I am writing this 3-part series because I feel passionate about something I’m noticing and have been processing for a few days. I am well aware that the following post is controversial. I am not a medical doctor and do not have any formal education in psychology or neurology. Please know, if you are someone who is experiencing bipolar disorder, my heart goes out to you. It can be a very painful experience to find balance in this disorder and I pray you find yours soon.
In yesterday’s post, I wrote about western medicine’s views of bipolar disorder and my own experience with it.
Bipolar disorder is a very real and painful disorder when it is naturally occurring – when a patient is experiencing it because their brain chemicals are really imbalanced or when there has been brain trauma or when their brain has not developed properly. It is frustrating, scary, and exhausting to have bipolar disorder and it is equally as such for those who live with someone who has bipolar disorder. It turns lives upside down and inside out over and over and over. And it makes perfect sense to me that someone born with this disorder or someone who develops it after a traumatic brain injury would want to seek help, that they would love to be flatlined and that it would be a relief. I completely understand that.
However, when the disorder is fabricated, that is an entirely different story.
Recently, I picked up a young girl (I will call her Ana) from her home so she could spend some time with my daughter. I have loved Ana with my whole heart since the first moment I held her, just days after her birth. She is the embodiment of grace, stillness, gentleness, and love. She is shy, loving, and funny as hell. When she feels safe, she opens up and it’s like the sun has just broken through the storm clouds to cast a brilliant ray of light to the ground. She has big, beautiful, blue eyes that look at the world with a wide-open gaze, taking in everything, processing it, and saying very little.
As we drove toward her home, my daughter was relaying the conversation she was having with Ana via text. I was stunned by the level of manipulation that Ana was experiencing with her mom (I’ll call her Sue). I was speechless to the point that I could not speak a complete sentence for the entire 30 minute drive. Sue was behaving in ways that I couldn’t comprehend, giving Ana choices that made no sense, and speaking in ways that were blatantly mean and boldfaced lies, but there was no one there to stop her. As a single mother of three children, Sue has full run of the house and lives by the credo: “these are my children and I will raise them how I see fit.”
This behavior is not new for Ana’s mom. As long as I have known her, I have experienced Sue’s conversations to be heavily weighted with fabrications and exaggerations. She has perfected the art of deception as her mode of survival. While I don’t know her background because that is something she will rarely talk about, I have known her for nearly 16 years and I can sense that her childhood was abusive, violating, and filled with deceit and betrayal. Often times, I feel overwhelming sadness when it comes to Sue and more often than not, I find myself pulling away from her, just like I did with my grandpa when he was alive.
When Ana came out of her home that day, those big, beautiful, blue eyes were red-rimmed and she was sobbing to the point that she couldn’t breathe and she was hiccuping. I immediately got out of the car and held open my arms to her. She walked right into my embrace and sobbed into my chest, melting into my arms. She had a hoodie on and she had pulled it down over her eyes really far so when she buried her face into my body, she could cry without the “shame” of anyone seeing her.
A man who has become the “grandfather figure” in Ana’s life and the lives of her siblings (I’ll call him Joe) came out with her. As I held Ana, Joe said to me, “We think her bipolar is acting up.”
Dumbfounded as to who he was talking about, I said, “Sue’s???”
“No,” he said nodding toward Ana. “Ana’s.”
First of all, I was taken aback that he would talk about Ana as though she wasn’t there. Secondly, I was appalled that the adults in Ana’s life were diagnosing her in such a way.
“She’s been yelling at Sue just now…”
I interrupted, “I’m aware of what is going on and I can understand why Ana would be upset…”
I could feel Ana decomposing in my arms. I held onto her tightly as this man’s words berated the air around us. I placed my lips next to her ear, hidden deep in her hoodie, and whispered, “Don’t listen to any of them.”
Because I couldn’t stand to hear another word tumble forth from this man’s mouth, I turned with Ana and said, “We’re going to be late. Let’s go.”
(to be continued in tomorrow’s post…)
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments.
Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.