In honor of World Bipolar Day, I’m sharing a post written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Tiffany has shared a monthly guest post on my blog since February 2015. The purpose of these posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. I’m also hoping the posts will help readers recognize that we all have hopes, dreams, challenges and mountains to climb regardless of our mental health status. If you’d like to read the posts I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the guest posts she’s shared on this blog, check out the mental health page. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.
I’ve had some major ups and downs with my emotions lately. The word hope has entered my mind a number of times because sometimes that’s all we have. Please join me on a journey as to what my life has been like lately.
My mental health worker came over, and we were discussing how my thoughts are all over the place lately. I can’t concentrate on anything. I’ve been writing short journal entries, but nothing worth sharing with anyone. I told her that maybe all these thoughts will work together.
I met with my psychologist and felt happy to be seeing him. I get to talk and receive feedback from someone who is getting paid to talk to me. He can’t complain about me giving too little in the relationship. He pretty much knows every detail about what’s been happening in my life. He told me that it’s natural to be feeling low self-esteem because of everything that has been happening. After doing a life satisfaction questionnaire, I found out I am around 60%. He asked, “If you had one wish, what would that be?” Hmm…I sat there for awhile. Maybe for my dad’s lung transplant to be done and for him to be healthier again? After leaving his office, I realized this – my one wish would be to be loved for everything I am, and to be loved back in return, in a romantic sense. To have a perfectly-feeling family. What would you wish for if you had just one wish?
My ex-boyfriend just moved back from Montana. We have only seen each other briefly, one day, over the past year, but we kept in contact while he was gone. Some kind of sparkle, or hope, he gave me each day. Last week, I went into Target and walked up to the pharmacy counter. I looked to my right and my ex-boyfriend was standing there with his mom. I said “Hi.” He said “Hi, Tiff.” He did NOT look at me like “I am so excited to see this girl.” I started to shake and felt extremely dizzy. He asked me if I was cold. I said, “No, I am just nervous.” We said goodbye. I walked away and attempted to calm myself down. I was glad that my mental health worker was waiting in the car so I could explain to her what just happened.
After the panic attack in Target, I questioned what I was wearing that day. I did NOT feel comfortable or confident in myself. Why couldn’t I have been wearing something cute, something smaller, something new? Why did my ex-boyfriend have to catch me on one of the worst days of my life? There was no sparkle in his eyes when he saw me. Maybe there wasn’t too much sparkle in my eyes either. I questioned the way I looked. I look in the mirror and don’t see the pretty girl I want to see, the confident girl.
I’d like to share another experience I had in the aisles of Target during a prior visit. Instead of feeling unlucky over everything that has happened, we’re lucky there is hope. I ran into a friend of mine the other day in Target. I had not seen her for a year, possibly longer. I yelled her name and proceeded to walk up to her to talk. She has a boy my daughter’s age who was standing next to the cart. He looked taller, but I could tell that something was going on. She told me her son has cancer, and just got done with a major appointment. That same day, my dad was entering into a five-day series of serious medical testing. I just looked at her with tears in my eyes. We exchanged numbers and proceeded on. The next day I called my friend and explained to her that I wasn’t really sure what to say about her son and the cancer. She said, “No, you’re fine!” We decided we’re going to get together soon. We seem to adapt when life doesn’t take us on the path we have planned.
One day I was having a bad morning. I spoke with a family friend who calls me often, especially when my parents are out of town. I was so stuck that morning. Stuck in my head. After we talked, I called a good friend who brought sunlight into my day. I took some time to pray after talking to her. That moment I felt free of anything holding me down. I felt confident that everything was going to be alright.
A few days this month, I was feeling hopeless. I always think of my kids, and they seem to give me some kind of major hope. I walked around outside my town house and asked people what gives them hope everyday. I was moved by the responses. I asked my daughter first. Her hope is to play with friends everyday. I guess I wish the same thing, but I enjoy spending time with her too! Another girl’s hope is for her mom to not put so much pressure on her, and to not be so angry. She wants to go to college and be a scientist. A younger boy hopes for a good education and wants to get through school. As adults, our hopes for each day change. Maybe they don’t, depending on our situation? We are all unique and have our own way of perceiving life. A couple adults I talked to just wanted their kids to be okay, or for their kids to behave, or to just make it through one more day. My mental health worker sat with me as I was analyzing the idea of hope. She asked me what hope I had for my life. After a few minutes, I came up with this – to feel happiness, to live in harmony, friends and family who understand me and allow me to be myself, good health and proper support, respect and inspiration.
Sometimes I just sit and stare off into nothingness. Some days I keep busy as much as possible. Everything depends on the day and what’s going on. Sometimes hope is all we have. No matter how old we are or who we are, we all have hope for something. A friend suggested to find hope one day at a time. Having expectations for any given situation can leave a person hurt. When there are no expectations, anything that happens is alright. So find a little HOPE to get through the day.