Looking back, my late teens/early 20’s were full of turmoil and growth. I was never one to do the “conventional” thing. All of those years in my childhood when I felt safe came to a halt early on a Sunday morning when my parents both came into my room with a woman from church and sat on my bed. This seemed strange, but quickly turned into the most horrible moment in my life up until that point.
My brother was killed by a drunk driver in the early morning on October 4, 1998. I was devastated and shocked and everything I knew seemed like it would never be the same. What I wasn’t, was angry. I didn’t know how to be that. My mom had always taught us to forgive, be compassionate, and do the best to face challenges with grace. Since I wasn’t sure what to do, I just followed what she had taught me all of those years.
I embraced his funeral as a celebration of life. What I felt at the time was a mix of sadness, confusion, and loss. I also felt pride that I was able to have such a creative, kind, unconventional, and stubborn brother.
School was terrible. I was pretty open about my grief and how I felt. I was uncomfortable among my peers who weren’t able to understand what I was going through. I didn’t go to school very often and spent time reflecting about how I wanted to live my life now that I REALLY knew it wouldn’t last forever.
I didn’t want to sit around in high school being uncomfortable. I made the first of many unconventional decisions and chose to graduate a year early. I went on to continue to live exactly how I thought fit.
There was a small problem that arose out of all of this:The lifelong struggle with what was diagnosed at the time as Bipolar Disorder. It was hard to separate grief, depression, being a teenager, and having a wildly big personality. At 16, this is what became a label I would live with for many many difficult years to come.
This post can only be an introduction to the start of my first of a few chronic conditions that were to come. If I went into everything in just this post, you would be reading for hours rather than the five minutes you graciously put aside for me to read my blog.
This would stop being a blog and start being a book.
Just in case you miss my optimistic spin I always make room for at the end of my posts, here it is: I am still here, I have lived through some pretty difficult times. I have been able to do that with the gift of grace my mother gave me all of those years ago. I have more joy, more hope, more resourcefulness, and more love and friendship than I ever could have imagined.
Welcome to the journey. Thank you for joining me.