I woke, again, at four a.m.. For good. Everyone else in the bed—husband and kids--copacetically snoozed for the next three hours while I tossed and turned in the gray pre-dawn, Bipolar brain careening, as if I’d injected my carotid with ten shots of espresso, and thinking: papers to grade, house to clean, kids’ outgrown clothes to donate, insane dog to train, food to eat (but not wanting to eat), the seven hour drive to make to New York for Easter, housesitter to instruct in the care of dogs, cat, and lizards, novel to write today (yes, today I will have the necessary will and determination), the novel I will not write today (exhausted and unfocused), the one hundred emails to answer yesterday, new bed linens to find and buy for the new King size bed that will arrive in a very vague one to eight weeks, phone call to Mom, phone calls to friend after friend after friend that I’ve been neglecting, weights to lift and miles to run before I sleep.
And then IT slides up under the covers and starts berating me: You’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re worthless, you don’t deserve to eat, don’t deserve to be loved, don’t deserve to live. And then I feel for the scars on my arms, feel the memory-tug of that pain, that perverse self-punishment. So I reach over and flip on the white noise machine that Dr. B. has so generously lent me and IT’s volume diminishes, thankfully, to a whisper.
These frequent descents into insomnia feel exactly like that—riding the mine elevator all the way down to the bottom of the shaft in some hapless, frenzied excavation of sleepless nonsense. No creative muse sits on the edge of my bed, no complex problem-solving takes place, no gratitude list takes shape (even though there are three reasons for which to be grateful sleeping right next to me); my mind only babbles like some amped up idiot. At times like these, Dr. B. has encouraged me to surprise IT: get out of bed, go downstairs and fix myself something to eat. Even if it is just a spoonful of yogurt. Sustenance. Give IT the finger. I should try this, but at heart, at four a.m., I am just too damned lazy. (And IT says derisively: Eat in the middle of the night? What are you now, some uncontrolled binge eater? Do we need a lock on the fridge?
I finally, grumpily, got out of bed at seven. I should have just stuck my head under the covers, ostrich-like, and stayed there for the rest of the day because IT decided to set up camp. I felt myself teetering inside that inexplicable white hot anger that comes along with the Bipolar disorder and, I am embarrassed to say, for the next hour and a half, all I could do was yell at my husband, the kids, and the dogs. Stomp around. Growl. Beastly Momma. At one point, Christopher says, “Would you get a hold of yourself?” As if there was a self I wanted to hold onto; I was consumed with self-loathing, wanting to run away from myself, shed skin, muscles, brain, and heart alike.
But here’s the problem: I have to take it all with me.
Today has not been a total loss. It’s Tuesday, so I had my riding lesson. I arrived at the barn, checked the chalkboard, and found that I was riding Chandi, yes, the horsed that spooks at EVERYTHING, and today was no different. Lee, my instructor, had set up a course of cones and poles and wooden platforms. Of course, the minute Chandi and I started walking around the arena, he was suspicious, skittering sideways, refusing to go, rearing back and because I was already wobbly from IT’s harangue, my confidence plummeted and my riding fell apart—hands too tight, then too slack on the reins, seat too nervously forward, body too rigid, legs bouncing around. Finally, through Lee’s patient guidance, I pulled myself together and remembered that, through years of repetition, I could do this. And if I got chucked off today? I was wearing my helmet and would likely just land on my ass which I could brush off with the dignity of a tried and true horsewoman. Eventually, seat down, arms back, legs gathered at his sides, we seamlessly trotted the course.
Afterwards, while I was putting away the tack, Lee asked, “How was Jamaica?”
“Oh, fine,” I said. “I don’t think I moved from my lounge chair for five days.”
She laughed, and then said, more seriously, “Good. I was worried that things might get all wicky wacky for you while you were there.”
Wicky wacky. Lee wasn’t talking about any sort of psychedelic beach frolic. Because she knows about the Bipolar and Eating disorders, she meant, in horse-speak: Calm Line and Pace? (see previous post)
Wicky wacky. There will be days like this. Today, for instance, the mind askew, the mood unstable, urges to restrict and purge and self-injure on the rise. If not a calm line, at least I held the line when IT went all wicky wacky.