Singing for Cover

Collage Art

I’m not in a bipolar episode, I’m living through a bipolar war campaign.

It’s a mixed state most of the time with the worst symptoms of depression jumbled together with anxiety and agitation.  But it jumps all over the place with grenades of hysteria and panic thrown in.

Sometimes, during a severe or long episode, there comes a point when I lose courage.  It’s as if my Bad-Ass blacks out from blood loss, and all that’s left to defend the perimeter is me.  The panic becomes me.  The despair becomes me.  I feel helplessly outnumbered.  I felt that happening yesterday.

I went to see my medical doctor to get an MRI scheduled for my shoulder.  I love my GP.  His parents owned a farm near ours, so we were part of the same community.  We briefly rode the same school bus when he was a senior in high school and I was in first grade.  He’s one of the kindest, gentlest men I’ve ever known and has always made sure I got what I needed.  Yesterday, we discussed my shoulder briefly, then he asked about my mental health.

We talked for another half hour.  I explained what was happening, how I was managing, my philosophy on mental illness.  Then I stopped, and he smiled.  I was talking a mile a minute, confident in my brilliance.  Pressured speech is the technical term.  I had jumped into full-blown mania.

The illness can always sense when the Bad-Ass goes down, and then releases the horde—bad choices, bad behavior, thinking so twisted it wrings itself out.  After I saw my doc, I felt myself overrun by Crazy.  The mania kept me up all night.  The only thing I could think of to do this morning was to go to the Y.

Working out has been the only thing that’s really helped during this mixed state campaign.  Sweat and blood and muscle clear a spot in my jumbled mind where I can back out of the firefight.  This morning I hopped on the recumbent bike, plugged in my iPod and started peddling for that clearing.  As my music pushed me faster, I sang along.  Out of breath, gulping air, I kept singing in my empty corner of the Y.  Bonnie Raitt.  John Mellencamp.  James Taylor.  Don Henley.  And I found it.  Cover.  And the Bad-Ass.  As I peddled, I could check to make sure her wounds weren’t fatal, her rifle loaded.  As I sang, I could feel my mind clear, my thoughts sink from their frenzy.  I could see the day ahead and what I needed to do.

As I rested there, the Bad-Ass rose on her haunches.

“Stay here,” she told me, pumping her rifle.  “I’ll take it from here.”

Peter Mayer’s Walk with a Lighter Touch was one of the songs that led me to cover.

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. docrob50
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:52:19

    thank you for the gift of music……….curious what your don henley cover might be?


    • Sandy Sue
      Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:58:48

      I like most everything he and The Eagles have done, but my favorite is probably My Thanksgiving on the Inside Job CD. Several songs on that CD talk about his shift from “angry young man” to “grateful family man.” Very touching and easy to sing along.


  2. rachelmiller1511
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:58:26

    Sorry to hear you’re feeling like this at the moment. You really do describe the whole mania-thing well. It sounds exactly how I experience it- although I must admit, I’ve never talked at the doctor for 30 minutes :).

    The gym makes me manic if I’m not careful, especially if I put my favourite upbeat tracks on my iPod!


    • Sandy Sue
      Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:54:46

      I can see how that would happen. I’ve got my music mixed so I can switch from fast to slow to medium peddling. Lots of easy tunes for the cool-down walk, too.


  3. Sheryl Mae
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:35:55

    OMG! Reading this entry I got the feeling that your brain was about to explode or implode – not sure which. I am so glad that the last couple of sentences were ones of relative relief. Did Dr. B have any comments about your “mental condition”? What did that smile mean? I bet you rest most of the day today, but keep that uzzi handy.


    • Sandy Sue
      Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:52:37

      I think he could see that I was manic (the smile). And all he said was how difficult my life must be, and how courageous I was. You gotta just love that guy.


  4. bravingbipolar
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:31:49

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. I also use exercise as a defense, I run for cover instead of peddling though.


    • Sandy Sue
      Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:50:16

      Explaining how exercise helps BP is the first thing that should come out of a shrink’s mouth, in my opinion. It wasn’t until my 3rd hospitalization that the counselors told me it works more effectively than meds in many cases. Jeez!


  5. pegoleg
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:27:23

    I can see you, your bad-ass self singing fiercely, peddling furiously up,up and away from the pain in your own little corner of the Y. Keep peddling, keep singing, keep on keepin’ on!


  6. Kitty
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:05:54



  7. Kathryn McCullough
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 17:26:12

    To be honest exercise is the single thing that has helped my symptoms the most. I’m struggling this week with being sick and not able to. I hate it.
    Hang in there, sweetie. Mixed states are HELL! My thoughts and prayers are with you.


  8. Dee Ready
    Jul 20, 2012 @ 10:34:01

    Dear Sandy, sounds like a winning combination–exercise and singing. I can just see you, peddling for your life’s worth and singing at the top of your lungs!!! Peace.


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