Since it is apparently a day for not finishing things, it would seem the only proactive solution would be to write a post about not finishing things.
I had the opportunity today watch the first episode of “Black Box,” a new tv show about a neuroscientist with bipolar disorder. As a new show it shows promise, with great actresses (Kelly Reilly, Vanessa Redgrave), a fairly good premise and interesting cases. But the characterization of the lead actress’ manic episodes reflected that common cliché — that mania is all elation and magical feelings.
I don’t deny that there are moments like that. But it’s a bit like any drug — that type of high is fleeting. You can spend much of your time chasing that high — and maybe you’ll even achieve it from time to time — but you’ll spend a heck of a lot more time on the cusp and frustrated. The reality for most people tends to be a lot closer to what you’ll see on “Homeland” with Clare Danes’ character. Sleeplessness, disordered thinking, angry outbursts, erratic behaviour…
Today is one of those days. Well, not one of those days — I am medicated against such an occurrence. Instead of elation, I am stuck in limbo. It’s not that I can’t write — I’ve already started two other posts besides this one, and I have about five more in my head trying to fight each other for supremacy. I just can’t stay focused on one of them long enough to finish before I lose interest and start another. Ideas for writing flood my mind, but so do thoughts of a million other things all at once. I am acutely aware of the clothing against my skin, my heart beating and the air filling my lungs. I am hyper-sensitive.
If you’ve ever surpassed your coffee threshold or taken stimulants of any kind and reached that point where you feel sort of sick and spinny and irritated, it’s like that, but worse. Because coffee and stimulants wear off fairly quickly.
Like most people with bipolar, I’ve developed tactics for dealing with these episodes. I used to find a glass of wine effective in taking the edge off. It’s not just me that I worry about, it’s the people around me and my relationships with them. Because when I feel like this, I pick fights. I get angry for no reason. I quit things. This is where my bipolar tends to look like a lot of other different mental illnesses combined: ADHD, generalized anxiety disorder and borderline personality disorder with a little PTSD thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, as solutions go, self-medicating with alcohol is a poor decision as it tends to sling-shot me backwards into depression.
There are actually several different kinds of bipolar, and I am blessed with what is considered the most severe form: mixed bipolar with rapid cycling. Personally I think each form presents with its own unique and special type of hell, but it cannot be denied that the treatment of mixed bipolar is the most challenging and the prognosis is poor.
I’m not certain of the value in writing when I’m in this state. The end product (should there be an end product) is bound to be scattered and incoherent. I find myself routinely cutting and pasting pieces of sentences into google to make sure they even make sense grammatically or if I’m just making up words or expressions.
I do think writing is better than not writing. Not all writing is about creating perfection. How I write is maybe as important as what I say. My writing is about more than just relaying the ideas within the words. It is also about showing the person and experience behind the words.
And sometimes that person and their experience is messy, disjointed and unfinished.