Extending the olive branch

ImageToday, the first day of 2014, I had planned on writing about something that had nothing to do with bipolar disorder.  (Imagine that! 😉  I will be writing about non-bipolar issues in this blog, as I don’t want to burn out.  Wordpress has convenient topic prompts of “inspiration” to make it easy to write about different topics.  At first I thought that was cheating, but now I definitely don’t feel that way.  Writing about bipolar, while therapeutic, is also plain-old-hard.  It’s easy to get bipolared-out.

However, yesterday when I brainstormed about today’s subject, I kept thinking about my significant relationships that have been damaged by my bipolar disorder-related situation. There has been one key relationship in particular that has been on my mind for a long time.  I need to make the identifying details fuzzy right now for reasons you can imagine.

The person I’m referring to is close to me genetically-speaking and literally lives close to me as well.  I’ll call this individual “D.”

I’ve written before about how I had a poor memory before bilateral electroconvulsive (ECT) treatments in 2009.  I added that I had an even worse memory after the unilateral ECT I had this past summer.  I honestly do not remember any of my upsetting behavior that affected D. since my diagnosis.  (All I do know is that I wasn’t physically violent…but I suppose whatever I did was pretty disturbing.)

What happened between us wasn’t all my fault.  I knew that in my heart all along.  I think that D. had too much on her plate with her career and her family; furthermore it was obvious she was emotionally damaged from trauma.  I can empathize with that – I really can.

A few years after my diagnosis we became totally estranged and I thought that our separation would last forever.  I wanted it to last forever…I was incredibly angry at D.!  I felt that I didn’t deserve to be thrown out with the trash after all I had suffered.  I felt that family members shouldn’t give up on their sick relatives, especially the ones with young children.  I felt that if I had cancer I would have been treated totally differently, with respect, kindness and thoughtfulness.

Because I was ultra-depressed for so long, that made me unable to communicate with anyone, even the people who were warm, communicative, and willing to make the effort to visit me. When my depression went into remission, I decided to “do the right thing” and I extended the olive branch to D., not sure if I’d get any response.  After leaving D. a message, I got a text from her telling me she would meet with me and my family.  We kept our brief reunion light, especially as we had our family members there with us.  D. gave me a hug, to my surprise, and that felt good.  That was the highlight of our time together – we exchanged less than ten sentences with one another.

I have plans to meet with D. again, and sadly, I’m dreading it, but I think I need to move through my hurt and suppressed anger to reach some kind of resolution.  I know it’s not possible for us to have the close relationship we had for over two decades.  I can’t give up after just one meeting.  I’m also proud of myself that I was the one to take the high road – me, the “sick” one.   I don’t mean to sound smug, really.  I am just glad that I surprised myself in taking the first step.  I didn’t think I could do it.

It’s difficult to write about D. – it stirs up deep-seated rage.  I’m working on it in therapy.  (I have been discussing D. with my counselor for years, but I simply wasn’t ready to get in touch with D. until recently.)  With the much fuller life that being depression-free allows, I will concentrate on new projects.  I want to pay more attention to my family and small circle of friends, instead of ruminating on broken family relationships and feeling stagnant.

Intention is powerful.  Anything is possible.

3 thoughts on “Extending the olive branch

  1. I commend you for writing about something so obviously painful. It baffles me that people are prone to abandon the mentally ill – it’s high time for this type of stigma to change dramatically for the better. Hopefully throughout 2014 and beyond things will start to really change. I have hope. I wish you the best. Thank you for your blog.

    • Thanks free2beyouandme – I have hope that the tide will turn (sometimes cliches are the way to go!) for the better in regard the stigma about mental illness. For want of a better word, it sucks the way it is now. Thankfully there are truly amazing mental health non-profits, advocates, policies, bloggers etc. in action! I wish you a happy New Year and appreciate your taking the time to comment very much.

  2. I wish you luck at your next meeting and appreciate your writing about things that truly matter. You are making a difference with your words – keep it up!

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