I am not old , I feel very old, I sometimes wear stirrups . I am in the midst of a midlife crisis. All I can seem to do these days is think, think about about regrets . My choices, my very bad choices. Where did it all go wrong?
From my point of view it was always wrong. I grew up with a very real sense of not belonging . For the longest time I thought that I was adopted or my parents had taken me from “my real family”. All I had to do was look in the mirror and it was clear that I did not belong . In my family I was the only light skinned ,green eyed little girl who had “the good hair”. That is what they said in those days. I was born in Amsterdam, Holland The year 1964, the same year that thousand of teengaers crowded the canals to get a glimpse of the Beatles, my mother included. My mother is dutch and my father is an afro American. He was a soldier in Amsterdam when he met my mother who was only 18 yrs old. I did not know this for a long time but she was already pregnant when my dad married her and the child was not his. Still love won over and despite my grandmothers protest the young couple married. After trying to put together the story of my parents . I have come up with they jumped into this marriage never the less the beginning was a mess and stayed that way for many years. My father tour of duty was over and it was time for him to head home to Oakland, California. This is where I call home, it was a time of the 60’s movement. Flower power, everyone was looking for a place to belong . I was two years old when I left Holland , little did I know I would be back and for good. Today I live in Amsterdam , this is not by my choice , it is by the choices that I made that led me to be deported back to Holland after living 35 years in America. I am skipping forward a bit. Back to my childhood. When I decided to try and write this I knew that discussing my childhood would be the hardest part. Some things are not clear as I have blocked them out. My early years I cannot remember very well. I no memory of arriving in America. I am told that I came before my mother. Me and my dad arrived together . Oakland, California is where my father is from and this is where I grew up. Upon entering the country my dad and I went directly to my grandparents. I still remember the address even though the last time that I saw my grandparents I was 15 yrs old. At a young age I could see that my mother was having problems. Now I can see that it would be normal, she had never left Amsterdam before and here she was living in my grandparents home with me and my dad. From what I could tell she got along well with my grandparents. My mom was a young and trying to please her new family. My grandparents were older and I think that they welcomed the change. I myself have good memories of my grandparents. Early on I was exposed to domestic abuse. My father was loving and caring towards me , my mother was not always so lucky. I am ashamed to say many times I blamed her for the outburst . If only she didn’t make my dad upset then he would not hit her . I would then not have to hide in my room and block out the fighting which always left my mom scared in someway. My father had a few different jobs and we moved a few times into our own apartment. Often times we moved back to 66th ave, my grandparents house .I was happy each time we moved back and my grandparents would greet us with open arms. They were humble people , my grandmother went to church every Sunday , while my granddad used Sunday as his rest day. I can still smell his cigars today . My father had three brothers whom I got along with very well. Times back then were all about family. You knew that Sunday evening was family dinner night served with my grandmothers country fried chicken and gravy. I would help set the dinner table in the big dining room. We only ate here for Sunday dinner and special occasions.
I must have been between the ages of 5 and 7 but I recall that this house brought peace to me. Still it was clear to me even at this young age that I was different. This back in the early 70’s , not like today where having a mixed child is out of the everyday norm. My green eyes and semi golden curly locks brought attention to me. To be honest I think we all enjoyed it. I felt special back then . I was young and the bullying had not occurred yet . It seemed that I was spending a lot of time with other people as we were always moving between LA and Oakland. My relationship with my father was special in my eyes. When I was younger I thought that this was because we were both scorpios. In my eyes he could do no wrong, this became a factor between my mother and me. When I was three years old I had a brother. I was not at all happy about it. I am sure that I was just jealous and didn’t want to share the spotlight . As of this writing it has been 15 years since I have seen my brother. A few years later another brother was added to our family. During this time we moved around alot. It seem to me that my dad was just looking for a better way to raise his family, it was also during this time that I first encountered mental illness within my own family. It took many years for me to understand that my father was suffering from some kind of mental illness. I had no idea what mental illness was back. To me it meant off to the funny farm. In my family we called it a place where my dad could get some rest. One time stands out , I must have been around seven or eight years old. We were living in Los Angeles at the time. After walking home from school , I saw many people in the front yard. You could tell that something wasn’t right , as I walked up pigtails and all, people were looking at me and suddenly I saw on the front lawn my poor dad in a confused state. The men in white were there trying to grab ahold of my dad. I was directly moved into the house as a small girl should not be seeing this. From my point , I wanted to know what was going on with my dad. Why was he naked. Were there trying to give him back his clothes. This was to be my first encounter with mental illness. Since I was just a kid , I was not told that my dad was suffering from mental illness and it would be years before I knew that it was bipolar and Schizophrenia. there were times that he would be gone for a month or so and come back home feeling fragile . For me it didn’t matter one bit , my dad was my hero and my biggest admire. I was also exposed to drugs very early , my dad smoked pot and I knew he had dabbled in other things but this was the 70’s and we were in california where everyone was looking for some kind of meaning . My family included, we hooked up with the baptist church , the jehovah witness, we chatted with incense,it was a wonderful and innocent time . Later I would ask myself if I was destined to be a drug addict because of this carefree attitude. Not everyone had this outlook, for my mothers part she was european . She overlooked what she could and her objections brought on many fights that would turn physical. For me knowing that my dad could be so violent with my mother was something I choose to tune out. Was this the beginning of the choices of mates I would later choose for myself.
