I have a triumph song – Green Day’s “Still Breathing”. I’m sure there are much “better” songs, more accomplished
instrumentals, better lyrics… but Green Day is perfect for me because their
songs have spanned my entire teen and adult life. They are just juvenile enough to take me back
to easier times before I ever experienced bipolar disorder, political edginess
that reminds me I’m not the only one struggling with modern American, and songs
like “Still Breathing” that strike all the right chords. Yesterday and today I have found myself
blasting that song in the car, sing-screaming at the top of my lungs. I’m struggling right now. I have that foggy “what am I doing here?”
feeling. The “I’m not being true to
myself and failing those around me” inner monologue. “When I die, I will have regrets because I’m
too chicken shit to drop everything and find out what else is out there.” Then depression and the low-energy, unproductive
days it brings with it. I’m typing this
at work because I just can’t force my fingers to minimize the window and open
the work I need to be focusing on. I’m
the manager… I need to pull it together.
But, I will. That’s the glorious certainty I have to hold up, like a trophy declaring victory. After roaring to the dashboard over my lunch break, I’m feeling the burn of my heart again. I’m still in there. That song drags up out of me, past the repressive clouds of uncertainty, the truth I know for sure – I am the strongest goddamn person I know. My personal hell has been mine and mine alone because, no matter how close someone else is to you, no matter how much they care and how much their support is critical, they still aren’t in your head. They can’t do it for you. No one can. They can stand on the edge of the cliff cheering while you hang on by your fingertips, but they can’t reach out a hand to help because you and your thoughts are light-years away. You have to grab the edge of that cliff yourself and pull your body up to the sunlight, safe from the fall. I have. All of you have… and we will again! No matter what the dark voices in our heads may try to tell us, we are indestructible.
When your mental health is less than perfect, you can easily
get pulled into whirlpools from which it is hard to swim free. My current whirlpool is building from the
nearly impossible task of absorbing and responding to the goings on in the
United States while maintaining sanity.
I am troubled, to put it mildly, by politics and the behavior of my
fellow Americans. I have always believed
that one person can make a difference.
We are obligated to take action.
However, as soon as I delve too deep into the issues or, heaven forbid,
feel the urge to act, I start taking in personally. The anger grows within me and I can’t derail
my thoughts. I can’t let go to be
productive at work or joyful with my family.
It starts to consume me.
Then the bipolar symptoms rev up. I get manic, staying up to late, maybe signing
up for events. I try to balance my other
responsibilities with the activities I think could help save the world. My brand of bipolar does not come with long
or particularly damaging manic episodes.
This might last 48 hours, perhaps 72.
Long enough to show up for rallies or sign up for phone calls. Then I get tired and cancel. I fail to complete what I started. And then, as you might imagine, the guilt
sets in. Once again I have done
nothing. I haven’t completed what I
started out to do. My children are
watching me ignore the devastation around me and to do nothing is to side with
the enemy. I am useless.
Then the depression episode.
My depression episodes are much longer and much more debilitating. But that’s a story for another time,
particularly since I’m in one now. Not a
good time to dwell on my inability to control my brain. The topic I am concerned with now is that of
how to be a productive citizen and maintain my health. This is the whirlpool. Around and around… feel healthy enough to
engage the world, try to take action, take it all too hard, cop out, feel
ashamed, work through the depression, feel healthy enough again to engage the
world… on and on. There are other such
whirlpools involving career competitiveness, education goals, domestic projects…
but the funnel I’m drowning in now is that of civic participation. Advice welcome.
I plan to get raw about world issues… also mental madness, middle management, meaning and mediocrity, and feeling like a 16 year old stuck in a the life of a 30-something. Both satisfied and seeking, I am living the dream… but only during those times in which the dream is adequately defined. That struggle is real to me and many of my fellow xennials. I am a well read, well educated, relatively intelligent woman and there are real issues that we all need to talk about just a bit more. I am qualified to launch those conversations and will not shy away from doing so. Although I intend to be real and unfiltered, this will not be a “drink wine n’ whine” mommy blog. Bring your brain and your pain. Hopefully something I write will ring true or inspire.