Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

On bravery

A topic quite frequently on here has been my very gradually learning to see myself as brave and acknowledging I've been strong through a lot.  It took 4 years of trying before Dr. Mind succeeded in this, and it was the hospital that finally made me say so softly he could hardly hear that yes, I had been brave and it had taken tremendous courage to go off my familiar antidepressant knowing how sick I'd get, then to react to my suicidal thoughts by making myself safe by dumping hundreds of pills out and then admitting myself to the place I feared the most.  When all that was over and started to recover I knew that this had taken humongous amounts of courage, especially because I made the decision myself and matter-of-factly did what had to be done.

I don't know if I mentioned this here but about 2 months ago Dr. Mind kind of took over the start of my session.  He told me that something we'd been discussing had made him think of someone he knew who grew up with a serious illness that killed them at an early age and how he had always been so impressed by how brave this person was and how she kept on living no matter what.  He said I'm like that.  It was kind of mind-blowing, because that's a huge compliment and I didn't know how to answer.  I still don't, to tell the truth.  You also have to understand that Dr. Mind has in the last year really brought down a lot of the dr/pt. wall he has held firmer than pretty much anyone else who has successfully treated me.  (I think I needed that with him at first, but he's pretty careful about such things by nature).  For him to go that far is HUGE.  But it still felt strange to be compared to someone with a life-threatening illness.  Except later I realized that bipolar is a life-threatening illness.  15-25% of us succeed in killing ourselves, and my risk was (I suppose is since this a statistic for over the course of having it, not just for when sickest as sometimes it's when well people kill themselves) probably higher than that.  I also say (truthfully) that I was lucky to have my risk become negligible because of 2 things.  One is that I one time in college felt so desperate I thought I wanted to die.  But I didn't have any way except my biology scalpel.  I put in a fresh blade and fiddled with it.  In the course of thinking while holding a very sharp blade I cut myself.  It wasn't really intentional, it was kind of touching myself with the blade and my hand slipped.  It was enough to draw some minor blood and I then crawled into the middle of the floor, curled up in a ball and cried until a roommate came home and was able to help me feel safe again.  I learned though that day that I can't hurt myself that way.  I then always thought if I was going to it would be a med overdose, especially once they started handing out lethal doses of meds to me.  But severe lithium toxicity taught me far too much about how horribly sick med overdoses can make you, and since lithium is the most lethal drug I have and I'm not about to OD on it that's pretty safe (as is working out for Dr. Mind to hold pills for me if needed and some other things).  So I guess my point is that it seems like it takes courage for me to be alive and to do what I do, but frankly it is easier to handle this than it is to handle an actual suicide attempt, esp. with Dr. Mind about to do random brain scans and know when I'm at risk.

I was thinking on the way home about firefighters.  That is courage and bravery.  That is intentionally going into a dangerous situation, repeatedly.  I have no intention.  I am not saying that I don't have strength and that I use it pretty well, but I think that this is what has always bothered my about courage  .I've been courageous at times, but I don't think it's one of the greatest traits I possess because my courage has been selfish:  please save my life...
I just don't know what the word is for what is meant here.


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

I knew prisoners of war from WWII who managed to survive unmentionable circumstances and had a neighbor once who survived Auschwitz. You survived similar horrendous circumstances and YES it is brave, and it shows strength that only comes from within. Not everyone has this so please cherish this about yourself!!

Michal Ann said...

Hey courageous woman, I checked the definition of courage. You are brave. The only thing that I don't agree with is the idea that one would act without fear. You do the right thing IN SPITE of fear...and that's really BRAVE not to mention wise.

cour·age   /ˈkɜrɪdʒ, ˈkʌr-/ Show Spelled
[kur-ij, kuhr-] Show IPA

1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
2. Obsolete . the heart as the source of emotion.
3. have the courage of one's convictions, to act in accordance with one's beliefs, esp. in spite of criticism.

1. fearlessness, dauntlessness, intrepidity, pluck, spirit. Courage, bravery, valor, bravado refer to qualities of spirit and conduct. Courage permits one to face extreme dangers and difficulties without fear: to take (or lose ) courage. Bravery implies true courage with daring and an intrepid boldness: bravery in a battle. Valor implies heroic courage: valor in fighting for the right. Bravado is now usually a boastful and ostentatious pretense of courage or bravery: empty bravado.

learp17 said...

I've always told my girls that bravery is not the absence of fear; rather it is the act of doing something in spite of one's fear. So all the kinds of bravery you talked about in your post are valid. Bravery is facing one's fear and pushing through it. And for sure that is what you do each day!