Anniversary of the Worst Time of my Life

Ten years ago this season

I read a Facebook Time Hop today in which, ten years ago, I wrote about the last Family and Consumer Sciences banquet at Northwest Missouri State University. It was the last banquet because my department got axed that spring for reasons that never quite made sense. Our enrollment was healthy; what was not healthy was the scorn society heaped on our existence. For we were the very unsexy formerly known as home economics. That, I think, was enough to cause our demise.

It’s also ten years since the most horrible semester I’ve had here at Northwest, because as my department’s demise brought a very clear fear of being left in the unemployment line, I also had my definitely hypomanic moment. I was hardly sleeping, putting large amounts of work into a project that wasn’t supported by the leader. My gradebook was a mess. I was going fishing at 2 in the morning by myself. I was angry — at the university, at my coworkers, at Richard. This led to a Bipolar II diagnosis and a few days in inpatient care to level out my meds. My semester ended early, but I had become passive, inert from a medication that didn’t work for me, and which incapacitated me all summer before my new psychiatrist and I realized that the tiniest dose made me into a zombie. My husband and I bought a house somewhere between the end of the semester and the internships I would not be allowed to supervise; I was one thing we moved into the house.

I’m superstitious

Photo by Jan Koetsier on

I have been pretty stable with the meds for the past ten years, if “stable” means having periods of moderate depression (but no suicidality) or months of hopeless crushes (but no stupid midnight dates with catfish — real catfish — at Mozingo Lake). Sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don’t, but I’m pretty stable. The gradebook is always neat in case I become unstable again.

But I’m superstitious. I have been stable for ten years, but this year’s an Anniversary. When I see the light through the curtains, I worry about my job falling apart. I smell Spring and remember growling at Richard until he let me go fishing before the sun came up. Beauty is suspect, because the greens of mania scintillate with colors brighter than life.

It’s been 10 years, and I still feel like that Spring long ago broke me. Who I am now seems diminished, and my writing was a way to transcend the mousy older woman I’d become. It hasn’t worked.

It seems like I’d have gotten used to the “New Normal” by now, but having spent 48 years in at least cyclothymic and bipolar 2 state, those highs and lows were my personality. Now I need to find the personality that remains when the highs and lows are taken away.

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