Inside the Mind of a Bipolar

My Story620X300Browsing through the blouses at a nearby consignment store I overhear the owner holler to an employee, “Grab up all the Kate Spade purses!” The employee responds, “What?  What for?”  The owner laughs, “She just off’d herself, they’re going to be worth a ton!”

It took everything I had to walk by her on my immediate exit out, without saying what I really wanted too.  Diagnosed bipolar for the last 18 years, I have attempted suicide three times.  I’ve thought about it a thousand times.

I’ve heard everything from, “How can you be so selfish?” to, “Get a grip, stop feeling sorry for yourself.”  I’ve dealt with, “Aren’t you on your meds?” to, “Stop attention seeking.”  I’ve fought the battle with mind over matter, prayer, medications, therapy, meditation and yet even then, even then, the thoughts still seep in thick as devil’s play.  Some weeks, when I’m cycling (mania causes a myriad of feelings and behaviors such as anxiety, depression, and hyper mania), I will even hide the pills and knives myself.  However, if I’m triggered by an outside force and it hits with the force of a tornado, it’s all I can do to hold on for dear life and pray I make it out.

I’m going to tell you the mind of a suicidal bipolar. In those wrecked seconds of time when that singular thought occurs, “I cannot do this anymore,” there is another voice. It says, “They’ll hurt, but at least they won’t have to suffer because of me anymore.”  Many see suicide as selfish, but in fact, often times it is the mere thought of putting our loved one’s through yet another episode, another bout of depression, another mania (over-spending, gambling, drinking, drugs, sex, panic, neediness, etc.) that drives us to actually think that it’s the right thing to do.  Okay, I know, you’re thinking, that’s totally ass backwards.  Yes.  It is.  Such is the bipolar thought process.

More times than not it is the voice, “You’re worthless.  You cause damage,” that cracks open old wounds and before we can even think to get a bandage, we are bleeding all over the place.  For bipolar brains, the ability to process healthy coping skills is stunted in many ways, and the electricity coursing and rushing through our bodies isn’t to rationalize our thoughts, but to save ourselves and our loved ones as fast as possible.

Here’s the truth … I live the most blessed, abundant, undeserved life of anyone I know. I am married to an Angel on earth whose love is unconditional and I am spoiled, treated, and fully and completely supported by this man.  I have incredible grown children who have endured 20 years of mania with me, our relationships aren’t completely unscathed but we love one another.  I have two beautiful grand babies who love to bake and read stories in my lap and I have a job I get to go to Monday through Friday that I’ve been able to keep now for 6 months.  I have outstanding friends who never hesitate to show up on my doorstep at 9:00 at night when I’m lonely, or invite me over when I’m down to cheer me up, and I have parents and siblings who never hesitate to call me on the phone just to say they care.  I live an authentically special life.

I still have episodes that cause suicidal thoughts.  You see, bipolar mania doesn’t care if you’re rich, poor, fat, skinny, loved, unloved, black or white or red … it is a mental illness that causes irrationality and poor judgement and the inability to process, at a normal pace, healthy coping mechanisms.  We look at Kate Spade, Robin Williams, and so many other individuals in the lime light who seem to have had it all … bipolar does not judge.

Please, please, if you have someone in your life who has this illness, read up on it and get to know what they are dealing with.  Some of my best supporters know that even as irrational and awful and strange it is that I deal with suicidal thoughts, I still deal with it.

It is not a selfish attempt to garner attention.  It is a mental illness.  And it’s real.  To all of you who have loved one’s that have bipolar disorder, please know … they love you.  How they feel about you and what you mean to them often has nothing to do with their suicidal tendencies.

For more information on bipolar disorder visit the National Institute of Mental Health

 

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Motivated to Love: From Death’s Door to Heaven on Earth.

