Tag Archives: understanding

I had every intention …

of blogging about driving around today with the convertible top down, the music loud and the wind in my face; of blooming trees and budding flowers, puffy clouds in a blue, sun-drenched sky and the perfectness of a warm April day.

But I just hung up the phone after talking to my mom and the things I previously held up in importance faded into the background.

She is a rock, a beacon, a lighthouse, a safe haven.

She knows everything about me, the things that shamed me and, at one time or another, shamed her.

In my youth, I hurt her deeply and couldn’t find within myself the knowledge or ability to make it right.

She knows of my dreams and aspirations and is always the first one to encourage me even as she puts her own dreams and aspirations on hold.

It isn’t easy to explain to someone that thoughts, images, words, experiences, memories and a myriad of other flotsam runs through my head, in a constant stream, even when I’m sleeping.

And that is when I am at my baseline and not in manic mode.

She takes it in stride without judgement or condemnation and, I have come to realize, did so even when I felt I was being judged and condemned.

Nobody can condemn me any more than I condemn myself.  It is the nature of my world and I live with it.

She knows, though, simply by looking at my face or hearing my voice ,when I am in the throes of mania or, thankfully more rarely, the despondency of a depressive crash.

She understands that sometimes, I have to go away; from her, from myself, from everyone and just be dormant.

She knows these things and doesn’t hold them against me.

There is no “well, you did this or that or the other thing”.

She isn’t like that.

She is patient and kind.

She is, without doubt, the Proverbs 31 woman.

I would like to be like her, but that is an aspiration that will never come.  It isn’t that my cup is half empty, but that I live, as much as I can, in a reality-based existence.

She is a light in a dark place and I migrate to her when I need simply to know that someone loves me unconditionally.

I tell her I love her, but how do you describe to someone that  you cannot imagine a life without them.

Unless I die first by some freak event, by the natural order of things, I will lose her at some point in my life.

I cannot imagine a world without my mom.

So I will put that with other things I cannot imagine into a box that lives in the outer-regions of my heart.

When I am manic, the box will break open and I will have to face the possibility, but for now, when I am am simply on overdrive, it is secure in the  little locked box.

She inspires me with her acceptance and encouragement and that, without doubt or reservation, beats blooming trees in springtime seen from a back road drive with the convertible top down.

I love you, Mom .

A houseguest

 

My Mother's Mother's bleeding hearts

My Mother’s Mother’s bleeding hearts

 

This is how she makes me feel ... cherished

This is how she makes me feel … cherished

All of that being said about my mom, I want to extrapolate to another area and  extend prayers and encouragement to a friend that I have long lost touch with.  She lost her son, the light of her world and is now lying among the shattered pieces of her world.  Keep Pam Begley in your prayers when you pray.  I cannot fathom losing a child.

 

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When I am manic …

everything becomes a challenge.  Thinking straight, keeping a single thought in my head, knowing reality from fantasy; all challenges.  I would be lying if I said that the feeling I get when in a manic state is anything but exhilarating, it is also exhausting.  The thoughts run through my mind at a speed that I cannot keep up with and the important things are often lost in the fray.  It is difficult to explain the whirlwind of thoughts and ideas to someone who has never experienced mania.  It is like being in a hurricane, protected from the wind and rain, but not the chaos.  How odd is that.  There are those who will read this post and say to themselves, “I know that feeling … I get it”.  At the same time, there will be ones who read it who say “that gal is as nutty as a fruitcake”.  But the reality of it is that I’m not nutty, or crazy or over the edge.  I am simply, at the moment, in a state of hypomania.

Manic stages are a part of my existence.  It took me a long time to realize that these episodes were, for me, part of normal life.  It is so abnormal to most people and they find it absurd on so many levels and simply, even if they try, cannot comprehend that the mind can warp at such a speed.  It is both fascinating and confusing, enlightening and disturbing.  I wish that there were words in my head to explain what I feel when I am in a manic state.  Though I have never tried cocaine, from the descriptions of those I know who have, it is similar to the feeling that comes when the hyperactivity takes over my mind and body and reality becomes blurred with fantasy; dreams become real and thoughts are not to be trusted.

