Monday, March 07, 2005

I Wonder Who I AM

As a child I wondered what was wrong. As an adult I knew I was different. Now I am 56 and wonder who I am.

I know I have bipolar disorder which means my brain works different. It can race at times or be so slow I can hardly move. Medication keeps the highs and lows mostly level in my life today. I take the medications mostly because my wife so badly fears another manic episode. The last one about five years ago was maybe the worst of my life. I was both manic and suicidal which meant I had the energy to carry out my plan. When my brain is slow and I am in deep depression, I don’t seem to have the energy to carry out any suicidal plan. It was the last time I was locked away on a mental health unit and I am compliant with my medications now.

I am a survivor of child sexual abuse. I really have made little headway in repairing the destruction this caused. It was both sexual and violent. It was my grandpa. It was not a single event. It was many times. Each time taking a deeper bite out of my soul. Now at times it is hard to find my soul at all.

This is not a poor me piece. I am not alone. There are many of me across this land. We need places to get help, but instead services are being cut. Even our soldiers returning from war can’t get timely mental health care. State government is cutting back services across the country. They are even giving contracts for care to for-profit companies. Nothing in my mind is more vulgar than running a company for profit on the pain of broken brains.

We as sojourners, people suffering from a major mental illness, need to reach out to each other. I know that when I do something for someone else I feel better about my own life. Being kind to another human is great therapy for one’s own soul.

Faith communities and other natural support systems are the key to better lives for all of us. We do need a mental health system so don’t say I don’t think we do, but we need more. We need to be part of the community through natural supports. That is why for so many years I have cried out for faith communities to embrace us. Many people are working toward this goal, but it takes all of us working toward the end.

I wonder who I am, but this I know. If I felt welcome in a community of people , it would go a long way to answering the question. How about helping to open the doors.
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