Yesterday was a horrible day. I had taken my boyfriend home with me from Nashville to North Carolina to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family. We had a nice time. The drive back to Nashville should have taken 9 hours. We left at 7:30 Central time – getting us home before 5, before it gets dark. I don’t drive in the dark. I have terrible night vision. I also don’t drive in the rain. I have fears about driving that I have yet to overcome and it is safer for everyone if I stay home.
It took us 12 & 1/2 hours to get home. I drove in the dark, rainy, foggy night. There were traffic back-ups for miles. The roads were crowded. It was my worst nightmare. At one point, I just started crying while trying to stay between the lines and on the road. I wouldn’t have made it without my boyfriend helping me. By the time I got home I was literally shaking. My knees were actually shaking.
Confronting mental illness can be a lot like my drive last night. It can be scary – to admit your illness to yourself or anyone else. Taking that first step, that first appointment with a psychological professional, may be the most frightening thing you’ve done in a long time. Researching information about your illness. Seeing the statistics. (How I hate the statistics)! Just trying to learn to live this new life with this new diagnosis can get to you.
But, like my drive, if you can find support – even if it is just one person, it becomes easier to navigate. During my drive I followed a car in front of me, turning when it turned, braking when it braked. There are many of us beautifully bipolar people out here. Follow our lead. Read memoirs and learn from the mistakes of others. Learn from their stories. All I wanted to do was to stop driving, to pull over and weep, but that wasn’t an option. I had my boyfriend and dog to also get home so I kept going despite my fear and confusion. Mental illness can be scary at times, but know you will get through it because you have to. That is the only option.
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