Darkest before the Dawn: Manic Depression and the Bipolar I

Bump, “Oh hello again, that is right is has been a while WordPress. I have been okay. Needed some time to recover, ya know. Sometimes life is rough going and space and time is needed.” Nods listening, “You are of course correct, it is weird when you don’t see a good friend for a while even an internet friend…So much better, I am quietly confident for the future.”

“How have you been? 17 months is a long time. Are you still…and did the project work…how are/is your travels? yoga? food? life?.”

That is so great to hear, I am glad you are doing well. I am too after a bit of a rough patch…

I have taken a hiatus for the past 17 months. An emotional hiatus, a spiritual recovery after a very intense time. Life shook me up for a while and I was losing my ability for joy. Anger was in the forefront and took over my life. I was in pain, so I caused pain. It is not the first time or even the second.

2014 was my third major manic episode. This was followed by my 3rd major depressive episode. Hence the name Bipolar 1 or Manic Depression. The Melancholic mixture of moods and passions first put a stop to my goals and then tore down my life. I slipped, lost control and tried to drag others along for the ride. I rose slowly at first. The sun’s magnetic pull lifted me. I stared at it, grew light and wild and my mind began to move fast. Higher and higher until, I fell.

This was not my first rodeo as someone said sometime somewhere. It was my third major manic episode. The manic portions have become increasingly dark and striped through with violence, anger, misery. When I was young, the mania was more of a fun energy. Easy and clean until you ran up against the limits of those around you. It was still scary though. Scary for those around me and many times scary for me. I wrote a piece of writing about it a while ago.

The prompt: “Write about a time when you didn’t understand what you were feeling, or why you were doing what you were doing.” I was in a new class, so I tried to keep it generic and not give too much notice to a specific diagnosis. Sometimes I am better at this than others. The wild write was from the Wildfire writing class. You can google that to find it, I am not sure my teacher wants me to share her name or not. I will see and edit it in later if so.

It is the transition point between a rising mania and the deep dark plummet that is depression…

“I didn’t understand how I could go from feeling the best I’ve ver felt to the worst ever, in little more than a day and a half. The impact of one small circle of chalky white dust was immense. From soaring through the clouds to plummeting into the waves, diving deeper until the world was ink-black. Tank was empty. Life was over. Whatever semblance of life was left, was invisible. Even if vision were restored the solution could’ve floated ten feet in front of me, it may as well have been 100 miles, underwater. Multiple atmospheres of pressure pressed my every cell. They collapsed into each other. The human that I was, concentrated into a bundle of inscrutable anatomy. Muscles were rendered inert, joints compressed, bones grinding, the fluid pressed down into the core. The fall was fast, so fast. The only refuge sleep, dark deep sleep. Life, the best ever and then…

I began to rise slowly at first, simply, sweetly. Quicker, cleverer, brilliant at times, hilarious. At first it seemed  I was just happy and bright and motivated. Increasing speed gradually then faster with each short breath. I flew towards the sun out of the troposphere into the stratosphere and higher. Weightless body rising, head ever lighter, equalizing with my bodyweight. Stared into the sun long, too long, so long. I waved to the sun. The cold numbing, the scales lifted, consequential no longer. Turning eyes away, I scanned the Horizon, I could no longer find it. No Horizon, nor friends, nor allies, gone. Family, gone.

Alone floating, alone freezing. Sneezing and no one to say “bless you.” Consciousness faded and mind slipped, slipping in and out of awareness. Accepting weight, knowing the way deep in the heart. The heavy need to return to earth to clarity. Mind, nothing, heart knowing. Floating at the apex, fading, falling. Unconscious. Stars fall away as I rush to the earth.

Wake up deep underwater. Darkness. Heavy weight, heavy heart, my guide. Despairing, drifting, listless. Among shadows, among echoes. Deep in the dark depression spectres haunt the mind. Fear is cleansing, fear takes time. Lessons learned quick have no effect. As the blade is forged in fire and cooled in cold water, so am I. Accepting my weight, my place deep, patient solitude. The heart pulsing, the heart my guide my protector. Pulsing beating, vigilant. Trust your heart, I trust my heart. Floating further down shadows grew. And from below arose an orange-red glow. Heart pulses vibrant. Even in the darkness their is power. Power deep within the earth, the hearth, deep the heart.”

