"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Walking on the Poseidon
dis·tort Function: verb
Etymology: Latin distortus, past participle of distorquEre, from dis- + torquEre to twist -- more at TORTURE
Date: circa 1586
1 : to twist out of the true meaning or proportion [distorted the facts]
2 : to twist out of a natural, normal, or original shape or condition [a face distorted by pain]; also : to cause to be perceived unnaturally [the new lights distorted colors]
3 : PERVERT
4 : What mental illness does to your view of the world around you.
My toilets have been hanging from the ceiling.
There was a movie once called "The Poseidon Adventure." It was about a large ocean liner that was sinking, and one of the most memorable scenes happens after the liner is upside down in the water, and people are walking through the bathroom looking at toilets suspended from the ceiling.
On the floor, fixtures are useful. On the ceiling, they are just so much useless ceramic. It all depends on your point of view and where you are standing.
So, the last couple of weeks, my toilets have been hanging from the ceiling.
One of the good things about the bipolar illness is that it is so treatable. Once the right combination of medications is arrived at, the person with this illness can function normally and go about their daily life with the only inconvenience being a few pills every day.
Then again, one of the bad things is that sometimes, and predictably, the pills might quit working. Apparently, that is what has been happening to me.
So, my "world view" for the past few weeks has been increasingly skewed and distorted. For a person trying to function in business, this is a VERY dangerous thing. So, as soon as I think that things are getting sideways in any way shape or form, I am on the phone to my doctor immediately.
We adjusted meds, it didn't work.
So we adjusted again, it didn't work.
And a third time, and it still didn't work. Well, part of it did but not all of it.
Now, we are bringing in a new med, which should work. Yeah, its time for the second string to take over and win the game. And I suspect this time we have it right.
I think it would be hard for a person without this illness to understand what it is like to go through a period like I just went through. People get used to trusting their feelings, their thoughts, their dreams and hopes, their intuitions, their motivations. I did too. It was quite a shock to know that I could no longer trust these things, and in many cases should never have trusted them in the first place.
My life was being lived through a distorted funny mirror and I had no idea.
The last three weeks have been lived in the funhouse, unfortunately. Many days my thoughts were colored by some brain chemical or other. Not to the point where I actually DID anything as a result of it, but the disparate moods were there. When it got to the point where I was really being impacted, I would go home instead of creating a situation out of the phantoms in my mind.
That works. Just take yourself out of the game until you're ready to take over again. That was a hard lesson for me to learn, my natural instinct is to barrel through things. I hate giving up.
The worst day was when I had what is called a "mixed" episode. That's when your brain is both manic and depressive simultaneously. One half of you wants to stop and cry, the other half wants to go a hundred miles an hour and fight somebody. It was an incredibly horrible mood to have, very intense and very frustrating. I am glad those don't happen often. That mood, perhaps more than any other, highlights to me that something is wrong with me, some nerve tissue is misfiring in me, some brain pathway is marinating in the wrong chemicals.
It's hard coming to grips with being weak, or feeling flawed, when you thought for a long time that you were in some way special. I have known that I have this illness for almost a year now, and it's still is not any easier to think of myself the way I now know I am. I want myself to be whole, vibrant, confident, and then the days come with the toilets upside down.
And I just stand there, looking up at the ceiling, saying "Sheesh, the boat must be sinking, again."
But today, the toilets are back on the floor.
I am holding on to the tiller and confidently sailing the ship. The wind is back in her sails, and although she is a bit worse for wear, we'll see how she fares in the storms.
Because that's the only choice we really have, isn't it?
Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.