Sunday, June 13, 2010
Youth. June 13, 2010.
“Youth is wasted on the young.” - George Bernard Shaw
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Later today, my son will walk across the stage and accept his high school diploma. It’s a day I would have missed had my suicide attempt been “successful.” Thank God it wasn’t. It truly seems like yesterday that he was collecting Pokemon cards and was afraid of the dark. I’ll be thinking of his future, but also my past.
I was only 16 years old when I was diagnosed as bipolar (they called it manic-depression back then). I remember the doctor explaining the illness to my mom, and warning her that manic-depression carries with it a risk of suicide. I remember that she started to cry. I remember thinking that she didn’t need to cry, because I was never going to do something like that.
I had no clue at that age how difficult things would become, or how sick I would someday get, based on the decisions I made in the following years. Like most adults, there are many parts of my life I would choose to do differently if I had the chance to go back in time. I would have gone on medication sooner; I would have started therapy early-on; I wouldn’t have started abusing alcohol; I would realize that so many things that upset me at the time would wind up being totally unimportant later.
But we live our lives in one direction, and at this writing there is no way to go back. I can only go forward. As I look at the young people on the stage today, I’ll probably be envious that they have a world of possibilities open to them. But the truth is that they’ll make mistakes and have regrets as well. The bad things and the good things are all part of this thing we call our lives.
To all graduates: Congratulations. And may you make healthy decisions for healthy futures.