The biggest loss after I was diagnosed was my poetry. Before my diagnosis, I wrote a lot — I filled a ring binder with it. Two inches of verse, mostly free. Then I stopped because I believed that going to readings and writing it made my condition worse. And I believed that I lost the ability to write it. I did not stop, but my output was meager and sparse. One poem a year. Some years I wrote nothing. But a part of me yearned for the truth and beauty of a fine image. So last spring, I conducted an experiment. Thanks to a psycho-stimulant that gave me a renewed ability to focus, I cautiously began to compose free verse and haiku. To my joy, I did not explode into mania. I was not writing long intense blogs as had been the signature of my mania and I did not lapse into consequent depressions. So I have begun thinking: If I can handle poetry what about spirituality? Could I attend a church without turning into a prophet? Could I handle being a member of a congregation and not its priest? So I have been contemplating where to go, what denomination suits my temperament. That is the next signpost.
My mania feels like a fishing line pulled taut to the breaking point.
My depression feels like I am that same fishing line let to fall in a curled mess and tossed to the bottom of the sea.
My mania feels like omnipotence — the power of God — channeled through my neck, my spine, my limbs, and my eyes.
My depression feels like my failure to be of any effect, like I have botched things up, crippled animals, alienated friends, brought evil into the world.
My mania feels like I can do great things, that I have a destiny that will change the world — bring peace, soften stone hearts, make people live in harmony.
My depression feels like a hole that sucks in everything good, that is no place to hide from despair.
My mania gives me energy to glide up the last spine leading to Everest’s summit and dive without a bathyscaphe to the bottom of the Challenger Deep.
My depression makes me stay in my house dreaming dark dreams.
My mania makes me love all humankind — especially women — and spark with anger if the purity of that love is questioned.
My depression makes me the lover of my pillow, my sheets, and my blanket, a friend of the curtained darkness, the noises of the day, and the deep emptiness of the night.
Books fly off the shelf
And I have to read each one
Synchronous to the others.
So I parse and I parse
With book jackets flapping