August 3, 2010 at 8:32 pm (Mental Health, Relationship)
Tags: bi-polar, coping with mental illness, inspiration, manic-depression, mental illness
My sister, Angela, would have turned 49 this past weekend.
I want to write something to honor her (like this post I wrote last year), but it gets all mixed up inside, tangled up with the memories of her mental illness.
I want to talk about what a wonderful sister she was and how much I loved her. But I never got to make that connection.
I want to tell you how we talked for hours about her struggles and I was able to ease her emotional pain. But we didn’t … and I didn’t.
I simply didn’t know how to reach beyond my fear of her illness to find a person there.
In fairness to me, I was just a kid. I was only in 7th grade that night I watched her break. A 7th grader sitting still-stunned the next day in Mr. McAllister’s science class. A 7th grader who still got a 100% on that quiz because I didn’t know what else to do.
But I’m not a kid anymore. And I now I know what I’d do. I would talk. I would talk to my family. I would talk to my friends. I would talk to my teachers. I would talk to my journal.
But mostly I would talk with Angela.
I would ask her how it felt to be a genius in an average world.
I would ask her if she got any joy from learning new languages as though they were always part of her.
I would ask her if she felt the music when she brilliantly but mechanically played the piano.
I would ask her how I could help, how I could understand.
And I would listen. Listen through the fear. Listen through the discomfort. Listen as long as I needed to in order to hear my sister instead of her illness.
Mental illness is unfair. It’s also unpredictable, often indescribable, and at times even unbearable.
So let’s fight back! Let’s talk. Let’s listen. Let’s Love.
July 31, 2009 at 2:20 pm (Mental Health, Uncategorized)
Tags: bi-polar, in memory of, inspiration, manic-depression, mental illness, rumi, writing
This blog post is in memory of my sister Angela Joy King, who died at age 39 after years of living voraciously with bipolar disorder/ manic-depression (and I think some schizophrenia mixed in there?). She would have been 48 years old today — her birthday.
How fitting that just now even though half the sky is still light, the wind just started howling and we’re getting the first real rain storm in over a month — huge downpour. Hi Angela! In fact, the sky just got brighter…and the rain harder…
When I wrote this poem several years ago, it was more about fear than about inspiration. For years I had watched Angela step in and out of her mind and it terrified me. But it also awed me with how courageously she lived, daily on the brink of (in)sanity:
speaks my soul I just know it
though understanding is a stretch
It’s more a sense a knowing
the intensity of intermingled passions
tumbling fumbling over each other
sometimes beautiful other times bordering on
too intense for sane but
I don’t care how it sounds or reads
just how it feels
The rare gift curse of unfiltered emotion
sometimes too bright too muddy
but to whom
to humans maybe but not Godde
this is the me I want to share but fear
me in my tracks whispering Angela
how close am I to that so far but
really how do I know
Always afraid the underside of intense is
on the bridge between silence and words tumbling
I falter and decide to just
Today, however, I gratefully realize that I no longer “just…wait” — somehow this year it’s more about the inspiration than the fear. More about the need to talk openly about the REAL topics, the ones we tend to whisper about in small groups in the dark.
Like what it means to be gay. Or marginalized in any of a variety of ways.
Or what it means to be spiritual but not religious.
Or today, for Angela, what it means to be depressed, or manic-depressive or any form of mentally ill.
And for the families and friends who try to figure out how to handle that part of their loved one amidst their own sometimes paralyzing fears.
Angela had no choice but to live to the highest highs and the lowest lows, and that she survived those those whiplash extremes as long as she did still baffles me.
So today, Angela, I thank you and love you for everything you were and are. And I celebrate you! A whole huge family size bag of Hershey’s kisses for you… but don’t eat them all at once, remember???!??
(and the rain just stopped and the sun is shining. I kid you not!)
*poem originally published in DreamSeeker Magazine, Winter 2005 issue