164 Days Later, and I still don’t know how to live without you......
My husband, Asmita, and Naina are learning to live with their loss, while Simmi and I are stuck in a ‘Lilly Loop’. I’m struggling to find happiness and purpose again.
Lilly showed me new ways to love, new things to find joy in, and new ways to look at the world. She keeps bringing about changes in me even after her passing. I keep remembering all our joyful moments, our challenging moments, and the moments that caused us the most pain. I can pinpoint how it all started but I can’t wrap my head around how it all ended, why it ended.
A lot of you have reached out regarding your child’s bipolar diagnosis. Your child‘s journey doesn't need to end in the same way as Lilly. Finding the right medication, adhering to a treatment plan, yoga, eating healthy, therapy, and strong family and peer support can help a bipolar person live a long life.
Yes - there will be suicidal thoughts. Yes - you will need to be vigilant about self-harm. Yes - they will be ups and downs. Yes - hospitalization will be needed for the extreme lows. Yes - you won’t understand the bi-polar mind. Yes - there will be periods of self-medication. The addiction can manifest itself in many forms - alcohol, drugs, shopping, and risky behaviors.
There will always be that fear or thought that your loved one will never have a full grasp on stability and normalcy. As a parent, you fear your child being heavily on psychiatric meds to achieve what stability they have. You fear that if something happens that changes their reaction to their meds, they’ll go off the rails again. But I want you to know that though it can be a difficult disorder, a lot of people are able to lead perfectly 'normal' lives.
Having a mental illness does not make a person a one-dimensional, low-life character. On the contrary, the diagnosis has shattered your child’s life in many different ways and they're just trying to survive. You shouldn't write them off for making choices you don't understand. Lilly, sometimes thought she had been given a gift. Being Bipolar forced her to deal with her emotions head-on. Shoving them down wasn’t an option.
In hindsight, it’s easy to write about what you should and shouldn’t do, what you can expect. Living through it is a different story. Keep loving your child, keep learning, keep understanding their perspective, and keep learning about their beautiful complex mind. All that mattered for Lilly was that her family loved her and had her back.
The blog started as a way for me to channel my grief, but it soon evolved into a tribute to my daughter Lilly. I’d like to thank each and every one of you for all your support these past few months. Your messages, texts, emails, words of kindness, and encouragement have meant a lot to me. Your cards are still sitting on my desk unopened. One day, I’ll muster up the courage to read them. I hope that Lilly’s journey has given you a better understanding of Mental Illness and Addiction. I did not want Lilly to just be a statistic for the opioid crisis of 2020. There was much more to Lilly than meets the eye. Lilly was a real person, with feelings and dreams. She was a loving daughter, an amazing sister, and a loyal friend.
Praying that 2021 brings all of you good health, peace, and happiness 🙏