Everywhere we look we are inspired to love.  From self-help books to the Bible to do gooder’s on social media who remind us that there is hope in mankind; when we look for it, we see the evidence of love.  Love though … sometimes it’s not as easy as paying for the person behind you in the drive-thru or making smiley face chocolate chip pancakes for the kids.  It’s hard.  It’s selfless.  It’s messy.

I had been married for 19 years when my husband divorced me.  Oh, he had every reason and they were all good.  I was a selfish, manipulative, strung out bi-polar with no intent on changing.  I’d had several suicide attempts but yet refused to get help.  My husband, despite how much he loved me, knew he had to let me go.  I was either going to face reality or drop off the cliff, but he was no longer willing to go there with me or allow our children to witness the chaos of my ignorance.

Homeless, jobless, money-less, and without any family I ended up staying with an old friend,  in her basement.  It was late one night when rock bottom came crashing down around me and having lost everything I’d ever loved I got on my knees next to the mattress on the floor and I decided that I was going to end it.  I was tired.  Tired of the fight, tired of the failure, tired of never being good enough.  I thought everyone would just be so much better off without me messing everything up all the time.  Yes, I decided, I was doing the people I loved a favor.

Compelled by some reason to pray first, I bowed my head as the tears flowed and I prayed, “God, if you have any favor in me, please accept me into Heaven despite what I’m about to do.  I’ve tried everything, everything, and nothing’s worked.  I’m too tired now.  I tried.”

As I prepared to stand to go get the pills, I was racked with shivers, as if electricity shot through my head down into my toes and it froze me in place.  Then, in my mind, I heard the words loud and clear, “You haven’t tried everything yet.”

Now, I’m not going to say it was the voice of God, and I’m not even going to say I understood what was going on, but it was enough to quiet me.  It was enough for me to pause, and wonder … what haven’t I tried?

“You haven’t done it MY way.” I hear.   Love.   Truly, authentically, unselfishly, perfectly love.  I collapsed.  In a whirlwind of thoughts swimming around me I could see how, for all my life, I’d been in survival mode.  It was all about me and what I could get, what I needed to make it another day.  Approval, validation, praise.  In my insecurity, which started as a little girl who was abused for many years, I operated in performance  mode.  If I did this, you’d do that.  If I say this, you’ll say that.  If I act this like, you’ll act like this back.  I saw how I’d pushed so many people away because I was so needy to be accepted.  I was loving others, not because I truly wanted to bless them, but because I needed them to love me back.

“Okay,” I said into thin air.  “Okay.  It’s not about me, I get it.  I’ll do it your way.  I’ll love without expectation.  My motivation will be only to show my family how much I truly do love them, so that they know.  Once they know … I’m taking myself out.  You get 2 months God.”

I still didn’t get it obviously.  But, it was a start.

I did everything I could possibly do to begin building my life again.  Once I decided to live, even temporarily, and once I decided to love, without expectation, things slowly began taking form.  I did everything I could to re-build from tossing newspapers at 4 am to working in a call center collecting debts, and finally a retail sales job with education benefits.  My husband allowed me to see the kids every weekend, and while I felt so incredibly guilty for not being able to take them anywhere because I was so broke, we spent our weekends playing dance off party, at the park, or simply sitting around talking.  I was re-bonding with my babies.  I started college.  I rented a little house.  All in month one.

Then, the bigger step.  Getting help.  Therapy and medication started.  I knew going into it that it was only for another month, but I’d promised myself I’d try everything I’d never tried before, so I went for it.   Another week came and went, and my ex-husband, sitting in the garage on his new motorcycle, said as I came to pick up the kids, “You look different.”

“I do?”  God he looked good on that bike.

He nodded, “Yeah.  It’s a good look.”

“Well, that bike looks pretty good on you too,” I say.  We laugh.  For the first time.

He calls on me to help when help is needed and I am there.  I begin to make enough money to treat the kids and give them their own bedroom in my house.  I work 40 hours a week and do several online classes and two on campus classes and every ounce of my time outside is spent with the kids.

