I have no idea how I managed to pass as normal, except that I made huge efforts to cover up the despair and pain. It seemed beyond my control to avoid terrible wounds to both my mind and heart. It never occurred to me that I was ill; my brain just didn’t put it in those terms. It feels/felt sometimes like my mind was a witches’ brew of neurotransmitters.
My marriage was broken and unfixable as far as I was concerned. I was increasingly restless, irritable, and I craved excitement. I found myself rebelling against the very things I most loved about my partner: his kindness, stability, warmth, and love.
I impulsively reached out for a new life; in spite of no postsecondary education, no financial marketing skills, no financial means to leave the marriage; and I did this with three children in tow, never thinking in any way that this was a bad move, that I couldn’t or wouldn’t succeed. It never crossed my mind that the word to describe my thinking, and then acting on this thinking was grandiosity. Unbeknownst to me was not just the danger of these thoughts and actions, but the incredible harm is done to others, as well as self.
I kept on with my life at a frightening pace. I worked ridiculously long hours, spread amongst three jobs. I slept little to not at all. I could not follow the path of my own thoughts – sentences flew around in my head and fragmented into phrases than words. Then nothing.
Loss of energy, vivacity, originality.
I had become addicted to the high moods; I had become dependent upon their intensity, euphoria, assuredness, and their infectious ability to induce high moods and enthusiasm in other people. I found my milder manic states powerfully inebriating and very conducive to productivity.
My family and friends expect that I would welcome being ‘normal’, be appreciative of the medications, and take in stride having normal energy and sleep. But if you have stood on mountaintops, reached for stars and touched them, are used to sleeping only four or five hours a night and now sleep eight, are used to staying up all night for days and weeks in a row and now cannot, it is a very real adjustment to blend into a three-piece suit schedule, which, while comfortable to many, is new, restrictive, seemingly less productive, and maddeningly less intoxicating. When I complain of being less lively, less energetic, less high-spirited; people say, “Well, now you’re just like the rest of us,” meaning, among other things, to be reassuring.
But I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, but I also tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been mildly manic. When I am my present ‘normal’ self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing, and effervescent.
In short, for myself, I am a hard act to follow. And I’ll miss the mountaintops.