diagnosis, even if it had started before then. That’s how I made it about me, telling everyone how I couldn’t cope with the stress and my illness. But, it was never about me. Also, my depression ended, even though there was continued bad news for my son.

My husband and I took a trip to Italy in the beginning of August for our 30th Anniversary. It caused me to understand my limitations in a positive way. I couldn’t keep up with his pace. One time, I needed a spa day. Other times he went out in the early morning and I joined him later.

There were limitations in my parenting. My husband took care of the children’s morning routine because he had to leave the house for work. I was with them for the afternoons and evenings, especially when they were younger. Although it would become harder to cook for both together once my sons had different schedules, there was a year when we all cooked together and bonded that way.

I see now I did the best I could. I volunteer for different organizations, but can not handle the rigorous schedule of paid employment. I am here for my children. When they were younger, I enjoyed giving them play dates after school. Most importantly, right now, I can ask friends for help, something I learned because of my own struggles with bipolar disorder.

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