“Life isn’t a bed of roses” knew what they were talking about. Along the primrose path, called life, there are thorns. We get punctured, pricked, nicked and scratched. Now the little wounds, are not unlike a paper cut; they can and do hurt at least for a little while. Have you noticed, it never fails, once you get yourself all nicely bandaged up, you keep banging the seemingly insignificant injury into everything you come into contact with. Bam, the desk. Slam, the edge of the kitchen counter. Wham, the bathroom cabinet. We yell, wince in pain, and if you’re anything like me, spew a few choice words, because it hurts like hell. We express ourselves over the small things.
Don’t get me wrong big wounds inflict pain sometimes stinging grief, abiding sorrow or a tragically aching heart. They say, “time heals all wounds” and eventually it does. Even though I didn’t know it, I lived inside a shroud of darkness. Each year another layer was added, covering and denying the truth. It wasn’t until I hit the wall, or more precisely, the floor, when this realization awakened me. It was a normal workday, sitting at my desk, answering 50 million e-mails, CRASH! I fell out of my chair. I broke into a horrible intensity of uncontrollable, gut wrenching sobbing. A storm raged in my mind; it was on the edge of itself attempting to process the event. “This isn’t right” was the weak answer. “Yeah, no shit,” was my faint mental retort.
I found solitude in the ladies room. It was the only sanctuary where I could pull it together. My heart pounded, crying came in choking, heaving gasps. What was happening to me? I couldn’t get a grip on reality. Is this what madness feels like? The only thing I wanted was to curl up in the fetal position, suck my thumb and stay there on the cool tile floor. How unlike me, how unnerving. Stalwart, self sufficient, strong described me. Crawling out of the stall, to the sink, I splashed cold water on my face. The woman’s reflection in the mirror was unrecognizable. She wore despondency like a Black Death mask. She was in a “manifest crisis.”
Manic Depression. “No…no…not me.” “Yes,” was the psychiatrist’s gentle reply. A diagnosis, an answer, only not the one I expected. After listening to my life’s story, he said he was surprised, I wasn’t at the bottom of a whiskey bottle or in the gutter with a syringe sticking out of my arm. Those words stunned me. Evidently, after 43 years of heeding the family “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” credo everything caught up with me. My encapsulating shroud literally unraveled. It was no longer able to sustain the façade. I don’t know what precipitated the episode and perhaps I never will. It doesn’t truly matter. All I do know is that leaving the doctor’s office I drew my first liberated breath. Ahh…so, this what relief feels like. Glorious.