I’m 7 weeks in and my youngest daughter says to me, “I like the way you are now Mama.”

I wonder.  Maybe I’ll extend another month.  Heaven can wait a few more days.

As my motivation to love shifted from getting my own needs met to meeting the needs of others, my life started to become easier.  I wasn’t thinking about who cared about me, who was paying attention to what I was doing, or if I was good enough.  I was just, well, living.  The joy in my heart grew every time I gave.  My confidence sky rocketed.

I slowly began to see that I had something of value to offer, and that it was good.  It didn’t need a billboard of praise or a gift of thanks, it was the first petal on a Spring flower that bloomed after the freeze and existed even if no one ever saw it.  It just was.

Two months turned to four which turned to six.  I was excelling at work, my children were beginning to trust me, I was facing some dark demons through therapy, and the new medication was curbing the mania.  I began reaching out to my extended family, asking for grace and forgiveness for the pain I’d caused and hoping to start again.

Eight months later I went to pick up the kids and my ex-husband, in the garage working on his bike, caught me off guard, “Hey, uh, I just wanted to say thanks.”

“Thanks for what?” I ask.

He stood, slowly and came closer to where I stood.  Taking my hand in his, “For loving us enough to change.  I  see what you’re doing.  It’s a good thing.”

Later that week I got a call late at night from him, “Hey, I was wondering if you’d wanna do lunch tomorrow? If not, that’s cool, just asking.”

Never in a million years did I ever expect that my ex husband would ask me to go to lunch with him.  I was treading lightly on the soft waters of his heart, and I knew, going into this, he deserved the very best I had to offer and if I was honest with myself, I had to also ask if I was that best.

“Friends, right?” I asked over a Panera Asian salad.  He smiled, “Yeah.  Friends.”

I saw my ex in a different light that day, a man who had loved me more than anyone else ever had but who had the courage to stop being an enabler and protect his children from further damage.  I saw the pain in his eyes, the having to let me go, but I also saw a new light forming there.  Confidence.  Trust in himself.  We had both grown through our loss of one another, having chosen to be motivated to love without condition.

We started secretly getting together behind the kids’ backs.  Motorcycle rides through the country side, late night phone calls, lunches, and often times just sneaking off for a few hours to sit in the car and talk.  Friends.  Just friends, I kept telling myself.

Nearly a year later I was washing dishes in my kitchen in my little rental house when the kids came rushing through my front door.  I was surprised because it wasn’t my day or weekend to have them, “What are you doing here?”

Their eyes were wide, their breathing rushed, and I could tell they were so excited about something.  My youngest daughter spoke first, “We gotta tell ya something!”

They pulled out a chair and sat me down in it, all gathering around me.  Then, without warning, in walked my ex-husband.

With the children gathered around me, he got down on one knee.  They all said, at the same time, in unison together, “We want you to come home.”

My ex-husband and I remarried in 2013 and have been blissfully overcoming our past history for a glorious five years and counting.

I get down on my knees almost every night before bed, and I pray the same prayer …

“… Thank you.  Hold my spot.  I’m not coming anytime soon.”

I continue to check myself daily, asking the hard question … what is my motivation?  Am I self-seeking right now, am I wanting something in return, or am I simply loving to bless?  Am I being the real me, a woman who has value, or am I performing so others will give me the feedback I think I need?  It’s an on-going process, a daily refresher course, but what I do know for sure … what will always and forever be true for me isn’t just the fact that the night I wanted to die God saved me; but that he taught me love.

I hope you get the opportunity to love today.  I hope that my story reminds you that you are worthy to be loved, as much as you are called to love others.  Sharing the ugly, dark parts of my life is not easy, but we all have them and we’ve got to stick together to remind one another that we’re not in this alone.  Be kind to yourself, and love with your whole heart.

And chocolate chip smiley face pancakes help too.

 

 

 

 

 

&*#! U Depression. I’m here to stay.

