Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bipolar Disorder

I have had mental health problems since I was in my early teens. Any of you who have read a chapter or two of my book, Maggy, can probably figure out why. (And for any of you who haven't, it is now posted on it's own site called Maggy.)

At first my problems were attributed to adolescence. I was clumsy, moody, angry, and rebellious. When younger I had been an inquisitive child, talkative and curious. But at eleven I withdrew into my own private hell. I had learned that no adults were trustworthy. And because so much of my childhood was unmentionable, I could not reveal myself to other kids. I trusted no one. And it was during this early adolescence that I withdrew into the world of books.

It was also during this time that I began to disobey my parent's in every way I could. I had not been allowed to attend the Mormon Church. When younger I had occasionally spent a Saturday night at my friend Enid's house and the gone to church with her family on Sunday morning. I did not have to conceal this sneaky business to my parents, since they were never up early on Sunday morning. By the time I got back from church with the Olsons and changed back into my own casual clothes and gone home, my parents were just starting to fix breakfast, having just finished their first Bloody-Mary's. But now I went to the Mormon Church every chance I got--which was often. The Mormon's create a social life for their children that is quasi-religious. So, after listening to a small amount of readings from the Book of Mormon, the socializing begins. There were dances every week, and this became the part of my rebellion I lived for.

It was at one of these dances that I met my first boyfriend. His name was Larry. He was sixteen. I was twelve. This put me at odds with my friend Enid, because her older sister was friends with Susan Graham who had a crush on Larry. I didn't care. I was falling in love.

One night after a dance, Larry walked me home. We talked as we walked and Larry held my hand all the way home. It was dark and the gaslit lamp atop a pole in our lawn was the only light. We stood there by that lamp, talking softly. Then Larry bent down to my upturned face and kissed me on my lips. I did not kiss like a twelve year old. I returned that kiss with my own, lips parted, soft tongue exploring his surprised mouth. Then our door opened and my mother said, rather too loudly, "Get your ass in here, this instant."

The next morning at breakfast my parents started an inquisition that went on for hours. The only detail I remember from this "conversation" was my father's question, "Why do you think a boy sixteen would be interested in you?"
"Because I'm a good dancer. Because I'm smart and nice?"
"No! The only reason a boy his age would be interested in you would be to get in your pants!"
This conversation ended when I ran upstairs and slammed my door.

I kept seeing Larry, trying to prove my parents wrong, but in reality, despite the fact that Larry and I did talk about literature lots, did dance often, he really did want to get in my pants. But it wasn't exactly the getting in my pants that bothered me so much, since my daddy had been there for years. It was his wanting to touch my new breasts that bothered me the most. When Daddy was getting in my pants I had no breasts. So Larry's interest in my breasts seemed most to confirm my parents assessment of my worth. And then Larry got tired of my squeamishness and moved on to girls his age.

To be continued...


Liberality said...

Have you been to FranIam's blog? She spoke about a treatment she underwent for PTSD that really helped her and I forget the name of it. Anyway hugs and I hope you start feeling better.

Linda Sama said...

someone should give you a book publishing contract, and if they don't, they should get kicked, hard and swift....

wishing you a peaceful heart....

(by the way, yoga and meditation help tremendously with PTSD...even the Army is admitting that now....)

Linda Sama said...

hey, response to your comment on ageless hippie chick --

I wish I knew a lit agent for you...your voice is powerful, authentic, raw, primal, and better than most of the shit that's out there now for sale that ends up on the discount table.

honey, we're all statistics, aren't we? but you have to the courage to write about it...after 50+ years I'm still processing my shit....

if I was out there we'd do some yoga together....

peace, sista

Anita said...

Utah, Utah, Utah. You're a survivor my friend. And when you say you had mental health problems from a young age, the old chicken and egg quandry comes to my mind. And I don't say that in a joking or flippant way at all.

Some of us are born with chemical imbalances or structural faults, and then there are those of us who have the damage foisted upon us by awful people. Or by people who should have known better but didn't. Or by people using the smallest and weakest ones, ones least likely to strike back to vent upon and abuse.

And then there are those of us for whom it is a combination of each of the above.

And some of us don't make it out alive. And then there are those of us who survive with deep, deep scars but yet refuse to give in or give up. Who refuse to fall victim.

You ARE a survivor my friend.