Wednesday, August 24th, 11:15 p.m.

After an entire day on the run and on the move to try and avoid what my mind perceived was an imminent capture I felt like I might have finally reached a place of temporary safety. Ironic really. If anyone had managed to track my credit card or train ticket purchase, they would know just where to find me. However, I was convinced that I had managed my affairs in a secretive enough manner that this Amtrak station in a different state than my home at this time of night would be a hide-out where I could let my guard down for the time being.

With the train not set to arrive, board and depart until roughly 1:30 a.m., I was finally able to settle enough to think through my plan, and develop a number of possibilities or scenarios regarding how this would all unfold from here.

A) The simplest choice was to ride the ticket all the way out. That would put me on the west coast in the Seattle, Washington area. Under this plan, I intended to do a couple of things during the multi-day trip. First, every four hours take some Tylenol PM. Second, eat nothing. Third, drink only enough water to take said Tylenol PM. I have a number of health issues, that this simple formula could probably combine with to put me on death’s door over a few day period, or at the very least…fuck me up real bad physically which would make some form of OD or suicide all that much easier.

B) The other choices were more complicated…and quite dark. One involved contacting my parents as the ticket would be taking me through northern California where they reside. As I was raging with anger against them at this point for all the responsibilities I felt they bore for where my life and mental health had ended up, it seemed like an appropriate time to address those. There is no need for morbid details other than to say, many of us have watched stories on the news of adult or teenage children who have killed their parents and then taken their own lives. Many of us have wondered who could do such a thing. I was pretty sure I had figured out the answer to that question. And had become just such that type of person.

C) Under another scenario they lived and were merely tortured for the rest of their existence. It would play out something like this. I would contact them. They would come get me at the train station. As they are infatuated with rescuing people, they would have loved the opportunity to intervene. I would have traveled home with them. Let them “seemingly” nurse me back to health. And then killed myself in their guest room so they could walk in on the bloody mess and forever have that imaged seared in their minds. Yeah…I know. Remember, this was not a healthy state I was in.

D) There would be endless stops along the way in no-name towns across America where I could simply walk off the train, disappear, venture off to the middle of nowhere, and let the end be the end. Likely never to be found. In my mind, likely not to be missed for very long.

E) The most likely scenario in my mind at the time…no idea. Get on the train. Don’t eat. Don’t drink. Stay on a steady diet of Tylenol PM. Transfer in Chicago. See what happens from there.

Well…what happened was that I was taken into protective custody. More or less arrested without a fight. Admitted to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital psychiatric unit. And so the story continues…

Present Day, Thanksgiving Day, 2016

Three months ago to the date my mind came unhinged. Three months ago to the day I was taken into protective custody. After more than 24 hours on the run. After the involvement of law enforcement officials from at least two different states. I was determined to be a danger to myself, and therefore to others. I was detained. Admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Checked into the Psychiatric Unit. Began my first even inpatient treatment for Bipolar II.

Today in America is Thanksgiving Day. A day of mass family gatherings. Mass eating. Mass focus on what we are “thankful” for.

So, the question is asked, and the response is in many ways almost expected –

“What are you thankful for?”

“I’m thankful just to be alive.”

Except, and I know this will not be popular with many or even understood by most, it just isn’t that easy.

I look at it this way. There is this vast spectrum. On one end of the spectrum is “I am thankful to be alive.” On the other end of the spectrum is “I wish I was dead.” But in the middle is this massive gray area. The area where I, and I am guessing many people with mental illness, live many of our days.

Don’t jump too quickly to conclusions. This is not a declaration of being suicidal. In fact, maybe quite the opposite. It is a declaration of being alive enough to be honest. To be real. To be transparent. To recognize that “thankful to be alive” is way too simple of a response to describe where we live. Mentally. Emotionally.

Than what am I today? I have thought about that throughout the week. I am tired. Staying mentally and emotionally healthy is exhausting. To say the least. For each warning sign I have previously written about [Saturday, August 27th (Hospitalization Day 3)] there are seemingly countless activities needed to combat them.

And there are therapy sessions to attend. Meds to take. The financial implications of both to fret over. Books to read for their daily practical applications. Reminders to set. Situations to avoid. All while attending to work, family, and spouse. Fulfilling the roles that life brings the way of any given individual. Roles that don’t get suspended just because one struggles with a mental illness. And just like those roles grow tiring for the common person…as I see it through my bias eyes, exponentially so for someone living daily with Bipolar, or Schizophrenia, or Borderline Personality Disorder, or Manic Depression, or countless other diseases.

Is it possible to be thankful that I am not dead without being thankful that I’m alive? To be thankful for the many daily experiences that bring me joy, or peace, or love, or happiness, while simultaneously having the occasionally wandering mind to the eternal rest of simply no longer being?

For me, and I venture to guess many others, the answer is “Yes”. The answer is that there is this gray area in the between. A gray area that fills that space of pause when someone looks at me and says, “So, what are you thankful for?”