Looking back I think that I was screwed from an early age. I was spoiled and because I looked different I must have thought that I was different. I had no idea that life would put the drop on me . That I would myself suffer with so much emotional pain, which would later be called bipolar ,and addiction . Bipolar was not a term that I knew well. I knew it was mental illness but honestly I had thought it was just a name for people with off centered behavior. Addiction is another story , I have always been addicted. In some way or another I thrilled off the addiction, it made me whole. It made me normal. I didn’t have the emotional pain to carry. Numbing the pain that I have been in one way or another the center of my life. During the summer of 2008 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had been in a relationship that was emotionally killing my self esteem . While most women would walk away I could not let go. It consumed me in every way , at a certain point I could not work, I had my first glimpse at the dark side. I was there. Sitting huddle up in my small studio apartment I could not see beyond the darkness of my mind. This isn’t the first time that I felt hopeless in life, there have been many bad relationships, addiction, abandoned children, and back to the beginning trying my best to numb the pain within. During these times I had hope. I would find one way or another to fight . I was not beaten during these times.
In the summer of 2008, I found my mind twisted in ways that even my smooth skills could not figure out. I was stuck. I was alone, the darkest time of my life . A doctor that I had been seeing in order to get papers for work had suggested that I see a psychologist . In my mind I went to the appointments in order to save my job. I was working for a leading university at the time . In Holland I would be able to take a few months off work, paid. It was was a burnout. This doctor was sure that I was having no burnout, I was diagnosed with bipolar and sent to a special center that deals with bipolar. Again I will mention that I live here in Amsterdam alone. Support was really nowhere in sight, yes I had support from the doctors but that isn’t the same is it. The people who I thought would be there to support me all but walked away. I was shattered and in disbelief . This was to become my first bout of serious depression. I have been depressed before but this mental hangman over my head had different plans for me. It was a dark time that haunts me today . Of course first thing I was given medication which in honesty I just refused to take. I have had medication for depression before and I gained a lot of weight . I am not skinny and could lose 20 pounds easy. With me in this midlife insanity , there was no way that I would take anything if I was going to gain even more weight . At this point it had not crossed my mind that drinking a half bottle of vodka mixed with a beer or two might be the cause for the weight gain. So the battle of medication began.
Seroquel , Abilify, Tegretol and Lithium are some of the medications that I was given and refused to take. That all went out the window when I admitted to my stay at mental hospital . This came about about seeing the pillows try to shoot me. I therefore took out a small gun and shot the pillows. When asked why, I looked up and simply said because it was either them or me.
I still battle bipolar medication. I have always been a drinker, but I wasn’t an alcoholic , yet. With all the emotions coming at me like I was on a rollercoaster on crack, I began to self medicate with vodka. From the beginning I knew I had found the stillness in my head that I was looking for. We became fast friends . The loneliness was so lonely, until it was . That is thing with alcohol and drugs , it can turn on you leaving you feeling rejected once again.
At some point I had a serious conversation with my mother concerning the bipolar, she can not wrap her head around the thought that I have bipolar. After some time she began to see that I was suffering mentally and I had no control over my sometimes maddening up days, and the dreaded down days where I came close to ending my life .Am I mentally ill, yes. Am I an addict, yes. Is this by choice , who knows. I have made the choice to write my story . I may skip subjects, I may forget some facts along the way. I am not a doctor by any means. I am a middle age nutcase that wants to share my story with you .