For some of us it’s situational and for others it’s a chemical imbalance.  For some it’s triggered by screaming people in our faces, reminding us of childhood abuse and for others it’s the long hot shower turned cold because we can’t fathom how we’re going to finish the day.  For some, bi-polar disorder, PTSD, Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Mania ….. showing up to work hoping you can make it until noon so you can drive around the block and sit at  the corner and cry it out or hell, not even making it out of bed on a Tuesday.  Tuesday’s are hard.

Truth.   Depression you DO NOT OWN ME.  I will refuse to allow you to take me down.  I will get help.  I will see my therapist.  I will take my medication.  I will eat right.  I will exercise.  I will tell the people I love the most when I am hurting instead of isolating.  I will REFUSE, do you hear me now, I will REFUSE TO TAKE THIS LYING DOWN.

I will write a book about you.  How you tried to kill me.   And I will save others because if I am here for good …. SO ARE THEY.

Believe.  Hard.  For whatever reason.  Depression ?  @*(# ….. WE ARE HERE TO STAY!

http://www.courtneyfrey.org

Redemption.  Coming Soon to Amazon.  Follow me at @courtneyfrey on Facebook for details on Friday’s launch!

Build Your Bridge

cropped-8-time-over-the-bridge.jpg

Rebecca and Courtney build a bridge in a ditch that is symbolic of their plight to bridge the gap between the little girls that were hurt and the grown women they’ve had to become to survive.  It is their story, but it is your story.  What sacrifices did you have to make as you survived the hands that hurt you?  What part of yourself do you hide away and shelter from the word for fear of hurt?  The walls you’ve built, they will come down.  It will be okay.  You’re not alone.

For all the women who’ve had to go back and get the little girl they’d left behind.  Bridges.  My song.  Your song.  The road to healing.

Listen NOW

 

Heal a Heart for Christmas

R_fcYour best friend confided in you.  Your sister wants to change.  Your relationship with your mom is broken.  Your husband struggles with your depression.  Whether for you or for someone in your life, Restitution is a message of hope that speaks loudly, “YOU ARE NOT A VICTIM ANY LONGER!”  It is a novel-like approach, based on a true story, that embodies the triumph over pain we all seek and hope for.  Give the gift of healing to someone you love today.

BUY NOWhttp://www.amazon.com/Restitution-Courtney-Frey/dp/1620066564/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451061495&sr=8-1&keywords=restitution+courtney+frey

 

You’re Not Alone

_Out in the country she screamed, but no one heard her._Your journey is exceptionally priceless, all of what you’ve endured and gone through; every bit of pain and agony – is not in vain.  The endless tears you’ve cried, the midnight rage, and the lonely hours of what seems like eternal solitude; are known.  You, my love, are not alone.

Sometimes we do not need someone to fix it all.  Sometimes, we don’t need anyone to tell us it will all be okay.  Once in a while, take heart, it is okay to sit with the pain.  It can teach us.  It can mold us.  It can share a lesson of compassion, understanding, faith, and resilience with us.

You, my friend, are not alone.  Restitution is a novel that explores what it means to face countless unfair injustices and weather the tides of fear, abandonment, insecurity, and depression.  It is a story of struggling with faith, a journey of three friends who rely on one another, and ultimately the truth that nothing is ever in vain when you turn your pain to purpose.

You are not alone.

 

What Know One Knows – The Way My Reflection Lies

Me & My Reflection
Me & My Reflection

She is the life of the party.  I wonder if they know she goes home and cries.  He is the most successful salesperson in the company. I wonder if they know that he questions if everything he sacrificed was worth it.   Her sister thought she hated her, and that was why her bedroom door was locked for all those years.  I wonder if she’ll ever know that her sister wished she would have broken down the door.  He cries when he rides his motorcycle because the helmet and the wind hide the tears.  I wonder if his friends know how she broke his heart.  She is the most beautiful woman in the room and all eyes are on her.  I wonder if they know she has anorexia.

I wonder why she feels alone, when I am a reflection of her.

