A Touch of Serenity

Occasionally during the ups and downs of my life, I have let my impulsive urges take control.  Well, to be honest, probably more often than I really care to admit!

After the event, the phrase that regularly came to mind was, ‘It seemed a good idea at the time’, and then I would spend time trying to repair the damage my impulsiveness had caused.

I had an impulsive urge earlier this year that has, for once, turned out well.  Let me tell you about it.

To do this – I have to give you a little historical background – so please hang in there.

About five years ago just after one of my last major swings, my wife was having a CT scan of her head just as a precautionary measure, and to our shock, a meningeal tumour was discovered on the left side of her head.

It was about the size of a golf ball and already pushing the brain out of alignment within the skull and yet she had no symptoms at the point so it really was a shock to the system. 

Fortunately our GP pulled some favours and ten days later my wife was operated on and the tumour successfully removed.  Testing showed it was benign although there were some cell changes indicating that it was good to get it out when we did.  Yearly testing since then has shown no re-occurrence.

Fast-forward a couple of years and my Dad started with recurring kidney and bladder cancers that finally led to his death mid last year.  During that period too, my wife had a bad car accident that left her with a broken collarbone and posttraumatic stress disorder with depression.

In my case – the day after my Dad’s funeral – I went into hospital for a complete knee replacement operation and although the operation itself went very well, my recovery hasn’t been as good as I hoped.

Now I am not telling you this for sympathy – because I am sure that many of you have far worse circumstances in your lives than I have – but there have been times over the last few years where my ‘wanting to end it all’ tendencies have been to the fore again.

Like most of us bipolar sufferers, stress is something that we seem to have to be careful in how we deal with it.   There have been many times over this period where I have wept like a baby because it just felt that nothing was ever going right and I just wanted to hide away from everything.  I know I really don’t have to tell you how it feels but it does feel overwhelming at times.

Now for the impulsive bit for all those of you who have had the patience to let me ramble on!

Before my family moved to Queensland, we lived in the Blue Mountains area west of Sydney surrounded by national parks and a semi-rural environment.  It took us some time to settle into an urban setting just north of Brisbane, where we have been for the last fifteen years.

Last year my brother moved out of suburban Brisbane to a little farming town about an hour and a half motorway drive west.  He found an older style home on nearly an acre of land in the township itself and restored the place beautifully.

In January he invited my wife and I up for a weekend so that we could de-stress a little.  We had a great time being back in a small town again and realized how much we had missed it.

Within a few days of getting back to Brisbane, I said to my wife that we should move out to the same area.  Now my wife knows how much I hate moving, even if she moves furniture around the home, I get stressed, so she naturally was a little suspicious and put it down to one of my hypo-manic ideas again.

I pressed on regardless; I wasn’t going to let a little suspicion stop me!  Sound familiar? So I started contacting the real estate agents in the area sounding them out for the type of place we were interested in (okay – the type of I was interested).

Then we got a phone call from one of the real estate agents the second time we were visiting my brothers’ place and so my wife said we might as well have a look.  When we saw it, we fell in love with it!  It’s a farmhouse on a farm about ten minutes out of town with nothing but fields, hay barns and cows around us.

That was in early March and the week before Easter we moved in!  I have never moved so quickly in my life!  Our daughter and granddaughter moved with us and are moving into their own place in a few weeks time.

It is the best impulsive thing I have ever done!  The peaceful area, the stars at night are so beautiful, that I physically start to relax more than I have done for years just coming home.  Even though I have to drive around trip of 232 kilometres to work each day, as I see the sign for my township come up on the highway, the muscles start to relax and I have slept better on my days off than for many years.

I realized that I was missing some place where I could find refuge from outside and the ups and downs of my life.  Not by being a hermit, but by finding a safe haven that when life got too tough for me, I could return to and recharge my batteries.

This safe haven could be a physical place, a place where friendship and solace are found, or just somewhere where we can say this is my space, my time; or my small piece of serenity even if it for just a brief moment every now and again.

Take time to find your own small piece of serenity and cherish it – it may be your lifesaver too.

Graham Brown

1st May 2004


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