It finally happened. It is October, so I don’t see it how it could have happened at any other time really. My life is a pattern of events, which I have watched flowing from one moment to the next – always seeing a connection without realizing what it means. Everyone goes through cycles in their lives, but many fail to notice it. Instead, it appears there is no correlation, while in reality everything is connected.
I have come to believe there are no coincidences. I subscribe to the idea that I am meant to see what is to be revealed to me when I am ready to understand. I do not believe myself to be a wise person; I am simply someone who has felt deep pain as well as great joy. It is not a competition. After all, none of us are getting out of here alive.
Perhaps it is my brother’s death that continues to haunt me that makes me feel inclined toward doing the same, but I think it is more than that. I feel sorrow for the people who are starving, who are suffering from disease, those who are tormented by people who believe they are above others, and those who do not care about anyone but themselves. I hold the pain of the world in my heart – that is why I cry so. That is what makes me want to die. Yet, I do not want to die today.
Today, I celebrate my meager existence because I still have it. Last week, I did not want it any longer. Then something happened.
I was forced to go to the hospital against my will. My wrists were swollen, cut, and bruised from the handcuffs when all was said and done. And the officer who brought me there? One of the men who responded to my brother’s suicide almost two years ago. I would not have discovered that had the officer not accidentally entered the highway, but by mistake we ended up driving right past the site of his death.
Just like when I went to photograph the site where he died months ago (because it will be torn down soon), a man rode up on a skateboard behind me wearing a shirt that read, “Suicide Squad,” but all I saw was “suicide.” Right where my brother died. Coincidence? Hardly.
This is what is known as synchronicity. There are parallels in the universe that bring us together with people, places, and things that we are meant to learn from. Our experiences are indelibly intertwined with those of others, yet we often see ourselves as apart, or separate, from them. Whenever I notice a pattern in my life, there is usually a link to something or someone else that concurs with it.
Perhaps this is why triggers for people with mental illness are so easily brought on. Reminders are created by certain things. For instance, while practicing a guided meditation technique in the hospital, the image of a knife was brought up to describe the sensation of cutting a lemon. However, the words, “see the knife cutting into the flesh” – yes, those were the actual words used – brought up imagery in my mind which upset me deeply, as I have used a knife on my own flesh in the past. Prior to that exercise I had been happy, but that immediately sent me into a downward spiral. I was triggered.
It is these connections that help us to learn, but they can also be incredibly harmful if we do not have the tools to manage them. I understand now that I must be mindful of these triggers, these correlations of human and non-human reminders. The power to heal is within me, as is the power to harm.
Those of us who struggle with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder will never fully recover, but we can manage the illness. Our minds are not like other peoples’ but we have to accept that; we may as well enjoy the ride! There are a lot more of us out there than we realize, so let’s find each other and be friends. No one else will ever understand us, but we can at least find solidarity with one another and try to live life as best as we can.