I’m ramping up into a period of mania, and it’s difficult to sit still and write. I have no interest in live-blogging a manic episode, but I do want to share what I’m feeling right now.
I was in deep work for weeks on a book I’m writing, and I was quickly lost reading a series of Shakespeare cover versions from Hogarth Press when things began to slip away. I’d been applying myself with self-discipline for weeks, so it’s odd that at first I didn’t notice things changing.
Suddenly, I just wanted to be out gardening. Problem is, it’s October and there’s not much gardening to do. But that wasn’t going to stop me.
Wednesday morning the mums in the flower boxes began to bother me. The unusually wet and hot weather we’ve had turned the flowers brown, and I thought if I deadheaded the plants I could see if they would bloom again as things cooled down. So I picked every flower off of every mum.
Last night, as is predictable when mania steeps in me, I was up at 3:30a scouring the internet, this time for garden boots. I thought I had to have them. However, we live in the city and my garden, while ambitious, grows in containers out front, on the back patio, and on the roof-deck.
The last things I need are gardening boots.
Somehow this led to clothes and tools and books, and on-line commerce was about to benefit from my racing mood and lack of impulse control. This has happened before with things as varied as fly-fishing equipment and model airplanes. This time I managed to apply the two-week rule to most everything, but I did end up with a new shirt jacket and a translation of a 1,000-year-old book on Japanese gardens.
I started an on-line course on botany, and quit all I was reading for old gardening magazines I had laying around.
The whiskey poured itself, or so it seemed, and I had the urge to go out and hunt pleasure. I learned a long time ago how to put these temptations down, and it’s a good thing, too, because my wife travels and I’m home alone with my daughter and a life full of responsibilities. I’m not about to screw up like I did in the past.
I’m hyper-alert and my body tingles like I’ve had too much caffeine. I have no interest in eating.
What I do to help manage things is put away the credit cards, sleep (even if it means taking something to help bring it on), meditate and move around a bit.
The mania fights back hard, though. This afternoon when I sat to meditate, I couldn’t resist the urge to get up and clean the room. I went out and walked a lot more than I normally do. There was energy to burn off.
The most important thing I can do to get through this is work. Any focused, disciplined, productive effort seems to pull me back from the mercurial moods of mania, and the dangerous behaviors that come with it.
So far the psychosis that used to be common in me, but has been missing for years, hasn’t crept in. And the depression that pollutes my positive moods and turns simple mania into a mixed-episode has stayed away.
I keep working, and as always I take my meds just the way I’m supposed to. It’s cruel that these moods still pop up even as I so carefully work to remain level, but bipolar disorder is ruthless in the way it cuts you down when all seems stable.
But the work: the writing, the gardening, the exercise, the meditation, the cooking, etc., applies itself and, as usual since I began to focus on meditation, movement and meaningful work, things haven’t gotten out of hand.
I stepped outside this morning and the city was wet from a misty rain that settled in overnight. People told me that deadheading the mums was pointless, but in the flowerboxes three buds have opened on the mums and a few drops of water cling to the blooms.
The work was worth it. There is always beauty to be found, even as a mental illness becomes more challenging. The garden always needs tending, and hope can bear fruit in the end.