Saturday hypomania during pandemic

Content note: bipolar disorder, hypomania, alcohol, pandemic

Saturday, I woke up very early again, struggling to breathe. Lots of fire pits roaring these nights so the air is heavy near our homes. I grab my inhaler and sore throat spray to quiet the coughing.

I fall back asleep after lots of breathing exercises to keep the random thoughts at bay. My trauma dreams draw me into their web.

Wake up to rush down for AM Joy on MSNBC. Rush, rush, rush. Feed cats, feed dog, make coffee. Ignore pounding in chest. I rush upstairs to take mood stabilizers to try to tamp that down.

Watch my show. Then we agree to tackle piles of laundry that need to be folded. I fold. We talk. Kittens try to help me. I make progress.

I am tired so I curl up for a nap. I know the dreams will return. I am resigned.

They torment me, but there is little I can do until resuming my trauma processing treatment.

I wake up, slightly chilly from the rain. Laura started dinner. We go to feed feral cats together. I talk with contractor in neighbors yard without a mask and feel terrible, even though we were far apart. I didn’t even think.

Dinner is good. I eat more than usual, but still barely a portion. We watch the news. A local annual art auction is live online.

We head outside with our phones to browse the gallery together. I am pleased because we use the Adirondack chairs I rehomed from a neighbor for free. They are comfortable. A neighbor has a fire pit roaring. I hear bits of conversations, the closest I’ve felt to people in weeks.

We linger quite awhile outside so decide to forego our movie.

I remember sitting in similar chairs in Erie last fall. Stars, darkness, companionable distance from others. Most of all I remember that big sigh as I leaned into relaxation.

That’s what is missing now. I appreciate the environment and atmosphere. I don’t feel it though. My muscles are tight, my breathing isn’t deep, my energy is consumed with controlling the hypomanic thoughts that threaten this semblance of peace of mind. I’m not anxious, I’m struggling not to let the hypomanic symptoms take over or seduce me.

I look at 107 galleries of art to keep myself from launching 107 projects. I read each caption, note the artists names, carefully and intentionally putting a lot of energy into this activity.

At bedtime, I feel genuinely tired. That’s progress.

It baffles me that people chase this misery to be creative or productive. I suspect they use alcohol or drugs to manage the excesses, but I’m unsure. I often wonder how I avoided that fate.

With bipolar type II, going off meds because we feel fine is a frequent choice. It’s driven by the fake news that mental illness can be controlled by our attitude and measured by our outward appearance. We feel fine because our medication is working, not curing us. We feel fine because we have good sleep hygiene, drink water, give up alcohol, and work on our shit in therapy. And take our meds. We accept that this is a chronic illness.

And sometimes even doing those things does not allow for pandemics.

I’m tired of my chest hurting, of my blood pulsing so fast through my veins.

I’m tired of not having a laptop.

I’m not tired of trying to push through.


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