This I Believe

Neil R. - Ocean City, New Jersey
Entered on December 13, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: illness

Ah!., An essay about my personal beliefs. As a confirmed non-conformist, I truly believe in the ability to change my life from within as well as from without which has been done by any number of messed up circumstances. In August of 2003, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was givena 5% chance of living 2 years, and a much better chance (15% chance) ov living 1 year. As hope would have it, I am now on my 3rd year of survival. The problem with this is that after 2 1/2 years, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Compared with what I had been through, (a lifetime dose of radiation, massive doses of chemo, 3 major surgeries) I might say that cancer was a walk in the proverbial park compared with losing your mind. As a victim of bipolar disorder, I lost my business, my home, my life’s savings, my health insurance and my family which I have since regained, thankfully. Mental Illness is a disaster, which strikes without warning much like cancer. At least cancer is definitive, you either respond to treatment or you don’t depending on your reaction to the meds and mental challenges involved. I did, then, bipolar set in. It is a much more involved disease. It knows no limits and the treatment (s) are unknown. It knows no acceptance in the medical world although inroads are being made daily. I have been through a year and a half of absolute hell. The up and down merry-go-round of medications, do they work or not, can you function on them or not, are what you are feeling real or just an imagined group of thought processes based on an unknown group of circumstances. I find that I, as an owner of my own business for the past 20 years, as a vital and involved person of my community, as a contributor to many charities, I now find myself unable to support my family, let alone all the people and support charities I have in the past. I see the rambling on of this essay, I no longer have the ability to focus on one subject, I can’t help my children with their homework, I can’t hold down a job after running a very successful business for many years. It appears, that bipolar disorder outweighs cancer by light years and I would gladly trade one for the another at a moments notice.

Thank you for offering me the space to share my feelings.