Omigad, omigad, omigad, I don’t wanna be here, it isn’t safe, so much to do, why can’t I breathe right, my heart, my head, my thoughts, that isn’t in the right place, I gotta get out of here, get up, get moving but something isn’t right and I don’t know what it is and okay I’m okay wait slow down this is okay just a set-back slow down c’mon you can do this, breathe, breeeeethe, breeethe, brrrreeeethe…
As the rough sound of my blood rushing through my ears mates with my harsh ragged breath, I feel the tears of frustration and tension spilling hotly down my scrunched cheeks. The tightness of my body is difficult to undo. Waking from deep sleep into a full-blown panic attack is awful. I feel helpless because it seems there is no trigger that I can avoid. This threatens to overwhelm me.
In the shower, my attention is already shifted. My trains of thoughts are zooming past and the sense of urgency is only building, not dissipating the slightest bit. But, I don’t care, because I am caught up in quantum leaps of logic. I know what I have to do, what I want to do, the best way of doing it, as well as alternative ways of accomplishing what I need to in case there are obstacles. There always are, but nothing is going to slow me down, let alone derail me, let alone stop me. I am invincible.
Impatiently, I scurry from the house, with my various totes, bags, piles of books and papers, and scoot the boxes in my back seat, cramming my multitudes into my overstuffed car. The radio is too much right now, I want to feel my thoughts and solutions are clicking right along and I’ve important matters on my mind and the radio, pft, the radio is for driveling idiots and I have things to do, people to see, places to go!
This is past hypomania, accelerating right on through into my own special blend of “Frantic Mania”. For most people, depression is the absolute worst part of their bipolar disorder. But for me, mania is. It is the Red-Shoe Syndrome stage; the dancing faster and faster, the wired but tired, the inability to slow down and take the red-shoes off, dancing through my days until I drop dead of exhaustion. It is the speeding lightening thoughts, zooming out of control, further and further, the sense of urgency driving and pushing, and I know that I am highly unstable. I know that the devastating crash is coming but I can’t seem to slow down, for I am the locomotive. I’m rushing head-long through tighter and tighter coils and springs til I burst into a million scattered shards. Humpty Dumpty’s got nothing on me.
Desperate, yet proud that I am accomplishing so much, I am soon to careen off the tracks into a fine mess of jumbled angles and I wonder if THIS is the time I will slam through the barrier at the boundary of the third standard deviation, my own personal warp speed of thought, faster than the speed of sound, no shiny silver bullet can touch me. I would call for assistance, to help slow me down, to talk some sense into me, because I so obviously cannot get the job done myself. But, I know that I would be too impatient, too scornful, and most likely too mean and toxic. So, I tick that off my list of crisis management strategies. Medication adjustments may be what are necessary now. It most likely should have been done before this point; but I dread the process, the sluggish zombification of funkee-fog thinking, the slow tilt of the world, the thick syrup that coats my every single thing, leaving me burrowing under the covers, into my mattress, to slumber in limbo, not rested, not true sleep. But then again, I will be whole. I will not shatter and scatter and blow up and away. I will be grounded and tethered to the dank earth. Which would be worse, crashing into the end or ending this episode in the murky muck sucking my existence to a slow grinding halt, freezing me for a time?
I am past the chiding and scolding of myself. Very rarely do I consider my boot straps and the shoulds of pulling myself up by them. That time is past, for it seemed to do nothing positive and only harmful negatives hurt my ability to heal, to repair the damage inflicted by my own relentless drive to perfection. Now, although it doesn’t seem like it, I am kinder, gentler with myself. Now, I can ask what it is that I need to get back to being on a more even keel. Now, my priority is halting the damage, and then caring for myself, nurturing me from partial destruction to a fuller existence. Simple functions, yes, but to engage in them are to master the helm of my own mental health.
Good sleep hygiene, rest…solid sweet slumber in moderation, for I could oh so easily tip the scales to the other extreme of devastating depression. Diet, exercise, medication, I can recite byrote the basics of self-care. So much easier said than done, I know, but stay simple and stay focused and take the small steps. Slow but steady, watch for triggers, cautiously keep stress to a low level, engage in self-monitor mode, c’mon Debra, you can do this.
You can do this.