The Long Road... #2014reboot

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Monday, May 6, 2013

#453: My All Too Public Private Life

I've entered a new stage.

My manic (or hypomanic) pole is characterized by grandiose thoughts and an over inflated sense of my own importance. Here, I am all courage and daring. Bold action, grand gestures. Good judgement? Not very often.

My depressive pole is dark and lonely, sad and hungry. Here is an angry place. A frightened place. I feel isolate from everyone here, even from God. Here, my judgement is even worse, because in this state of mind, it is impossible for me to choose at all. I might spend 15 minutes staring at the floor beside my bed trying to decide which pair of shoes to slip into.

But in this new place, I feel hyper aware. I see things in people that they might not see themselves. I see them afraid of me and the things I might do if I ever go really crazy. I hear them talking about me around corners and behind closed doors. I see them avoid me and cross the room of the hall. I hear them greet me with a smile, but behind their bright teeth, I can see entire monologues of judgement and condemnation being silently directed toward me.

Yes. I've finally made it. I'm in the crazy zone. I am paranoid and delusional. I rehearse imaginary dialogues over and over in my head. Today in the weight room, my mind was finally quiet. I think I know why penitentiary inmates lift weights. Not just so they can be strong and defend themselves, but also because weight lifting is the ultimate escape. You can't worry about anything when you lift heavy weights. You can't afford to be distracted for a moment or you can get very badly hurt. I found real peace under the bar. But then, I went to the pool.

I strapped on my flotation belt and tethered myself to a diving block. I started water running, jogging in place floating there by the side of the pool, and my mind began to race. Faces. Voices. Accusations. Betrayals. Mockery. Lies. Manipulation. I imagined confronting my accusers, flinging barbed wit at them, smashing them to bits with my incisive logic and immovable sense of justice. Before I knew it, my stomach was churning as violently as the water around me. And that's when I realized something terribly important about myself.

It isn't going to be enough for me to just look sane. I'm going to have to get well or I'm never going to be able to come back to work. I'll never really trust myself. I'll never trust anyone else. I'll never be sure that the things I do or say aren't coming from my disease instead of my reason. If I can't get well, I'm going to have to keep on lying about who I am and what I feel... and as it turns out, I really suck at lying.

But even worse than that. If I can't get well, I'll always have this suspicion that everybody knows, everybody cares, everybody is a little amused and even a little afraid of my feeble mental state.

I can't just sit tight until someone tells me that they think I'm all better. I need to be about the work of pulling the pieces of me back together again. Because I don't know how many second chances I have left in this life. The applause of strangers just isn't going to be enough, not this time. I need to work until I know that I am healed. Try and fail. Test the water. Accept the set backs. Do whatever it takes.

I asked myself in the pool today, "What if God is testing me? What if God takes away the Y? Could I accept even that if it were God's will?" I don't know how to answer these questions. Part of me wants to say, "Yes, Yes, Lord. Here I am. Do with me what you will." But then there is the part of me that asks, "What kind of monster gives you the happiest days of your life, then snatches them away for no reason? Are you a God who tortures your children? Who kills their parents? Who steals their sight, their health, their minds? Why would anyone ever want to serve you?" A lot of people wouldn't ask these kids of questions while floating in 10 feet of water, but I told you I was in a crazy place.

I don't know what the future holds. I don't know why God is allowing this to happen to me. I don't even know who I'm going to be when I wake up in the morning. But I do know a few things.

I love working as a trainer at the YMCA. Love it. It is the best job I've ever had. It gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment that I have never found anywhere else.

I can't work as a trainer as long as I am consumed by fears and depression and distorted thoughts and delusions of grandeur or paranoia. I can't help anyone else if I am in constant danger of bursting into uncontrollable tears for hours at a time.

The only way for me to get back to the work I love, is to find myself again. Again? I wonder if there ever was a time when I knew myself. A time when I wasn't focused on pleasing the grown-ups, being the smartest guy in the room, winning the heart of the beautiful princess. If I ever find the real me, will I even recognize him?

I don't have a choice. I have to try. My work gives me more than just a sense of mission and service. It gives me a sense of purpose. For the first time in my life, I have a reason to be alive. I feel in tune with the creature God intended me to be when I'm working at the Y. For the first time in my marriage, I feel like I have something worthwhile to bring into the partnership. If I lose that... If I lose that purpose, that reason to get out of bed, that reason to be,  I just don't know how I'll go on living.

I am not fighting for my job. I'm fighting for my marriage. I'm fighting for my life. I don't care what it takes, how long it takes, or how much it costs, I simply have to get well. The docs killed my cancer. But only God can take this thing away. I'm going to need all the pills and shrinks and friends that He can send me in order to get well. And I can't stop until the sickness is really gone, or else driven so far into it's hole that I know I can manage it for the rest of my life.

I can't afford to get this sick again. Not ever. There is too much at stake. My friends. My fellow survivors. My marriage.

My soul.

Dear God. I am so lost here. Please help me to get well. Please help me. I'll do my share of the work. I promise, but I can't do anything without you. Please, God. Please.

Peace,
Pennsy

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