Obviously, I’m currently functioning on a pretty even keel. I’m able to hold down a part-time job and manage the family matters within certain boundaries. I have stayed out of the hospital for three years now—I used to go once a year at various points between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. But I am on constant guard against any breakthrough symptoms, seeing my counselor once a month and my psychiatrist every three months. I know when I’ve taken on too much—my nerves start to fray and I am not a good person to be around.
We don’t talk much about those times—the irritation, the lack of motivation, the inertia, the anger, the feeling of something not-quite-right. Rachel knows next to nothing about bipolar disorder; I have told her that Mommy has good days and bad days more than other people and that’s why she takes so much medicine. The older two are much more aware of what can happen with my condition—especially since they are old enough to remember what I was like before I was diagnosed. I hurt for them on all the years I missed out on since I was so busy trying to find stability for myself that I was often unable to meet all of their needs.
But improvement is definitely coming, sometimes in increments, other times in larger chunks. I wouldn’t wish a bipolar life on my worst enemy—but if I have to have one, I think I’m making the best of it right now and winning more victory over it every day—day by day.