Today is the last day of Anniversary Month for us at Ask A Bipolar. As Marybeth has mentioned, it has been a FANTASTICAL month full of so many great events, opportunities, and new endeavors. When Marybeth and I were looking for testimonials on how this site has impacted people’s lives, the one person I thought to ask was my dad. My dad doesn’t use Facebook, nor does my mom, but I know that they read each of my posts on the Ask A Bipolar website and have subscribed to the feed through email so they don’t miss one! Since the only feedback I received from my dad was “Good job,” or “I liked that one,” but I began to wonder if they were reading the other author’s posts as well, and if so, were they learning or understand more about ME through those posts? Was this site helping them understand and put together the pieces of why I was the way I was through my childhood and adolescent years? I hoped so because for many years, I have felt incredibly guilty for a whole truckload of things (that I can remember) from those years. (Yes, there are huge black spots of time that I somehow have no recollection of. I have blacked them out, or suppressed them, and don’t know why, but at some point I know they will surface).
Back in April, and not knowing if my Dad was learning anything from the posts, I still felt so much guilt and opened up my blog and started typing. The words just kept coming, along with a lot of tears, and this is part of what came out in that emotional diatribe…
When I see something that reminds me of my childhood, immediately, my gut reaction is never happiness, but instead sadness. Why? Because I was a horribly mean daughter to my parents growing up. Now that I have been diagnosed with bipolar, a lot of it makes sense, but that still doesn’t make me feel any better about it…
…I feel like my whole life I have always been saying “I’m sorry.” I could never explain my behavior or why I would do some of the things I did because I never really understood it myself. After a while, “I’m sorry” became the most frequently used phrase in my vocabulary and it began to lose meaning. I truly meant it when I said it, but since I didn’t know WHY I had done what I had done, I didn’t know how to change, and it would inevitably happen again. Being diagnosed with bipolar really helped explain the “why,” however, even though I now have an explanation, it doesn’t absolve the guilt that I continually feel. I know my parents did the absolute best that they could. They did things the only way they knew how and really did their best. They were good parents. They loved my brother, sister, and I, and sacrificed quite a lot for us. I know its probably 20 years too late, and even though this phrase became devoid of meaning, I hope they can still believe me when I say that I’m sorry. “I’m really truly sorry for being so horribly selfish at a time when you were being so selfless. I’m sorry for whining about eating spaghetti every night and for bitching about my paperbag lunches. I’m sorry I always acted like such a brat and put more stress on you when you didn’t need it. I’m sorry for always yelling and acting continually pissed off at the entire world, and I’m sorry for listening to Foolish Games, by Jewel, on repeat for days at a time and driving Dad and everyone else bonkers with it, and for refusing to talk and express what was really going on inside my head.” I know they tried so hard to give my siblings and I everything that we wanted, and I know they wished they could have done more, or done it better, but they did just fine. They really did…
…So, Mom, Dad, if you are reading – I’m sorry. I have felt horribly about all of that for so long. (along with lots of other things, for another day perhaps) I don’t think I could have managed the way you guys did. I was so selfish for so long and maybe that’s why I have been spending the rest of my life putting everyone else before myself. Maybe I thought that it would make my guilt go away, I don’t know. But you guys were great parents and I’m sorry I was such a brat. I wish I would have realized or said it years ago.
After I wrote that post, I felt like a million pounds was lifted off my chest. It felt like someone had come and sucked out all of the bad from me. I went several months without feeling any depression. My stability was fantastic, and I became more involved with Ask A Bipolar. I was doing so much more every day, and stopped sitting around and feeling bad about every single thing that I could think of that was bad in my life.
I don’t think my parents read my blog entry, but I began to hope that through the posts that I was writing for Ask A Bipolar, and hopefully they were reading the other posts that the other authors were writing, they would come to understand why I was the way I was growing up. If they came to understand that, then maybe this apology would mean more than all the other apologies I had given before, because now, both of us would understand that it wasn’t me choosing to feel the way I did, or intentionally act the way I did, but was motivated by something else, bipolar disorder. Back then, it just appeared that I was being a brat, or a drama queen.
So I asked my dad if he would write a few sentences on how the site Ask A Bipolar has impacted him. This was his response:
After my daughter was diagnosed with bipolar, it’s been confusing and scary at times. All the books and articles I’ve read helped me understand what bipolar is, and how to deal with a person who has this disease, but I’ve felt alone in dealing with all this.
When my daughter told me about the website Ask A Bipolar, I started to read the blogs. It brought me into the minds and the world of people who deal with bipolar. I realized that there are a lot of others that are working to deal with it too. I felt I could understand the illness better by reading the struggles and advice others are offering.
Since I’ve been visiting the website, it’s helped me understand my daughter a little better as well.
My dad HAS been reading other author’s posts and HAS been soaking in the content. He is beginning to step into my shoes a little bit and get a glimpse of my world. So, in honor of anniversary month, I want to thank Ask A Bipolar for not only having an impact on my life, but for reaching into my father’s life and my family’s life and helping them understand and explore what it’s like to be me!!!