My brain is noisy today.
Reminding me of all that’s wrong. All that I can’t fix. All that I can’t control.
I don’t know what to do with my arms. My legs. My self.
Obsessing over today’s problems and dancing with ghosts of my past. Today is too much. In my head, I control the steps, the rhythm. Whoever they were, they can be anyone I want them to be today.
Today’s people are intractably themselves. Sharp corners, rough edges; we pierce and abrade each other. They say what they want to say, when they want to say it. They interrupt my thoughts and efforts. They pull me out of my head. I resent it, though I know it’s for the best.
It’s in sleep that the past spins out of my control, where the present gets twisted in all types of shapes and does things it would never do with the past, and the imaginary.
I didn’t sleep well last night.
And today… today, it would be so much easier to retreat into my head.
I almost always manage to keep in check the urge to rock on my feet and shake my hands. I know when I duck my head to the side and avoid eye contact. Every nerve on alert. Don’t run.
Everything is too loud. Too big. Too fast. Too bright. Too dark. Too colorful.
I just want to make it all go away. And sink into the world in my head, a world with no consequences. It’s not the black thoughts of major depression haunting my day, but colorful chaos of an inner world unhindered by the rules of reality. No one gets hurt. Unless I want them to.
I have a few moments to take to the keys of my laptop.
Swirling words are forced into order. Outside myself.
I can’t direct movies in my head while watching words form on my screen.
Can you hear me? Do I want you to?
Anxiety… or hypomania.
Why didn’t I think of it before? I thought of hypomania as my friend. Those days I feel hopeful, that I believe difficulties will be overcome. You could even say I’m cheerful. I can focus; I’m productive… and capable. The world isn’t perfect, my life isn’t perfect, but there’s so much good, and I’m part of it. They’re great days. Hypomania is AWESOME.
Except when it’s not.
A little while back I read, okay, I skimmed, an article about hypomania on The Mighty. I couldn’t just dismiss the author’s experience, but I wanted to give it a different name. Hypomania for her was awful. That’s not hypomania, that’s… that must be anxiety… Hypomania is GOOD!
My thoughts are everywhere. I can’t make myself focus on what I should… but find myself fixated.
I want my version of hypomania. Me+, Me 2.0, Me… Better.
That’s not this. This is Me Version… AAAARRRGHHHH!
No cute name like an Android operating systems. No Lollipop. No Marshmallow.
Do you know what tipped me off that this is the other side of hypomania? Risk. The persistent thoughts tempt me to do foolish things. In depression, the the dark refrains push me to end myself to end the misery. These? These seek to shoot brilliant, electric bursts arcing through the slip-sliding, tumbling kaleidoscope.
I think I can get away with it. Scot-free then, why not now? I discount the pain that came after, and the ripple effect that carries consequences to me across years. There’s no such thing as sin that harms only the doer, but I can almost forget that other people are affected, hurt, by my choices.
I can’t see accurately. Truth and my distorted reality exist side-by-side in my mind. I can believe two directly opposing things simultaneously… It’s ridiculous when I (can) stop and think about it.
I need to see the attractive colors as they tumble around and catch my eye for what they are…
I hesitate to use the word…
But here goes…
If there’s one thing I hate about Phineas and Ferb… if you don’t know them, I apologize. But here’s the thing, we’ve lost a Biblical understanding of evil. It’s cartoon-buffoonery amusement, or it’s horror-flick vile.
The every-day deceit, pride, greed, and self-absorption that daily impede communion with our Father, are just natural, typical, excusable. We count them as little sins, that don’t matter, though they matter very much to the One who truly knows what’s best for us.
The glittering temptations that slide through my consciousness? They’re dangerous.
They dazzled and blinded me when I was younger, lifted me high and dropped me. Up and down, round and round, a 100-mile-per-hour carousel. There was the part of me that rode. And the part of me that watched. We both got broken. Bottomless empty heart, jaded eyes.
Now? Time doesn’t heal all wounds. And it can’t knit together a broken brain.
