In 1987, Julie Gold wrote the beautiful song, “From a Distance”. The most noted version of it was rendered by Bette Midler and it pulled at the heartstrings of so many of us because America was in wartime. We were in the first Persian Gulf War. That song was an international number one hit. That top-billing was well-earned.
For me, on this day, that song means something a little different. My heart is being ripped into a million pieces as I watch someone I love with all my soul being ravaged by mental illness.
From a distance, I see a woman who never left the house “undone”. She was the epitome of the Southern woman who made certain her hair and nails were impeccable before she stepped outside the door. I don’t care if it was just a simple trip to the convenience store. Not a curl was out of place. Her polish was never chipped. Nearly everything was coordinated, from her jewelry to her shoes. From a distance, she looks just like the woman I admired for many, many years.
Up close and in focus, the only semblance of that woman from yesterday is the fresh coat of polish on her nails. True enough, she still puts curlers in her hair at night, but the thing is, she has damaged her hair so badly, there’s hardly any left. One day she’s relaxing it, the next day, she’s using a hot comb, then she’ll color it with permanent color. At one point, she had no hair on the top. None. It broke my heart because, under normal circumstances, she wouldn’t be caught dead like that. Bipolar Disorder doesn’t care who or what you look like.
Bipolar Disorder doesn’t care who or what you look like. She doesn’t like taking her meds because she sleeps far more than she wants to. In the alternative, she walks all hours of the night because her mind is racing and she can’t calm down. She doesn’t sleep and neither do we.
If there was a way for me to take her back, I would do it in a minute. If there was a way I could change her into the woman I saw in my childhood years, I would. My heart hurts.