I've been following more blogs lately and discovered this awesome thing called a "Guest." One of the new writers I most enjoy is The Klonopin Chronicles. She is funny and honest, but mostly she is a good writer. And I am tickled that my first Guest Post goes to her:
What Mania Means to Me
The hallmark of mania for me is how I feel like a superhero, super creative, super smart and witty (why I created a page to dazzle you with). When I was on a manic "high," I used to say that I didn't need to eat or sleep because I was bionic. I got really angry with people who said I was wrong to feel that way and that I needed to go to the hospital and take meds so that I wouldn't. I would get so angry that I would snarl at them and claw and hiss and refuse to get out of the car. Wouldn't you? After I was finished the treatment that stopped that wonderful, invincible, genius feeling, I would stop the stopping by not taking my meds, carousing until all hours of the night, telling anyone who would listen my bright new ideas that tied up every loose end in the universe with one beautiful bow. Making plans to go to medical school and finish in record time because then they'll have to believe me when tell them that there is nothing wrong with being manic.
Now I can recognize when I'm starting to feel like that, and I know I have to nip it in the bud, so I let my husband know (like he can't tell) and I go see the shrink or get extra support or whatever. It is the hardest thing in the world to voluntarily let go of feeling like that, but I know I have to because as great as the high feels, the low is going to suck even more, if that's possible. So I take meds and gather my loved ones around me and let everyone know. I have to stay in the middle, which is boring, stable and healthy. But most of all, safe.
Because I *have* to avoid the downside. I have to keep passing the open windows (thank you, John Irving). Simply have to. As good as feeling good feels? That is nothing compared to how bad feeling bad feels. The hallmark of depression for me is not wanting to be here. I don't think about suicide per se. I don't want to die. I just want not to be here. Everything I've done wrong (which is basically everything), every mistake I've made, every conversation gone awry, every faux pas gathers together in magnified excruciation. They jump on the conference table where the Committee is convening to determine exactly how worthless, no, *harmful* my presence on the planet has been. As evidence of why I shouldn't be here. Shouldn't *have been* here. This whole time.
So. Staying in the middle is a good thing. Boring, but good. Learning to feel my feelings, but not too much. That's a tough one. Because I feel my feelings. A lot. Possibly more than I should, whatever that means. Some people don't feel their feelings at all. Or try really hard not to, in whatever way they can. That's another topic for another time. My job is to have that creative energy, but not too much. And to channel it in ways that make me glad to be here. And to let it be okay to feel sad, from time to time. But if "worthless" pops up on the psychic horizon, it's time to blow the whistle. Time to remember to do the things that help me, in addition to my meds. Swimming. Playing music. Creating this page (or according to the Committee, "this stupid fucking page, how dare you think has any value whatsoever, you have some nerve, we can't believe we need to keep going over this").
I have a mantra that is blinding in its banality. It's insultingly simple. And yet it works for me. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but my mantra comes from a sitcom (yeah I watch tv, I have teenagers, how can I not, don't judge) called "How I Met Your Mother."
"When I'm sad, I stop being sad, and be awesome instead. True story."
I wish I had known that years ago. Decades, in fact. True story.