Did you ever feel that things were really going to change in your life, sudden-like? That a fresh wind had blown in, and changed the puzzle pieces , so that everything in your life would (finally!) fall into place?
No, me neither…
Just kidding guys, I really DO have times when I feel this way, and right now is one of the times. I realize that most of the time these epiphanies follow a terrible depressive state, and that these periods of “euphoria” are almost always a red flag that the mania phase of Bi-polar is about to cause me to do wild and wonderfully fun things-like spending money on green nail polish. I am amused at the use of the phrases “most of the time”, and “almost always” in my last sentence. That is like saying, “kind of dead”.
Really, that is the wonderment of this illness- it spends it’s time convincing you that you’re not ill, and it does this by making you feel “normal” ! Everyone wants to feel good, joyful, happy, and full of life. Everyone wants to laugh, to play, to love, to talk to friends and celebrate. What fun it is to create poems, to paint pictures, to glory in the movement of a body free of pain.
For people like me these are all terrible symptoms, times to stop. To analyze motives, count the money in the bank, look over the bills. To take the responsibility to check your medications for mistakes, for refills. To double check the calendar for missed psychiatrist appointments, to think back to sleepless nights you may have had, or triggers you may have been exposed to.
” Did I watch a movie with domestic violence? Did a large group of motorcycles go by?”
” When did I take my last mood stabilizer, or anti-depressant?”
” Did I mistakenly take a diabetes pill instead of the one that calms my PTSD?”
And then one must carefully think about which joy inducing activity one wants to indulge in: are you really just going to buy one pair of shoes? Why do you want to draw the dog’s portrait at three in the morning? Do you really think it is fun to mow the entire backyard the day after hip surgery?
I have days when I feel like my life is a beautiful flower, unfurling to soak up the sun of all the activities I miss. I feel that the sky is the limit, anything is possible, and I love the entire human race, and they love me! I feel every muscle just screaming to get up and run until I drop, to saddle the horse I don’t have and ride into the horizon. I want to taste the sweat running off my brow while I trim trees, plant rows of vegetables till my hands are blistered, and play softball ’till all I can do is fall onto a blanket exhausted.
On these days of promise, I make myself fight the pain off enough to get outside. I strain to pick up the rake or shovel, to shake the paint can. I begin my yardwork, or artwork. Perhaps I get up that morning , hop in the car while fighting my fear, and drive to the department store to buy myself a present. I made sure to take my pain pill right on time, so I know I have a couple good hours. I am going to really LIVE, I am going to TAKE HOLD! I am going to QUIT BEING DISABLED!
I begin my play, or shopping or gardening, and it is bliss! I feel the sweat on my back, I squint in the sun. The rows are forming like soldiers all in formation and soon the seeds will be planted. All thought of time, or sensibility, or pacing myself is now gone- who needs rest? Certainly not I ! I feel better than I ever have, and soon my yard will win prizes from the gardening club! They will write a piece in the paper about me. It is really amazing- but I don’t even feel the sun. so what if my skin looks red- it’s a sign of good health! Maybe when I am done here I can go to the mall, I deserve a little gift! Or I’ll take Dad out to dinner, it won’t hurt to drive on this leg. So what if the doc said not to put weight on it- LOOK, I’m digging holes!! I am completely healed!
I glance at my watch through the sweat. “My goodness! Is’s already 4 P.M.! Oooh, I am feeling kind of woozy… Did I bring any water out here? Mmmmm, his hip is burning a little. Where are those crutches? Man, I left them WAY over there? Wow, my shoulder is screaming at me- maybe I should put some ice on it in the house… OOPS! I really stumbled there. I better be careful or I might fall again…”
After I limp over to the crutches and tremble my way inside, I start to feel a cloud on the horizon of my mind. “perhaps I should have eaten… or paced myself… Oh, man, I still have to feed Dad, I’m too sick to go to dinner. I never get to go anywhere. Man, I just hurt all over!!! I’m so sick of being sick! I miss my Mom, she used to help me… I am so alone here… I wish I weren’t so crippled up- this pain is worse than it has EVER been! That pain medicine does not work AT ALL!!! I just want to go hide in my room and never come out…”
Then , vanishing into the late afternoon twilight, my joy in living slips away. It leaves in it’s wake a crushed and saddened woman, who feels every nerve as if it were bathed in boiling water. A woman whose fingers will not uncurl from the shape of the shovel handle. A woman praying for mercy and forgiveness for thinking she was something she is not, for hurting herself again. For soaring on the wings of eagles only to beat those same wings fruitlessly until they became broken and tattered and sent her crashing at lightening speed into the dirt she was made from.
One day, in the not so distant future, all sickness and suffering will be done away with by our magnificent Creator Who, by the way, is not the source of our woes. Jehovah will lift us out of the mire, out of the sediment, and I cling passionately to that knowledge.
Until that day I will dream, and I will fight this crazy illness. And I will plant my flowers with tears.