I was diagnosed ‘Bi Polar’ late in life.

Unfortunately, (my diagnosis) was after I was arrested for smacking a guy upside the head with a mop and spent 5 days (and 4 scary nights) in a Van Nuys, Ca. filthy  jail cell. I was also 21 years sober, a mother of 2 teenage sons and volunteered in recovery homes at the time. Nevertheless, no diagnosis–no help–off to jail.

Unfortunately,it was after I posted nude pictures (of myself) all over the internet. I met photographers in strange, remote locations. Some were just “G.W.C.” (guys with cameras) Indiscriminately, I  disrobed anyway, took nude pictures and had unprotected sex.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t diagnosed until after I flew across country to spend time with ‘mysterious’ men I’d met online. I thought nothing of spending days with these strangers in secluded places…neglecting to tell anyone where I was.

Unfortunately, it was after I followed a group of police into a tattoo parlor. I heard cops know the best ‘ink joints’ ….and well…now , I have permanent evidence of what a full blown manic episode looks like…a  link of strange symbols playfully circling and tattooed on my right bicep.

I wasn’t diagnosed bi-polar until after I turned 50 years old. Up until then I had  Major Depressive Disorder…but oh, I was called ‘slightly moody‘ and more than just a little ‘high strung.‘ My psychiatrist probably credited that to my profession (I’m an actor) rather than my disorder. Understandably confusing, some actors can have erratic, intense if not down-right ‘ kooky’ behavior. (I owe that part to my own childishness and immaturity, not mental illness)

I don’t fault my doctors for not ‘cluing in’ sooner. Maybe they never saw the mania. Maybe ‘the mania’ had a life of it’s own and worsened after menopause. Whatever the reason, it has my full undivided attention now.

All I have to do is glance at my right arm. Wrapped around my bicep is some strange Japanese calligraphy. I thought about having it removed, but I never EVER want to forget what can happen again, if I stop my medication, therapy, diet, exercise, girlfriend time etc. Yes, it takes a village. However, if I have to juggle a ‘second career in recovery’ (just to regain my self respect) I am grateful I have that second chance. Many don’t. My mother and brother didn’t.

It took me years to finally discover what the hell I had permanently inked on my arm though. Finally, I saw its’ exact replica on a symbols site. It simply means ‘white light‘ A Johre symbol for peace, protection and healing.

When I learned what I’ve been ‘ping ponging’ around with, on my arm all these years, I felt like Blanche Dubois in Tennessee William’s play “Streetcar Named Desire” (at the end of Act 11)  when she turns to Mitch and says, “Sometimes, there’s God so quickly.” The irony of all my Russian Roulette, sexually suicidal behavior, while inked in ‘white light’, didn’t escape me.

Long ago I heard, “God looks after fools, drunkards and children.” ( I’ve been guilty of all three )

Well, I’d like to add…..”and the mentally ill too”…… God knows I’m living proof.

For anyone suffering in silence, please know you are not alone.  https://www.nami.org/

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1(800) 273-8255

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week  Languages: English, Spanish Websitewww.suicidepreventionlifeline.org