It’s interesting how our society looks at service to others. From my observation, many do it because they think it’s the right thing to do to get into Heaven or avoid Hell. Really, I think that’s the wrong reason to do anything. I know there are a lot of people who disagree, but I give Agnostics/Atheists points for “doing the right thing” for the right reason(s). If you don’t agree, just say “Fuck you,” and move on.
I’ve been involved in volunteer work for some time now. For the last few years, it’s mostly been work related through my professional society (healthcare). I guess it has an indirect impact on people. Another volunteer activity that I’ve been involved in was playing in what was marketed as the “Premier XBigCity Community Orchestra.” I guess healing through music? I was a debate coach and tournament director for junior high students in college, which was fun and rewarding, but what I have been wanting is to do is something that has more of a direct impact on my local community.
There is an organization that has reached out to me because I had listed on my LinkedIn profile that I was interested in nonprofit board positions. The organization is legitimate, works with various faith groups around the country in local communities, and they do a lot of really good work – the kind of work that I would like to support. They work with any kind of project that I may feel passionate about, ranging from education to domestic violence programs to military families, etc. It would be different from anything else I’ve done. I’m not sure that I will do it. This opportunity is a double-edged sword.
The problem is that I like challenges. I probably take on more of them than I should. (I have to be challenged, or I get bored, which in itself can make me irritable.) I am always looking to improve things. I want to know what I can do to help the people and the world around me. My concern is that I will overextend myself. I acknowledge that I have a propensity to allow my life to become very unbalanced. I also know that a lack of sleep can lead to hypomanic and manic episodes, which will perpetuate the cycle. Stress can lead to those too. (Where I am right now is a precarious place, which is another reason I have undertaken this little project.) I know what the triggers are.
I think that’s one of the things that was soooo hard when I have really struggled with the darker side of my disorder. When I referred in another post about feeling like there is a good side and a bad – being torn apart, it’s because there were moments when the anger inside was like a rage that I could barely contain. I don’t know where it comes from. There have been times that I have wanted to turn it against myself to keep it from coming out “sideways” at someone else. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to drive my car off the road.) That’s really hard for someone who wants to MAKE THINGS BETTER. I had left work in the operating room to go to law school so I could study health law, and I briefly did. My goal was to affect healthcare through policy and legislation work. Issues of social justice and equality are important to me. Fixing broken systems is important to me. But then there was this other side; one that felt like a monster – one that might come back out if the meds stop working, and that, no amount of volunteer work can tame.
*At some point, I’ll give you some examples of how the rage can flare up instantly and come out. It’s put me in some potentially dangerous situations with other people, namely on the street in Baltimore.