As a child, I think in addition to the self-confidence I lacked, common sense also avoided me. My cousin who lived down the street from me was fortunate enough to get a pool. The only time I had ever gone to a pool was when my family would take the occasional vacation, staying in a motel. The pool was the best part to me. When my cousin’s family got their pool, I was there every day of summer vacation. I was about 14 at the time. Already I stood 5 feet 7 inches. I was a strange freak of nature. In addition to my height, my body size was only comparable to that of light pole. My cousin got the other side of the family genes, and stood about 4 feet 11. The Olympics was on that summer. Me with my ever increasing imagination, decided the two of us could hold our own competition. We were going to be divers. We talked our younger cousins into being judges. The loser had to clean up the pool when we were done. The winner got the neighborhood bragging rights.
I must mention while both of us had swimming lessons, diving was a self taught skill. We learned through trial and error. Most of our trials went well. However, during my “performance” a major error insued. I had the idea of diving in and swiftly push through the water all the way to the shallow end. I need a good running start and I need to land as close the shallow in as I could. With the only audience being kids, I performed my feat. It was immediate that my idea had gone awry. I ran, sprung off the diving board and did my best dolphin like portrayal. I missed judged the length of the pool as well as the length of my body. On the slope that leads down from the shallow end to the deep end, I made my land. My head hit, rolled into my chin, and my whole 5 foot 7 inches flipped widly over creating a spectacular splash. The audience of children were on their feet clapping. I, on the other hand, was not moving. After noticing I was flailing around trying to breathe, my cousin realized I was hurt. She jumped in and lifted me up. I felt paralyzed for a moment. I noticed I was standing on my feet and slowly walked out of the shallow side and sat down on the steps of the pool. I could not turn my neck. All the kids were around me mostly hollering, “That was awesome.” Then recognizing my face, the began to worry
I could not move my head. It was my neck. Everytime I tried to turn my head, the pain was so great I thought I would pass out. My cousin helped me get home. On the way to my house we decided to “keep this between us.” She would go back and make sure the rest of the kids kept their mouths shut. We knew if our parents found out we would not be able to swim alone again. Well, so much for the rest of the kids not telling. By the evening, my mom was running through the house screaming at my father, “Get her to the hospital!” She had just been on the phone with my aunt. My dad did not ask many questions and put me in the car. On the way there, my mom was still panicking. We got there and waited. Finally I had all these x-rays and the doctor said, “You were lucky.” He showed me a normal neck’s picture, then a picture of my neck. I had some wrecked muscles. He said, it looked like I had been in a bad car wreck. He gave me a shot for pain and some scripts. My mom lectured me all the way home.
Since this happened back in the day, (when the earth was still cooling), I never got physical therapy until I was an adult. (Yes, it still bothers me today.) When I underwent scans a few years back the doctor asked me, “How bad was the car accident?” I told him the whole embarrassing story. He said my flared up neck pain would always be with me, but with therapy I could keep it remiss. ”You are just going to have to take care of it” he said. Of course he added, “No more diving in pools.” He wrote me a script for physical therapy and I can say it has helped. The pain can still be chronic at times, but I have tools to help me lessen it.
The whole point for my rambling story is this: My recovery from mental illness is somewhat an analogy of that story. Being bipolar finds me lacking common sense at times. I have injured myself and others. I fervently want, however, to avoid damage and keep my quality of life protected. It is a daily struggle. It is daily work. I have more tools now, and hopefully my common sense has grown up a bit too!