Sunday, May 7, 2017

Super Powers

As a child, I was never into comic books. I was never much of a reader, and I can remember my mother being kind of turned off by them as well. I did however, really like Superman and Spiderman. Batman was OK, I loved to watch the cartoons, and the early iterations of Batman and Superman on TV. Super Friends was my favorite Saturday morning cartoon. Every Saturday, before ever touching any of our toys, my brother and I would sit together in front of the TV for Super Friends.

Fast forward thirty-something years, and it seems like at least half of all action movies are based on a comic book. Marvel is king. My favorite comic book movies are the ones where super hero had to undergo some kind of physical or mental adversity, and in overcoming it, gained super powers. Spiderman was bitten by a deadly spider; Daredevil took caustic chemicals to the face; Deadpool endured abject torture; and the Hulk was exposed to beyond lethal radiation. All of these characters survived immense suffering, and were bettered. Possibly the greatest connecting piece to all of these stories is that each of their trials were unique; the end result was the same, but the pain was different.

Those who know me, know the struggles I've been through with bipolar disorder. But not many know my super power:  I can see pain. I first became aware of this power in 2014. I had just started a job in a call center. I trained with a young woman named Dee who had just graduated college. She was 21 years old, and told stories in our training about travelling to Europe. I was really impressed, and I kept thinking that this girl was half my age and has had twice the experience that I have. I loved to listen to her stories about Spain. 

Then one day I came in to work and noticed something was not right. She was the same person, she looked the same, talked the same, but when I looked at her, I could see deep inside she was hurting. She quit shortly after that, but we had become friends on Facebook. At first, we didn't have much contact, but then one day she sent me a message and asked about characteristics of bipolar disorder. She was dating a guy with the condition, but as we continued to have further interactions, I started to notice characteristics and symptoms of bipolar disorder in her. As we became closer friends, she began to reveal more and more about her past, her struggles, and her feelings. Finally, she saw a doctor and was diagnosed. In our conversations I told her my story. I told her everything:  my experiences growing up, dealing with ridicule, harassment, and bullies; periods of deep profound depression, and relief; relationships, and how I coped, how I was able to defeat the monster.  

Dee and I are now very close. We talk often. She has told me on many occasions how my narrative has helped her to cope with the battles she is fighting. She is a fighter like me, she doesn't quit, and she will never give up. She will always have my support.

This is what my purpose is:  to help others. God gave me the tools to pull myself out of the black hole when I began to put my trust in Him. But I never expected that I would have such a passion for helping people who are fighting such pain. I know now that this is my charge. If I can help just one person. If I can save just one life from suicide, I know my mission will be fulfilled.