Down from the Mountain

Question: After having had the experience of hypo-mania - when you are connected to life and it feels so meaningful, vital, you yourself, full of energy and motivation - how do you deal with the feeling of the 'real' world looking so empty, superficial, and depressing?  How do you get yourself motivated again in life after such an experience?

Answer: Not wanting a song or a season, or a first kiss to end, or a love affair to come down from its cloudy domain to mingle with the mundane, is a reasonable emotional reaction to bliss in the face of a less desirable world of possible circumstances surrounding us at any given time.  Feeling depressed is, in bipolar disorder terms, a normal reaction to the distorted emotional, out-of-mind-and-sometimes-out-of-body experience of mania or hypo-mania.  The foremost reason to dodge the bliss of mania at all cost is because it leads systematically to depression.  In bipolars that is what is referred to as cycling.  Unipolar depressed people are not triggered in their depressions by the influence of mania as bipolars are; they experience unwelcome, ungovernable conditions around them and they become depressed.  Bipolars can become depressed in that manner, but also by the mere presence of a manic or hypo-manic episode.  What comes up must come down applies idiomatically to bipolars and non-bipolars alike in most life circumstances, however, the descent from a long or short-term manic mountain top experience is deathly for bipolars as compared to non-bipolars returning home, let's say, from an exotic vacation.

     Who wants to see the sun go down, except those who love the sunset?  Who wants to come down from the mountain top, but those who understand that you cannot include the mountain top view in your every-day life, if you refuse to accept that mountain top experiences are ideally rare, scanty in number even for those who could formally be referred to as mountain climbers?  Bipolars can become psychologically addicted to mania and hypo-mania after very few cycles, that seemingly natural dose of pure high rendering any other truly natural dose of life's common medicines rather dull to the senses.  Life can feel entirely extraordinary to manic and hypo-manic bipolars, but, like with all addicts, the highs only last so long before they are matched, mockingly mimicked by the lows of depression.

     My personal accounts of hypo-mania are myriad over a twenty-three year affliction from 1986, likely more than doubled by independent and cycling episodes of severe depression.  I remember the symptomatic bipolar ranges well and can report nothing more today than the blissful relief of not having to be at the mercy of any bipolar symptoms, this sane state of mind being wholly upon me for the last seven years.  Manias and depressions are teachers to bipolars, not classmates or friends.  They stay and work with newly diagnosed bipolars as we experienced bipolars hopefully learn our lessons enough not to have to repeat them until they can teach us nothing more than how to take our own lives.  To remember, suicide is the likely fate of any chronically symptomatic bipolar.

     With regard to the wide world as it poisonously is, I would say outright that my hypo-manic version of it felt more wondrous, sacred, safe, embracing, possible, romantic, and visionary, but that world still exists no differently now than it did when I was hypo-manic.  It was in my mind then as I continue to cultivate an extraordinary world within my imagination every second of the day.  As a writer and composer my world depends on the lessons that hypo-mania and depression taught me for more than two decades, the visions that they accorded me on respective bright and abyssal dark days.  What is my gift to life beyond my imagination?  The world doesn't need a bipolar like me to recapitulate worldly woe and the matter of fact; I believe that I am best used when I am off wandering the landscapes of my mind, sometimes remembering manic and depressed imagery, but mostly, forging new worlds of wonder, new dreams that my former symptomatic bipolar self might have deemed impossible without the influence of hypo-manic vision.

     If we bipolars are capable of withstanding the throes of cycling symptoms, we are surely capable of climbing real mountains over manic ones.  Making a hypo-manic-like world has to be a fundamental goal of any bipolar who can manage his or her symptoms enough to manifest what is beautiful about the bipolar mind - both light and dark visions - in the 'real' world.  The stories that we tell as healthy, symptom-free bipolars should ideally still sound like bipolar-minded stories, not conventionalized, diluted expressions without far-flung imagination.  The sickness of bipolar disorder is measured more by something as conventional as seeking the personal drug of mania over and over again, despite its direct cyclical connection to the dreaded anti-drug of depression, than it is by any creative, meaningful integration of manic, mountain top views and depressed, subterranean forays, after we have come down from the mountain and risen from the early grave.  The world begins to become more inhabitable, more beautiful than ever to us, when we healthy bipolars remember that our minds crafted the manias and the depressions that we once frequented and that our minds continue to be made for imagining that brand of exuberance and introspection everywhere as it makes its home outside the bounds of mental illness, deep into the words we speak, the songs we sing, the wild dreams we dream aloud for everyone.

-The Blue Bear

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