I will - I somewhat promise - try to be as brief as possible with this message (regular readers will know that brevity is not my strong suit).
Since relaunching Taming the Polar Bears in the summer of 2013, it has become my world. It has, for better or worse, become synonymous with my online identity (though not my real world identity).
Which probably means if you are reading this, you are my world.
Last summer I wrote a dedication to my daughter in which I stated she was the reason I go on, she was the reason I fight through the worst of my condition and so on to keep going with my life and the work I put into this blog. And while what I wrote and stated there is all true, of course, it's not the complete truth either.
In many ways it is my readers for whom I go on. We have built and have become a tangled web of mutual understanding and support. In many, many ways it is this that most keeps me going. In an odd sort of way, this is actually a stronger day to day connection to the world for me. Or not so odd. If you are reading here you are part of a sub-population of the world whom very, very few understand. Part of my goal and creation here is to provide an oasis of understanding for my followers, that someone gets what you suffer through.
And so it is for me as well. It is only through my followers that I feel in any way understood. No one in the real world can do that, not even my dear daughter or other family and friends. Some of the people I've met through Taming the Polar Bears have become some of the most important and special people in my life.
Also this year, a special fund and account has been set up in the Polar Bear's name. I know nothing about it other than it exists. Very, VERY kind volunteers do all that is required to keep it going. It is to help keep me in a home after having to spend last winter outdoors and to keep me going with my Taming the Polar Bears research, writing, and other projects.
In addition to that, very, very kind readers, followers and those who know of and understand my mission and work send me private donations through e-gift cards or in another case paying for an online course important to my neuroscience and mental health studies.
It's extremely humbling.
I am lost for words about all this. It not only makes an immeasurable difference to my life in helping keep me going in the practical day to day world (bills, rent, etc), it keeps me going spiritually as well, just knowing that there are kind and compassionate people contributing to my life in this way.
And for all of this support, all I can offer is a deep and sincere THANK YOU and acknowledgement of my gratitude. You truly, truly help keep me in this world and give me the inspiration to keep going with my efforts to provide the best insight into mental health disorders that I can along with the best and most hopeful support I can provide as well as to try every day to "pay it forward" as much as I can in my day to day interactions with the world.
You ARE my world as well, and in ways much deeper than the vast majority of people could comprehend and understand.
Thoughts on the holiday season and seasonal greetings
I grew up in a world of fabulous Christmases and, once I got old enough, as a provider of fabulous Christmases. Until that is, I started getting really sick five or six years ago. For a wide, wide variety of reasons, then, I went from Christmas being a great time of the year for me, one I very much looked forward to and could enjoy to the fullest, to the most difficult time of the year for me.
The very worst of the horrendous psychotic episodes I suffered for a thirty month span of time came during the holidays three years ago (the 28th of this month will mark three years episode free). Two years ago I had to be hospitalized at Christmas (for my fifth and final time <knock on wood>).
Last year I was homeless and alone for Christmas.
I do not consciously dread Christmas and I do all I can to enjoy it. I am blessed with wonderful family (though for some years, ironically this was part of the curse). Yet ...
So if you are deeply impacted by the holiday season in negative, depressive ways, I completely and utterly understand. You and I probably took very, very different paths to having what many people enjoy as the best part of the year to what can be the most difficult for many of us, but on some level I now do understand.
As you all know, I work hard at everything. I simply flat out refuse to let this son of a bitching illness get the better of me and run my life.
Yet I know ...
there must always be caution.
It is extremely hard for me to erase the memories of the psychotic episodes or the (famously dreadful and dangerous) bipolar mixed state episodes of the past. I use my usual techniques to block it all out, yet at some level it is - There.
I will try to go about everything as normally as I can but that's what I tried in the past and yet still I got hammered by those states.
It's all a very fine balance, a tightrope to walk.
And so it is with this understanding of the difficulties of the season for many that I do wish you a Merry Christmas.
I am unapologetically a "Merry Christmas" person. It is not said or meant to be exclusionary or offensive to non-Christians. I am not a Christian myself. It is simply my cultural heritage and it is in the spirit of my cultural upbringing and heritage that I say it. There are greetings all over the world that are simply traditional and meaningful to those people and when they say them to foreign or outside guests, they mean the greeting with full and deep warm sincerity.
And so it is when I say to all of you,
Have a very Merry Christmas.
- BGE, December 22, 2015