Mental health is a decision for me. I decided when I was diagnosed with BiPolar II that I would be well.
The hardest part of that decision and with any type of learning is that I was not sure what that meant for me. I did not know what it was to be well. I did not trust my own mind to help me see it when it appeared.
My father who at the time of this writing is preparing to leave this earth asked me a question that has been turning around in my head for all of the years that followed. It was “now that you know what it is, what are you going to do about it?”
I would realize through the many teachers I have followed and learned from that being mentally healthy is a decision. The one I make each day and each moment.
Every day is a new day to make that decision. Some days I am more focused on it than others, but it is always there in the background, “what are you going to do now?”
As I visited with him last week, knowing deep down that it might be the last time I would see him I wanted him to know I was okay, better than okay, well. The letters and calls in the months and weeks before would tell him all he needed to know. I would plan my return trip, and hope that he found peace soon while still wanting to be there when he found it.
I would pour out my heart between the lines of everyday activities and adventures of raising a family. I would send him books, postcards, and treats from our travels near our new home when he could not longer do that himself. I would take a little of him with us so that he and I could stay connected.
His check-ins over the years, would be “how are you doing?” which meant more than the passing phrase. It meant how are you doing, are you well, are you happy?
Yes, dad, I am well and I am happy.
Today, as I hold my breath waiting for that call, taking the time to meditate, and do my morning yoga, tend my garden, and write. I send out wishes to the universe for peace for his journey and that he will visit me soon in spirit.
We had a complicated relationship. His tough love from a distance, a man of few words, was actually just what I needed to know that I was strong enough to do this alone. I don't believe I would have found peace if I had been coddled through my illness.
What are you going to do now?
I will send you off Dad with wishes of peace and love from a distance. I will live well and raise my children well and love my husband well. I will share what I have learned along my journey so that others can decide what they will do now. I am happy, and loved, and well.
I will remember you with that smile and hear you in those times I need to be reminded that being well is a decision and it's up to me. I am stronger for having you as my father, and I hope you're at peace as you begin your next adventure.
Until we meet again. I love you,