“As if she was on fire from within … the moon lives in the lining of her skin.” Pablo Neruda

“No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Do you see her?  Can you reach him?   Today, allow your soul to speak the truth so you reflect your perfect self.

Our Reaching Out Is Never In Vain

“Our reaching out is never in vain.”

I spent four months writing, “My Sonnet’s Soul” in 2001.  Compelled by a madness I later came to understand as bi-polar disorder mixed heavy with what most writers consider to be the innate insanity of writing to be sane, I truly believed God was telling me to write the story of my family.

Since as far back I can remember, which on some days is just minutes ago, I’d heard pieces of stories so cobwebbed that I became stuck in the majesty of their mysteries.  I’d never met my blood Grandmother.  No one would ever speak of her.  So, in 2001 I became determined not only to find her, but to create a half non-fiction account of the journey.  A frightening journey into the shaded truths I’d been privy too, and the dark recesses of my own imagination.

I then, four months later, got on a plane and took thirty copies of the book to our family reunion.  The book was met with shattering glass and rebuking.  I came home, defeated, lost – shaken; and put the original copy in an old folder inside my purple crate.  I did not read it again until today.

Compiling these chapters of this book now, I shuffle through old folders and papers, sitting cross legged on the floor of my office.  An old Manila envelope appears, unopened.  It is stamped 2001, and it is from my Grandfather’s wife, his second – not my blood Grandmother.

I open it carefully and wonder how I’d never seen it, or why I’d kept it without knowing.  Beautifully elegant handwriting crosses a blank, thinned page of paper …

“… Dear Courtney,  these poems were written by your great grandmother, your father’s blood Grandmother.  Some were written when she was dying from tuberculosis.  You can see, she trusted in the Lord.  I know you will treasure them, as I have.  God Bless you and all your family, and bring you many blessings in your writing endeavors.”

This is the Envelope I discovered after 10 years.
This is the Envelope I discovered after 10 years.

My heart literally skips several beats, and I cannot bring myself to turn the page.  The room spins, and I know without doubt, what I hold in my hands are relics of my heritage.  Pieces of me I never knew.  I’ve just opened up the soul of who I am.

Instead of reading any of the poetry, I rush to call my father and breathless, I tell him over the phone what I have discovered.  I ask him, “Who was she?  How have I not ever heard of her before?”

The phone is quiet against my ear, I listen barely to my father catch his breath when finally, “Thank God they still exist.  I’d always wondered what had happened to them.”

I listen then, to the telling of a story that as it’s being told … is so familiar to my spirit that I weep openly.  Today, I met my Great – Grandmother.  My spirit soared and grieved as only a spirit can, connecting to the blood tie of a woman who, as she met her death cradling her two young son’s, had, as my Great Grandfather wrote in his Preface to her collection, “…a profound religion, a true philosophy, and a beauty of soul which is indeed the supreme attainment of life.”

As my father painted her image and her heart, “Divine, she was absolutely divine,” I could not help but wonder how it was that these ageless poems had found their way to me, her Great-Grand Daughter, the very year I’d written “My Sonnet’s Soul,” a book making no mention of her, but only now made known, eleven years later, the year I finally decide to write again.

My father asks me to consider that these poems are a legacy not to be taken lightly, and a relic not to be cast out for just anyone.  He is asking me to keep them, to treasure the lessons my Great Grandmother needs me to hear and allow this enlightenment only to myself.  “Don’t read these, Courtney, to just anyone.  Be careful.  Few people will be able to understand the divinity of those words.  You’ve been given a gift, one I am incredibly jealous of – but that is my own truth to attempt to hear, if I can.  One day, you will know when the time is right, to whom you pass on this – your very heritage, this eternal existence of the immortality of soul.”

Later, after I am able to stop crying, I turn the page.  And for the first time, I sit in the glorious presence of my divine Great Grandmother, as she holds me in her spirit.  I am but the eternal life force of a strong soul who lived so truthfully she had the power to give me advice I so desperately needed, eighty years after she left this realm.

