And here we begin

After one of my hospitalizations, I was sent to a “partial hospitalization” program that was part 12-step something-or-other and part Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Even though my insurance had booted me out of the hospital, I was still so deeply depressed that my brain just couldn’t follow what the leader was talking about, and when called upon to speak, I said as much.

“Well, let’s just take it one day at a time!” the jovial fellow chortled. I was incensed. Outraged.

“One day at a time…..” I mumbled, forcing the words out, “One day at a time….? One SECOND at a time is too much for me sometimes!!!!!”  The words rang in my mind, but they did not manage to make it out of my mouth. I was too exhausted, with the sheer effort of continuing to exist. So I let it go.

But it’s true. Sometimes one day is just too much to expect of oneself. One hour. One minute. One second. A millisecond. Sometimes that’s all it takes, one millisecond, to let the roaring of the demons pass. Those of you who know, will know. Those of you who don’t…please stop a moment and imagine what it might be like, to struggle each millisecond to stay alive, all the while suffering unutterable pain.

Time itself is our ally, in this game of cat-and-mouse we play with our very lives.

The important question is, how?  How do we convince ourselves that no matter how terrible the pain, we must continue to live these seconds, minutes, hours?  Each one of us must find our own sets of reasons and inscribe them on the insides of our eyelids (figuratively, now!), so that in the dark times we don’t have to work to think about them.

I’ll tell you what mine are:  My son, whose life would be destroyed if I were to take mine.  My aged parents, who would be devastated and would live in misery till they died.  And then I have an ace in the hole, a little helper, for those times when even these enormous deterrents do not seem reason enough.

I have a dog.  A very special little dog. She’s my Psychiatric Service Dog, and she knows how to reach me when the whole world turns black.  She knows how to sit down when I’m spinning out of control.   She doesn’t mind if I hold her and cry into her fur, even if I squeeze her a little too hard.  She just looks up into my face and licks the salt off my cheeks.  And slowly, time begins to have meaning again.  There are seconds, because she’s licking my face.  There are minutes, because I’m sitting down stroking her fur.  There are hours, because she parks herself at my feet wherever I go, and whenever I look down, there she is.

We all need to find a strategy that works for us, both to keep ourselves oriented in time, and to keep ourselves here on earth for our allotted time. What’s yours?

Leave a comment


  1. D'Alta

     /  October 27, 2011

    What keeps me here, for my allotted time??? The same that keeps so many others, the son of whom you speak, another son, grandchildren, the knowledge of what would happen to those I love… What keeps so many of us alive, whether bi-polar or simply depression that refuses healing, are those moments when life is so precious that we will do everything to hold onto them. And an awareness that our lives are purposeful, we are hear to give something to the universe in which we live.

    • It’s that last part of which you write, D, that can be a real stickler for those of us who end up on the sidelines of life (or the penalty box, depending how you look at it). One has to dig deep to find the purpose; or, conversely, rely on the simplest pure faith that G@d put us here and custom-made these **lovely** challenges just for us. Either way it’s a tough thing, trying to think up a satisfying answer to the question “What do you do?” I’d love to have the courage and raw chutzpah to say, “I do fulltime bipolar, and you?”

      • I’d like to have the courage and raw chutzpah to be able to say, “I strive to stay on an even keel…” Sort of said that this evening and got the uncomfortable, “Oh…” Perhaps our gift to the universe is the uncomfortable honest answer.

        • Right on! I was just watching a little movie that Glenn Close made with her sister and 99 other people with some sort of mental illness or other. The point of the thing was supposed to be that if people “came out” with their illness, it would banish stigma. Well. The “normal” people in the film, who were all talking about how normal it is to be mentally ill, were all stuttering and uncomfortable. The “mentally ill” people were all smiling and telling the camera how completely normal and natural it is to have a mental illness. I say, FOOEY on all of that. Nobody wants it, and nobody wants to hear about it. So the only thing we can do to help “the rest of the world” deal with us 20 percent-ers is to be as honest as we are comfortable being, and let them deal with their own comfortability. (Aside: Noga the Lhasa Apso insists that I am teetering and MUST go to bed now. I may or may not obey her.)

  2. I’ve just begun to check out your blog and have done something that might make you dislike me: I was “tagged” this morning, so I’ve tagged you!! I apologize in advance if this bothers you. If it doesn’t bother you, I hope you have fun by going to my post

    Sorry again, and thank you!!

    • Hi Kathy,

      I’m so happy that you’ve begun to explore BPFL, and look forwarded to your comments and input. I really hope that my posts serve as jumping-off places for discussions.

      No need to apologize for the tag, but sadly I don’t have the time to participate. I’m busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger right now….

      • HA!! 😀 No problem!! I’m just trying to fulfill the “rules” of this silly game!!

        It might take me a while, because a touch of OCD kicks in and I absolutely have to start at the beginning of someone’s blog and read all the way through, but I’m really looking forward to reading more!!

        Thanks for your “likes” and your comment!!

  3. Well, because I don’t always take advice from a new friend I have gone to the beginning. And now I must continue, because I am one of those who does not understand very much at all. But I have friends. My mother was in a wheel chair and became depressed at times, I have taught boys with ADHD and boys with autism and I have a nephew with Downe syndrome and I am learning more and more every day. And this first post of yours has set it all out so clearly. And P.S. I like your dog.


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