Two nights ago, Tuesday night, I had two 30 minute naps – each punctuated by a bizarre, disturbing dream that woke me up. Then, around 1 in the morning, I got up and just stayed up.
I was coming off four weeks of being depressed – more grimly so each week. I knew that, according to my personal statistics, I was due to shift up any time – but there was hanging out there the specter of the winter, when I was depressed for four months, progressively retreated to my bed and was finally hospitalized when it seemed I was on the razor’s edge of taking my life.
In the last few months, a new personal pattern for me is that the night before my energy is about to shift up again, I am unable to sleep all night. So Wednesday morning I carried hope that my cruel biochemistry was about to lift me out of the depths of depressive pain. But the other, even more telltale sign of finally coming up for air, is that the contracted pain throughout my whole body that is the most central symptom of my depression, goes away – totally. Poof, I suddenly don’t hurt. But Wednesday morning I still had the pain, so I didn’t know what was going on – what I could hope for. But the pain did finally let up and go completely away Wednesday afternoon and I have clearly moved into a manic episode.
Mania has, for me over the last few years, become a very positive state. It doesn’t cycle way up high – doesn’t go out of control. I don’t spend a lot of money (mostly never did – once bought nine pairs of nice socks on sale, but that was the most extravagant I ever got). I no longer start big, ambitious, unrealistic projects that there is no hope of me ever bringing to fruition – especially when totally non-functional depression inevitably follows the mania. I sometimes surprise almost everybody’s expectations of this too-nice guy by telling off or cussing out some jerk who is totally begging for it. I don’t suffer fools gladly. I really like this part of it.
Today, the day after coming up to breathe, my dear friend Amanda Graves was asking me about the previous weekend – which had been totally lost to bed, despair and isolation, easily the worst two days of the whole four weeks.
“So you had no work, nothing to keep you up. You were totally incapable of reaching out to your friends. Would it have helped if we had reached out to you?” (I had made a lunch date with her and then cancelled it.)
“Absolutely – even if I might have resisted that reaching out. Remember the previous Sunday, when – even though we had definite plans to go to the Tall Tales Isis concert with my friends Joan D’Entremont, Al Schlimm and Chris Rosser Sunday night – I told you in no uncertain terms that I had avoided Jubilee that morning and would be going back to bed by 7 and skipping the concert that night. Because you were right there in front of me, you were able to beat me around the head and shoulders and get me to go – and I ended up having a real nice time. When I was bopping all around the table in perfect time with the very upbeat music, you said ‘You don’t look very depressed now.'”
Now that I’m up and again wonderfully extroverted, I will naturally find great ways to connect with people. Two days ago I told Lauren Fortuna that I could not provide a poetry “gift” at a Jubilee Sunday service because I had no inspiration and that – even after 15 years of a lot of commitment to Jubilee – I was liable to not get it together to go to Howard’s roast on Saturday night or final service on Sunday morning. Now I know that I will go to both of those very festive, life-affirming events and will get back to Lauren about the poetry gift – which poem has not appeared yet, but I now trust will manifest itself.
How long will I continue to feel good? A couple of months ago, after about two months down, I had an up cycle that lasted five days. That seemed cruelly unfair. But I have some reason to hope that I will be on the right side of the dirt for 2-3 weeks.
I hope to spend some wonderful time with many of you in these weeks – and maybe make some plans for how we can stay connected when I again lose the capacity to reach out to you.