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I like to think of myself as a fairly normal person.
Sure, I laugh a little too loudly, utilising too much of the wide-mouth angles.
I agree, I use gestures a little too aggressively - enough to supplement the workings of a wind energy turbine.
And yes, I react to my favourite songs with a little too much vigour - enough to call for a 5-metre safety radius on the dance floor.
But despite all that, I’m fairly normal.
Except for one thing. One thing that has to do with my mental faculties.
Not the faculties of the intelligence kind. I think I’m doing pretty okay with those in most areas of my life - except when I have to learn some Physics. The thing I’m talking about has to do with the feelings and emotions faculties. I have a couple of X-files when it comes to those.
All signs and symptoms from a few years back point to the disorder that loves affecting those faculties. It’s the disorder that’s come to be known with this one word: bipolar. Or this other hyphenated one: manic-depression.
I used to call myself “bipolar” up until a few months ago when I chose to stop. I realised I didn’t want to label myself too much with the word, let alone specify that I have the bipolar II version of the symptoms.
I would much rather describe my “issues” rather than tie them up with a pretty label.
For some reason, I feel I can deal with them much better without including the permanency of a name. And no name means, it can morph into something else. Something that can work with me and not against me. Something that is not looked at as some strange illness.
One of the descriptors that comes with my mind’s predicament is that I sometimes “go bananas”. This is code for: the times when my mind flips a switch and sends me in a totally weird direction. Without warning.
Okay, that’s a lie. I do get warnings.
The only problem is that they never come in bright lights and blaring sounds. They are usually silent, colourless and odourless.
The only way I’ve been able to notice them is through mindfulness.
Meditation has made me more aware of these warnings. It has certainly not made me better at acting upon them. It’s just helped me in noticing them.
There have been times when I’ve seen the warning signs, recognized what they were trying to say, then swiftly chosen to ignore them. That’s because my mind still has a very strong grip on me and my actions. By saying “mind”, I mean, my negative thoughts, my biological imbalances, my neurotransmitter deficiencies, my mood cycles. All that.
I don’t choose to go bananas. Trust me, I try really hard not to head over to crazy land. And since I’m biased towards meditation way more than I am towards medication, this "trying" is going to take a while.
I’m going to have to listen in on the warnings a little closer. I’m going to have to try much harder to avoid that banana frenzy. That, and the nutcase shenanigans as well.
It’s the reason why I’ve bumped up my meditation minutes from a random 4 or 5 to a clear-cut 20. I will up the dosage if I fall into another mindless “going bananas” trap.
It’s a battle I’m still on and I’m going to need your help in it.
You can’t exactly fight the battle with me. But you can help me see the signs. You can help me notice when my mind’s taking too much control. You can help bring back the real me whenever this happens.
I know it’s going to suck for you at times. And I’m sorry in advance.
It will surely suck for me too. Especially during the downturns. Those ones don’t just suck. They are brutal -to the point of being life-threatening.
The other really suck-y time is on the way up when I realise just how bonkers I was towards you or someone else during my down-in-the-valley episodes.
Again, I’m sorry.
It’s such a steep learning curve. As steep as the mysterious ups and downs of my cyclical moods.
I have heard it being said that being a manic-depressive was meant to be an evolutionary advantage millions of years ago. That is why it was never phased out. Perhaps it’s not exactly an advantage in this day and age but I choose to see it in that light. I see it as: survival for the mindful-est.
Of course, there are two sides to this coin of advantage. I love it when I’m in my hypomanic states. My brain works superbly fast. It has so many ideas. I feel so creative. There is no way I’d want to lose that.
The other side of it all is the one I’d wish to get rid of. It torments me so much.
But, it’s all part of that same coin. Both sides are impossible to separate. So I choose to see it all as an evolutionary advantage. Not one that allows me to survive better but one that is forcing me to evolve.
Who else gets to have such crazy encounters with their mind and learns to work with it as much as people like me do?
Yes, my “going bananas” makes me scary and volatile, sometimes. It also makes me strong and unique.
It’s not my thing. It’s my mind’s thing. But, I chose to own it. I’m owning it all so that none of it is separable from me.
It’s my pain. It’s my gain. It’s my description. It’s my inscription.
I usually think of myself as a fairly normal person.
But my mind’s off-centredness makes me anything but that. And I’m okay with that.
It’s good to know that my lifelong aversion to anything ridiculously “normal” (whether in actions, clothes, skills, choices or activities) was a reflection of the beautiful eccentricities of my mind.