Of course my illness is not me. I often struggle to find myself. There are so many selves I have hoped to be, hoped to find. I feel that, one by one, I have had them drain away from me. Perhaps they were stolen, perhaps they were never there. Recently I had gotten to the point of not caring, of withdrawing into nihilism. I had resigned and checked out of life.
But then my wife kept reminding me of the one thing that I absolutely must hang on to: my daughter. “If you do it for no one else, do it for her.” My daughter is achingly attached to me. And I am equally attached to her.
As I descend into depression or withdraw into my racing mind, I become distant from her. I lose my time with her and she loses her time with me. More frightening, I have been experiencing explosive anger lately. I have yelled at her more than once and snapped at my wife. This was a wake up call to me like no other.
I got on Klonopin and told my wife she was not to leave my daughter alone with me in the house. Not because I feared hitting her, but because I feared yelling at her. Twelve step programs often speak of the need to “hit bottom” before rising up again. I always believed that term so indeterminate as to mean almost nothing. And I have had days when I have felt far worse than I have felt recently. I’m not sure what kept me from checking into a hospital those times. But when you have to tell your wife she can’t leave your daughter alone with you…
My illness is not me, but perhaps recent events, losing my job, getting a proper diagnosis, and realizing the importance of my health to my most precious daughter, may lead me to myself.
I am taking steps. I am considering changing a career. I’m picking up an instrument. The last twenty years of my life cannot be regained, but perhaps the next forty can be a time of blossoming.