bipolar disorder

[ shit is pretty dark right now. ]

I wonder, how many times can you say: I wrote this song instead of killing myself, before it loses its luster? Before the postponement is ineffective, the audience insulted? Here, in the face of this excruciating pain, I was only a little unkind to a small number of people? I tell myself this impresses no one. 

This running-myself-into-the-ground, this why-isn’t-this-better, this i-am-ashamed-of-producing-anything-that-is-not-perfect and thus i-am-ashamed-of-producing-anything, it is, at the dark times like these, tangled up in the knowledge that every thing I am doing is, as it is happening, the thing I am doing instead of giving up. the sickest part of my brain gives me her litany: this is what you’re forcing yourself to keep on going for? this? to show someone the scraps of some half-started project? to write some crap essay? to be unkind, needy, and neglectful of the people you love? you tolerate what it is like inside your head in order to be simply mediocre

That, she says, is embarrassing. 

Allowing every single action to oscillate between the fuck it all of catatonia and the impossible pressure of this is what I’m staying alive for, so it had better be remarkable, this is not a way to accomplish tasks. this is not a way to get things done. this is not a way to live.

look. today you woke up. you took a shower. you put on clean clothes. you left the house, only an hour after you said you would. you drank coffee. you ate food. you overpaid for both those things, but now’s not the time to beat yourself up about that. you worked on a project. you averted a crisis; others arose. they always will. you didn’t throw yourself off a bridge into highway traffic or the dark waters of the Chicago River. 

you imagine a world where you can drink shandies forever but never get too drunk, and all you have to do is stand in a spotlight in an uncrowded bar, singing Roy Orbison songs into a microphone, all your friends smiling at you from the booths. 

you hang on, because that’s all you can do, forever and ever and ever. 

So, some candor, some reckoning:

I find myself deep in the belly of the worst depressive episode for some time. I cannot say in how long, the memory slimes out of me, I lose track of time, I cannot recognize the year of an event or the woman who has written so many of these words, I unravel, my body fumigates itself against the recollection of all this pain and the chronology gets muddled.

But here, I am. Up to my neck in thick, inky blood. Questioned, ceaselessly, to which I can only respond with a violent shaking of my throat, organs unhooking themselves from their stables and threatening to bolt. My eyes are crawling out my mouth. It is so, so dark, and this high keening tone will not leave me. 

My fat red heart beats sicker and sends its fuck-hungry tendrils out, desperate for a point of contact, the flesh to sink some anchor into, an unhaveable man to drag down in the mud with all my wallows. 

Each unturning head undoes a stitch in all my holding, foolish stupid. 

This has always been, and shall likely always be, a fight for my hand to raise a knife against. 

Loneliness like an ocean raging at each ear, sewn into my chest, rip tides shredding off the skin of my thighs. 

But stupid, stupid, to think that you are utterly alone, or to think that if the unending need inside you could somehow be satiated you would stop finding yourself here, alone with the pale wet underbelly of your thoughts, tragic weak weapon in hand.

This time last year, my thoughts and limbs bolstered up and tangled in his, all the many kindnesses– now I can hardly stand to speak with him through long-stretched wires, because to be reminded that someone so good once stood beside me and is now so far away is often more than I can bear.

And so again, and so again, I fight until this passes. Forgive me all my too-much speech, my desperate clings and ill-timed advances, give me what love you can spare and I will try to keep myself in forward motion. 

I imagine myself as a little girl, diving into the deep end of a swimming pool, no adults in sight and no swimmies on. I remember sinking, I remember sinking; but so too I remember standing back on land. 

Trying to write a grant proposal while in the throes of stupid, debilitating depression. 

Discuss your artistic goals and plans for the next three to five years. What kind of work do you hope to do? Note any changes in your creative direction and the reasons for these changes. Maximum 2,000 characters.

This feels a little bit like a joke. 

Here, yes, now, when you are feeling your least competent, your least being-of-worth, when your head aches and your cunt bleeds and your thoughts cloud, when all you are becomes one maw of selfish lazy wanting, slick with the tempting sickly sweet of self-loathing, self-pity glinting green in the hot dark– push words through that diseased wall of meat into the world. State clearly your intent. Mark out each logical step of progress on the way to all the things you knew so certainly you wanted. 

This, of course, is where this bout of terror comes from. Being forced to face my muddled pits of desire, to take the scattered bones and read them clear. To say, yes, I know what I want, and why it matters, and to be sure I will not fail because I believe that I can overcome my fear, and my sloth, and my constant distraction, because I believe that I can win more times than I do not in the fight against this sinking, this sabotaging melt into the grime. 

I think a lot about a scene in a goddamn 1982 fantasy action movie, The Beastmaster, that I haven’t even seen in years, but where he’s in some quicksand or a tar pit or something, he’s going to sink in and die, but his tiny little ferret friends somehow save him, he makes it out. Sometimes it feels like that, except I’m the Beastmaster and the ferrets, and also the quicksand, and the whole strange primeval landscape, the trees moving quietly in the wind.

When We Refuse to Suffer (Album Version) - Jonathan Richman (Because Her Beauty Is Raw & Wild)

I’ve been pretty intensely battling with my bipolar disorder lately. I am, I suppose, undergoing a period of substantial growth. I’m learning a great deal, be it technical or intellectual or artistic or emotional. I am finally moving beyond my first stumbling steps toward some kind of adulthood, without dropping what makes me feel sometimes like a child staring with glee and terror and leaping into the arms of the world. I do, I do know that my life is good. I know that I am busy with many things that are important to me, and know that my loneliness is productive, my fear is productive. These things are useful to a point. I must finally, now, learn to be a woman alone and whole and truly in the world, and I do not regret the choices that led me here. But sometimes it is hard to live inside my head. My chest aches, my collarbone cracks open, my ribs are a gate swinging wide and all the dust the street kicks up gets in. I’m in love with everybody all the time, except when I’m not. I am falling apart at the seams, but I have arranged my disintegration well. I watch a stranger emerging from a building, eyes full of tears, and I have to grab a hold of something. A mailbox, a bike rack. If I touch anyone they will turn to dust, or worst, forget me, or even worse, remember. I barely know my own name. I wait for a bus. I imagine myself in a small pool of light at the bottom of the lake. I can’t stop seeing every color in the room, watching each movement of a body, hearing each sound as the shift of a symphony. I no longer know how to process life differently from something that is presented to me as art. My hands shake, I smoke too many cigarettes, I adore unavailable men, I draw a circle over and over and over again until it tears the page. I put my headphones in. I pretend to let the random chance of lyric state my mood. This song comes on.