I have spent too much time in my life rushing, that great mad dash off of the high dive of the manic side of my bi polar brain. I think of them as “sides” although certainly they are not. It comes from seeing pictures as a school girl of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. It has made me imagine the two hemispheres as the manic and depressive sides of the whole ball of wax with the poor rapid cyclers falling somewhere down into that scary looking gap between the two sides, the central sulcus. I can’t even say that without cringing. Actually the culprit is the frontal lobe which has, at times, made me wonder if banging my head on the wall might not really help after all? I love the modern term for the brain, the Black Box. When I’m in a particularly peculiar mood I imagine you might be able to pull a rabbit out of the top of my head, as if the Black Box might be like the ones used in magician’s acts. I tend to be overly fanciful even when my bi polary bits are minding their own business.
I have realized, as I discussed in the last blog post, about going slower, smaller, and simpler, that slower is the most important thing of all for me. Some years ago I made a poster with a snail in the center that said, “How slow can you go?” It is the question I need to continue to ask myself, a rhetorical mantra if you will. And finally, at 60, I am beginning to pay attention. You see I’m at the time of life when I still have time to do something, to do work that matters, can support me and help others, but it is not going to happen if I don’t gather my bi polary bits up in my arms and tell them tenderly, “We’ve got to slow down, okay? It’s best for all of us.” This, now, is my task, and the last couple of days have been a revelation as I struggled to get a toehold in this slower, calmer place, and when I finally did I saw that in doing so I had saved myself from perhaps swinging the wrecking ball into the best work of my life. Work that is so special to me I am actually not even going to tell you what it is right now. I will tell you that the website is set up and I have even started the process to trademark the name, something I have never, even in my most hopeful, manic, sweeping moments of “I know this is The One!” done. (Why if you could see how many domain names I own you would be outright shocked! Every time I thought I had a good idea I bought the url before the idea was fully formed. Seriously, the dish ran away with the spoon!) I will probably discuss it in the next blog post but I am letting it all simmer. I am breathing and simmering. This is the Bi Polar person’s guide to sanity. Simmering. (And meds, and self-care practices firmly in place.) But none of the rest matters if you don’t master the art of simmering.
And I have to work extra hard right now, harder than I ever have. You see along with Bi Polar Disorder, in the little basket I skip through life with, are agorapobia, PTSD, and a severe anxiety disorder. Most of these things are usually pretty manageable but having one’s house burn down puts a crimp in things. My agoraphobia and PTSD are in high dudgeon just now. I had to drive out to the house last Wednesday to meet the sweet man, and he is absolutely lovely, who is in charge of the rebuilding. I was in such a panic when I pulled into the driveway when I looked at the house all I could see were flames. I cried frantically and said, “I can’t get out of the car!” But Scott is such a sweet man, he talked to me quietly for a long time and finally I said maybe I could go in — there were important decisions to be made — and he gently helped me out of the car and into the house. When I couldn’t take it any more he got me back into my car and stood there until I could drive off. It took me 2 days to recover. What all of this means is that at the time I am starting a business which I dearly love, which means the world to me, I am paralyzed by grief, and flashbacks. In my mind I am back in that police car that night where the very kind policeman was holding me down gently in the car because I kept screaming and crying, “You’ve got to get my babies out, you’ve got to get my babies out!” I had gotten the pugs and Miss Scarlett out the back door but my 4 beloved parrots that I had handraised as babies and had for 20 years died in the front room that I couldn’t get to in the fire that night. I wanted to run with all I had in me and open that front door and get them. The fire marshal said, gently, ‘Honey, if you had opened that front door you would have died. The birds died quickly but the backdraft would have torched you.” Still I am screaming and crying hysterically in my mind thinking that I can get my babies out, that someone can get my babies out, if they would just listen to me. It was too late, but somehow in my mind I am frozen in time believing that they might be saved as flames go up all around me.
And so I am sitting here, breathing slowly, meditating, cuddling my soft, sweet pugs, and I tell them, “There is time, there is time to do this work, but for once it has to be done right, it will be done right.” And so it will. I will just sink down into my chair, pull the covers up, close my eyes, and simmer…