By Allison Strong
Over the years, I’ve read many an article on bipolar disorder and rage. I’ve also had intensive outpatient group (IOP) therapy for bipolar disorder and seen other programs on offer for issues like anger management.
I always think….oh wow, these must be huge issues. I’m sure glad that’s not me.
But now I wonder…. is it?
I go to a local YMCA that sponsors families who can’t afford to belong and has a huge parking lot with plenty of spaces. It may be crowded, but it’s never full.
Here’s what gets under my skin: Parents who arrive to pick up or drop off their children aren’t satisfied with any old parking place (God help them if they had to take their children in hand and walk a few yards to the entrance to the building, where the curb drops down for wheelchair access).
They abandon their cars for longer than an hour, while they socialize with coaches, teachers and other parents.
This drives me wild!
If there was an emergency and someone needed access to the entrance with a gurney, paramedics would have to go twenty yards down and make the gurney jump the curb.
I spoke to supervisors at the Y. I asked them if this was an ‘entitlement’ thing because these people are parents. They said it was.
I approached the assistant executive director in charge of membership and offered to put ‘no parking’ flyers on the windshields of all the cars three days a week, so these parents would get the message..
“I’ll have to take you up on that,” she said, and never called.
One time I saw a lady leaving the Y with her child in tow. I couldn’t resist. Careful to be diplomatic I asked, “Do you realize that’s a no parking zone?
“Of course,” she replied.
“Well, how come you’re parked there?” I asked.
I was still doing my best to go out of my way to be civil, and tried to sound merely curious.
“Because I have kids,” she beamed.
That explains it.
I can’t belieeeeeeeevvvveeee this.
Maybe I should just go rob a bank because I’m bipolar and have high medical expenses. That justifies it, right? After all, I’m sick. I have a good excuse.
Is this because I never had children? Is there some hidden jealousy?
In my twenties, I didn’t yet know I had bipolar disorder and self-medicated like crazy. I was deeply involved with my wealthy enabler, and it didn’t seem like the right time to bring a new life into the world.
We made promises to each other that we’d get straight, get married and get kids.
It never happened.
I suspect my rage is about not ‘getting’ what I was promised. This is about my fiance lying, cheating on me and never following through. It was, by far, the greatest heartbreak I’ve had, considering we were never actually married, let alone thinking straight.
I was with him for eight years, deceiving myself that I was very much in love, but was too young to know what that was.
My ire is also about the cost of my ten-year struggle to stop taking street drugs.
It wasn’t for lack of trying either. I used for a year and spent the next ten trying to lose the monkey on my back.
I went to 60-day rehab three times, logged more hours in AA than anyone I know, picked up hundreds of white chips, and followed all their little rules (like “No relationships for the first year” or “90 Meetings in 90 Days”). At the end of 25 years, the paternal, rigid and one-size-fits-all box of dogma got under my skin.
I was all burnt up about that, too.
I ended up leaving after 25 years and attending dialectical behavioral therapy to continue my recovery and wellness plan.
Just ’cause I’m sober doesn’t mean I’m necessarily balanced or well.
So, yeah, I guess I’m even mad about that!
I shouldn’t be. When you look at what’s happening with prescription drug abuse, I’m lucky to be alive.
Other times, I’m perversely grateful those substances were available to me.
I suspect if it weren’t for self-medication and rock music, I might not have made it through my teens and up until the age of 29, when I had my first manic episode. Unipolar depression weighed me down like an anchor. I struggled to break free, which only happened after my bipolar diagnosis and stabilization.
Before my first hospitalization, I’d managed to stay clean for a year.
This gave the medical professionals a clear clinical picture and allowed them to make an accurate diagnosis and give me appropriate treatment.
I was bipolar stable for the next nine years and enjoyed a fabulous career in radio and as a music critic.
Around that time, I’d made a conscious choice NOT to have children on the outside chance that my meds would harm the baby in utero.
So yeah, I guess I’m angry about that, too. I’m just misdirecting it towards those parents who park in front of the gym’s entrance.
As I was standing outside my car, I suddenly realized it was not really anger I was feeling.
It’s grief for a bunch of stuff I ‘think’ I lost.
I never really had that stuff, anyway.
Even if I had, it wouldn’t have satisfied my soul.
Outside stuff never does.
At least now I can leave this G&^@#mn parking lot.