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[S]ometimes the world would get the better of her, and her strong, fighter’s spirit would be dragged down deep, drowning in the smallness of the situation. Held near the bottom, unable to gasp for air in the liquid uncertainty of these passing moments, she never knew how to signal for help. She seemed to think lifeguards were the enemy, so she’d flounder, alone, hoping to be thrown ashore by the oncoming tide. I recognized it as the depression shade of her colorful bipolar spectrum, and knew that somewhere inside herself she was, in fact, fighting — for herself, for me. But, as often as not, I also called it “selfishness,” because her depression seemed to get the best of her when I needed her most.

For years, every time her bipolar disorder swung, I closed my eyes, ducked and waited for the pendulum to reach the end of the pivot, for the weight to oscillate over and over until she could finally rest again, in equilibrium. Once her mood was at ease, days or months later, we’d together clean up the mess she’d made, whatever it looked like.

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