The only thing I know for sure about my flavor of bipolar disorder is that I know nothing for sure. On days like today, when my mind feels cool and friendly, I can marvel at the potential this unknowing offers. Living without answers keeps me in the questions. It makes me curious, willing to experiment, and to move on if the experiment fizzles.
Unknowing can be a great relief. When mixed with mindfulness, there’s an untethering that happens. My attachment to being functional, to plans, even to my concept of Self loosens. Unknowing helps me accept whatever is in the moment. Unknowing allows me to accept all of me as my mood, energy and cognition rise and fall.
These rapid cycling, mixed states plant barriers that force me to cut a new path. The first step is to sit with the beauty of the barrier. I imagine touching the rough, unyielding surface and see an Irish megalith—part of my DNA and a complete mystery. It requires respect and acknowledgment. If I don’t see the barrier, I can’t dream a different trajectory.
This weekend I came down with a bad cold. Over the course of a day, I lost my voice and terror drowned out all other sound. “I just got over pneumonia. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be driving across the country. I can’t get sick now.”
And the monolith rises up, demanding attention.
I am sick, so I need to tend that. I leave for ArtFest in three weeks, and I’m ready. As I sit with this old stone, I can see that I’ve been pushing too hard. Because I was accepted as a vendor, I’ve been cranking out my most artful, most outrageous cards. I refurbished a display unit my friend loaned me. I wanted ArtFest to see a particular side of me—professional, laid-back, confident.
And the craggy rock cannot be moved.
I am all those things, but my illness makes me much more. My moods, my energy, my capacity will swing on my trip. I could keep my fingers in my ears and pretend it won’t happen, but then I’ll crack my head on this immovable menhir.
I need to be quiet now and listen to the silence of my DNA. As I breathe in the mystery, I can feel my grip loosen. Expectation. Ego. Fear. Judgment.
I’m fine. And now it’s time for a cup of tea.