On Assignment…

…From my therapist.


I used to write all the time, every day, when I was elated, upset, hazy, or any other color of the emotional spectrum. It was the only way I knew how to communicate exactly what was on my heart without falling to pieces; I could hide behind the page. During some of my most difficult months, it sustained me, and for a while, I considered it a gift that I ought to honor by pursuing and, sometimes, sharing. And then I stopped.

For years, I’ve told myself that I’d lost touch with the talent and simply didn’t have the words anymore. My verbal well had run dry, and the only phrases I could manage were trite, lazy, and, worst of all, dishonest. Silly thing though: I myself was being dishonest. I knew that it wasn’t a dearth of ability or content that was killing me, but rather a lack of courage, where I couldn’t find the heart within my heart to really get it out there, to let it flow, to give whatever it took, and bear it all for the world.

To break the fourth wall: for the previous sentence, I simply closed my eyes and went for it. “Veat” from the Zankyou no Terror OST pumping through my headphones, I let my body move as it will, and my fingers flew from key to key as I felt the rhythm of my mind go according to its pleasure. First lesson: listen to the ZnT soundtrack. It’s badass and will get you moving, physically and creatively. Second lesson: this is what it takes. It takes release, and a writer… no, a human soul absolutely must relinquish the illusion of control in order to thrive. There are small ways in which we determine our fates, but ultimately innumerable events, personalities, and truths dominate what lies ahead. Once we start to impose a rigidity, we stifle ourselves with a sort of self-satisfying strangulation that we think will give us life. And it does nothing but kill us.

At this point, near-tears crowd my eyes. Every so often, as someone with bipolar disorder and comorbid depression, I sink… so far, so deep that I think I’ll never surface again. And this is why I’ve been afraid to write; when I begin to express, the floodgates are opened to my [un-]realities, and I can’t close them. My sorrows and fears and truths and whole self rush out of me, and I’m forced to confront every single hardship and instance of pain. The walls of water rise, nearing with frightening speed, and I fear for my survival. It’s too much, too fast. I can’t handle it and am afraid of death. Not surprisingly, of all the ways a person can physically die, I am most terrified of drowning, largely because emotional force has almost taken me down, more than once.

Within the already very difficult 2016, the past six to eight weeks have been a living nightmare, and I fell, fast and hard, to a degree of seriousness that I hadn’t experienced in years. This wasn’t “the blues;” this was “hospitalization as a legitimate option for intervention and treatment.” With guidance from my medical team, I’d been attempting to adjust medication since July, but the changes did nothing. I dropped one problematic prescription because of bad side effects and took on another, one with its own Russian roulette of terrible possibilities. I left a job where I’d excelled but also suffered ill health effects, and I struggled to find understanding and confidence in my new job. I tried to increase physical activity and resume my running, only to slip again into sadness and inactivity.

Thus, November began hard, only to get harder. I survived by the grace of God and with love from Josh, my family, and my friends, and crawled my way to December. I started to emerge from the depths, but, for me, the ascent is far more precarious than the descent. I see how low I’ve gone and how far I have yet to climb, and when I lose my footing, the threat of going back over the edge, of falling again, of landing more violently, of hurting again and again and again… That’s when hope is at its most elusive, and no matter how hard I try, how much I’ve clung to it before, I struggle to have faith and believe that I can survive, even if I do end up back at the bottom of the ravine.

It’s not just being down that’s scary; it’s also the actual journey of up and down, up and down, sometimes sideways, and many times so backward that you don’t know which way you’re actually facing and where you might end up. God. Dear God. The multiple trips have spun me like the edges of a gyroscope, except I don’t have the fortune of knowing where my center is. It hurts. It’s exhausting. It’s terrifying. And this has been part of my entire adult life.

I’m not sure what my actual point or purpose is. It’s been so long since I’ve written like this, much less shared anything of this nature. I’m probably not done crying, since I can’t switch off the emotions even after I’ve stepped away from the keyboard. I go back to my most apt descriptor for writing; it’s like living in the path of a tornado made of rose petals and razor blades. You don’t walk away from something like that without blood running down your body. At least I’ve completed the assignment.

Leave a Reply