The worst day of my life ransacked me on a drizzling winter’s evening in 1986. My lovely bride Kim lay crushed by depression and intractable parenting litigation. She fled our home, bent on suicide. Just before dawn, I stopped searching. I sobbed and waited for the inevitable phone call. It came from Idaho. “Kim survived,” said a stranger. In relief, I sobbed again.
Thus, our saga of return began. Ralph Waldo Emerson (American, 19th century A.D.) said, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind” (Self-Reliance). Kim was shattered. Psychiatrists, tests, drugs, side-effects, counseling ensued. For years, we catalogued her demons (and mine). The first decade was hardest. Kim feared she might relapse, that I might leave. Truthfully, I was uncertain I could persevere. But slowly prayers for cure became determination to cope. Seneca (Roman, 1st century A.D.) said that with, “diseases of the soul, the worse one is, the less one perceives it” (Epistle LIII). Kim’s path required painful admissions and self-encounter. In the end, Kim stabilized.
Jesus (Roman, Province of Judea, 1st century A.D.) cast demons from a mentally ill man into swine (Mark 5:11). Kim exorcised her torment into rags and Windex. Our world sparkled. Fastidious compulsion, however, proved insufficient. Kim sought wider outlets. She listens to and stands beside the bipolar afflicted who cross our path. She devotes herself to empathic conversation. Frequently, some player in our legal cases is psychologically unwell. Kim understands, and helps. She counsels. She cares.
Kim endures the cultural stigma of being nuts. She hides nothing. Her frankness shames those moral Munchkins who castigate people for the diseases they suffer. Kim takes each day as it comes. She must. Her brain changes frequently. Kim focuses on now, striving for equanimity. “There are more things likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality” (Seneca, Epistle XIII). Unlike most wars, Kim’s has no end. She does not contemplate a day when her battle ceases. She faces that interminable challenge with quiet courage.
If you sense admiration in my words, you got that right.