Thursday, October 4, 2012

Going back to those bleak days

Things have been going really well lately but as I've told all of you before I suffer from compulsive/anxiety issues. When I get too high on myself, my ego becomes my worst enemy. I've learned a way to cope with this is to not get too high on the highs and not to get too low on the lows. Still with all of the good news lately and great celebrations, I've had to look back at the lows to keep myself level-headed.

I've recently had to go back into the Andy Lipman vault and remember the tough times too. Trust me. It's not easy going back there and facing the most vulnerable moments of my life.

I remember laying on my sweat-filled, mucous-infested couch back in 1992. I remember lying there wishing I would just die already. I hated my life, my friends and my family. I especially hated cystic fibrosis.

I remember in October of 1992 watching the Braves beat the Pirates in improbable fashion with a Game 7 ninth inning comeback. I also remember shutting off the TV, lying there in the dark and hearing everyone jump for joy. People knocked violently on my door to celebrate. I just sat there in horror worried that they would see the person that I had turned into. I was the biggest Braves fan in the world and I couldn't even raise my arms to celebrate. If I jumped up and down, I probably would have vomited from all of the mucous that was tightly clinging to my lungs. I plan to enjoy the Braves postseason run this year whether it's only one game or several.

I rarely showered during those tough days. I wasn't doing my treatments nor was I taking my pills. I was very sick. I could hardly sleep at night. I would pick moments when everyone was asleep before I would walk out of my room to use the restroom. My weekends were filled with one meal...a Shoney's Strawberry Pie. It's hard for me to go to Shoney's today without remembering those horrible moments. Seeing as there are not many Shoney's around anymore, I rarely have to experience that heartache.

If you'd told me nearly two decades ago that I'd be an honoree of the UGA 40 under 40, a board member of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia and be throwing out the first pitch at a Braves game, I would have said you were crazy. My first thought would have been that I would have been dead two decades from then. I would have been shocked if I even reached a second decade. My second thought was that I was failing out of UGA at the time and would not think anyone would want me on the board. If you told me I'd be throwing out the first pitch for a team whose most celebrated moment was possibly my most miserable moment, I would have said no way. I couldn't even walk out of my room to face my fraternity brothers and back in July I walked out in front of 20,000 plus people to throw a pitch.

Depression and anxiety are enemies of mine as much as cystic fibrosis. I still have a journal I look back at from time to time from the days that I was an out-patient at Ridgeview Mental Institution. It's in my car underneath a lot of my stuff (which is French for I'm a little bit messy). I don't want anyone going and reading it. It's for me and only for me.

Whenever I get too high on myself, I read that diary of some of the worst times of my life and remember I had the lowest self-esteem score at one point in a group full of drug addicts, suicide survivors and manic depressants. In other words, don't pat yourself on the back too many times, Mr. Lipman. I'm always one spiral away from a return trip to Ridgeview. At the same time, I've learned that you have to appreciate the great moments. I definitely try to enjoy the view from the top of the mountain when something celebratory happens. I just have to remember to get off that mountain and start a new hike.

I still go to therapy both to a psychiatrist and a therapist and while they both reiterate that I'm doing well, both of these individuals will be on the Lipman payroll for a long time because I don't want to slip into another emotional spiral. I have ceased going to meetings but I still have several members on my phone list and call them from time to time to stay level-headed. I'm never above going back to meetings. I just enjoy that time with my wife and children and I'd prefer to use that time to enjoy those special moments.

Life is a book in that we have to live chapter to chapter and we control most of what's inside each page. I have had chapters in my life that I'd like to forget but it's probably best that I remember them. I've had chapters in my life that I'd love to boast about but it's probably best I don't get too arrogant. I guess what it comes down to is that I'm just happy that the book can still be edited. I have a lot of things I still want to accomplish. I want to celebrate many anniversaries with Andrea. I want to see my kids grow up to live wonderful lives. I want to be the best person that I can be. I want to see a cure for the disease that took my sister and still torments me.

Thanks for listening.

Live your dreams and love your life.

But don't forget your nightmares either. They make living your dreams even more fulfilling.


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