So, okay. I’m deep in depression and have been for months now, navigating the best I can, but that’s not working anymore. When bipolar disorder rips all the skills away and leaves raw flesh, something is still there. Some sort of intelligence, some sort of animal instinct. It may not be logical or sane, but something is moving under the madness.
It manifests as compulsive behavior—a thrashing around to find solace, relief and oblivion. It’s old, and ingrained, and mindless. I’ve always thought of it as wild, savage, completely uncontrollable. I’ve managed it by moving the breakables out of its way and cleaning up after it rampages through my life. But, like I said, that strategy isn’t working anymore.
The only thing I can think to do now is bring the Bad-Ass.
I’m not sure what that is, but I know what it’s not. It’s not telling myself to suck it up, snap out of it, or get over it. I already know that doesn’t work. Ditto on setting unrealistic goals or lists of things to do. Bringing the Bad-Ass is not an assault on myself, it’s not hacking at my illness with judgment.
It seems to be more of a shift in how I hold my body. I square my shoulders a little more and pay attention to how I walk—a firm, strong gait instead of waddling with pain or shuffling off-balance. Yes, I feel suicidal and hopeless, but the Bad-Ass is there, too, and allowing her to be there gives me more physical strength.
There’s also a sense of the Bad-Ass in the gaps. This season of insanity hasn’t been one thick slab of cement. It thins sometimes, pulls apart in gaps before closing up again. And if I allow it, the Bad-Ass can fight through those gaps. I could do that yesterday, and spent an hour strategizing. Where am I feeling the most out of control? Is there anything to be done? What messes have I made? How can I clean them up? Are there any tools that still work? Can I capitalize on those more?
This is not the time to make changes or try something new. My illness won’t tolerate that. But the Bad-Ass helps me return to tools that work, ones that I lost along this long road. I can go back to keeping a Food Journal and weighing myself every day. It doesn’t matter right now if the news is grim, the act of doing those things will bring back a sense of routine. They help channel the wildness.
Because I had to cancel all my obligations the past few days, I see I need to put some contingency plans in place. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before—probably my wishful thinking that this time I could be reliable. Oh, the delusions, the delusions… The Bad-Ass takes care of business in the here and now. Through her, I can ask for back-up, make sure there’s someone who can take over when I can’t lead the meditation groups. That will relieve a lot of pressure.
I dream of the day when the Bad-Ass can be with me all the time. I guess it’s my fantasy of recovery, of beating back this illness forever. But maybe there’s a way to bring her to the battle more often, to use her strengths and hutzpah while I’m cycling, to feel her calm, steely resolve even when I’m caught in my compulsive behavior. All I can do is be open to it and watch what happens.
I’m on an Adventure.