“Six o’clock already. I was just in the middle of a dream. I was kissing Valentino by a crystal blue Italian stream…” – The Bangles
Ho hum. Life without Mania sure is different. I miss being manic, without a doubt. If I could somehow magically select among my meds and stop taking one, just so I could be hypomanic again, if only for a little while, I probably would. Lots of bipolar people feel this way.
Being manic is a special way to feel. It’s a state of energy and motivation and optimism and intensity that is impossible to explain. A fevered Brain, disordered and wild, makes the world incandescent. Perhaps I remember it with romantic nostalgia, the way we might remember forever the near-perfection of “the one who got away”. What I miss most is not the way I saw the world, or my life, but the way I saw myself, as destined for magnificent things, beautiful, brilliant, capable of everything.
But nothing about mania is realistic. Nobody is that extraordinary, and the world is not one giant sequin, sparkling from every angle. Someone said to me recently, when I was grumping about my boring, moderate, well-medicated new self, that mania is not the authentic happiness that is feels like, and neither does it last. Ouch. True dat, yo. Like every fire, mania burns itself out, leaving ashes and bleakness and exhaustion in its wake. Neither body nor brain nor spirit can sustain that ferocity forever.
I am becoming reconciled to the fact that to be protected from the terrible lows of depression, I have to do without the exhilarating, seductive highs of hypomania. I am also coming to understand that perhaps it isn’t these two poles of the disorder that were the problem so much as the fluctuation between them, without warning. How is it possible to create a momentum in your life or your routines, to set goals, to nurture relationships, to have a stable identity when all of your thoughts and your emotions, and sometimes your behaviors, are subject to these changes?
As I adjust to my new life, I am finding moments of contentment and satisfaction, two things that eluded me before. Bunnies chasing each other around the house. Children laughing in the backyard. A healthy meal, prepared with my hands, shared together at the kitchen table. An unscheduled visit from family or friends. These, I think, are truer joys. They will be here tomorrow, and a month from now, and next year. These are things I can count on, and more importantly, things I can count on mattering to me, for a long, long time.
Perhaps, rather than mourning my hypomania, I should thank it for being in my life, and let it go. It was, after all, even though it didn’t feel like, a symptom of my illness, every bit as much as the depression. It’s absence is a sign of a healing brain. It’s becoming easier to accept that.