For better, for worse.

“You’ve got to promise me that if anything happens to me, you’ll look out for her.”

These words were spoken by TK, my sister’s partner for over five years.  We were motoring back from Elliot Key in their boat, after a relaxing day on the water.  T was snoozing on the rear bench seat, while TK and i sat in the wheelhouse and talked, watching the Miami skyline sparkle at twilight.

i had made a weekend trip to attend the surprise 50th birthday party TK held for T last August.  After a gorgeous day on the water, with T sleeping and the wind noise drowning out our voices, TK and i had a chance to discuss T’s life-long battle with bipolar disorder.

daisyfae: i promised my Dad that i’d take care of her, and the others.  So i’m in it with you, for as long as you two are together.

TK:  I’m in it forever!  I want to grow old with her.  She’s perfect for me, and I can’t imagine life without her!  I’ve read up on bipolar, and read some of the books written by partners of people with bipolar.  Pretty sure I won’t be able to do this alone if it gets rough.

daisyfae:  Menopause and bipolar are a particularly tricky combination – and she just turned fifty!  Make sure she pays close attention to her hormones. 

TK:  I’ll do whatever it takes.  It’ll help to know you’ve got my back.

daisyfae:  She has had a tendency to lose her balance about every 3-5 years.  It’s been awhile, so i’m wondering if she’s due for some serious trouble.

And here we are nine months later.  i think the current situation counts as “serious trouble”.  T called Mom at midnight last Tuesday, talking rapid-fire, and obviously under a lot of stress.  Mom called to get me engaged… and after some calls to T, and TK from the road earlier this week, it was pretty obvious that T might be headed for hospitalization.  Which should be avoided if at all possible, as there would be potentially damaging professional implications if it becomes necessary.

Sitting in an airport Wednesday night, i was on the phone with T as i waited for my delayed flight* to board.  She was at home with TK, and was screaming into the phone about the horrible things TK had been doing in regard to the sale of their current house, and the renovations on their future home. 

If you’ve ever dealt with someone in the throes of a full-blown breakdown**, then you may know what this sounds like. 

My sister, T, is brilliant.  She is gifted with words.  When the brain chemistry goes awry?  She has the ability to cut you to the very molecules of your soul with her words.  The more she loves you?  The worse she can stab you, as she knows where to place the dagger with surgical precision.

i listened as she dished a vile stew of acidic words.  Tearing TK apart.  i listened as a door slammed in the background as TK couldn’t take any more of it and walked out.  A thousand miles away, and i could do nothing, except sit in a quiet corner of an airport and try to convince my sister that the most important thing she could do right now is sleep.

Helpless.

More phone calls yesterday, and today.  T’s therapist is involved.  Exchanging text messages, offering whatever help i can provide.  Offering to fly down there if it would help.  And a long talk with TK tonight.  Wondering if she can get past the words.  Wondering how they can work it out.  Wondering if T could possibly still love her in light of all that anger. 

i reminded her that T’s been through these times before.  She will get it behind her again and move forward.  The words are her primary defense mechanism when she feels like everything is collapsing around her.  There can be healing – as evidenced by the fact that i’m still engaged after being on the receiving end of her verbal switch blade several times.

Then the text a few minutes ago…

TK:  I love T so much.  If I could do anything to go back in time and fix it, I would.  Life without her would be meaningless.  I knew when I met her that she was and is perfect for me.  I don’t want to lose her.

We should all be so lucky as to know that kind of love…

Oh, and by the way?  They are forbidden by law from marrying.  As you can clearly see, it would denigrate the foundation of society if we ever allowed legalization of same-sex marriage amongst such wanton, promiscuous and amoral homosexuals.

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* i know you are as stunned as i am that i had another fucked up flight this week…..

** Hell, just pull up some of the recent videos of Charlie Sheen.  That’s what it looks like, folks.

Bedlam

Sure, when the videos of Charlie Sheen first started popping up on YouTube, i watched a couple with the same slack-jawed astonishment as the rest of the world.  But it didn’t take long before i was squirming.

i’ve been there.  i have heard virtually the exact same words from my sister, T, as she rolled off on a manic phase.  On more than a dozen occasions.  It’s unpleasant.

From her initial meltdown at age 26, through her 50th birthday party last August, i’ve had those conversations.  They are difficult.  Perhaps difficult as an interviewer, but FAR more difficult if the person is your sister. 

Mr. Sheen is clearly dealing with mental illness.  And listening to the commentary in the media?  It is even more clear to me that at least in the U.S., we are woefully lacking in understanding about what this means.  i see it in my own family – my Mom* and i are the only two who have some appreciation that T is not “doing it on purpose just to be mean”. 

At the gym last Monday, i was stuck on an elliptical machine with a broken television – couldn’t change the channel from Fox News**, some mid-day talking heads program.  Closed captioned for the hearing impaired and gym-bound.

The topic:  Mental Illness.  They discussed the seeming constant stream of celebrities encountering melt-downs.  Stating “Six percent of the population is afflicted with some form of mental illness…”, one of the cutesy blondes went on to say “So why does it seem that Hollywood has more than it’s fair share of the mentally ill?” as she laughed…

The segment went on to cover the pressures on celebrities that might cause more breakdowns – the stress of fame, perils of having a lot of money.  Blah, fucking blah, blah, blah.  At no point did these idiots mention that perhaps it seems that way because boneheaded media wonks are always watching and ‘reporting’ on celebrity meltdowns? 

It wasn’t until i was tossing and turning in bed, and happened to catch late night talk show host Craig Ferguson’s opening monologue the same night, that i was able to get my head around it. 

Laughing at the mentally ill.  Watching their antics as a form of entertainment.  You’d think we’ve come a bit further than in the past couple of hundred years.  Apparently not. 

i’m just a bit thankful that we’ve been able to process my sister’s condition in relative obscurity.

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* Mom was a psych nurse for about 16 years.  She always said she felt at home on the Psych Ward.  i’m pretty sure she wasn’t kidding….

** Regarding this topic?  Fox News is no worse than any of the others…