I am listening to my daughter sew together a bright, green platypus, her machine humming non-stop with imaginative (bright green? platypus? what else do you do with scraps?!) industry. Her original design was a duck, but the beak, in execution, turned out to be a bit long and wide and floppy, so she improvised and re-imagined her pattern, which really only called for her to say, “Platypus” instead of “Duck,” to be flexible in vision and creation. Not to be rigid in expectation.
I could learn something from her. What have I been doing simultaneously down the hall in the den? Sending an email to Dr. B., at his request, assuring him that I will not act on any suicidal impulses and if they do become acute, I will call him immediately. The black dog of Bipolar Depression once again has its fangs around my heels—for three weeks now--and though I’m doing my best to hang on and wait it out, this down cycle is thoroughly exhausting. If you’ve ever played the game “Don’t Break the Ice,” that’s what this feels like: Depression is the hammer tap, tap, tapping away at each little block of ice which falls through, so that you’re left wondering when all the surface will finally give way, and finally you’ll sink underwater for good. Welcoming that shattering, that final fall. And I do mean the little hammer is tapping away all day long at your brain—a low grade headache comes along with this. And the desire to snip all communication lines.
All day long, your brain peruses its own internal suicidal ideation flip-book. Everything spurs images of possible self-injury or suicide. Driving home from the airport the other night, I spent ninety minutes trying to keep myself on the road rather than in the ditch. Stupid ideas seem plausible. Maybe a misstep off a curb could lead to a fall in front of a car? Just now, I was thinking about my daughter’s sewing and how in earlier times, a prescription for depression might have been industriousness and a basket of mending and I saw myself with my heart poked through with a knitting needle. Horrific, self-indulgent crap. But it’s hard to imagine a platypus when you can’t even turn on the machine.
Hard to imagine going to Greece and that doesn't even require imagination since I've been there a dozen times over the past eighteen years. We just bought our tickets and while it's still almost two months away, most of me couldn't care less, which is not like me at all. Not care about guaranteed sunshine? About swimming laps in my beloved Aegean? About the platters of olives and juicy tomatoes and warm feta and ripe peaches? I write this now and it is as if I am trying to talk myself into the desire to leave this tedious depressed self, this bleak Me who is, but who is not, Me. What I know to be true is traveling away from here, this place where I live, Meadville, and traveling away from this place that I live, Me, will not cure Me, will not shake the dog from my heels. All I can do is hope that by departure time rolls around, the dog will have slunk back to its cave and my wounds will have scabbed over and I will be able to taste the salt and the sweet again, and will be able to feel the pleasure of floating in the sea under warm sunshine again.
I know this will pass. It pisses me off to say it. I hate platitudes. “This too shall pass.” Because what I want to say is, “Fine. It will pass. But the Depression will come again. So where’s the meaning in it? How am I any better for it?” Really, I don’t know that getting through these down cycles makes me any stronger each and every time because there’s just a numbing sameness to the Depressions. What I do know is that I need to start to rethink how I use my time outside of the mire—my time in vision and creation, when I am humming along, when my ducks can become platypuses.