Last week was pretty surreal. The outpouring of support from my friends and family surrounded me by way of emails, phone calls, text messages and blog comments. From 8:30am until 10pm. All the conversations about my decision to go public with my illness made my heart swell with gratitude. So much gratitude.
But there were two people who were quietly sitting back at home, taking it all in. Without saying a word.
Glued to my computer, watching the discussions take place in real time before my eyes, I longed for their approval in some shape or form. I waited for their number and picture to show up on my phone. The hours flew by and all of a sudden I looked at the clock and realized the day was over. The call never came.
Sometimes when someone is silent, their message comes across loud and clear.
I knew that my choice of words describing their reaction to my diagnosis might have hurt them. But that wasn't at all my intention. I only wanted to take my readers back to those moments when the shock of it all was still so raw for my family and I. After months of not seeing the light, the daze lifted to expose sheer exhaustion. We were all so worn out from the intense stress of trying to figure out what the hell was going on with me. So tired and drained - both physically and mentally - between the three of us we had cried so many tears that our eyes had nothing left to release, though we probably kept dabbing at them with wet tissues.
My mom and dad have a depth to their faith that I have yet to find. I admire that in them. I hope to some day reach that level of connection to God. They both prayed so hard during that year when we didn't know what else to do or where else to go to help me get well. The days crept by so slowly. Tears fell continuously. They had already spent most of their time researching doctors, medications, treatments, alternative medicine, research studies. Anything that could potentially bring me back from the dark hole I had dropped into. Anything that could fix me. A miracle seemed so out of reach and yet they kept on reaching, kept on praying. Praying and reaching for me because I had lost my will to reach myself.
Whether they know it or not, every night I thank God that they had the strength to keep on praying because their prayers were answered.
I probably could have used a better word than "mortified" when I described my perceptions of how they felt about my mental illness diagnosis. That wasn't fair. Fear and bewilderment probably would have been much better representations of their emotional state back then. They've wanted me to hold onto my anonymity because they worry about me the same way any parent worries about their child. I am an adult and I could have made the decision to blog openly about my illness a long time ago and I decided not to. But that changed recently. I've finally reached a point in my life where I don't want to look back and have any regrets. I don't want to wish I had done it earlier. I wasn't able to do it before now. I wasn't ready.
The fact is, parents will worry about their kids no matter what decisions they choose to make in life. That's just the nature of being a parent. So whether I made the choice to go public and become an advocate as I did this week, or I remained anonymous in my attempt to inspire other people living with bipolar disorder through my writing, my parents would have kept on worrying about me, either way. It's part of the job description when you're hired on as a parent: perpetual worry. Just comes with the territory.
I've only been a parent for less than five years, but with many more years ahead of me, I can only imagine how much harder it gets. Thank you, Mom and Dad. Thank you for loving me unconditionally they way you both always have. Thank you for supporting me and for encouraging me to keep writing. And thank you for being there to listen. Even if you may not completely agree with my decision to take this leap.
I love you both so much.