one for two


Image by Adnan Yahya via Flickr

The bipolar 2 diagnosis has made me face up to the fact that I’ve been two people or personalities for quite some time.

One tries to find the fairy lights over wildflower meadows. To follow paths that promise a forest clearing with the scent of pine trees on a warm afternoon; strong, tall, wise trees to lean against and listen to the music of bird song. Observe the wonders of the forest floor; multi-coloured mushrooms and unfurling ferns, vines and small shoots someday to be trees. To look past the shadows cast by the tall trees and see the pools of sunshine along the path. To let positivity in action, in thinking, in writing, in doing be the way that life is carried out.

The other personality is the opposite. Held down and back by deep depression (the deepest it’s been in a long while), this other struggles to get through every minute, every hour in every day. Beyond the bleakness; a bleakness that is more than “not good enough” or “good enough but not given the prize,” or even the sad, lonely little girl. This is a primal blackness; an emotional pain so deep that the sunlight gets lost, and the moon is never full. The rutted and up- heaved path runs under strangely bent and deformed trees whose black limbs overhang, touching each other like crooked fingers, creating an arbor of darkness that shuts out the stars.

No matter how strange it sounds, both are part of me. I think right now the negative version has the upper hand – even of days when I beat the depression back for a while, and take a positive approach, there is so much in the positive realm to be done, promises kept, dust bunnies* that stick their fuzzy tongues out at me. Even the fun things seem like too much work – the nice note written to accompany some pixie dust, making up the parcels with fairy wands and other magical elements. Or I forget those projects, in the rush to catch a train, or write a blog I never publish, or other blogs I’ve fallen behind reading, so I don’t get around to passing on the positive – to passing on the magic. I occasionally pass along instead, in my blog, awards of inspiration, blogs whose authors deal in hope and promise, folks who face chronic illness and chronic pain every day yet can inspire, and uplift. How they present beauty against the ugliness of chronic pain/chronic illness(es). My contribution to keeping a positive attitude, a positive approach.

Sometimes the days that start with me trying to take the positive attitude, in some wildflower meadow, but then hordes of locusts, or storm clouds with thunder, lightning and tornadoes, send me reeling back down the darker road with puddles so deep there is no reflection, rocky, narrow footings along barren, wind-carved mountains. Right now the bleakness is stronger; seeing past the shadows is a difficult chore. The words my dark side writes are brittle, hard, and knife-sharp; not inspirational or uplifting reading; just bleakness and sorrow.

Without a day program, without a focus, with only partially shaped self-designed plan, the positive is hard to hold onto. It slips away like tears down a cheek. I truly try to break the hold of depression – waiting desperately for the meds to kick in – but at a lost at what to do.

I appreciate all my virtual friends and their kindness and their encouragement. I know I don’t say that often enough. (Hence the pixie dust and magic wands when I have the positive energy needed for that project).

I want to do fun projects like pixie dolls, but I can’t get the pieces to work. It’s hard to stay positive when you’re alone (physically) all day – I realize that I’m never virtually alone – I mean having a real world someone to call and ask out for a coffee and help me get the d***n pixie dolls to work!, lol (Project is put out by Klutz afterall!)

But just like I need a day program for my mental illness, I need a real world friend for my positive outlook. Right now the odds of getting either are zilch. So, my battle continues – does healing mean I’ll be one person again, or does the bi (in bipolar 2) mean I’ll always have two paths; on to skip and dance down as tall as I want to be, the other to shuffle, and making myself as small as possible.

* I may have referred to dust bunnies sticking their tongues out before — my short term memory is just that — short term.

the tao of the crossroads

Icelandic road

Image by Tom Olliver via Flickr

In a recent carryon tuesday post, I wrote of the tao of the crossroads, and how it reminded me of Robert Frost’s two roads diverging in a yellow wood. A wise woman suggested that I take the well-worn path, the safe one with streetlights and easy to read guideposts. But, there is a part of me that looks down the overgrowth path and thinks of fairy lights, dragonfly wings, whimsy and serendipity and feels called that way.

The road with the most underbrush and brambles is the one to take to lose past and present hurts, rejections and the needy little girl who follows me around. The key would be to somehow mark the way back to the crossroad in such a manner that they couldn’t follow me out; I could leave them there in the wilderness, and thus perhaps develop a new me.

I have taken steps down a path about the darkness and ugliness of mental illness and how it makes you feel alone, an outsider and very sad. But those steps only caused turmoil, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings. I’d love to make things better again, back to normal, back to the way things were but I don’t know how to do that so I can’t walk that road any more. I owe many people responses to encouraging and caring emails and comments – I’m sorry I haven’t responded. Sometimes it’s hard to blog through the tears, and tear drops on a keyboard is a great way to fry it (a method not recommended unless you need a new keyboard.)

I have some fairy wands and pixie dust to distribute to those who have been so encouraging and have helped get me through the last two years. This is a path to the post office I hope to make soon. Some folks I don’t have an email/snail mail address for, but part of this path is to try and gather that information.

I am waiting for the call that there is room on the path to inpatient mental health care. Even though I’m taking my meds, there still are crisis days; when I called the mental health crisis counselor at a facility approved of by my health insurance on a very bad day this week, I was told there were no beds available and to call back in several days to see if there had been a discharge. So, I stand at the beginning of that road, waiting for the light to change from red to green.

There is the road that’s the dead end – my heart really isn’t into blogging right now, but I know I need to write for therapeutic reasons. Perhaps I should spin in a circle until I get dizzy and take the first woozy steps on some new journey. As the old adage goes: the journey of a thousand miles stands with one step. And I do need to make a step in some direction.

I have a wonderful idea for a creative, imaginative project that would involve folks with chronic illness and chronic pain. But I need to become more stable and grounded before I take myself, let alone anyone else, down that path.

So, I still stand at the crossroads, thinking of potential paths; well-worn or overgrown; roads with stoplights and few guideposts; woozy steps into the unknown. For me, that is the tao of standing at the crossroads.

Like my simple daily mantras – small sayings to keep me grounded during my crisis like do the laundry; don’t cry until 4 pm; think only of good things; remember the best; take your meds; pick up your medication; let go. I know mantras are intended to help one focus while meditating. I use them to just try to focus. Maybe my next mantra should be take a step away from the crossroads – head down the unknown path and see where it leads me.

A magnet I just bought might help: “Don’t Quit. There is no telling how FAR you will have to run while CHASING your DREAMS.” Time to find the path that leads to purpose, making a difference, and dreams. Close my eyes, and take that first step.