Rage seems to be intrinsic to my flavor of bipolar disorder. In a mixed state, where symptoms of both depression and mania manifest, my “manic” is some form of agitation—anxiety, compulsive behavior, or rage.
I made the journal spread above in the midst of anger so black and sharp I could barely breathe. I painted over the picture on the right—mini-me with my dog, Rebel—then slashed at it with a steak knife. The violence stunned me, violence aimed at myself, at the innocent and vulnerable part of me. I painted in the gouges, then echoed the savagery on the opposite page.
I left it that way for several days, coming back to take in the images and process the layers of Truth I’d uncovered.
I used to believe there must be a reason I got so mad. I used to sort through all the old betrayals, snubs, and layers of unfairness in my cheesecloth memory. But, there’s no reason for my rage other than funky brain chemistry. Trying to justify it only throws napalm on the fire.
Rage is just another part of me, like the creeping hopelessness that sits on the other end of the spectrum, like my blue eyes, like the way I put words or colors together. And like everything else, the only thing to do with it is welcome it home. That’s when I pulled Thich Nhat Hahn’s Anger off my bookshelf and found the words my Rage needed.
Today, this moment, contains no rage. This morning I wrote in my journal next to The Dalai Lama:
“When the symptoms are big, there’s always this base undercurrent of failure, a deep Mariana Trench of wrongness, that awful and vague sense that I should be doing something else/more, that I should be something else/more. It negates all that I do and all that I am. It robs me of any satisfaction or sufficiency. Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to these journals now. They are so immediate. The rush of rightness washes over me without any censor. Pictures together tell an immediate story. Color bypasses thought. The soft texture of the Pan Pastels signals instant comfort, and I feel masterful… I feel incredibly lucky and grateful for this tool.”
Yes, I do.
The Adventure Continues.