Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Taste of Mania

When I left the hospital last year, I thought that I was no longer manic, everything was good. With hindsight I can see that I was still manic, but not so much that I needed hospitalization. My thoughts had slowed down considerably, my body no longer in pain from the feeling that there was a race track in my mind causing my whole body to feel perpetually on the go. But I was still manic.

The second night that I was home from the hospital, I turned the television to Youtube and scanned for Brian Wilson performing the Pet Sounds album live in London. My first experience with a full out hypomanic episode, I had checked out the Pet Sounds CD from the library and listened to it repeatedly, each time weeping from the depths of myself because I could feel Brian Wilson's soul coming through the music and enveloping me.

After that episode, which was in 2006, I would play the Pet Sounds Live album, but could not reproduce the feeling that I had during my euphoric four month hypomanic episode. (At the time I didn't know that I was experiencing hypomania, I thought I was experiencing the greatest time of mental and emotional health that I had ever experienced.)

I sat on the couch, cranked up Pet Sounds, and this time got to actually see Brian Wilson performing the album rather than just listening on CD. Seeing and hearing Brian perform this brilliant album that is his soul come to life through music, brought me to my knees sobbing from the depths of my being. The feeling was back, I felt the same way as I had eight years before. I was touching Brian Wilson's soul and he was touching mine. I was turned inside out, the sobbing making my chest feel that it was caving in, the tears running down my breasts, my nose running mucous down my chin, shaking all over. My soul was merging with his.

As it turns out, when I'm manic, music has the ability to make me even more so, music has the power to shoot me out of my body and through the roof with a maniacal kind of joy. In many ways, I wish that I could still feel that intensity, it's beautiful and a good bit of Truth is contained within it; however, it's not my normal state and it's akin to walking through the world with body, mind and spirit wide open touching and being touched by all experience, which is a lovely and incredibly vulnerable place to live.

There is truth in my mania. I believe that my soul did connect to that of Brian Wilson. However, this world is not made for people who feel so deeply and profoundly. This world doesn't know what to do with us, it doesn't know how to handle our expansiveness. Ultimately, we have to be medicated to function here.

I miss the beauty of merging with another through music, etc, however, right now I will gladly take my "normal" frame of mind because I do love this world and I want to live here and function here with all of these other beautiful souls. So I keep taking my medicine and I remain sane and stable, and I have gratitude for all of the great artists that produce work that has the ability to touch me so deeply in my most fragile moments. Thank you Brian Wilson, thank you.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Rosh Hashanah

 On the Jewish calendar a new year is upon us, Rosh Hashanah. A time of new beginnings, starting over, but, hopefully, not leaving the past and the lessons we've learned behind. It's a bitter sweet time for me. For years I could feel it in my bones when the holiday was approaching, and I was filled with a delicious yet painful longing to be in the synagogue attending services. I don't feel that way now. Last year I was away from my family, in lock down in a psychiatric hospital during the holiday. I'm home now and healthy and that is good and fills me with gratitude. However, all the preparations that go with the holiday, the cleaning and cooking, which were always difficult for me, are even more so. My mind is overloaded when I think about making a meal. The thought of each ingredient brings me closer to a melt down. I have a tightening in the pit of my stomach when I think about cooking dinner tonight. It feels like it comes down to me, the woman, to ultimately make the holiday shine at home, and yet I am not a typical woman or person for that matter. Even seemingly small things can be extremely difficult for me. I feel a pressure to perform, to create beauty for my family, and quite frankly the stress of it is eating away at my mental health. How to explain this to anyone who does not struggle with mental health problems?

I'm not the woman that my husband married, it's true. I wasn't diagnosed bipolar and I had never had a breakdown. Now I am and I have. In subtle ways my mind feels as though its borders have expanded since my breakdown, in other ways my mind feels like it has a very weak link now. I've stretched and expanded and yet I need a certain tightness and support to hold my mind and emotions in.

I am my biggest critic. I frequently struggle with feeling guilty because I believe that I am a failure and have let everyone down. I pray that this new year I can become kinder to myself while finding ways to provide my family with the spiritual richness that they need me to contribute. I pray for tolerance, I pray for my mental health, I pray for serenity and yet I have doubts. Yes, I have doubts.