I find it addictive, the feeling that nothing is impossible and all things are within my reach.  It is nearly a letdown when this feeling begins to ebb, which it must, if I am to survive; a disappointment to know that the chaos of my mind will, once again, become somewhat normal.  Being in this state does not change who I am at the core, but it changes what I am to the observer.  Try as I might, I have not found a way to harness the charge of energy that overtakes me and throws me into an atmosphere that is full of everything.  Again, to one who has never experienced such a moment, it is hard to explain.

Imagine being in a forest, a beautiful forest with the leaves alive and every growing thing beautiful with springtime in the mountains.  Now imagine that all the growing things have a personality and can interact, on a personal level, with actions and words. Being in a manic state is similar to that.  So much information.  So much stimulation.  It is like having goosebumps all the time.  Who doesn’t like goosebumps, right?  But constantly?  Not such a great thing.  But I am not alone in my experiences.   There are so many others who are in or soon will be, in the state I am in.   I count myself among the lucky ones that the manic cycles last only a few days as opposed to a few months, for I fear that I would really try to fly if it lasted more than a day or so.  Yes, I am one of the lucky ones.  But to those who live with this feeling day after day, month after month, I can understand how it would be so easy to try to find a way to put an end to everything.  To make it go away.  I spent one entire year of my life in such a state and am still wondering how I lived through it.   If it were not for the support of my family and friends along with the faith in my God that He would, eventually end this state of chaos, I could not have survived it.

There is nothing wrong with feeling this way, but it is difficult to function in a normally functioning world while in this place.  It takes extreme concentration and is, on every level, exhausting.  Knowing that there are others who face the same experiences is a help, but it doesn’t make living through an ordinary day any less stressful.  It is like fighting fire with gasoline.  The more I try to contain it, the more out of control it seems to be.  As much as the hypo-manic state makes me feel invincible, I am always glad to see it come to and end, for once again, I can feel normal in the sense of what the world deems normal.  I am different.  I don’t mind that. As a matter of fact, I embrace it, but being different has its limits and I am, almost always, happy when my thoughts slow down and I feel like I am, whether I am or not, in some modicum of control. I would not change my experiences for anything, for they make me who I am, but if it were in my power, I would change the perception of myself when I am not myself.  But life is life and I live with it.  And I’m not the only one.  That brings me comfort; knowing that I am not alone in my struggles.  I am encouraged.  And so a former blog post about encouragement comes full circle.  Nothing is as powerful as the sharing of life experiences.  It connects us all; I am not alone and for that, I am grateful.

octobersaturday-151

I failed to make myself understood …

sometimes there are things in my head that are so purely what they are, that when I try to turn them into words, there are no words.  I didn’t coin this phrase, but I could have.  I looked it up to see to whom I should give credit, but believe it to be simply a well written line in a story.  I heard it on a tv show and though I wasn’t paying attention to the show as it was just for company, the words caught my attention.  I wished, immediately, that the person saying it was not an actor reading a script, but someone I knew.  Someone I knew intimately.  What understanding and pure synchronicity; what irony.

I think it would be coextensive to my emotional relationship to music and photography.  I don’t know anymore about music than how it makes me feel, but … I understand it.  And when the light shows her beauty, I feel nearly dizzy with the awesomeness of experiencing that single, perfect moment.

I feel that way most of the time.  My brain isn’t wired the same way as most of the people I know.  I can’t relate to them and they can’t relate to me.  I have thoughts, images, ideas … but I have no clue how to explain something that consumes me.  It isn’t lost on me how I am perceived and, for the most part, I don’t mind.  But … every now and then, I would like to know that someone understands me.  That without words, they just do.

I know.  We all want that, right?  I know.  There are things I know, thoughts I think, emotions I feel and I know they are real, at least to me.  I want someone else to know they are real; to know, not because they have knowledge of me, but because they feel it too.  A kinship in a world of near-isolation, without fragmentation; a world that is frightening to some people.  Frightening, at times, to me.

