Life continues

(prequel to Smoke, a story of bipolar disorder)

By Michaelina McGee


The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.

I was that girl, the girl who escaped the bubble. The universe had set me free into the city that I wanted to live in since the age of 7. I remember when I saw my very first Broadway show “The Boy from Oz.” That was the moment I decided I would be shining bright on a billboard overlooking Time Square. I dedicated my entire life to performing in the hopes of getting accepted into a prestigious Musical Theatre Program. When I finally achieved my goal, my spark burnt out and that seven-year-old girl’s bright smile turned into a muddled frown.

My dreams turned into nightmares and my innocence evaporated.

I woke up to my alarm blaring in my ear, running on about an hour of sleep still in my clothes from the night before. I pulled to covers over my eyes and hit the snooze button. “Micha, GET UP, you are not missing rehab again!” My screaming roommate tore the covers off of my body. Hung over, possibly still intoxicated, I slid on an oversized sweatshirt not bothering to wash my face or change my clothes. I jumped onto my bike, that was unlocked as always. It was 30 degrees, I was late, and the wind was freezing my face.

It was 8:45 a.m., rehab started at 9:00 and I was a good 30-minute bike ride away. I knew I was going to be late, I couldn’t miss for the third time or I would be kicked out of rehab. That would have been the last straw with my parents. My eating disorder had gotten out of control. It was my decision to enter into an out-patient rehab program at the Renfrew Center. I was surrounded by emptiness and tempted to engage in bad behavior with the other patients.

I was on 18th and 1st when the bus hit me. I don’t remember much, I remember being slammed into the asphalt, blacking out, and looking up to see the bus driving away. I got back onto my mangled bike and started peddling as fast as possible, but then I fell over again. A Doctor on his way to the hospital ran up beside me on the street. I explained my situation, and he urged me to go to the hospital. His name was John, and he said he had a daughter my age enrolled at New York University. He did not want me to have to go alone so he walked with me the entire way until I managed to make it up the elevator and explain my situation to the nurses. This was the tip of the iceberg.

A day later, my roommates called me with concern in their voices. When I walked in the door, they were packing up my bedroom. My roommates told my parents that I needed to go home. They could no longer reach me I was so far away. Who had I become? I was once a giggly, bright eyed, charismatic girl, but I had turned into a dark empty hole of nothingness. I looked in the mirror and saw someone I didn’t recognize. I was thin and my eyes were sunken into my head. I needed to get better before I could become the “star” I had imagined being.

I broke down falling on the ground. My vision, everything I had lived for was being ripped out from under me. It didn’t make sense to me. Everyone around me said that “It’s for the best.” I didn’t understand. I couldn’t leave my friends, my city, my dream.

It was ending, everything I worked for, I ruined it all.

After a year at home I begun to recognize that this was only one chapter in my book. Although at that moment I thought it was the wrong decision, it was really just the beginning of a road to a happy life.

It has been almost three years since that day and I couldn’t be luckier. I have the best family in the world. My hopes were crushed, and everything I had strived for had disappeared from me. I just recently recognized that we need to think about who is around us. Although I am no longer in New York City, I have learned that it is not the place that makes you happy, but rather the people that matter.

Sometimes what we think will make us happy ends up being our worst enemy. I worked so hard to achieve my goal of studying at Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21), one of the most prestigious Musical Theatre Programs in the country. Yet, I was angry, alone, scared and unable to remain healthy. Currently I am living in Pittsburgh attending Chatham University as a Political Science major. My childhood fantasy no longer aligns with present goals. Throughout my life experience I have learned that I am passionate about public health, in my senior year I am now interning at a non-profit that focuses on health in our communities. I am able to be a part of programs that focuses on benefitting individuals in need.

New York was an experience in my life that has led me to where I am today. Our lives will take us different places, but in each place you must search for happiness and wherever you find it hold on tight.

Story Credits

Writer: Michaelina McGee
(all photographs are courtesy of Michaelina McGee)
Editor: Alyse Horn
Web Producer: Will Halim

Disclaimer: the narrative expressed in the article is solely those of the author(s).
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