We went to Montreal Sunday for Freya's birthday. My youngest niece turns four this week so her mom and grandma organized a pretty 'fairy' party for her. There was a fairy garden on the table, festive flowers strung across the windows and a fantastic fairy cake that my mom made. A passel of kids ran around the rainy garden doing a treasure hunt when a human sized fairy appeared. She flitted around the garden and into the house followed by 8 enchanted children. She read a story, sang some songs, danced, helped them paint some ornaments… in other words, she kept 8 kids busy inside on a drizzly day. She should have stayed for after the cake though! The sugar flowed through those little bodies straight to their brains.
Freya was entranced by the fairy with the blue hair and didn't take her eyes off her for a moment. With wide eyes Freya asked the fairy about her wings and if she could fly. As far as she was concerned, this fairy was the real deal. For a few minutes I felt the wonder and magic of believing. Special moments.
At the party the topic of Stigma around mental illness came up (okay, I forced it by making people look at the stupid video). I talked a little about having a mild form of bipolar but didn't talk about the sudden increase to a more serious form of the disease. I went from having mild euphoric hypomania and depressions, to frantic hypomanic periods and a depression where I was barely able to function and had a suicide plan.
The hypomanias no longer peak at a comfortable, wonderful level like they did in the 'old days'. I had forgotten, as I so often do, that they now spiral out of control until I am not sleeping or functioning normally. I run from activity to activity, not finishing anything, my mind disordered and my thoughts coming so fast that I vibrate. It feels like there is electricity coursing through my body and my nerves sparkle. I may burst into sudden rages, or irritability. At first it is fun. I get things organized and have energy to spare - it is hard to remind myself to medicate and use other tools that I have, like having quiet days, trying to sleep well, cutting out energetic music or frantic exercise, and numerous other little adjustments I make in my day (all easier said than done).
After the height of hypomania there is a fall to depression. If I'm lucky and have cut the hypo ride short, the fall is not too severe. It might just be a long, slow slope, one with fatigue, lack of interest and pleasure, and hopefully no self destructive thoughts. I just have to ride it out, much the same way as the other, except cue the energetic music.
If I was a better off the cuff speaker I could have imparted these ideas better, and left the listener with a better understanding of the illness, and not just my romantic idea of it.
Where am I now? I'm on the long, shallow slope that seems to plague me in the spring, but there is no despair, just acceptance, as I trudge through my day. My thoughts are still foggy but I KNOW that the end is in sight.
"Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.” ~Sylvia Plath