Taming the Lion

By September 2, 2014Blog

I was living in New York City when my manic mind told me it was imperative that I journey through a winding mid-town scavenger hunt. I was listening to the voices in my head and had no control over my racing thoughts or actions.

So off I went – first calling the White House asking to speak to the President so I could tell him of my plans, then jaunting over to the Empire State Building with aspirations to reach the top. I wasn’t arrested, but escorted out. At the New York Public Library – for some reason – the beautiful, stone lions seemed very important. But the library wasn’t public for me.

At the time, this adventure was a swirling whirlwind of fun. It’s scary to think about now, but in that moment I was a blossoming genius.

The President obviously wasn’t going to help, nor was security at both the Empire State Building and the Library. I was a nuisance to these characters in my tale.

Far more frightening was the reality that my so-called friends only fought with me and triggered further manic outbursts. I was dismissed – literally – when my roommate angrily contacted my parents requesting they remove me from the City and escort me to their home in Massachusetts. In the end, this call home was a gift.

I was put on a small commuter plane to Providence, RI. Before being seated to depart, I stacked about 20 complimentary magazines into my suitcase. In flight, I decided a precious piece of jewelry belonged in the air duct. So down the shoot it went. I later worried we might crash due to my rash actions. The reality of my situation began to sink in and I was horrified. Horrified not by my intense mania, but that my NYC high may soon plummet.

When I landed at my childhood home — without the buzz of the City, my symptoms became more pronounced. The voices were louder and my actions even more rash. My parents did not know what to do about the obvious problem. They only knew something was radically wrong.

I recall one moment when I adamantly demanded that I return to NYC immediately. I was walking down their country driveway when my Mom told me she’d call the State Police if I left. I was a mere shell of the person they loved and raised so dearly. To their great credit, they quickly found help. But it was only in this warm, loving place that solace could be found –and treatment could begin.

After six months of seclusion with only core family at my side to keep me safe and well occupied, I found a low level of stability. Good treatment and being compliant with my medication regime set me on the path to recovery. But I ached for the City. I missed my lion. I still missed the people I had thought were friends.

Overcoming the self-loathing from many, many chapters of manic behavior such as this became a source of grief that could only be overcome with time.

That was 17 years ago. Despite life’s ups and downs — happiness and self-loathing, I’ve reached a healthy, happy base level.

I pride myself on having married a man who loves me dearly, and the brilliant light I’m gifted with daily from our beautiful son. I’m a productive, active member of our community, living a life I never dreamed possible.

Just recently I visited New York City for the first time since my breakthrough episode. I had been fearful of returning for the possible flashbacks lurking behind every corner. The idea of going back was immobilizing.

But on my 42nd birthday, we traveled to the top of the Empire State Building as a loving, thriving family. I then pet the lion at The Public Library and thanked him for the ride.

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