My Body

My body is so funky
It has a mind of its own
My energy moves powerfully up and down
So predictably
7 days up, 10 days down
Like clockwork
It doesn’t seem fair
Why not 7 and 7 at least

It hasn’t always been like this
Until my early 40’s I always ran slightly high
Energetic, a go-getter, an overachiever
Enthusiastic, people called me
The occasional person told me I was too intense
Occasional enough that I could dismiss the charge
Though there was an important kernel of truth in it

In my early 40’s a constellation of circumstances
Conspired to pull the plug on my headlong momentum
And I crashed
Then, in my vulnerable state
I didn’t have the same kind of defenses
Against dangerous internal material
And my sex abuse memories came back
And I fell apart more completely

A few years later, I was in psychotherapy
With Dan, a psychologist who specialized
In treating men with a history of sex abuse
He said to me
“You do such great work in therapy
You break through walls heroically
But you always end up flat on the floor
I think you have clinical depression
Yes, yes, I know –
You’re going to say that you don’t believe in biochemical depression
We were trained as psychologists in the same era
I thought that too
All I can say is that when men like you
Get on antidepressants they tend to get better”

I saw Dan’s psychiatric associate
She actually did convince me that I had clinical depression
I got on Zoloft – and got better
Oh, my sexuality went totally away
That was hard on me and Jennifer
But I was desperate –
It felt like an acceptable price

A couple of years later, an antidepressant
Spiked a mania in me and
I got diagnosed bipolar
And so it has been for the last 13 years
Always taking some kind or another
Potent cocktail of meds
Frequently visiting a seriously suicidal state
Frequently being hospitalized for my own protection
Much less often but occasionally
Getting way too high for my own good

So, having just made the case to you
For how I am bipolar
I stand before you and say that I have become
Convinced that I am not bipolar
But did I not stand in front of you five years ago
After my abortive move to Mexico
And ask for your blessing for my depression
For my mental illness?

But I’ll say it again
 I am not bipolar
Bipolar disorder is a metaphor
Made up by the doctors
Who have no more idea than you and I
What is going on in this state
It assumes that all of us who show these patterns
Are essentially the same
When we are actually exquisitely unique

The behaviors I show when I am cycling high
Expanded is my favorite label for it
Are usually actually my best self
Enthusiastic again,
Engaging, warm, loving
Productive, creative
My low cycle can still be
Very painful
But I am learning better how to deal with it
I always go to work if I am scheduled
If I’m not scheduled
I may spend three days in bed
Not the best use of time, perhaps
But who knows?
I seem to hate myself less this way
Maybe I’m administering myself
Huge doses of TLC
I’m taking Charlie’s advice
To try classical music to soothe my soul
I’m getting my friends to look in on me
To get me out for a walk if I can do it
To bring me soup
To sit on the side of the bed and hold my hand                        

So once again I ask for your blessing
For me to fully wake up from the hypnosis
Of psychiatric name-calling
In many aboriginal cultures
What comes through me when I am up
Would be called shamanism
Send me love for my down cycles
When I need it most
Bless the wide circle of friends that I have recruited to support me
As I go through this metamorphosis

Oh and some of you are already wanting to ask
“What about the meds?”
They are going away, very gradually
I can’t assert that I do not have a mental illness
While I am medicating my maybe-very-healthy cycles
Hazardous yes, even stretched out over a full year
Some of the bad old days were very bad
But not as destructive as calling myself psychiatric names

So picture my body recovering from a 15 year onslaught of powerful drugs
Picture my dreams returning, picture my sexuality returning
OK, you don’t have to picture that
Picture me back among you, more fully me than ever
Oh, and if you feel so moved, give me a hug.

One thought on “My Body

  1. Thanks for sharing Majo! I especially appreciated the brutal honesty, compelling and , heartfeltness of your piece! Bravo and keep moving forward with your intentions. You sound strong and committed! Peace, and if I were closer, I would volunteer to hold your hand, if needed! Susan😻


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