While everyone talks about all the bad stuff associated with being bipolar, what about the good stuff? Tonight as I visited my 85-year-old mother at her assisted living facility, I thought about how much better a daughter I am to her because of my illness.
In truth, I have always been a wonderful daughter. But, what has my illness taught me that enables me to be a better daughter to a mother who's suffering from dementia, who has naturopathy due to diabetes (she's in a wheel chair because she has no feeling in her legs), who's incontinent, who is so very glad to see me when I arrive that she sometimes tears up with relief (even though she is living in a wonderful place with caring caregivers and an ocean view), who sometimes calls me and thinks that my father, (who's been dead for 18 years), and my grandparents (who have been dead even longer) are still alive and who cries when I have to tell her that they died long ago, and who was a wonderful mother while I was growing up and still is...in many ways?
I once wrote an essay called The Throwaway People about me and my mother. I tore it up years ago but my point was that in our society, old people and people who are labeled mentally ill are throwaways. People feel they can dismiss us because we are damaged.
It would be sad enough if those people were strangers, but sometimes they're closely related to us. It's so easy for them to say, "She's not aging gracefully" (my mother) or "I don't like her behavior (me).
I have often wondered what "these people" will do when they age...when their children no longer find them entertaining...when and if they suffer a serious and debilitating illness...when their friends stop seeing them because they can't tell great stories any longer and seem forgetful...
(to be continued)