Saturday, March 02, 2013


I know that I've alluded to it a few times over the past six weeks, but I never quite came out and told the story because it didn't feel like my story to tell.

That's a part of blogging that I have a hard time with, occassionally. Determining what is -- and what is not -- my story to tell.

 My cousin Danielle is bipolar. She went to Europe at the beginning of the year for a workshop (she's a legitimate paid-enough-to-support-herself-without-bartending actor) and had a manic episode. She got so bad, so out of control, that her friends there called an ambulance. She stayed in the psych ward for a week.

When it was time for her to be released, Liz (my cousin/roommate, Danielle's younger sister) spent 22 hours flying to and from Europe so that she could escort Danielle home. Liz never even left the airport.

Danielle was decent when she got home (she's been living with her parents for the last couple of years). Not great, but it seemed like she was cycling out of her mania. Except she didn't. She got worse. More manic. It got scarier. She got in an argument with my aunt one day and packed herself up to live with her yoga instructor. Danielle lasted a few days before the yoga instructor called and asked her parents to pick her up.

Two days after returning home, Danielle spent an entire afternoon trashing the house. She directed her anger at my uncle that day. She smashed his guitar. She tore up his bible. A family friend happened to stop by and she called my aunt. When Aunt Annette got home, she gave Danielle the option to go with her to the hospital or to have the police bring her there.

Danielle went with her mom. She's been in the psychiatric unit since then -- 11 days now. Her family met with her treatment team today. She'll be released in the next few days.

And she'll move in with my parents.

According to my mother (who comes home today from her California vacation), everyone agreed that it will be best for Danielle to stay with my parents for the time being.

I found all of this out at 5:30 pm yesterday. As I'm dogsitting for Mom and Dad, I went back to their house and, in a somewhat panicked state, started getting the house ready for Danielle's arrival.

That meant emptying out the dresser in my bedroom. That meant washing the sheets on my bed. That meant hauling all of the booze -- my God, there was a lot of alcohol -- out of the house.

And it meant feeling weird about it all. Maybe a little resentful, too. Talking to Meg (who is so afraid that something will happen to the dog if she's left alone with Danielle), it seems like she feels the same way, too.

Healthy or not, Meg and I both very much identify our mom and dad's house as home. It is still very much the place where we go when we're sad or confused or upset. It is still very much a safe place. It is home in all of the right ways.

After what she did at her mom and dad's house, getting this house ready for Danielle to move in feels strange and risky and scary. Although, it feels right, too. She is family. This is what family does.

That's why I feel like it's okay to tell Danielle's story now. Because part of it is my story, too.


Readyandfading said...

My mom's brother is bipolar among other things. My folks took him in my sophomore and junior years of high school and made my home not feel like home for that time. I was constantly afraid and unsure. The place that was always my security blanket wasn't anymore. But, yes, family helps, that is what family is about. I pray for your cousin and a simple recovery, even though I don't know if there is one?! Mostly, I pray for everyone else's safety. At a point, there are no more answers. My uncle currently lives in government provided housing in another state and it has been the best solution for everyone. I wish your family didn't have t go through all of this and I wish Danielle didn't either.

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