“I’m full of excitement for life again. I’m excited to do things, to do ALL the things. I’m happy, but not too happy, not scary happy. It’s more of a general happiness, one that I wouldn’t mind feeling all the time. It’s just a regular feeling. I’m okay. I am okay. And I can’t explain how nice it is to be able to say that.”
—from a journal I wrote on 4/3/19, which was shortly after a major bipolar episode ended
I couldn’t explain how nice it felt to experience my days without the bipolar disorder getting in my way. I didn’t have the words to describe the grateful emotions I felt or the excited hope I had. I couldn’t figure out how to portray the easy calm I was feeling, or how to list all of the things I looked forward to doing, free from the shadows of my disorder.
It’s a hard thing to explain, or portray, or find the words for.
Luckily, explaining and portraying and finding words is what I do, so strap the fuck in, people. I’m gonna show you feel what I felt that day…
It was like checking your bank statement when it’s three days until payday and you need to get gas and buy groceries even though you know you’ve gotta stretch what’s in your checking account just a little longer…and then finding a twenty in your favorite pair of jeans. It was like running late to work and trying to get dressed and ready as soon as possible but being stressed and worried and therefore moving slower as a result even though you wanted to just be on time…and then realizing you misread the clock, and you still have fifteen minutes before you need to leave. It was like being angry about having a middle seat on an airplane, but then when you board you realize it isn’t a full flight and there’s no one next to you on either side anyway. It was like the barista at your favorite coffee shop giving you a free latte right when you were starting to worry about having a bad day. It was like untwisting a water hose so that the flow of water starts up again. It was like beating the traffic on your commute home, like being in imminent danger when your favorite superhero swoops down, coming to your rescue. It was like the smell of flowers after a brutal winter, like stars twinkling in the sky after a midnight thunderstorm. It was reinvigorating.
I guess you might liken it to being reborn. It’s a bursting forth into a life renewed, into a fresh purpose, a reason reinvented. Seeing everything with a newfound focus, taking it all in, unobstructed…it’s a beautiful thing. And beauty speaks for itself. It doesn’t require further explanation.
But coming out of a rabid, uncontrolled, rapid-cycling mixed state isn’t all sunshine and rainbows (although there is some element of the optimism that runs rampant through the part of who you truly are present in such a moment). There is exhaustion and confusion. There is damage. But there is also a chance to rebuild. You are left to collect the scattered pieces of emotions, you sort through them, organizing the chaos, trying to make sense of it as you fit everything back together. But the debris stops flying soon, because the worst is over and that’s how it works. And as the last of the dust settles, you can feel the sunshine on your face again.
You need the comparison to understand. You need the two things seen next to each other, close together with contrasting effect. You need the different states there, one after another, to see the relationship. Well, maybe ‘need’ is a strong word, but you can definitely use the frame of reference made available by the rapid change to your advantage. You can better judge what happened, see it more logically, if your highs and lows are juxtaposed in that way.
“It takes rain to make a rainbow,” and these words etched permanently on your ribcage remind you that the bad helps you appreciate all the good. Yeah, sometimes things just suck, but the worst parts of your life might very well serve a purpose, and sometimes you have to work hard to believe that. Because the fruits of that labor are juicy and sweet. The effort you put in will benefit you in the end.
After all, you must fight the battles to win the war, you need the struggle in order to conquer.
Because one day you’ll be in the throes of unbelievable struggle, you’ll be strapped down to be tortured with immeasurable pain, you’ll be electrocuted by depression, a current of shocking hopelessness surging through your being. And then soon after, you’ll be sitting at the safe-haven of your desk, candle lit, ambient noise relaxing you, writing pages upon pages of lists that contain all the things you want to do and see and accomplish and experience. And since you’ll be free to feel things just how they are, since you’ll see clearer, you’ll fill the space in your chest with confident gratefulness. You’ll be cognizant of how lucky you are to be present in the moment. Yes, you’ll be aware of how temporary everything is; you have a particularly deep understanding of that fact. But it’ll make you all the more ready to embrace the all-pervading NOW.
Be in the moment long enough to find your peace. And then, simply, be at peace.