Nebraska Here I Come
At 25 yrs old I decided I needed a change in my life. Because it was an easy transfer with my company, I chose to move to Nebraska from North Carolina. I made a bunch of changes without a plan for starting over. My life there was no better or worse…just meh. I played the victim. An opportunity missed for starting over.
The biggest, and most painful change in my life was to come out to my wife that I was gay. I did it with no plan. Not even thinking of divorce. I was not prepared for all the changes that were going to happen and the changes were big. After she and my daughter moved out, I began a lot of drinking and having unsafe anonymous sex. I also had my first gay relationship which I strived to save even though it wasn’t worth saving. I knew change would happen but made no plans. This should have been the time for starting over, but I allowed myself to be the victim.
Some Career Changes
A couple of years down the road, and life was going nowhere. I decided I needed change, again. This included a change of career. A company, in Los Angeles, reached out and recruited me to do the same damn job I did before and I took it. It was a beautiful opportunity to start over, but I blew it again. It should’ve been an adventure moving to the 2nd biggest city in the U.S. What happened? I had no plan again, I drank heavily, had lots of sex and became involved in another horrific relationship that I tried to save at any cost. Sound familiar?
A couple of years passed and major changes were thrust upon me again. I was part of a major layoff, my relationship ended and I wound up in a psych ward for over a week. Six months later I went to rehab. I was released to a life of no friends, no jobs, no home, living on the streets with a brain telling me that my life at that time was as good as it gets. I had no plan to improve. Instead of starting over I wallowed in my misery.
Getting Better – Then Bipolar
Eventually I started working again, I had a decent job, a place to live, had plenty of friends and had a wonderful relationship with Maurice, who’s now my husband. Life wasn’t great, but was okay. Okay as I it could be for someone whose bipolar symptoms became more regular and pronounced with each day. Depression, mania, and seizures became a regular part of life. I reached the point that I couldn’t leave the house. I couldn’t go to work and kept calling off until I was placed on disability.
It was a struggle to find a clinic that would take me. When I did I was quickly diagnosed with bipolar and my pdoc and I began the “Find Which Meds Work for me Game.” This is a difficult period where some meds make you worse rather than better. Everyone’s biology is different so there’s not one specific pill that works for everyone. It’s all a bit blurry now, but I think it was three years before we settled on the right mix. This was a long period of feeling sorry for myself.
Things were up and down for quite some time, but when I got stable I realized something. Something big – I realized I was starting over. My life ahead of me was a blank slate and I could chalk in whatever direction I wanted to go and plan on it. I decided I wanted to be a minister and set goals and made a plan. I went back to school to pursue that goal. This was a new concept for me. I wasn’t just making a change for the sake of change. I was starting over.
A minister! That’s what I decided I wanted to be. I felt it was a calling my entire life, but I ignored it all along. I set being a minister as my goal and I made a plan of action of how to get there. It was a conscious decision to take the necessary steps. To reach that goal, I went back to school with the full support of Maurice, my pdoc and my therapist, but things went wrong.
College wasn’t working. I kept dropping classes and was put on academic probation. I looked at my goals again and realized it was going to take many years and a lot of money to get my Masters In Divinity. I’d end up a minister in my late sixties with a mountain of debt. Both my pdoc and my therapist advised me to drop out of school. My plan to start over was crushed, but know what? I didn’t freak out, or wallow in self-pity. I calmly pushed that dream aside and looked for another option to get on with my life.
I had no idea what my next step was going to be, but I didn’t freak out. I was charting my own destiny and knew that I didn’t have to sit and wait for the changes in my life to bury me in chaos. I took a break for a bit and then, through the encouragement of my pdoc and my therapist, I started to pursue writing. So much freedom in making the choice. I felt liberated. I was starting over again.
It Ain’t Easy
Do I feel good about all the losses in my life? Of course not. Am I always happy to make the changes or accept the changes in my life? Of course not. I have bipolar after all. Until the miracle cure is found, that’s just the way it’s going to be. There will be times when I’m just going to be damned miserable. But that’s part of the beauty of it all – acceptance that this isn’t going to go away.
Is deciding to accept the changes in your life and choosing to start over easy to learn? Oh my God, no. If you think all the hurdles I listed above are rough, be glad I haven’t listed all the other opportunities I blew for starting over. It’s rather lengthy. I took a lot of hits before learning something new.
The trick is that starting over isn’t something that just happens. It requires conscious effort. Think of how lucky you are. Can you imagine your friends quitting their jobs, and making major changes in their lives? They can’t – or won’t. Most people don’t realize they are the ones who manage their own destiny. They just do the things they are taught they should do and become stuck.
Starting over rather than just changing and being a victim takes training. Don’t do it on your own like I did. Talk with your pdoc, or your therapist, or learn it all on your own. Trust me it is worth the work.
To get you on the path to starting over in a good way, here are a couple of sites that I found that seem helpful. If you’re starting a new journey, I suggest you check them out.
the doover guy
Have you had the opportunity starting over and making clear and conscious changes in your life? Or, has it been a difficult struggle? Either way, I’d love to hear your story.