Today was a wild day.
In short, I took my kids to preschool, ran two miles, was hypomanic for a few hours, resumed motherhood responsibilities, rested in the afternoon (in other words, came down), went sled-riding with my kids, fed the family, bathed the kids, put them to bed, and now I am riding the calm.
My mind is focused and relaxed. Or as relaxed as possible. And I am learning a hell of a lot about myself by writing about my highs and lows on this blog. I am bipolar, you see.
I said it.
But really I didn’t because saying it out loud is scary. Writing about it has always been a good thing for me, but only privately. Now I am sharing more publicly and that’s a bit scary, yet still easier than talking about it. When I started this blog I wasn’t exactly sure where it would take me, but here I am opening myself up to the world for the taking.
I don’t like the word bipolar, but I have to come to terms that no matter how embarrassing my diagnosis feels I have to face it. I don’t think I have ever said the word bipolar out loud to more than a handful of people. Even then, I probably whispered it. Instead, if I have to talk about my condition, I mention mania because I don’t mind that word. I have no problem owning my energy. I don’t really like the word depressed (just because I am a positive person), but I don’t mind it as much as bipolar. Being depressed is a fact of life and acceptable to a point. Nonetheless if I disclose my illness to anyone I say something like, “highs and lows” or something else that sounds safer like manic-depressive, quickly followed by a proclamation about being more manic than depressed. Anything but bipolar.
As a result of my condition, I had postpartum psychosis — twice — and mentioned it in my earlier post today. I’m getting better about talking about it, especially to women. I learned a lot having gone through that. Instead of rattling on too much of what it is though, I tell people to Google it so I don’t have to stand there and explain it and feel judged and anxious and worn out afterward. I figure if someone is that interested in what I went through, they can Google it and judge me in private or seek me out afterwards if they want to talk about it with me. Otherwise, if I am with other moms and postpartum issues come up I say I “had a hard time” after pregnancy. In other words, I skirt around the issue.
Not that I am planning to wave my illnesses around carelessly every day of my life — I don’t see it that way, but I am trying to find an audience to share my stories with, in addition to finding other people who have had similar experiences. Because it’s lonely up in my head sometimes, and I just know there are so many people out there who deal with this. Jenny Lawson proved this on her Furiously Happy book tour. I am learning that my denial holds me back in life. I am 35, and I’m ready to rock and roll in this life without self-inflicted restraints.
Over the weekend I pulled out a huge shoulder bag and a tote bag that were hidden in the depths of my office closet. I emptied the bags, filled with journals and notebooks full of my stories and reckless words and a few artifacts, into a Rubbermaid container — one of the large ones. I left the top off and let them air out for a few days all naked, just sitting there beckoning me.
It is becoming clear that I need to have an “affair with my writing.” Brené Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert would be proud. I coined the expression from one of Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcasts called Magic Lessons.
After I ran this morning, I started looking through the journals and some of the artifacts that were meaningful to me, and that I hoarded before and during both of my hospitalizations (due to postpartum psychosis). Touching my journals, paging through them, seeing and feeling the artifacts triggered my mania for sure. It is easy for me to pinpoint that. It was even easy for me to reign myself back in and pull myself back to reality when I had to go pick up my kids, because I understand my illness. I just don’t like the label.
What is not easy for me is figuring out how far I want to go with all of this. After I published the post I wrote this morning, I left my journals and artifacts from the bin strew around my office. They are still all around me, just waiting for me to harvest stories or hide them again or discard them. I am pretty sure I want to harvest them, but I have to plan it right. Not to use my kids or time as an excuse anymore, but I do have to make arrangements and a plan if I want to get down to some serious writing. In some ways, I am trying to put it off until they are in school. Put it off, I tell myself. Put it off until it is convenient for our family.
But that’s not how life works. Some of the big things in life happen at inconvenient times. Often good things result after those inconveniences, but man, at the time they just feel all traumatic. My inner stories have gnawed at me for a year and it’s like they are demanding I write them and expel them from my mind. It’s almost like it is becoming out of my hands. (I think I am having a Come to Jesus Moment with them. Seriously). I am trying to look at this situation the way some people look at having kids — trying to find the right time. There is never a right time, there is only the right now. And that’s what I want to live in. The right now.
But first, I have to climb over this hurdle. The hurdle I am trying to define and name. I started this blog just over a month ago and I have already published around 17 blog posts. In that little amount of time, that’s a lot of posts based on my prior blogging experience. I am coming out of the gates on fire here and I realize it’s probably an unrealistic pace for me, but I have to live these highs and lows and figure it all out while its floating every which way inside me. I absolutely know I need to keep my doctors and my support people in the loop, too, because a tidal wave is brewing and I am not sure how my ship is going to look afterward. (I hope it is on a beach and I have good food and drinks and music and all my best friends around me).
There I go, heading back to that ship metaphor. My father’s infidelity plays a role in all of this, as do other traumas — an eating disorder and being in the mêlée of a massive school shooting. They are all part of my story. The story so desperately trying to get out of me.
Wow. This is starting to sound like a letter to Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, who are the The Sugars, from Dear Sugar Radio. Maybe I will write them a letter. I totally should. I wonder what they would tell me to do? Probably go fucking write!
For now, all I know is that whatever metamorphosis is happening inside me, I like it. I want to keep riding these creative waves and spewing out my thoughts until something good becomes of it all.
I leave you with Come Sail Away by The Styx.