I just counted the resident spiders on my livingroom ceiling. Thirteen. I counted them a while ago, not even long ago, maybe ten minutes, and there were eleven. These spiders are small, their bodies flat against the ceiling surface. They only occasionally jump down, their silk as bungie cord.
I think of my mother when I see spiders. She loves them and taught me long ago to not kill them. I wonder if these spiders are spelling something out or if they’re acting out a particular constellation, although I wouldn’t know unless it was the Big Dipper or the Little Dipper; I don’t know any other ones except for the Southern Cross but I live above the equator.
This ceiling is white with seam marks in the slightly sagging dry wall, only one crack in the paint. Now I’m counting twelve spiders. There are two groupings, then three individuals far from the crowd. I wonder if my mom counts the spiders on her bedroom ceiling now or if she’s too tired to count or too tired to care.
Later this night I lie in bed and stare up at my bedroom ceiling. There are no spiders here. Strange. I guess they prefer the living room. I think about my mom and wonder what it will be like someday to know I have only a few months to live. Or so we’ve been told about Mom, but I won’t believe it until she’s actually gone.
When I was suicidal I yearned for death, craved an ending to my miserable depressed/manic life. My doctor and I finally found the right medication mix and I finally began drawing those perimeters needed for living with bipolar disorder.
I am actually enjoying my life now. This change took a long time, many many years from when I was initially suicidal. I had to learn how to rest, when to sleep; I had to learn when to take my medication so my days would be full of activity, not sleepiness. I had to learn to really talk to my doctor so he could help me. I had to learn to not be embarrassed by my limitations. This last one I’m still working on… but that’s common stigma and why we formed Bring Change 2 Mind in the first place. It takes courage to speak out and there are many times I feel less than courageous.
One deterrent to suicide is to just hang on, just wait, because no one gets out of this life alive. I know Mom won’t. Now that I’m on the right path, not suicidal anymore, I would like to pass when it’s time to go and not before. Another deterrent to suicide is knowing that I have lessons to learn about life before I get to go. I have a feeling that if I take my own life I’ll have to come back again, quite quickly, and do the whole ‘life on earth thing’ all over again! Perhaps coming back as one of my own dogs would be terrific but I certainly don’t want to come back as a human. The suffering we humans put ourselves through is daunting.
Mom is 90 and doesn’t want to go yet. I don’t want her to go yet either. I never want to face life without my mom being a phone call away. I want her to hang on and on and on but that’s not going to happen. I think I’ll drive the 300 miles down to Wyoming to visit her very soon. I want to nestle in next to her in her bed so I can hear her breathing and feel her hand in mine. We’ll look up at her ceiling and see if there are any spiders up there. Perhaps she’ll be able to tell me which constellation her spiders are acting out. Perhaps not.
This is so beautiful.
Thank you for your book. Thank you for your organization. Thank you for your story.
I enjoy your writing a lot.
I wonder sometimes about the connection between Celtic people and Bipolar/Schizophrenia/ Etc.
I am Irish. I suffer too.
Keep sending us words, I love it.
I just finished your book and couldn’t stop crying through the last few chapters. I have an adult child with severe mental illness. It has taken a long time and been a terrible journey to get help through a fractured, splintered piecemeal medical, health, insurance system. We came from the most miserable place but finally things have improved with medication, counseling, group programs, housing. Only others who have been there understand what it is like. I feel so excited now by little successes. Going to the groc store, or a movie almost feel like a victory akin to winning an Oscar or Nobel prize. Each peaceful day is a battle won. I don’t pine after the missing college degree (or other dreams other parents have for their normal children) so much anymore. We laugh, share, enjoy many things together. I still feel the tremendous guilt (partly fueled by the “stigma”) but your news about genetic studies and DNA findings may also be an aid to ending that. (I think I’m rambling- I could probably write my own book….) Prayers to your mother, and thanks to all your family for your courage. Your work and inspiration it give to others could be the largest part of the battle for improved mental health treatment and outcomes. Thanks again.