And so, a lesson I have learned over time is relearned, deeper, etched into the lining of my heart and soul. There is a reason for depression. It is a hibernation of the emotional state. A rest for the body. Like Edward Elrich, the fullmetal alchemist, I have learned about equivalent exchange. Mood disorders are no different. Mania is energy, often uncontrollable. It is pleasant at first and is hindered by the darkness that accompanies it in later stages of life. Like any high the first is the best.

Depression is recovery. It is dark and scary for everyone, especially the first time through. To fall from so high and go so low, high drama. The contrast with mania makes depression hit harder. The sun of mania the depths of depression. Still I am and was buoyed by the knowledge that there is a way out, knowing deep in my heart that I have made it before. It is not logical knowledge, it is internal knowledge of the body. The body is wiser than the mind after all. The brain is smart, but it overcomplicates things. During mania the mind takes over, it ignores the body. Ignores sleep, hunger, breath. During depression the body resets the mind and takes over, for its young friend. The body’s wisdom is millions of years old after all. The brain, especially the higher forms, is much younger.

The rest is necessary. Mania is scary and so is depression. The spectres of guilt hit hard and deep. I need to be clear here. I do not mean to glorify Mood Disorders or Manic Depression. As much as I have learned from these experiences, I do not enjoy them. Perhaps I enjoyed mania at first, a younger, dumber me. The darkness and the solitude that follows added to the difficulty of reconnecting with others is not worth it.

I loosely paraphrase from the book “Detour,” “I just got tired of putting out the fires.” This was the first thing that resonated with me. Then later, after reading “Touched with Fire,” by Kay Jamison, I am lucky. I have an easy cheap medication that is safe and has minimal side effects. Lithium is truly my sidekick on this crazy journey. And my family, and my therapy, and exercise and nutrition.

And conversations. Externally processing with friends, trying to be still in my fervor. Thinking out loud. I love them, I love each and every one. I am sorry I hurt my family again. I am sorry I hurt my friends again. I am sorry I hurt strangers.

I am on the tightrope again walking with Lithium, Li. A year now. Therapy off and on. I lost my mind, my stability. 4 years stable and I see my life in ruin again. And all the people I have hurt along the way. Again, I am sorry for the pain I have caused. My clear and lucid mind and the wisdom of my soul knows how much Each and every one of you mean to me.

I love you, I thank you, I respect you. Patience is now my practice.

And to those who have already heard me and welcomed me. I give you my gratitude.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

~Curly Adventurer

P.S. sorry i got so tangled up.





7 thoughts on “Darkest before the Dawn: Manic Depression and the Bipolar I

  1. I’m so glad you’re back! What a ride it must be for you. I’m sorry you’re in so much pain. I’m glad you’re finding your way through it. Your enduring it makes you stronger than you realize.

    Also, Wildfire Writing. I know her! I started with her 5 years ago and now count her as one of my sweet friends and I love her! I saw that you subscribed to my WordPress blog. I have’t written there in a long time because I’ve been running hard with the novel I’m trying to do.

    All that brings me back to this… keep writing, Curly. It’s sometimes the only thing until you find the way out. Trust me on this one.

    Welcome back 🙂

    1. Novel! Nice. That is also a struggle of momentous proportions. It has been a long time coming. I have nagged my family about working on themselves for so long and they are finally starting to do something. It naturally draws up some extra stuff. I knew it would, it just hurt a great deal. I appreciate your comments over the years Edee, you are a good WordPress friend. And yes, she is a great teacher. I have never written as abundantly as I have with her leading the way. Like that one song almost says, “Don’t let the pain get in the way of a good story…It’ll get ’em every time.”

      ~curly AdV,

      1. I knew it! The novel is hard. It does drag up a lot. But you know what our friend/coach said to me that keeps me going? “When you’re afraid to write it, then you absolutely *must* write it!” Great advice. Keep writing, Curly!

  2. Curly, a moving and well written rendition of what you have been through for so many months. I appreciate your explanation. I truly hope you are at the end of this episode and can join all of us once again.

    1. Lucy. This was based on ’14-’15. Then there was some recovery time. I have been pretty good since last year. I just had some sleep issues that some may have misconstrued as depression. I am doing well. Send me directions and I will join you wherever.

  3. Remember that there is always light at the end of every tunnel. Thank you for blessing us all with your writing and thank you for coming back to us.

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