The first time someone called me crazy, I was 12-years-old. I’m a classic overachiever who started young. I spent the early part of the 1980s as the smallest and youngest boy in my class. The only ways I knew to deal with bullying were a sharp wit and the occasional freak out. But as any comedian will tell you, the funny isn’t something that you can just pull out of your backpack between science and math class to fend off someone six inches taller who wants to take out their parents’ divorce on your scrawny butt.
When anxiety and depression make your ability to handle stress and confrontation really freaking hard, all you have left is a tantrum.
Four years later, at age 16, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was smart but my grades were suffering and I’d started drinking to keep whatever demons inside of me were strangling me on a daily basis. Being a teenager in suburban Atlanta in 1986 meant taking medications or seeing a shrink were what crazy people did. That stigma wasn’t something I was prepared for, then. So, I drank and did the best I could.
I spent the next twenty years not taking care of myself, mentally or physically. Friends came and went. I was good at getting them, bad at keeping them. Same thing with the ladies. I could get a girlfriend, but hanging onto one? No one likes crazy when a good time is be had in your twenties.
A marriage happened to someone with the same issues. The birth of my daughter was squeezed into it all. A divorce followed a couple of years after she was born. This was the lowest point of my life as close family members died while the war between my then two-year-old daughter’s mommy and daddy escalated and my mental state unraveled. One of the most profound moments of my life happened in early February, 2006. I was thirty-five year-old and I was in a therapist’s office for the first time.
Later on, my diagnosis was changed to type 1 bi-polar and the right medication followed. I had remarried in 2008 and gained two new daughters. But being the father to three girls and a husband to someone who actually loved me, no matter what, is a pressure cooker in and of itself. Every day is a struggle but instead of booze to get me through, I have their love.
Writing has meant as much to me as pills or a pro listening to my crap. The four women I live with have encouraged something I put aside to be a “grown-up”. It’s all allowed be to realize my dream of being a published writer.
Talking about my crazy has been an elixir, too. Being bi-polar is one thing, but being so and helping others remove the shame and stigma is something much better.
Lance Burson is a writer living outside Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and 3 daughters. He’s blogs at http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com co-runs the politics and pop culture website www.leftypop.com and is the published author of 2 books, The Ballad of Helene Troy and Soul To Body, fiction novellas found on amazon.com for kindle and lulu.com in paperback.