I am strong.  I am grateful for that, for I wasn’t always.  I am thankful for a mind of my own, for being different.  Being different certainly had it’s challenges … God has a way, though, of refining those whose seek Him into what they are meant to be.  While I still have a ways to go, I am leagues from where I began.  I guess it is enough to know, that whether anyone else in all the world understands me or not, my Heavenly Father, who created this arbitrary mind, does.

Romans 12:2 ~ And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

What can you do …

when you are trapped between that realm of normalcy and  insanity?   A tough question with no easy answer.  After  years of battling hours, days, even weeks of rapid cycling, I still have nothing to offer.  When those times come about, it seems that we, as beings, cease to belong to the world around us.  Everything is distorted and there is no orientation or order to any of it.  It comes down to the ability to realize what is happening and take it, as much as possible, in stride, until it passes.  I’m sure there are many people who have no idea what “rapid cycling” is and do not recognize it when people they know are going through it.  To the “normal” person, it looks like acting out or even attention seeking behavior.  Without knowledge of the situation, it would seem, and aptly so, that the person you know has become someone that you cannot comprehend.  I suppose, without actually meaning to be, this post is as much for the people who cannot fathom a place of uncertainty,  and downright dubiety than for those of us who know it more intimately than we would like.

Rapid cycling is a real and, most often, a permanent thing.  I am blessed to only have this occur once or twice a year; not so in my youth as it would happen two or three times per month and could, in the worst of times, last a week or more.   It is not uncommon for rapid cycling to last for months or even a year, but for the rest of us, the lucky ones,  rapid cycling comes with little or no trigger and can last as little as four hours.  The mood swings are awesome and completely, enigmatically  exhausting.  By the time it is over, I usually feel like I have been ran over by a very large, heavily loaded truck.  My brain is foggy, my senses slow and my reflexes, at least for a short time, are nonexistent.  In the grand scheme of things, it is not dissimilar to a seizure that lasts for hours.  Right and wrong seem to meld seamlessly and, from previous experience, it is most important to try to maintain control during one of these episodes.  After all these years, I have learned the warning signs and work very hard to isolate myself, as much as possible, until it has ran its course.

I know, without reservation, that there are others who feel the same way.  It makes me feel extremely vulnerable to speak of such things, but one person’s experience can often mean the difference between making or breaking to someone who feels the devastating, overwhelming range of emotions that define who we are at a given time.  Everyone experiences, at some point, sadness and joy, but this goes beyond that.  It is joy that is so inexplicable that jubilant takes a back seat; sadness that threatens our very being and, in the midst, every conceivable emotion in between.

I subscribe to the supposition that most adults have, at this point, learned to recognize the warning signs and may even be able to pinpoint the triggers; for that reason, this post is not directed to you.  It is directed to younger people who have thoughts and feelings that they cannot understand and find that, when trying to describe it, the people they love and trust do not understand.  It is important to know that it is likely that they will never truly understand.  They will accept you, humor you, try to get you, but unless they have experienced the phenomenon, they will not ever really and truly know what you speak of.  BUT … that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who do.

Look inside yourself, learn to know the warning signs and be aware of the consequences of rash and often, irrational choices.  Even when you feel out of control, at the core, you are in control.  The decisions and choices you make, the roads you take, the destinations you choose will all define who you are in the end.  Just because you have moments of weakness doesn’t give you free reign to make poor choices.  It is of inimitable importance that one understands the state they are in and realizes that the choices they would normally make are much, much more complicated during this time.

If I can do nothing else, I encourage everyone to learn about rapid cycling so that when faced with it, whether personally or through someone they know and love, they will understand that it isn’t something that can fixed by advice.  It can’t be fixed by instruction or direction and it has no understanding of “buckling down”.

It just is.  And, as quickly as it comes, it will end.  Have faith that God will not let you destroy yourself and know, with certainty, that this too, shall pass.  I tell you this from experience so that  you, whoever you are, will know that you are not alone.

I believe in an Awesome God and know that the experiences and trials we face will help us help others.  If I didn’t believe in God and the unshakable Spirit of Christ, then I would be certain that I was cursed.  But I am not cursed, I am me and I will make the very best of it that I can.  Be encouraged and then encourage others.  Your life will be richer for it.