So today I have my first published answer up on Ask a Bipolar and I couldn't be more tickled. Please check it out and let me know what you think. I had to do it twice, because the first time I was too medical and stuff. Turns out MB wants it from a more personal point of view. I had forgotten I wasn't writing a college term paper and could talk about me! Yay! Go me!
On a more personal note here, the first thought I had when the post hit was, "I wonder if Mom and Dad will read it." Wow. I'm a 47 year old woman and I still want approval from my mommy and daddy. What is wrong with me???
I've never outgrown that need to have my parents both like me and be proud of me. For a lot of years, I did a lot of things that I wasn't proud of. I certainly did not expect them to be proud of me when I was out doing things I was ashamed of. But now I have been in treatment for a long time, I'm compliant with my medications, I'm trying to control my runaway mouth and stop interrupting people, and I am producing work that I am really, really happy with. And what I want, more than anything in the world, is to know that (a) my parents are reading what I write and (b) that they are proud of it.
The really sad thing is that in some ways I am still competing with my younger brother for my parents' attention. He was a booger growing up and drove them crazy with his acting out. Now he is very successful in his field and, okay, very well known. Yeah, that grates on me a little bit. I was the good girl who never got into trouble growing up and he was the one that would come home with a police escort. But then my mind broke and I had to glue it back together while he was getting over being a booger and made something of himself. So yeah, a little sibling rivalry still exists in my head and I still get a little pang when I feel that my parents might be more proud of him than they are of me. Again, what is wrong with me? I'm too old to be worrying about whether my brother is a better adjusted, more gainfully employed, more successful person than I am. Why do I have to compare myself with him and worry about how I measure up at this point in my life?
I know that sometimes I share much more than Mom and Dad are comfortable with. I know that. But I still keep wanting to say, "Look at me, look at me, look at me! Validate what I'm doing! Tell me I'm a great writer and that I'm going to sell a book!" I keep having to remind myself that it's okay if they aren't really sure what it is that I'm doing or that it might make them uncomfortable that I am talking about being bipolar in such an open way. I know their generation didn't talk about mental illness. I know that. When someone started showing signs of freaking out when my parents were growing up, they got stuck in mental institutions and left there and nobody talked about them. People went away for a "rest." They had "exhaustion." Now they go into rehab and tell people they are bipolar because it's the "in" diagnosis. But for me, it hasn't been "in" and it's not something I wear like a new pair of shoes that I can take off and throw in my closet when I get tired of it. Bipolar disorder never goes away. You just hope that with medication and therapy, you can learn to turn it off enough so that people can stand to be around you.
I will never, ever get over hoping that my parents are proud of me. And I still ask myself before doing most things whether my mom would approve of it. But I am trying to be okay with everything that I do whether my parents are reading every single thing I've written or not. Because, as I said in a previous post, it's so much better when you can find validation within yourself than to find it externally. External validation is not always forthcoming. Validation from within can be there anytime you want it. Isn't it great that we can be so nice to ourselves and let ourselves know that what we are doing is really fantastic? I know I'm doing a good job because I tell myself every day.
Of course, it's still nice to hear it. As Taylor Swift sings, "Wish I never grew up..."