“It is interesting, these very quiet days. My body won’t move and I sit like a frog on a lily pad in a stream watching life float by. Every movement, every syllable, bump into me and cause reverberations through my thin skin, but they come as gifts, they remind me that I am alive. On these days I feel too much and when I do I recoil and become as small as I can. I take up as little space as possible. But I can see things from this place that I have been missing. Thoughts rise up like steam from hot pavement after a summer rain. These days are gifts, and tomorrow I will hop back off the lily pad and into life…”
I wrote that yesterday, it was one of those days when living with bi polar disorder becomes a real challenge, but I have found, for me, that the key is not to fight it, but to just sink into it softly and let it wash over me. It reminds me of being in labor with my three children, it is hard, very hard, but you know it will pass, there is an end in sight.
Most of the time days like that will pass by the next day but at times the cloudy days do not lift, like the weather patterns the clouds still hang in the sky but not as densely as before. I got some things done today. I actually made myself get dressed, and drove out to the post office and bank to make a deposit. I did not get out of the car and I came right home but that, for me, being borderline agoraphobic as well, was huge. And I sat at my desk here and got a number of things done. But I am still really quiet, and at these times I seem to have a disconnect with my physical body. Sometime or other today I hurt my foot, and I don’t remember doing it but it hurts badly and aches all the way up my leg, I am limping around. It’s not a big deal and this, too, shall pass, but it is a reminder that I have to be more mindful of the way I walk in the world, even in my own little cottage.
During these times I have an interior monologue that goes like this…
“Well, I got all the animals up and fed them and the pugs got all their medications and vitamins, I checked my weight and blood sugar and recorded them and took my meds. I made my oatmeal and my latte. I should update the blog. I can’t. Yet. I hope I can today. I should have recorded the podcast yesterday. I hope I can today. I don’t know if I can get the mail today…. Oh, I did it, I made it out to the bank and the post office and I went out in the driveway and got the trash and recycling barrels back in, and the mail and the newspaper. I didn’t know if I could get the barrels out last night. I waited until it was very late and very dark and no one was around…” And so on.
There have been days when my newspapers piled up and I couldn’t get the mail. The mailman knows me and he will bring it to my door when the box is full. My neighbor across the street, a very sweet older lady, will bring the papers up and set them on my porch. I never even knew who did it until a couple of weeks ago when I did go out. I thanked her and told her I was so sorry to have inconvenienced her but it was so kind. She said she worried that someone would see the papers and think nobody was here and break into my house. I told her I would try to make sure they got in and I do try, at least every couple of days. I have literally driven my car out of my attached garage down to just the other side of the road from my driveway to get the mail but couldn’t get out to get the paper. This is part of my reality. There have been times I haven’t gone to the grocery store until there was almost nothing left to eat and there is a little store not even five minutes from me. Suddenly I will go after dark when the store isn’t very crowded with a careful list and get as much as I can as fast as I can and come home. At these times I might have to come and sit in the house for a bit before I can even get the groceries in but the relief to have food is immense, and more than that knowing that I don’t have to go out again for awhile, even moreso.
It is as though if I can keep myself tethered to the day by having this running dialogue going through my head I won’t get lost. I am teary writing this because I know I sound crazy. I am not really crazy, I am a woman with a basket full of mental health diagnoses that does pretty darn well most of the time, and when I am not doing so well, well, I have pledged to try to help others by sharing my truth. Many won’t understand, some will be frightened, a great many are so supportive it makes me cry, and then there are the ones who write with such profound gratitude I know that I will keep sharing these days no matter how hard it is. I am writing this for you dear ones. You are not alone, and you are not crazy. You are living with something that is so challenging that some days getting up seems impossible, but you can, and you will make it. I swear if I didn’t have all of these animals to take care of there are days I don’t know how I would get up at all. My nine animal companions are my saving grace.
The thing is, I always manage, and I always will. I am determined to do so. And at 59 I have had a lot of practice. And taking care of myself, being self-sufficient, not being a burden on anyone, and using the gifts and talents that I do have to help others is my deepest wish, my purpose for living. I care so very deeply, and I do believe that we have an obligation, if we are to live a life that, at the end, will have mattered, at least to us, to do everything we can, to give what we can. Mary Oliver asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This is what I am doing with mine.
Something in my heart is easing and I hope for an even better day tomorrow. I have signed up for an online workshop that will go from 3 to 9 p.m. with Shiloh Sophia whom I absolutely adore. Sacred art, that is what I need. I have been working in bits, every time I get up from the safety of this chair, to work on cleaning up my studio in chunks to prepare. I signed up knowing that if you can’t make the workshop it will be recorded. I hope to make it, at least as much as I can, but I have to be realistic as well.
There is no shame in resting if I need to and doing the recorded class at my own pace. The most important thing, when you come to these lily pad times, is to love yourself fiercely, to not allow shame to surface, to rise up and get on you, because it can overtake you and lead to such despair it can be hard to recover from. No, I say, gently, to myself, “This is one of our hard times dearest, and all shall be well, and we will make it, once again.” And then I snuggle with my pugs, and kiss the many beaks of my parrots, and I settle in quietly to do what brings me peace in the moment, and I thank God for all that I have. This is so important. The practice of gratitude is a big part of moving through to the other side. No matter how hard the days the knowledge of all that I am blessed with is the bridge that I cross over, out of the darkness and into the light. I am grateful, in this moment, to have come to the place where I know that, and I am especially grateful to have gotten this blog post written.
I am so very blessed. There is grace at every turn. I feel joy inside. I feel love. It is true, I have a wonderful life.