Twenty years ago my appendix ruptured and I found myself lying in a hospital bed for a week. The hospital room quickly filled with dozens of get-well balloons, flower bouquets, handmade cards, even a kitten. Fast forward ten years from that day when I was hospitalized for severe bipolar depression and not a single balloon, flower, or card was sent. Does this make sense?
Flowers say: ‘I care about you.’ ‘I’m thinking of you.’ ‘I hope you get well soon.’ All of these things are sentiments someone who is severely depressed needs to hear. Of course, I don’t fault anyone for not sending those well wishes to me because I was entirely too ashamed at the time to let anyone know I landed in the psychiatric hospital. Fortunately, now I know it’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just part of my recovery.
This last weekend, I had a depressive episode that caused nonstop crying for three days. I showed up to what was supposed to be a joyous event at church, and instead ended up crying the entire hour. Luckily I have the most loving and supportive family in the world, and everyone stepped in to help me.
The above photo is of the wild flowers my seven-year old picked for me while he was out fishing. He picked them because he said he knew I was sad. He put the first genuine smile on my face that I had smiled in a week.
In a perfect world, I wish that my children never had to see their mother with tear-stained cheeks. But we don’t live in that perfect world. My children have learned empathy through my struggles, and are the kindest people that I know. My children will grow to have amazing emotional intelligence because they had a mother with bipolar disorder, and for this I am grateful.
I will leave you with this thought. If you know someone struggling with depression, bring or send flowers. Have you ever gifted flowers and received anything but a smile?
What are some other kind gestures people have done for you while recovering from depression? Or what do you wish someone would do?
I am so bipolar, and unashamed.
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