“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. ”
~ Melody Beattie
Melody Beattie is 5 years older than I, from the Twin City to mine: St. Paul, Minnesota the author of many books including “Codependent No More” the book that introduces the concept of codependency. It’s the idea that people surrounding an addict become just as sick asthe addict by adapting to their crazy behavior.
I knew it must be a wise woman to write such an insightful quote on gratitude. I have found in my life that gratitude is key to living with and overcoming any difficulty. The harrier the problem, the more gratitude required.
Not everyone knows my story, but I was reminded of it today at lunch with some dear High School girlfriends. Some I had known since grade school. I was talking about typing my Dad’s memoirs and got sidetracked talking about my own.
I told them that in my unfinished book I hadn’t leaned too hard on how very sick I was when first hit with postpartum bipolar 1 disorder. My son was actually nine months old. I had postponed the onset by caring for my son who was born with complicated, multiple heart defects. One year earlier I’d had a still born baby girl at seven months gestation. Because I had depleted myself, when the mania hit, it was very, very severe. It took a lot to contain in the hospital setting. While I was in the hospital, my son died. Sometime after that ~ the depression hit with the same ferocity ~ and lasted for much longer. That’s the part that almost got me. I came very close to killing myself and it took electro shock therapy to pull me out of it.
To this day, I am grateful to the doctor and staff, family and friends who saved me. They literally walked me through the pit, with the Lord’s help.
My psychiatrist believed in exercise. I ran whenever I could. My knees are arthritic now, but I am thankful for the pounding they took on behalf of my brain.
My Dad stood by me in everything. He got me a good lawyer when the time came to acquiesce to my ex’s demands for a divorce.
He also introduced me to my beloved Mike! Mike’s Dad was a long-time friend of my dad. Dad had watched Mike grow up at the Minneapolis Athletic Club. Our dads were locker buddies and played handball together. Unfortunately, Mike’s Dad died young, age 56, Yet, Mike inherited his locker and our connection was born. Dad kept literally bumping into Mike. He finally asked each of us how we’d feel about meeting and had us over to his place for spaghetti dinner! It was March. We were married before summer’s end!
Gratitude. It’s a way of looking at life and seeing it through the eyes of all the infinite possibilities.
Bipolar disorder has been a rough thing in my life. Because of it I’ve grown in ways I would have never thought possible. I’ve become a writer, when I might otherwise only have been a talker. I’ve learned to reflect, listen, slow down, when otherwise I might have raced blindly through life.
I have become more empathetic and made friends with people who are suffering. Am I grateful to have bipolar disorder? It is hard to say. I am grateful to have my life! My marriage of 39 years to the sweetest, funniest guy ever, my 35 year old daughter who is my dearest prayer.
Having gratitude helps me keep my balance, keeps me from negativity and despair, and gives me hope for the future.
I have had many more health challenges than bipolar disorder. Most of them I regard as inconveniences rather than full blown problems. Sometimes they are annoying enough to take over my life for a while. Sometimes they make me cry. But, I try not to let them get me. Our lives are filled with infinite possibilities. I try not to miss too many of them.