I remember it all so clearly. It was September 2019 and I was laying there curled up in a ball on the couch near the entranceway to my parent’s house. I did not want to move as I felt defeated. I did not know how much more I could take as I just returned from the psych ward and I was moved back home without knowing if I would go back to Columbus. The future was so uncertain and everything was so dark. I was depressed to say the least. I was feeling like a burden to my mom as she was doing all the heavy lifting. Then there was a knock on the door.
It was Emily, and she could see the glazed over look in my eyes as I was so lethargic from all the medications and my injection. A little smile came to my face as she brightened up the room. She brought with her a gift, which I was excited to open. It was a book or a journal that guided you down a path of self reflection. This random act of kindness went a long way as all the sudden I felt like I had a friend close by that I could confide in rather than just talking to my parents. She was showing that she wanted me to help me find myself. She knew I was in there.
Emily became more and more a part of my life as she started to help my mom with the routine and took the burden off of her. She became my guiding light to help me get through those dark days. She looked past the mania and saw only the good in me. She knew I was still inside there and she took it upon herself to bring out the best in me. Emily saved me during my darkest hour as I remember being so down all the time and feeling worthy of nothing. I did not feel worthy of a relationship as I would prove that every day with my mom showing just how much work I was. My mom never wanted to make me feel like a burden, but I hated seeing her work so hard during her retirement. My mom has done so much for me out of love for her child. I never thought I would find someone that would love me for who I am and take on the duties of taking care of me from where my mom left off.
When I was first diagnosed bipolar, I was ashamed. I hid the diagnosis from others as I felt people would treat me differently. Even though I have talked openly about my diagnosis, I used to be so ashamed of it and felt that nobody would except me for who I am. I mean that in saying I would never find true love. This was because I thought I would scare women away from me if I had any instabilities. I did not think this diagnosis was attractive and there was still too much stigma behind it. That is why, after the accident, I set out to break down that stigma and tried to accomplish so much. It was as if I could never do enough to end the stigma. No matter how many awards I got or how many media appearances I had it still felt like a label that I would live to break free from. I just wanted to be seen as normal.
Coupling that with paralysis was even harder. There is so much that goes into taking care of me. You have to get me dressed every morning and help me get ready for bed at night. There is showering and sometimes some nurse duties that have to be taken care of that only the right person can take. It takes a very special person to want to take this on. Add in that you are limited in the amount of places you can go to by barriers like steps and all that you need to travel and vacation, and it is tough to find someone that wants to sacrifice out of the love for you.
But regardless of all that, Emily choose me and I chose Emily for all the right reasons. As she is selfless, kind, funny, tough, loving, and generous. She goes out of her way to make everyone feel welcome. She can feel your energy and pick up when you really need her. Sometimes I swear she is a mind reader as she is always right there when you need her. She is easy-going, easy to please, easy to love, has a great sense of humor, and an infectious laugh and smile. She has done so much for me and she proved that early on when I was in those darkest days. As she put in the effort to take care of me and show that I was not a burden both physically and mentally, I felt love for the first time in my life. Emily chose me, but sometimes I do not understand how I got so lucky. It was a lot to take on and I try my best to take care of her where every day is a learning experience of how I can support her more.
It feels like a lopsided relationship when you are paralyzed. It is a tough mental situation to be in when you are the man and you cannot do all of the physical things that most men can do. But Emily make sacrifices, is tough, and she steps up to fill in the gaps. We are continuously working it out in this relationship, and even though sometimes it feels lopsided, we always communicate and figure out where we can do better.
I do not know where I would be without Emily. Would I still be manic? Would I still be stuck in a dark place? It is hard to think of all the sacrifices that Emily has made out of her love for me. I am bipolar and I am no longer at all ashamed of it because I found somebody so special that accepts me just the way I am. Emily is selfless and was willing to take on all of the tasks to take care of me for the rest of my life. I used to think long and hard about a special woman like this that would make these sacrifices and I did not think that women existed. Emily is truly special and with this love by my side I feel supported and truly loved. All I can do is keep loving her and supporting her.
No longer do I feel like a burden. No longer do I set out to break free from the label of bipolar. Although some days you wish that you could walk simply because you want to help out more, I fully embrace my paralysis. Life is beautiful as I know it, but nothing I have ever personally witnessed will be as beautiful as how Emily has saved my life and changed it is for the better. Love is special for all of us, but when you are trying to break free from mental illness and physical disability it is even tougher to find. There is no escaping it, so you must embrace it. The challenging part is finding someone that is going to love you just the way you are.
Emily chose me for me. I will forever love her for saving me and continuing to save me. Her love and sacrifice is beautiful and to me she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Thank you, Emily for saving me and continuing to save me each and every day. I hope to be your light at the end of the tunnel.