What's in the Bag?

4 years ago

I think there's a disconnect between people knowing I have bipolar disorder and me whipping out my pillbox, which is exactly what I do after every meal I eat.

A woman's purse is a mystery to men. My husband and I were married about 5 years before he ever went in there. Now he boldly goes where no man's gone before - when he really wants a piece of gum.

My pillbox seems to be a mystery. Most pretend like it's not there. Some comment on the large amount of pills inside. Few ask me to name the contents.

Zoloft
Wellbutrin
Lithium
Lamictal
Synthroid
Women's multi-vitamins
Fish oil
Magnesium
Taurine
Aloe

Rarely do I feel weird whipping it out at a dinner. It's been in fancy wedding purses and in my ski jacket pocket. I don't even think about it.

I carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer as well in case I can't wash my hands before I need to touch my pills. I also keep a separate pillbox with Xanex in it in case I have a panic attack. That little guy's been in there for quite a while, but it gives me peace to know he's there if I need him.

Then there's my satchel. My dear friend Liz gave it to me many years ago for one of my sobriety anniversaries. It came with the heart, pineapple, shamrock and peace signs. I remember her face lighting up as she told me the significance of each item. She really loved God and spirituality and she was so excited to give it to me.

God I miss her.

Since then I put a book of matches from the Gold Hill Hotel - an old haunted hotel where the first play I wrote was produced - and my welcome chip from the first 12-step meeting I went to in 1997.

When I get scared, I squeeze the satchel in the palm of my hand. If you see me speaking, I sometimes will carry it the whole 45 minutes. Since Liz died, I feel like she's with me guiding me and cheering me on from heaven when I hold it.

What started as a sack of good luck charms has turned into a link to Liz and God. It's faded and worn, but a powerful reminder of where I come from and why I do what I do.

I'm grateful for all of the tools I have to keep me sane and sober. Pill form or spirit form, I'm thankful to have more than one safety net at arms reach.

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