I'm Twelve Today

So I'm Not Alone

It's amazing to me that when I have chosen to share with someone about my challenges with bipolar/depression (and perhaps it just reflects my cautious choice of people to open up to? but I believe that it's more than that), the person generally tells me that either they themselves or someone very close to them has also suffered from it (dysthymia/depression/bipolar).

I have told a few people by email over the past year, but I've also occassionally shared it with someone I've met, say, at the Spinning Loft or elsewhere, so it's not only online.

It one regard it makes me feel less alone knowing that I'm not the only one who has spent days, weeks, feeling paralyzed in bed (not to mention several hospitalizations), but it also makes me shudder to think how many of us have gone through this, have experienced such 'long nights of the soul' -- because it's pretty darn lousy.

As an aside, since so many of us also have cats, I have to say that at least for me the cats really help pull me through. It sounds kind of silly, but they don't care how much I sleep, or how down I feel, they just lay around and purr anyway. Hey, they sleep something like 20 hours a day themselves, right? I just find their furry presences so soothing, and their purring so healing.

But nothing changes the fact that this stuff is really, really hard.

And I'm 12 Today

Today is my 12th clean and sober birthday (or anniversary, depending on where you go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings). Hard for me to comprehend, since, in my drug-addled despair back in 1995 and early 1996, I had no expectations (nor really cared) whether I lived past 27.

Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970), Janis Joplin (1943-1970), visual artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)--I could name a whole host of fascinating creative people who didn't make it past the somehow magical age of 27. Why 27? I don't know. Just because. (Wikipedia even has an entry on this regarding musicians; see the 27 Club.)

But at 27, I got clean and sober, and haven't imbibed a drink of alcohol or taken an illegal drug since.

Of course, with all of the toxic stuff out of my system, it turned out that I had an underlying mood disorder; at 1 1/2 years sober, I was depressed, and was subsequently diagnosed with depression. A few years later, it turned out I was Bipolar II (and that's why the anti-depressants weren't working). It's been an adventure--that much is true.

Mr. O'Kitten has been clean and sober since 1999. We met at an AA dance in Manhattan in the summer of 2000. More of this story to come...with cats, of course.


Mr. O'Kitten said...

Congratulations, my love. It's bee an honor living with you through your sobriety and your bipolar, not easy at times, but definitely an honor.

Puss-in-Boots said...

All I can say is...wow! Congratulations O'K, I think you've done so well. My brother (whom, as you know is bipolar and depressive), is doing pretty well, too.

It's so good to hear positive stories...I know it's hard but it just proves what a strong person you are.

Congratulations to Mr O'K, too. The pair of you are a great example of what grit and determination can do.

Hugs ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Mouse said...

Awww.. the mister's note was so sweet! Congratulations on your sobriety.. I understand far too well how hard it is to stay sober, especially with depression issues. Hubby and I have both been clean & sober for about 6+ years.. I don't think either of us would be here if we wouldn't have made that decision.

Chris said...

Congrats!! I'm honored to have gotten to know you these past several years. And Mr O'Kitten's comment - *sniff*. :)

Gattina said...

I so very much can understand you, I went through all this for many years and it is so true what you say about cats and not silly at all !

Beth said...

But how can you be 12 if you are 9?

mrspao said...

Congratulations! Cats are the best creatures in the world when you're not feeling at your best.

pins&needles said...

Congrats! I've known some people who are bipolar and even more people who are addicted to drugs. I may have not known your through those years, but I am proud of you and what you have accomplished.

Anonymous said...

Just to be another random person to reinforce that you are not alone......I too have struggled with clinical depression, my father has depression (though refuses to seek help), and the man I'm seeing also has it as well. Cats and knitting really do help!! I'm also enjoying your blog very much; you have very vivid writing. :-)

KnitXcorE said...

8hugz* congrats mama!

- jesse said...

Congrats! I just hit 4 years on the 27th. We're the lucky ones. I am not entirely convinced I don't have something like bp - more along the lines of manic I guess. But I keep convincing myself it's mostly related to my hormone levels and PTSD. I've been tracking them for over a year so we'll see!

Carrie K said...

Happy Birthday! A little late.

That's so odd - I was truly convinced I wasn't going to live past 26 so that my 25th birthday utterly freaked me out. (And now I'm just old. And getting older. Yay! Wiser too hopefully, but at least my cat loves me anyway.;)

cheesehead with sticks said...

Happy 12th birthday! Belated by now, but just the same.

AcadiaSun said...

Happy 12th. Here's to all the fuzzy things that help us get out of bed, at least most days.

BlackCrow said...

sniff, sniff, thats so beautiful of MR O.
Well done matey!
Yep depression and alcohol have certainly taken its toll on my family. I'm very moved by your openness.