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“Youth is wasted on the young,” Irish playwright Oscar Wild is quoted as saying. It may be true, too, that happiness is wasted on those who have had no real trouble. Memories of my own youth surged through me recently when I met a 27-year-old woman who has her own video blog about her experience with bipolar disorder II. I envied her as I thought about the disastrous decades I endured as an individual undiagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“Oh my God,” my sister said, “you sounded just like Dad when you screamed at your wife during an argument!” She said that my head turned in a certain way just like our dad’s used to when he was in one of his frequent rages. “I thought he rose from the dead for a moment and you were him,” she laughed.
This is a painfully personal blog post. I considered writing the sub-title as “Meth and Madness” to balance two one-word nouns, but “madness” is a stigmatizing word, in my opinion. This is a personal blog post because six members of my family (immediate and extended) fell under the spell of crystal meth (short for crystal methamphetamine). The common street name is simply “Meth”. It is a white crystalline drug that people take by inhaling through the nose, smoking it, or injecting it.
This Labor Day has brought back a gloomy memory. “You’ve failed at everything you’ve ever done, Daddy, and you’ve been sick all of my life.” Those stinging words came from my then 27-year-old son. He regretted saying that to me and apologized the next day. My son was struggling with his own challenges and needed me to be stable for him. My reaction to his harsh words about failure and sickness? I said nothing, because I knew he was right.
August is my birthday month. I turned 66 on the 7th, but as a typical Leo, I think of myself as 16. The illusion is shattered the moment I look in the mirror after I wake up each morning. I splash cold water on my face, see my messed-up grey hair and, if I get close enough to the mirror, I see a couple of wrinkles I did not notice before.
I lived in Northwest Arkansas for several years. My little town was just across the Oklahoma state line and the Cherokee Nation, which is the federally-recognized government of the Cherokee people. We often traveled to Tulsa for shopping and entertainment along the old two-lane highway that runs through Cherokee land. There were many fatal accidents on that highway, usually blamed by a local white man on “some drunk Indian”.