Archive for March, 2012

Sometimes I sit and think about all of the little different ways my life could have been different. I’ll wonder what would have happened if I had gone straight to college from high school. Eventually I close my eyes and drift back to the time when I was nine years old. I watched a documentary on brain surgery and I fell in love with Neurology and Nuero-Surgery. The brain fascinates me. Its so full of mystery and new discoveries are limitless. My nine year old self was very certain that I would be a Neurosurgeon. I still dream about going to school and becoming a doctor. Then I reality-check myself and realize that I would not be done with school and a residency until I was beyond forty years old. And if I wanted to add a surgical residency onto that, well I could be well on my way to fifty. And then it sets in: the overwhelming sense that I have squandered my youth. Carpe Diem becomes a haunting and taunting Latin phrase that I imagine I have considerably let-down.

Or have I? Maybe my understanding of Carpe Diem has been warped all these years. Inevitably so. I grew up in a culture that has told me time and again that my worth and value as a human being is in what I do to make money. I’ve been taught that climbing some corporate ladder, assuredly propped against some corporate skyscraper, will bring me all that I want in life. In the same vein, I’ve been told that all I want in life is to have “this” and “that”.

Maybe for me, Carpe Diem is learning to let go of all the failed expectations…let go of expectations altogether (both mine and others); a sort of Hindu practice of detaching from results. Maybe Carpe Diem isn’t about seizing at all. Maybe its about letting go.



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Today I barely survived. I barely got out of bed. There was a tsunami of suicidal thoughts today. As you can see, I’m still here. If you have ever been to see a Psychiatrist or Counselor you probably have been asked if you are going to harm yourself or someone else. A savvy mental health patient will always say no. An even savvier mental health patient (enter me) will say “not today.” It bothers me that I cannot be fully honest without risking being placed into a locked-down environment. Some, probably most, believe this is the solution for a suicidal person. Take away their freedom and access to any and all items and objects they could use to harm themselves with. I disagree. It would be nice to be able to say, “You know what? I am feeling suicidal in this moment. I could really use someone to talk to for the next three hours. I could really use some company.” Here’s why: eventually, the thoughts pass. Usually within a 24 hour period of time. Even more quickly if there is someone around who really listens and takes the time to invest in just being with me. Today, as I lay in my bed, trying to take my mind off of the overwhelming chronic pain in my body, I am thankful that while I was assaulted by thoughts of suicide, I was also reminded of just how much my husband and some very dear friends would miss me. I’ll be honest, if there wasn’t anyone here to stay for, I would have already been gone. If you have a chronic illness, along with a depressive disorder, then you’ll completely identify and understand. And that line of thinking isn’t about pitying myself. I merely recognize that the stubborn hold most have over their physical lives, here on this earth, while precious, isn’t the end-all be-all. I’m glad I was born. But I’m also glad that this life will end one day, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to sleep through the night sans excruciating pain and wake in the morning without the dark ominous black cloud hanging over my head. Image


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Depression never becomes comfortable, at least not for me. I suppose there is an uncomfortable familiarity with depression though it never becomes that unwelcome guest you eventually grow to love. With each onset of a depressive state I am once again surprised and broadsided by the sheer depth of its reach into every facet of my daily life. There is no getting up on the right or wrong side of the bed because depending on the day there may be no going to bed or getting out of bed. In fact, the notion that one can get up on the metaphorical right or wrong side of the bed is to say there is a choice present. Not so with depression. It is not something you choose. It chooses you. This is especially difficult to come to terms with in our society where pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is aspired to and commended. What many fail to understand is that there are no proverbial bootstraps with which to pull myself up by nor do I possess the strength or motivation to do so when depression sets in. It is much like a hurricane: I must simply ride it out. I think the most tortuous aspect of bipolar disorder is knowing that the other side of a depressive state is a state of euphoria with no knowledge of when one will give way to the other. But euphoria, better known as mania, has its precious price. When I finally crash, I burn. I return to a depressive state, often much worse than the one I left for my fifteen minutes of heaven. There is also a great loneliness that this mental illness has burdened me with. I feel at a loss to connect with others. And I get the sense that others find it difficult to connect with me. It is most alarmingly lonely in the wake of my utter refusal to cover-up or hide my true self from the world around me. The world seems uneasy with my honesty and vulnerability. My solace is found with the lovely consistencies in my life: my husband’s presence, the heat of my dog laying on me, good music, and the tender words of dear and cherished friends (though few they may be).

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