There are few sites and sounds as beautiful to my mind as the ones found inside a baseball stadium. My dad, who we’ve discussed here before, did me the life service of teaching me everything there is to know about baseball during my 19 years before I left home. I am glad that he did. Many people will talk about baseball as a past-it’s-prime game, or a sport moving into decline, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
Baseball is a great game with many applications for, and lessons that can be learned and applied to life. That’s part of what makes it great.
Today, and with the visual aid of one of the most beautiful park in America, let’s apply baseball to my bipolar life.
Everyone of the bases has a purpose and a reason, and is part of the story.
Home plate: this is where I spent the longest amount of time. My psychiatrist told me that bipolar is something that I was born with, and that from birth it was like a time bomb in my brain waiting to blow up. So for me, although I am sure I had manic episodes and depressive episodes growing up – a suicide attempt, a wonderful whirlwind courtship and proposal with my wife, and much more – I don’t think that I left home plate until January of this year after the suicide attempt and the come down from that. That launched me to first base, and to diagnosis and meds, with an aggressive path. Here we go.
First base: Diagnosis and it’s tailspin. How many of you feel or felt like diagnosis was a black hole opening up in your life? For me it was an absolute catastrophe, and one that nearly drove me to the brink of suicide again (a suicide attempt in January is what had taken me to seek psychiatric care in the first place). Why me? Why this? I was mad at God. I was mad for all those reasons that one would be – it was a life changer and one that I didn’t realize yet was not going to be a death sentence. I thought my life was over. It nearly was when the meds came and did their worst to me. For six weeks I tried to deal with the meds and their wonderful (read that highly in a highly sarcastic tone) side effects until I couldn’t anymore. I felt as close to ending my life as I was to feeling like the meds were helping me get my life back. That’s when I checked into a facility for the first (and hopefully only) time and moved on to second base.
Second base: Treatment. Being inside that facility for those five days in April was the starkest yet most helpful thing I’ve done in my entire life. I was alarmed and scared because I simply couldn’t believe where I was – it was a suicide watch lockdown unit. I literally couldn’t do anything without asking someone’s permission. Every door was locked in front of and behind me. Removing the dystopian aspect from it though – it was a clean safe sterile environment where I was able to struggle through the medicine regulating in my mind and body. It was a place where I could take the time to focus on me and getting my mind and and soul right again. Guess what – it worked. I’ve been out of the facility for nearly three months, and the coping tools and skills that I learned are what keep me afloat now. It’s a good thing to have them because I believe I would have continued to sink if I hadn’t gone into the treatment facility when and how I did. Coming out of the facility that day in April was wonderful though. It was like rounding second base and heading straight for …
Third base: continued recovery and relapse prevention. This 90 feet between these two bases, this short stop, this is where I’ll spend the most time because it’ll be the rest of my life. I’ve been told that there will be other episodes of severe degrees. I’ve been told that there will be times when the suicidal thoughts come back strong. That’s where they’ll be though, squarely between second and third. There will be times when I think I cant do it anymore, and the act of getting up and dusting off – that will be what keeps me going towards third base. The cooing skills from treatment, the sticking to my meds, and the continued engagement from my support team – that’s what will be utilized here like no other. I am confident that I’ve got the tools ready to fight any battle though.
Back to home: and this is the final stop. Once I cross home plate and get back to where I started – in that moment is when I’ve reached Heavenly glory and am in Gods presence. In that moment is when my mind will finally be let free of this affliction, and I’ll be able to thank Him for the trial and the extra depth and field of vision that it gave to my life.
I’m happy when I think about that day. I know I’m not there yet because I can’t see myself thanking anyone let alone God, for all of this. But there’s the end game. It’s all about progress. Baseball games are won and lost on the base paths and so too, I will win with my bipolar one section at a time.