I remember as a child going to the ocean. Packing the car, so snug we could barely move, everything we needed, and only what we needed, for a week’s vacation, in a small compact sedan for a family of five to make a 3-hour drive to the coast. I personally dreaded the drive, squeezed in the back with my brothers, getting car sick, my short attention span, and the big giant bridge that we had to cross that always scared me.
But my parents always had us leave very early in the morning, so we could sleep through most of the trip, so it would be more comfortable for us, a sacrifice for them, but a comfort and a gift to us. Before we knew it, we were at the beach.
We unloaded the car like that of a clown car, and with grand anticipation, we headed to the beach. Of course, we had to be lathered in sunscreen first. Being of Polish and mainly Irish heritage, and speckled in freckles, this girl does not tan, but burns, so the more suntan lotion the better. Our then short legs would carry us through the hot sand, while we assisted in lugging our beach gear down to what would be our spot for that day. Once the spot was set up, umbrella was in position, blanket was all arranged, and we knew where our headquarters was located, we were allowed to go play, as long as we stayed together. Which was never a problem. While on vacation, especially at the beach, having siblings was the best thing, you had built in buddies.
When playing in the water got to be a bore, we turned to the sand. We ran to our headquarters and pulled out all of our sand toys and shovels and started to construct what would be the most amazing castle ever. Placement was key, please note. We needed to be close to the water, but not too close, but not too far away because we needed to have water to for the mote. Once the location was found, the digging started and then time just passed us by.
An elaborate castle was created. With turrets and bridges and thus was created a massive masterpiece. You know other kids were walking by and they were looking and their jaws were dropping and you can just tell that they were jealous, and we were all like, “yeah that’s our castle, we made that, and we are proud!”
The day is coming to an end, and tides are coming in, waves are starting to wash in farther and farther. We are seeing the warning signs and we are starting to get scared. So we start to build higher walls, at first, it is working, and we are able to fight off the incoming water. But the intensity of the waves is getting stronger and after a long day at the beach we just don’t have the strength that is required to build as needed. The waves are starting to overpower us and one large wave rolls through and washes our fair city out leaving little resemblance of what used to be a magnificent castle mere ruins left behind. All our work, all the hours, all the time, and one huge wave, knocked it out.
I have been struggling for over a month. The first month was in silence and denial. Blaming a change in hormones to be the cause of moodiness and a raging temper, totally missing the signs of a mixed episode. A full month into a mixed episode I was feeling like I was losing my mind with extreme mania. I feel like I am that sandcastle. That I spent months building that sandcastle, spending so much time working on it diligently, spending time, effort, sweat and tears, and then BAM!!! A big wave came through in the form of a simple med change and forked me up like something serious and landed me on my applejacks, a hit so hard I have not been in this place since my initial breakdown in 2016.
But, yes, my friends, there is always a but. There’s always a second day at the beach. There’s always another chance to build another sandcastle. There’s always a way to learn from what we did and did not do the previous time and things that we can do better moving forward.
I am not letting one destroyed sandcastle ruin me. I am going to take my sand filled wedgie out of my bum and try again. I am going to take my sand toys and I am NOT going to retreat. I am going to lather myself up in suntan lotion and I am going back down to the beach and I am going to build another sandcastle and gosh darn it I am going to have a golly gee hell of a good time, and probably a juice box and a sandy peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Don’t lose hope my friends.