Dancing on the flip side of mania means depressed any time, all the time. Sleep is my friend because in sleep at least I am dreaming and in my dreaming I can do anything without labels and drugs to suppress my longings. It is only when I sleep that I am manic.
Sometimes, like now, when I am high from praise and charged by poetic juices flowing in my veins, this unquiet mind reduces me to an insomniac, a stressful sign that the mania has escaped my dreamstate and is real, here, in the present. And sometimes, like now, I can be both manic and depressed.
When I was 42, I was diagnosed as Bipolar, but looking back over my life, I think I’ve been bipolar since birth. I vaguely remember my youngest years, but I was always a loner, different, had very few friends and spent my time writing poetry or reading books. I preferred it that way. At least I thought I did. I couldn’t be bothered with silly school dances and slumber parties. I was a tomboy and tomboys didn’t do those kinds of activities, at least this one didn’t. I wrote dark poetry that often landed me in the principal’s office. They were afraid I was suicidal and just maybe, maybe I was.
As far back as I can remember there was always a voice in my head, an enchanting female voice that whispered things to me and I would often talk back to her. My parents thought I had an invisible friend, but they weren’t about to encourage such nonsense and tried to stifle that part of me. It didn’t work; I still hear her voice today. Her name is Evelyn. She whispered her name to me once in one of her hurried catch-me-if-you-can sessions. When I was in college in my early thirties, a second voice entered my head, a sad, yet just as enchanting voice. Her name is Catharine. She came to me first in a dream and has been with me for over ten years now. Following suit, a masculine voice joined the fray. His name is Stefano and he is my cavalier, my Anima. These are my muses which medication for my illness tries its damnedest to stifle as well, but they still get through; I just have to listen a little closer and put up with their middle of the night interruptions of sleep.
And then there are the evil voices, Slash and Demon. When depression smothers me, Slash’s voice is prominent in my head. He isn’t so much evil as devious. He wants the numbness to go away, but it is how he wants it that becomes destructive. With his encouragement, I take razors to skin and draw line after line until blood drips down my arms or legs. If this is ineffective, then Demon steps in. I cringe with fear at the mere mention of his name. Ten times he has tried to take me over. Ten times I have almost allowed myself to give in and go with him. Suicide is his game. And so, dear reader, this is but a glimpse of the Bipolar mind. Always suffering, always in turmoil, always trying to be “normal” when there is nothing normal in a Bipolar’s life. Those who make it, struggle daily to live in the present, in the now. Our past is slowly being erased by our dis-order, our future is so uncertain, we dare not dream of it, and our now is all we have.