I’ve alluded recently to depression and the depressive side of bipolar disorder, which was, well, kind of depressing to reflect on. Bipolar can actually be quite fun, but most people are unaware of this.
My blogging friend Susan Bernard writes eloquently about depression and bipolar depression in a way I never can. But at the moment, I’m at the end of a week of little sleep and, if you know about bipolar, this tends to encourage a frame of mind where neurotransmitters do jumping jacks and somersaults and, generally, start to party-down inside the brain.
Mania, when controlled as it has been this week, can be both fun and helpful to those around you. While it is not to be toyed with nor trifled about thoughtlessly, but rather monitored vigilantly, the only way I can exorcise those demons of sickness is to call them on the carpet – them and their bastard cousin depression – and laugh in their faces.
On the depression end of bipolar, I might be found curled in a ball in bed, waiting for the walls to come crashing down because the emotional pain of life is too hard to bear. This is not hyperbole; it really sucks. Near the other end of the spectrum – hypo-mania, which is to the left of when psychosis kicks in gear – I might be your colleague at work and send you like ten emails without waiting for a reply, time stamped somewhere between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., one of them outlining in great detail a brilliant solution to a vexing organizational problem and deploying all the forgotten SAT words, seven of the messages being interesting but perhaps superfluous insights into ongoing business, and the final two emails reading like a cross between haiku poetry and some indeterminate angelic language that only I know. This is bipolar and can be amusing for all who witness it.
Like watching a two-year-old trying to eat a chocolate-frosted cupcake.
There’s really no way not to smile.
Of course, it can lapse into psychosis, which is not recommended and last happened to me 13 years ago. Yet, controlled and let loose, hypo-mania can result in tremendous production at work and allows you to enjoy to the fullest the most routine of exercises, like riding the bus up Broadway for 14 blocks with your pre-schooler. Simple pleasures become simply more pleasurable.
This week, I have slept on average 4 to 5 hours a night. Last night I fell asleep at midnight and woke up at 3 a.m., wide awake with a sore throat and chest congestion. (These symptoms are not part of bipolar, in case you were wondering…) The Lovely K strongly urged me to take an ativan (Daddy’s Little Helper) to suppress The Party In My Brain.
I demurred. I didn’t want to lose the lazy, pointed focus that I had had for the previous four days by taking a drug designed to calm me. Dull me.
Stacking a couple pillows together and trying to sleep against the congestion and throati-ness, my body and mind would not rest and I started to think about a colleague whose wife was supposed to give birth to their second daughter yesterday. I didn’t know the status of that, so I started to pray about and for them. It kept me awake.
I got up at 4, listened to my pastor preach from an MP3 I downloaded, showered and shaved, and then started to work around 5:30. You can get a lot done at that hour of the morning.
When the kids are still asleep.
And especially when you have an angelic language to employ.