It was time to make an attempt. Give it a go, as our friends across the pond might say. I managed to creep around the track at the Y for a half hour, flop-sweat and lungers not withstanding, then maintained an upright position at Haven long enough to write in my journal, sip a latte, and start reading the next bipolar memoir on my list. I’m declaring the day a success.
Coming back from being sick resembles coming back from a bipolar episode in that much gets dropped, tabled or neglected. Discipline sags. Housekeeping, in both figurative and literal terms, hops out the window. With physical illness, there’s just more used Kleenex scattered in the drifts of cat hair.
I’ve never been a good judge of my own physical stamina, never recognized the magic margin between sick and well where one starts adding instead of subtracting. Like most people, I went back to work too soon, tried to do too much too fast, and often got sick again. But unworthiness, fostered by my bipolar disorder, also drove me to prove myself. I wore the raspy voice and barking cough to work with pride. I might still be sick, but I’d put in my eight hours. And, somehow, that made me worthy.
Without the pressure of a job rushing me, I feel like I can finally hear my body telling me what to do. It felt good to walk on the track this morning, and it felt right to stop when I did. I enjoyed sitting at my table at Haven, and I was ready to come home and rest afterward.
Those of us with BP spend so much time in our heads, analyzing and monitoring our mental and emotional status, that we rarely pay attention to the body. It’s just a sack of meat that carries our precious mind from place to place. But to really manage our mental health we have to listen to our bodies. We have to respect them, use them wisely, and make peace with their limitations. It’s another form of balance, which is a strange and foreign word for those of us with mood disorders. But, since balance is my aim, I’m willing to speak whatever language it takes.
So, tomorrow I will rise again and give it a go—if that’s what my body tells me to do.