8:32p cleaning my studio, trying with every nanogram of fortitude that i have to do everything i can to distract myself from the sheer rage and dysphoria of the past few hours. microdosing because while i need the edge off i need to function. i found a folder, a thick, purple folder. loose papers, typed, dot-matrix printed, mimeographed, handwritten. love letters. prose and prose poetry from school: from high school, from Purchase, from Sarah Lawrence. from Columbia. Powerful fucking shit, all exhaled before I turned twenty-five, before I was finally properly diagnosed. Before I was medicated with any stab at accuracy.
Ultra-ultra or Ultradian Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder Type 1. Genetic. Incurable. Barely treatable in any humane way. I have been on every med, every cocktail of meds from A to Z. Abilify to Zyprexa and everything in between. Nothing helped. No thing. Nobody useful understands it. But that is an extremely long and twisty tale for not-now.
My throat is raw from shouting, nay, screaming into the air at my phone, venting and shrieking with rage, crying, weeping, wailing. I haven’t plummeted into a pure dysphoric state like this in a really long time. But spring is here; the Northern Hemisphere is humming with growing energy and my mania is at 11. I’ve always done my level (get it? level? ha!) best to ride the euphoric waves when they come, ride them like the most skilled of surfers, to ease s l o w l y into the shallow waters of normalcy. And instead of coasting, I have been relentlessly nudged, pushed, shoved, and finally kicked over the edge of the tsunami.
Add the advent of Springtime? Mother Fucking Nature giving a big double-fisted flip of the birds FUUUUUCK YOOOOOU to a great many of us with bipolar 1, with all her manic growing energy exploding everywhere. You tell someone, anyone not-bipolar that you hate spring and they look at you like you’ve sprouted a second head, Zaphod Beeblebrox-style.
it’s now 10:03p. I’ve chilled down considerably thanks to virtual handholding by some of the very best people I know (I know a lot of really amazing folx), liberal amounts of cannabis, chocolate chip cookies (the chewy ones), and music loud enough to drown down most of the noise in my head. Chilled down enough to lower the volume, even.
Back to 1991. A love letter to the man who would become my second ex-husband (there are two of those). As with most of my writing, untitled save for the (time and) date I put pen to paper. Unedited, below.
august 6, 1991
this void before me
dark and deep as oblivion
the blackness so complete
so thick it offends my tactile senses
tries to seep into the crevices of my mind and heart like molten tar
to sink me into its depths
one would expect its silence to be absolute
at times it is
at others it is a manic chatterbox, radio static
words, images surface then fade away
i try to tune in the message being sent
listen very hard and close
i get an inkling of its purpose
strain to make it come clearer
a silence, then singular sound
hesitant and specific both
the velvet drape that has laid so heavily over my heart lifts
eyes open, wide with realization and more than a little fear
your intent is clear
you mean to sweep me off my feet
make me incapable of speech, and breath
even in my joy your words keep me on edge, waiting
will forever if necessary
for you are
When explaining about my illness I generally use a similar, while less-lyrical description of what it’s like to be inside my skull: imagine you’re at Best Buy. On a Saturday. At Christmastime. Every single noisemaking thing is turned on. Full blast. To a different channel. And no one can turn them off. And you’re locked in, can’t escape.
Vague, hazy memories I can dredge up about what prompted the above were very simply bullshit fabrications, smoke and mirrors meant to accomplish what they did: transparent wisps of promises of promises posed to seduce, only to ultimately disappoint. To expertly feed into my addiction to normalcy.
When I think about the time and energy and tears I have wasted fearing I am too much or not enough, when I count up the ways in which I was told I was not good enough, when I am presupposed, underestimated, predetermined, dismissed, I want to scream into that void. What will it take? No amount of explaining, of showing not telling, nothing. No thing. No proof is enough.
I am, at this point in my life, exquisitely aware of my words, of my face, of my tone. Words are everything to me; they are my primary Love Language, with touch a close second. I don’t ever say things I don’t mean, I do not wield barbs haphazardly for I am acutely aware of the lifelong damage they can and do inflict. It takes everything I have within me to maintain an outwardly even, if carbonated, persona.
It has taken everything in my power, every trick in my book to come back to the barest semblance of order. I screamed, and cried, and was explicit in my description of the depths of my rage, but I was also able to listen, and to be calmed, and to be cared for. To be validated, not coddled but heard. That is the most important thing in the world to me: to be heard. See me.
Know who I am.