Frank: Finding Peace
Frank reflected on his past struggles and his journey to find stability in his life.
For many, many years I was nothing. I was absolutely nothing. I would get a job. Then I’d get drunk. I’d tell these people to do whatever their job was and I’d walk off and I didn’t have nothing. I was not good.
Although Frank’s past is full of hard times, he is at peace with who he is today. He concluded, “I’m a whole lot better person today then I was back then.”
In the AA program, they say you can be better, and you have every right to be better—if you can deal with this every day. I can’t afford to get mad. I can’t afford to get angry any more. I can’t afford that. I can’t afford to be bitter either. People say, oh, why does all this stuff have to happen to me? I’m not immune. If I break a leg, why does that happen to you? I don’t know but it just did.
Because of his many years of supporting Gloria, Frank has learned strategies for coping with persons who live with mental illness, which he recommends to others who have a family member living with bipolar disorder.
Be firm. Be very kind. Don’t let them to get to you, because they really don’t mean to do this. Because their mind is not working right. If their mind was working right, they wouldn’t be bipolar. Right? Treat them like a human being. Treat them like you want to be treated.
Frank described how he responded to Gloria’s manic symptoms.
If she’s not manic, thank God for that. If she’s manic do the best you can at that time. And then let her go. Don’t tie her up and say you can’t do this no more. Let her [have her] freedom. She’d walk outside and she’d look at the peach trees and blossoms. She’d go in my garden. If she pulled out something, so what? Not a big deal.
In addition to emphasizing the importance of good psychiatric care and the right medication, Frank extolled the benefits of support groups for sharing experiences and learning about ways to help family members living with mental illness.
One thing I’m going to stress more than anything is that people need to find a support group of some kind if they’re going through this because if you have ten people in a group and they all talk, you’ll get ten different ideas of what this doctor did, what kind of medicine, and how this is affecting me. Another reason you’ve got to join these groups is because they’ll teach you to take it as it comes.
Frank reflected on his first experience in an AA meeting. Initially, he worried that others would see him there, but now he is happy to be at AA meetings. He described the support he experienced—“Because if you know you’re not doing this alone then you got some place to go and vent.”
Today, Frank is thankful for his life. “Every morning when I wake up that’s the first think that I do. I thank God, that I’m alive. I’m well and I’m as good as I can be.” Frank looks back on his life and accepts that good came out of the couple’s life struggles as both learned to deal with them. Gloria accepted that she was at the end of her life. Frank has no regrets. He commented, “That’s the way I look at things. I’m not worried about tomorrow anymore.”