Category Archives: What’s Behind the Smile? My Journey with Bipolar Disorder


Chapter 8

One night in April 1988, Max and I had our final argument. It was the end of our relationship. I packed my suitcase and proceeded to do what I had planned. I left the apartment in the dark and on foot. I walked until I couldn’t walk anymore, so I slumped down in a field and put my head on my suitcase for a pillow. I decided that in the morning I would take a bus downtown and begin my new life as a homeless person. I believed that was where I belonged, and truly thought that I would be able to get along with these lost souls, sharing food and alcohol with them and having my own cardboard box. I focused solely on that plan and decided to take the first bus in the morning.
The one thing that I could not help but notice as I looked up at the sparkling sky was the enormity of it. It was beautiful with shimmering stars and a big moon staring down at me. I thought of God and how Jesus had shown his love to me so wonderfully that day in Rhode Island when I was so close to suicide. Where was he now when I was hurting so badly? Could he really be out there somewhere past that illuminated sky? I called for him but he did not answer. Again I thought about how alone I was. No family, no friends, no car, and no hope. The emotional pain of being rejected by Max was eating me up inside, but I knew deep in my heart that it was over between the two of us. I hung out in that field all night thinking about the prospect of living on the streets of Denver and trying to figure out where I would plug in my curling iron and how I would be able to put my make-up on. I needed my “cover” of not looking like a mentally ill person. I thought about the unforgiving brick buildings and the towering skyscrapers downtown. There would be no electric plugs. I also needed my make-up mirror to light up. I had it in my suitcase along with my mascara and other items. It was really not making sense to live on the streets, but I felt that I had nowhere else to live. I refused to go back to Max. I slept a little bit that night and when the sun finally began to rise, it seemed that the morning light gave me a new idea. This would be a last ditch effort to get some help.
In the morning I walked the long trek to the local Mental Health Center, as they were called at that time. I went in and sat in the waiting room not really knowing what to expect. A beautiful African American woman came out and took me aside. I told her of my plan to live on the streets of Denver, and also of my other plan which was to commit suicide. This woman was very strong and convincing, and she insisted that I go live in what they called then “a half-way house”, instead of on the streets. I could not get that nightmare out of my mind about the bus driver saying that it was a one way trip to Colorado. It made me certain that I would never leave the state alive, and my plans to live on the streets or commit suicide once and for all were very hard for me to change.
I really didn’t want to go to some strange half-way house and live with people I didn’t know, especially when I was feeling so screwed up. It took a lot of persuading, but I finally agreed to move into this half-way house that was located in Littleton, Colorado. I walked into the house and right away I told my story to anyone who would listen, again searching, ever searching for one person to be able to help me and my crazy mind. I told everyone that I really didn’t see myself living through this period of time in Colorado and didn’t want to be in this half-way house at all.
I found that they all shared the same bathroom and shower, and this was a deterrent to me as well, because there were all kinds of different people living there. I couldn’t fathom taking a shower where all the others took theirs also. It seemed really gross considering that there was a man living there who really did live on the streets of Denver and he was filthy dirty. The thought of all of them sharing a bathroom really bothered me, but there really wasn’t a choice. The only option was that I took on the chore of cleaning the bathroom from top to bottom, and that helped me with the others using it. I also liked to vacuum the entire house upstairs and downstairs. Each week someone different was assigned to cook for everyone, but there was this one man who was an over-the-top fantastic cook. He fried up chicken and made salads that were really amazing, so most of the people living there exchanged chores with him so that he would cook for us every night. Nobody minded cleaning up the kitchen as long as this man did all the cooking.
The gentleman who lived on the streets of Denver fascinated me since I was planning on doing the same thing. I interviewed him about the lifestyle of the homeless. He had a big long fuzzy beard and a weather beaten face. He also didn’t have many changes of clothing. He told me how he and others had pulled out their own teeth because they hurt so much and they would have been turned away had they walked into a dentist office. During the winter months they all shared bottles of alcohol which gave them the feeling of being warm for a time, but that it was false warmth that went away very quickly. The winter months were very difficult because the snowfall in that area of the country was monumental. I remembered my first ski trip I went on with Max. We went to his buddy’s house and his wife gave me this powder blue all one-piece snow suit to wear. I was thankful because it keep me warm and dry. Max paid for me to take lessons that day, and then finally I had the opportunity to go on the lift and ski down the slope. It was exhilarating and I enjoyed it so much. Max was an avid skier and went down the highest mountain which really was impressive to me since just walking in the boots seemed uncomfortable to me. Max was opening doors to a much broader life than what we had had in Rhode Island. He seemed so happy living in Colorado; it was just that I had been holding him back with my total dependence on him for the three years we were together.