I thoroughly enjoyed my day off yesterday, reading art magazines with an iced coffee at Barnes and Noble, purchasing a few supplies (on sale!) at Hobby Lobby and Archivers, and then finishing the day with my meditation group. As usual, we sat around Barbara’s kitchen table to catch up with each other’s spiritual work and personal lives (which are often the same thing), enjoying Barbara’s brewed tea and delicious Ranger cookies.
I can always bring my questions and ponderings to these women. They listen. They offer their insights. And they often push me to the edge of my comfort zone. I felt that yesterday as I talked about my observations during my recent wide mood swing from full mania to depression. Barbara commented that the layers of my depression and mania, with state-specific memories, brought to mind the different states of awareness we’ve studied from authors like Castaneda, Charles Tart and J.G. Bennett. This chilled me, because I’d also wondered about a correlation and had sent that question to my teacher, Melanie. Laney looked at me and said, “You’re doing new work. No one’s done this before.”
Oh, dear. All I want to do is learn how to manage my illness. If I find anything useful, I’ll share with the class, but I’m not out to chart new horizons. It felt pompous to me, grandiose. Of course others have looked at these layers of symptoms and feeling states. I’m sure every case is different, but there must be some similarities. There must be something written about it somewhere.
But, when I got home, I found Melanie’s reply to my email. Aside from being my spiritual teacher, Melanie is also a registered nurse and holds an MBA. She worked as a psych nurse before becoming a college professor, so she understands the practicalities of mental illness. After reading her note, I’m willing to hold the possibility that cartography may become part of my journey.
It seems that you have a better grasp of your condition than do most people with bipolar illness. Given this ability, you may be charting new territory and you may be able to help others learn to discern the realities of their mental states. In my past experience with bipolar students, I have observed that the difficulties of the psychotic phases have sometimes caused people to assume that they were clear when they were, in fact, delusional or even paranoid. Assuming that you have cleared this hurdle, you will be a wonderful resource for others.
What I’d like to do is create a new page for this blog. On it I’ll describe the different states of depression and mania as I experience them. It will take me a little time to distill my notes and journal entries, but this feels like right action. It feels like I’m stepping up to the plate without a head blown out of proportion with grandiose pomposity.
Of course, delusion can be tricky that way.