For the first time in five years of sharing words and photographs online, I’m shifting gears completely and letting someone write about me! Today’s story is written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Tiffany has shared regular stories on my site since February 2015. The purpose of her writing is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness, and to continually press forward towards mental health. If you’d like to read the stories I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the stories she’s shared on this site, check out Tiffany’s Story. Without further ado, here are Tiffany’s thoughts on me, perfectly timed for my birthday this weekend. Thank you, Tiffany.
My sister, Amy, and I may be different, but she’s one of my best friends! I always learn from her and cherish our relationship.
I don’t always have control over what my mental illness is doing to me. My emotions seem to be all over the place, but medication seems to help out a lot. Many times my sister realizes what is going on without me having any clue. Sometimes I have trouble making out the point she is trying to get across, but I usually figure that out with time. Deep down I have always known that she is looking out for my best interests. Never has a disagreement or difference in opinion separated us.
One of my very good friends said something to me the other day that made complete sense. He said, “It’s like you push away the people that you are trying to reel in.” I’ve done that in many of my relationships, especially with my sister. There have been many times where I have yelled at her with tears exploding out of my eyes, to just leave, get out of here! I didn’t want her to know the honest pain I was in, nor did I understand what was going on.
When my sister and I were younger, I used to read her journals. She has always had them and still does. I learned about what was going on in her life. She’s always up to something and surprises me and others with her deep-thinking mind.
I’ve always been an annoying texter and caller to many, especially with my sister. Not once has my sister told me to stop. She may just take a while to get back to me. Sometimes she ignores my illogical thoughts, but sometimes she asks me to explain more about what’s going on.
When my sister and I communicate face-to-face, we seem to have slight disagreements. Earlier this month, she came to my garage to mark some stuff for our family garage sale. She cleaned the garage a bit so she could make room for her stuff on a clean floor. I pretty much just stood there, not knowing where to start or what to do. I eventually got some of my items marked on another day. When my sister was marking stuff, I told her I thought she and I were pretty similar. She said with a sneer, “We are all different.” I had to remember what my psychologist says about us all being unique. If we had a clone of ourselves, then maybe we’d get along perfectly with them? I have no idea! Maybe I just think my sister is cool and have always wanted to be more like her. I’m more of a free spirit, and my sister is careful and deliberate with her actions. We tend to dress different. My spirit wants me to dress more casual, and she dresses more formal than I do. If we can accept our differences, we can create great things together.
I was locked away and in a halfway house for most of my pregnancy with my daughter, Raegan, who just turned seven. I have not been in an institution since. At the end of my stay in the halfway house, I was kicked out because I was not making sense to anyone. I had been having a tough two weeks, had not slept in two nights and was manic. I really wanted to go and stay with my sister, but they would not allow me to do so. The lady in charge at the halfway house yelled at me, and told me that I thought I could get whatever I wanted. Well, sometimes we can and other times we can’t.
They brought me to the emergency room where my sister met me. I recall trying to escape and have a cigarette outside. I was locked in, and did not like that at all. My sister was sitting with me as I was being illogical, curled up on the emergency room bed. I remember only a bit of the experience because when I’m in one of my states of mind, I don’t always know what has happened. I kept hearing code blue, and thought the intercom was speaking to me. I had a slight obsession with Zach Braff from the TV show “Scrubs” after meeting him on a set in California. I thought he was in the hospital to rescue me. My sister stayed calm and collected and reassured me that everything was going to be alright. They brought me to the psych ward on a bed as I yelled at random people along the way. Cuz hey, I thought I knew them! I called my sister often while I was in the hospital, and she reassured me that I was not alone.
Neither of my pregnancies were easy. I would go into the hospital all the time to check for the heart beat. I thought something was going on all of the time. I also did not have a husband for either of my pregnancies. I would not recommend that, but I managed. Through both of my pregnancies, my sister was with me every step of the way! She ended up being my birth partner for both births. She was calm and collected and made the experiences manageable. I feel that we became closer because of those experiences.
When my dad was in the hospital for his lung transplant last summer, Amy and I handled the entire situation in different ways. My sister took care of the CaringBridge website, allowing people to know what was going on. She also took over when my mom needed time away, and was partial caregiver. I was the cheerleader and brought my kids to see my dad once in awhile. That was important because my dad wanted to see the entire family. We cheered him up! Overall, a tough situation was successfully accomplished because we worked together.
I am very grateful to my sister, Amy, that she allows me to use her website every month so I can express myself. Life is often a struggle because I judge myself so harshly. Sometimes I get confused about how to keep up with everything. My sister offers me her advice. We may be different, but we are sisters and friends. I do not know what I would do without her.