[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: http://bit.ly/2hOWE2s]
"There's no right or wrong way to wear your poppy," said the immaculately uniformed young woman, as she helped me pin on my brave red paper flower, "Just so long as you wear it with pride."
So, I'm happy to wear my poppy with pride. Not to support in any way the brutality and inhumanity of war, but in gratitude to those who served their country; who lost their lives or their health in our defence.
Larry, a member of my Bipolar Group, has two sons at home. Both have served in the Army. Both have been deployed in Afghanistan. Both have come home with their bodies intact, but their minds shattered. Larry says he feels they have been forgotten by the Army: there is no help there.
I have written before on the specific mental health problems experienced by our Armed Forces. My hope is that, in future, as much attention and funds will be given to the minds of our servicemen and women as to their bodies; that we will not forget those who sacrificed their mental health for their country.
"But – why are we all here?" asked Ash, in that meeting. "Are we here to gain support from each other; to know that we are not alone?"
There were various answers around the room. Some of us feel we are gradually making friends around the table. Those of us who are well enough attend social gatherings every other month enjoy those evenings. One of my fellow members is the husband of a business friend. She and I get along very well and the bi-polar connection is another point of contact. Her Barry, recently diagnosed, is responding well to medication and has even been able to return to paid employment, although not at anywhere near the salary or position he held before.
"I don't want to forget," I said, in my turn. "I have been so well since I started this new medication in February. I am more stable than I have ever been before. But I don't want to forget what it was like."
And I don't.
I know that, for many sufferers with Bi-polar, they get to a stage where they feel so well, they think they can do without the medication. So, they stop taking it – with disastrous results. This is not helped by all the well-meaning folk out there who shake their heads and point out that it can't be healthy to put all these chemicals into your body. Huh! Do they say that to diabetics, I wonder?
So, I don't want to forget the jealous rages, and unreasonable passions; the time I pushed away my dearest friend and nearly lost him. I don't want to forget the months spent shaking on the sofa, unable to leave the house. I don't want to forget the seductive and dangerous call of the river.
I am well now but I don't want to forget.
Any more than I want to forget those my poppy calls me to remember.
A Moodscope member.