Have you ever given any thought as to who you really are? I don’t normally give it much thought, but in the past I struggled mightily at times. When depression puts me into a fog, or medication side effects dull my mind I have to remind myself that this is not who I am and that I am the same person underneath the side effects. It took me a long time to understand this, but when I did it became easier to accept my illness. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
On a better note – I’ve got happy tales for the next few topics!
My hand hovered over the pill bottle as I thought back to the last two days. Energy had flowed through my body as if I had been powered by a lightning strike and ideas swirled in my mind like Dorothy's house in the tornado. I had so much that I wanted to do - did I really want to put an end to it?
Getting back to normal, whatever that meant, would be the smart thing to do. I knew what usually followed an energy surge like this, and it wasn’t pretty. But maybe it will be different this time, I thought to my self, and besides which, this flash of vigour felt good - much better than the flat mood I was normally in, where beauty wasn’t found at every glance and the stars didn’t glow in the sky like so many diamonds. “One more day” I promised myself, the allure too much to resist, and I turned away from the bottle.
I lay in bed that night staring at the ceiling, plans for home renovations formulating in my head. From painting the bathrooms, new flooring in the bedroom, finishing a room in the basement, I mapped every step in my head until even the smallest detail was carefully planned (or so I thought). The dark sky was just barely tinged with light when I leapt out of bed to start.
Everywhere I turned there was mess and disorder - I couldn’t stand it. My thoughts were jumbled like an errant string of Christmas lights, ideas bright but out of order; my mind zipped around trying to create some order. Anything sitting out in plain view was likely to be stashed away in a box somewhere, unless it was a tidily ordered vignette that somehow pleased my eye. I dashed from one spot to another, disorganized and frantic. I knew I had let things go too far and headed to the cupboard where I had resisted normality so many days before. I knew the meds wouldn’t put an end to it, but would at least stop further escalation.
A few hours later the swirling in my head had slowed down a bit. For the next two weeks I kept up with the extra meds, and was flying along just above ground level and not soaring into the clouds with the Canada Geese that were passing by.
I was standing there, in Canadian Tire next to a pile of hockey equipment, I think they were gloves, when the crash happened. It was as if a hypnotist had snapped his fingers to suddenly end the spell and then dropped a truck load of cement onto me, coating my limbs with a heavy burden that made it hard to move. Suddenly the string of bright lights in my head became a tangle skein of wool carded into a mass of fuzz - thoughts came slowly and with difficulty.
We left the store and packed my new craft table into the backseat. I had to finish staining the furniture no matter how I felt. Dragging the table down to the basement, I almost tripped over the 12 gallons of paint at the bottom of the stairs. The sight of them overwhelmed me and I choked back tears of frustration - why couldn’t it have lasted? Just a few hours ago the same sight had caused an upwelling of excitement. Polar opposites. I didn’t know how long I’d be dragged down into this cavern of low energy and negative thinking and tried to delude myself that it wouldn’t be as long as the bright energy had lasted.
But who am I really? It is hard to remember at times, but I am not my mood, I am not bipolar, I merely have bipolar disorder. It is not who I am, although it does effect how I live my life. I have struggled and railed against defining myself by my illness, in the beginning it was hard not to. But life has taught me that I am still essentially myself. I laugh and I cry like everybody else. I am an animal lover; I am empathetic and cry for others; I value nature, the sun and the earth; I value honesty; I am a clown and jump out from behind corners; I am organized and precise; I follow rules; I like to think that I am funny. I am me.
I’m not bipolar, I’ve just had a bipolar life foisted upon me. ~Daniel O'Malley, The Rook