But grace has brought me safe thus far… Not unscathed. But I’ve become whole in my brokenness. Why would I go back?
I’m restless. I need to move. I used to jump in my car and drive off to see what I could find, who I could find, and let the hours and moments unfold. As much observer as participant. Sometimes I just drove.
I developed ruts in my restlessness. Aimless wanderings led to well-worn tracks after I stumbled upon a novel pleasure. I kept circling back. Looking for that high.
I didn’t become a drug addict or an alcoholic. Because I need to feel in control and couldn’t let a substance take that. But I developed addictions, my own pet sins. And I need to be careful. Avoid certain situations. And be responsible in my thought life.
Today my kids have offered me a perfect option to work out some of the restlessness. We walk to the library.
I look… normal, I think. Calmly browsing the shelves while my nerves hum like a tuning fork and my ears… my ears prick at every sound. Always alert for familiar voices. Those that repel, and those that attract. Attract… Will I never stay free of scanning for familiar curves of heads, gaits, mannerisms. Everywhere I go, craving a heady rush of mutual recognition.
So help me if that woman at the computer doesn’t stop tapping, BANGING her foot against the chair leg!
It’s not so bad. I can actually scan the shelves, see titles, slowly move from shelf to shelf. Sitting down to write helped. My kids are three anchors that keep me from flying off in who-knows-what direction like a heat-seeking missile hell-bent on the thrill of explosion.
Earlier, I posted a status update about dill pickle potato chips with peanut butter, homemade applesauce, and a brownie my sons baked. Lunch. I know I need to eat, and I’m glad there are foods that look appealing. I just. want. to. get. back. to. my. computer.
I want the words to make sense.
If the words make sense, maybe my world will make sense.
But I didn’t think this post would reveal so much of the part of me I try to hide and manage.
I stand here, soul-bare, hoping I’m clothed enough to protect the innocent and not share secrets that aren’t mine to tell. Wouldn’t it be easier, wouldn’t it be safer, to just erase it all? Why click Publish?
Because this is what came out. This is where the words went after I said I’d be sharing on Friday what was going on in my head. Is it you who needs to read them?
I have a glitch in my brain. Sometimes it’s hard to separate symptoms from merely being human. But right now, in the thick of it, does it matter?
I’m not using a label as an excuse.
I don’t need to name it to deal with the moment-by-moment.
I need to understand it happens, and that I’m not powerless. Thoughts that pop into my mind aren’t sins to wallow in shame over, but I’m responsible for what I do with them. You’ve probably heard the temptation metaphor of birds flying over your head versus your allowing them to build a nest in your hair…
Sometimes the glitch in my brain gets my thoughts stuck. I’m still responsible.
Maybe my self-therapy session is another You’re not the only one for you.
I usually write about the dark times. If you’re lost there, hold on a little longer; there’s always enough grace to get us through.
If your mind goes sideways and you don’t know which way is up, and reality seems too much, ride it out. Don’t let the desire to feel better make you a fool.
Up to a point, I can stop the spinning. But I can’t always straighten my world gone topsy-turvy.
But, as He does in the darkness, God gives grace.
I’m still a validation junkie, not noticing I’m evaluating my worth by blog hits and social media Likes, until they once again vanish…
Persistent thoughts overwhelm at times, but I’m more than my thoughts. If I can’t always stop a bird from building a nest in my hair, I can at least keep its eggs from hatching.
Reading, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture lets me know Truth so I recognize the lies that seek to destroy me.
As much as if feels like being alive in the short-term, I know it’s destruction.
Sometimes I want to escape reality, and reclaim the electric thrill of the forbidden I delusionally think I can get away with. I want to be free of the obligation and vulnerability of intimacy and living in the all-consuming relationship of family. Then there’s the comorbid self-hatred that thinks I deserve the pain of losing everything and being despised.
With every temptation comes the ability to stand.
I am not my mental illness. I am not my sin.
I am a woman, in all my glorious and broken humanity. I am redeemed.
Read my follow-up to Hypomanic Redemption… What Goes Up: Get Me off the Roller Coaster.