I don’t wonder what it would be like to have millions of dollars or a Beverly Hills mansion. I wonder what it’s like to go through one day without having to avoid the thousands of mental bomb craters left by a prolonged war with bipolar disorder and PTSD.
When I’m speaking or listening to someone, especially while conducting an interview for a story, I must ignore the ceaseless siege on my mind. I may appear calm, but there is a torrent of activity I’ve had to contain with barriers in order to be productive.
Imagine the Indy 500 racetrack circling a war zone. Ideas race around the track almost at the speed of light, and their collisions with reality produce explosions that rock my core. Inside the track, every imaginable battle against sanity is raging, and the general in charge of fighting the war is a solitary soldier with limited resources because so many people don’t think the mental bloodshed is real.
But I’ve learned. I’ve learned through so many skirmishes and assaults how to defend myself. I’ve built a “green zone” around my mind, something similar to the reinforced and blast-proof concrete slabs that protected the government area of Baghdad during the war. I then surrounded that with checkpoints so that all thoughts and irrational ideas hurled from the enemy bipolar and PTSD camps will have to be scrutinized before they enter the green zone of my mind.
Sometimes, an insurgent idea makes it through and manages to release a mental bomb. I’m knocked down, but I’ve built too many defenses to be taken down. I’m up on my feet, lobbing grenades and fighting back. The enemy might sneak in, but it will never again stage an occupation.
During everything I do, I must do it with the distant rumble of mental war. It’s like the Middle East. There will never be peace. So I wonder what it would be like to be able to devote 100 percent of my energy to a project instead of just 60 percent or, worse, 30 percent because a new battle has erupted, and I have to spend energy to fight it. It can be exhausting because it’s a war that must often be fought alone because so few people understand or accept it.
I’m always suited up for war, lest I be taken off guard. But now the battle has turned, and I’ve taken the offensive. I’ve done it by being open and honest about the struggles and what is has done to my life. The setbacks, which is a nice word for prison sentences and suicide attempts, are taken out of the dark basement where no one could know of their existence. Let the light of truth burn them into ashes to be swept out into the yard. The truth does, indeed, set you free. Nothing to hide means there is nothing to fear.
Light and truth are the nuclear weapons in my arsenal. I’m winning this war.