“It’s Not In Vain”

By, my Great Grandmother

“There is in man, a longing, a longing akin to pain.

As the dew drops of morning, are akin to mist and rain.

A longing, a reaching out, toward life’s great mysteries.

Sometimes in hope, sometimes in doubt,

But ever, ever, reaching out.

This it must ever be, life holds for each,

Discoveries,

And in our longing, and in our pain

Our reaching out is not in vain.”

          I read this with shivers, and goose pimples running up and down my spine – taken with the breathtaking perfection of her talented prose, and knowing those words from somewhere.  This, her telling, her exposed truth, was so familiar to me I begin laughing, there, on the floor of my office; tears of comfort.  Great truths have layers of enlightenment.

The only poem I wrote inside of  “My Sonnet’s Soul,” …

If you listen closely to the voices as they speak,

You will hear the words become a familiar sound.

The buzzing of a hive,

The sweetness of the comb.

The sweat and labor of the Keeper – the lives kept,

The mystery of the Reacher.

Yes, the sun is hot,

And yes, the work is hard.

But the crop comes in and what glory it is to see,

The work was not done in vain.

These poems, these very threads of my existence, speak wisely and eternally words that will forever advise my renewed determination towards who I truly am.  Thank you, Great Grandmother … thank you. Your spirit is loud and clear, just as I begin to neatly and carefully place your poetry back into the envelope I notice the date stamped onto the front, worn from the years it reads, “December 5th, 2001.”  Today is December 5th … 2012.    Our Reaching Out truly, is never in vain.  Even if that is from the eternity of soul, in a manilla envelope, to a great-granddaughter she’d never met.

Be fruitful in your reaching.  There is someone with open arms who needs you.

Diagnosis

Pump me full of Zoloft, Xanax or Lithium –

Over-charge me by the hour just cuz you can.

Zip me in that white coat, lock me in a room,

I’ll still be crazy – I’ll still question you.

You can’t drug a genius, can’t lock up an artist.

Try to cage me, but you can’t hold down stardust.

Put me in a file, but you can’t define a goddess.

Lay me on your couch, I’ll just hypnotize ya.

Don’t need no Phd just to tell me ‘bout my inner child.

I’m wild.

Call it a chemical imbalance, I don’t really care

Just get off my back, I’m outta here.

No use in fakin’ normal, no sense in a lie

Drugs might keep me quiet,

But you can’t silence life.

I know the dark side, but I see the light

I get reality, but its truth is all mine.

When I’m up let me fly,

Clip your own damn wings.

When I’m down, don’t even try,

I like the things that I see.

Doctor says he’s gotta save me from myself,

Patient in the next room just hung herself.

I get a phone call cuz I’ve been good,

So I dialed God and asked Him what’s the use?

Let me laugh, let me cry, to hell with insurance.

Aint my 90 days up?  I’m healed,

I assure you.

Self inclined nation with man made doctrination,

Hell, it sounds fine with me.

We all gotta do what we have to do,

Believe in whatever we believe to be true.

But Christians imitating Jesus –

Don’t they know He was a Jew –

And damn my knees are sore

From kneeling on your pew.

What classes?  To hell with you,

No disciple ever enrolled in Religion 102.

I can talk all day and into the night,

Philosophy’s like love, right at first sight.

Sit me down with an easel, give me some paint,

Don’t need a brush, my soul knows the way.

I’m the life of the party, I know the right things to say,

People amaze me, in every way.

But when I want to go, let me go.

Solitude is my escape from home.

Mama, it’s all right, you’ve done nothing wrong.

Daddy, thanks to you I can write this song.

I got no blame, don’t take it the wrong way,

I get to be different in a world of all the same.

I wouldn’t choose normal even for a while …

Cuz, guess what?

I’m wild.

 
http://youtu.be/gyu5sum4Xyo

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