“I am telling you this as a friend, as your sister, take care of yourself.”
The very sad truth is that I don’t remember how.
But here is where I begin.
I guess I should start by explaining where I am. It is difficult to talk about because I have grown accustomed to remaining silent. I always felt it was not my tale to tell; not my place to discuss. I was married to someone who was bipolar. Mental illness does not usually come up in casual conversation. Medical conditions are private. I always thought that he would share his diagnosis with the people he chose.
In October 2012, my daughter and I stood on my parent’s porch with the clothes on our backs and a handful of belongings packed in the car. I can remember some of the items Erin packed: her pillow, a favorite blanket, a stuffed elephant named Elly and a sentimental book The Land of Many Colors. This was the direct result of a huge argument between my husband and me. The discussion started in the bar area of the house. I don’t remember specifics but it probably had to do with finances and his refusal to help me handle the problems. The argument ended with me having a split lip that would not stop bleeding.
I would pinpoint this moment as the beginning of Tom’s latest downward spiral. He was diagnosed as bipolar in 1994. The self medication started in 1999 with prescription pain killers, Ambien and Xanax. The medication reached its maximum with daily doses of Fentanyl, Percocet, Ambien, Adderall and Xanax. Eight to ten Ambien to sleep and four Adderall to wake up. His parents and I were able to get him into a treatment program in December 2011. Tom completed the 30 days but refused the recommended extended care. Within a week, he was back at the doctor being prescribed the same medications. His mental health continued to deteriorate. He talked about suicide on a regular basis.
Today, Erin and I are still living with my parents. Tom is in jail pending further court action with $500,000.00 bail. I have to deal with a house that has been left go beyond physical and financial repair. Many of my important, sentimental possessions have been hidden somewhere within the confines of the property. I am finding items hidden in attic crawl spaces and locked in a cold cellar. I cannot find a large portion of my snowman collection. He sold or pawned many items. The paperwork piles are enormous. There is trash everywhere.
I am exhausted but I need to tell my story.
It is time.