I am having the mental health equivalent of a very bad hair day. Nothing so serious that requires hospitalization or even a call to my doctors, but really, I look in the mirror, and everything looks out-of-whack, frizzy, frumpy, out-of-style, unfixable even armed with the very best hair products that money can buy. It’s moments like these that I might impulsively buzz all my hair off—and of course, regret that move tomorrow. Better hide under some enormous hat and wait out the grotesque, restless, hopeless uglies, right? After all, my favorite musical as a kid was “Annie,” and I used to annoy my entire family with renditions of “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”—belting the song in my warbly, screechy voice, believing indeed, at nine years old that it would always and forever keep getting better and better.Today started, most indulgently, with a quasi-day off. The kids have a day off from school, so the schedule shifts. No need to rush out of bed, no need to run at top speed, no hustling everyone out to door, no need for me to try to stick to my own self-imposed schedule of working on my own writing which is then followed up by a run at the gym.
Nope. This is how Bipolar Brain works. An extra hour in bed. The upended schedule (I stay home with the kids, forfeiting my work, hence my quasi-usefulness/productivity for one-day) leads to existential meltdown. As I was lying in bed debating whether or not it was even worth getting out of bed, I wondered who, besides my kids would even care if I did? Who was even expecting me to get out of bed? No one. This is Black and White thinking in the extreme—though it is shot around the edges with realistic thinking so it does try to makes its case, hence its powerful pull. From there I ricocheted to: Would anyone care if I ever wrote another story? Would I care? And really, what did my writing add up to in the end? Nothing much—and if I was going to amount to anything as a writer, it should have happened by now. I had my chance and wasted it. Look at me. Just think about how hard it is now trying to get words on the page, struggling with memory lapses and word recall because of the ECT—is it worth the trouble?And just as I was beating myself up about this, I get an email on my phone from my agent. My most recent story she’s been sending out for submission to magazines has been rejected again. I know, I know. You need a thick skin to be a writer. And I have one. But this is the fifth time this story has been rejected, and I was just so so so hoping for just a little lift. Just something to remind that, Yes, this is still my path.
Instead, the rejection coincided with my contemplating whether I should just give this all up because I’m mostly just professional laundress anyway these days. That and cleaner of the cat boxes. I feel like my thinking brain has been switched off and I’m on automatic chore pilot. That I’m purposeless beyond maintaining the house and picking up the kids from school. Aimless. Am uninteresting even to myself. I get why all those housewives in the fifties downed Martinis and valium.When I was a kid there was this enormous brick wall near my house. I used to take my tennis racquet and a ball and spend an hour whacking the ball against the wall as hard as possible. I’d go there when I was bored, angry, or frustrated and I’d just pick a spot on the wall and aim the ball right at it. Sometimes it was a face or a burning red hole. It never failed to help ease whatever I was feeling.
I wish I had a wall, a racquet and a ball today. I think I could spend a few hours there.