We were driving home from dinner last night, just me and R. I found myself…
“I talk so quickly, yet there is nothing to say. Just the pain, ‘the pain,’ I tell her. Of me and who I am not, or who I am but not willing to accept. She hands me a prescription as I relent. I will try one last time." (Excerpt, Chapter 1, The Gift of Ben)
This is my first blog in four years, where has the time gone? Ben’s birthday is March 28th, so maybe this can be a fresh start which he gave me through his life? I will blog about many topics, happy and hopeful, informative, but today is something that is weighing heavy on my heart. Since the age of 22, I have remained shackled and silent, alone, living a manner that was not true and honest. I remained silent out of fear, of losing jobs, alienating friends, being disbarred, being stigmatized. In December of 2022, I contracted COVID and was in isolation for over five days, a time where I was alone with only my mind, heart and soul. I remember awakening from a half sleep, sweaty, sifting through the remnants of dreams or half meditation. I jumped up in my bed, and I knew. I was living a life not my own, numbing every pain from the silence over and over again. I would publish my book, come out of the shadows, with the sole goal of helping others to understand they are not alone. On March 1st, I stepped away from Big Law and entered the brave unknown. It was a leap of faith, which I had no idea how to make, only trusting in God to support me through the unfolding journey. So, here I am, my hard cover just arrived at my doorstep two days ago. It was surreal, my heart and soul on the pages of a real book!
I’ve never written these words on paper to be released to the world and the next sentence will be liberation in action. Hello world, I have manic depression. The topic I need to release from my heart today is regret (and beyond). I walked away from Big Law, so that I would not live the rest of my life with regret, a regret of not living truly and honestly with the world, friends, colleagues, those I love. Maybe it was a release of regret to counteract the other iterations lurking in my heart. There has been much written about manic depression, but this is a topic rarely addressed. When Kaylyn (my oldest daughter) was born in 2006, three years after my initial diagnosis, most of my severe episodes were over, as I became fully medicated. But, the fluctuations have still seeped through my psyche over the years, in times of anxiety and stress (working 16 hour days, maybe). The worst episodes for me have been mixed states, where mania and depression exist in tandem. In my early 20s, it involved jagged and agitated days, the combination of the two states being unbearable. How do I describe this so that others can understand? It starts with my “go go” mode, doing more than I can handle, moving from one task to another in rapid succession, beyond happy (too happy), feeling every emotion on the spectrum so intensely it hurts. Then anxiety enters, which mixes with the mania to force me into a constant state of hyper-vigilance, with the anxiety coursing through my chest constantly. I become the “alter me,” my mind being forced into another world, not my own, where I lose all sense of self, the “Real me.” Thoughts fall away into a turbulent rabbit hole where they cannot escape. I cannot process reality, understand the rational, or control my emotions, which fluctuate hour to hour. I feel as if I’m existing in an alternate universe, yearning to touch the real world again. Then depression seeps in, as my rational mind remains hidden, tears flowing for every reason, or no reason at all. Oftentimes, I become mired in deep existential musings, which only increase my agitation. There is a non-reality. Nothing I think or say makes sense. Just a never-ending contradiction.
After an episode, I look back at the carnage, relationships ruined, loss of loved ones, the way I’ve hurt others, projects at work pushed to the wayside, respect gone, mistakes I made, bad decisions. What follows is a bone-searing regret that tears through my body. It is unbearable and soul-wrenching, so deep I feel as if it cannot be contained, the pain and loss flowing through my very heart.
I’ve always wondered how to move past regret, pain and loss. In The Gift of Ben, I discuss my journey toward self-love and acceptance, which took….two decades and is still ongoing. I also discuss love and forgiveness, which I will now define as “unconditional love.” What I have experienced through my illness and losing Ben is that unconditional love is gentle and quiet, seeping in as you choose each other over and over again, each day. I told Kyle yesterday, as we sat on our patio together, that I regretted being me and I was sorry, so sorry, full of regret for the destruction that has come with my illness. That I sometimes wonder why God made me as I am in every possible way, in ways which may cause him pain, and I was oftentimes sorry for being me. He grabbed my shoulders and said, “Lindsey, I love all of you, just as you are and always have. There is no regret, there is just life.” A beautiful life. Our lives are beautiful, friends! The overarching message in my memoir is loving through imperfection, and that may be the truest version of unconditional love, a Godly love. So, let’s try together to move past regret and live in a state far beyond. It may be a daily battle, but let’s give it an earnest attempt. Those who offer unconditional love will stay, and not accept regret. Constant, magnificent, otherworldly, tempered love. Each and every day.
The Gift of Ben…..