Four days before I was hospitalized this summer — in the peak of my manic phase — I wrote a long-winded email to my book club about how I was changed. Not just changed, Transformed! Writing a new book. Cutting back on spending. Applying to seminary, of all things. I wrote that I was quitting book club.
Clearly, I’d evolved past them. Typing at 4 in the morning (because that’s what you do when you’re manic, you no longer need sleep) I was convinced that I’d reached a new level on the pyramid of self-actualization. The clarity I was experiencing was a new layer of myself previously untapped.
Thinking about the email I sent that to the intelligent, professional women with whom I’ve shared books and life stories with for the past five years makes me want to crawl into a dark and isolated hole and stay there.
But that’s the depression talking. The everything is dark & bleak feeling. I don’t want to feel like that. I don’t want to think that I’m worthless or I’m doing nothing with my life. That I’m a failure. It’s not merely thoughts, either, but a smothering feeling. A worn thin feeling. An out-of-control feeling.
I fight those feelings. I go to therapy, both individual and group therapy. Four days a week. I do yoga as well. I even signed up for a water color painting and tai chi classes thinking that they’d be soothing activities. They’re hard.
Everything’s harder now. Things that I used to do without thought or effort, like running, they’re work now. Sitting through a Cub Scout meeting (imagine a cafeteria full of boys) used to be irritating. Now it’s panic attack-inducing.
Mostly, I wonder if I’ll get it back. The old me. Who had moments of anxiety and sadness, just like everyone else. But who didn’t have clinical anxiety and depression. Who didn’t have to take two medicines to sleep and three more medicines to stabilize mood. I still take an anti-psychotic, Abilify. I started an anti-depressant this morning. That, and the encouragement of my college best friend is probably why I have the energy to write this post.
I don’t think I can take it back, the healthy medicine-free disease-free me. Bipolar is a chronic disorder. Someone at group therapy mentioned that he’s had BP for 25 years, so he knows he can make it through to tomorrow. I can’t imagine. I want to take it back.