"The Summer Day." Oliver is a nature-mystic and the favorite poet of many people I know. The image is my valiant African violet, which has survived Tashi's teeth, and my neglect, to bloom when it thinks it is spring. It's spring for me right now, too.]
When I am depressed, I have no motivation, no desires except to not be in that emotional pain - and, oddly, the flatlands are as painful as what Holly Golightly called "the screaming reds," that irritable, hypersensitive depression that hits me in August, season of decaying fire.
Just a week ago, on Saturday night, watching a rerun of House and playing Words on my iPad, I felt the barely perceptible lifting of the big February depression-with-shingles-and-UTI that meant I didn't post much. "Lifting" is the word, as if some invisible bricks have been on you, weighing you down, and they are lifted off one by one. The next morning I felt somewhat better. Got all dressed, went to church, and there found I was so cold, cold to the bone. Cold. Different than chills. It's making me feel cold to try to describe it.
Left the worship center, wrapped up in my parka, sat around Fellowship Hall drinking decaf and being uncomfortably cold. Couldn't go out for lunch, had to go home and dive under my electric blanket set to 5. So it was a dumb, very flat day. Not exactly painful. More, nothing. And the next morning I woke up and my first sensation/thought was one of relief. The damn thing was gone. I felt good.
If you are not bipolar, you may never have experienced this - your depressions or miseries may be situational, and relieved by things that happen to you or things you do, like exercise. But I am describing this because you have a relative or spouse or friend, or you will, who has this illness. I wanted to write "suffers from," so I will, despite thes Buddhist truism "Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." This is bull, when it comes to these times of serious chemical imbalance, though I completely understand the truth it expresses, that we cause our own suffering by our thoughts and actions, by sticking to stuff and desires. I could write a book about how we cause our own suffering, based solely on my own experience.
Day after day this week I have felt good. Not the swirling manic-high terrific, God forbid. But fine. Loving, peaceful, calm, enjoying everything I do. It is the perfect mood. For my Buddhist friends, it's that mood you can have after a retreat, or even at the end of that first long day of meditation. A day in this mood has that "wild and precious" sense to it - the silence of the house after the dishwasher has run is as pleasing as music or flowing water. The laundry basket half-full of socks (depression leads to sock calamities - no motivation, you know) is amusing. A good friend's invitation to an art-and-coffee day is delightful. So is Tashi when she climbs up on my shoulder, descending to curl on my heart and purr, which I answer with imagining the identical vibration of Mu.
I've known a lot of bipolars, so I know that this mood is not entirely a chemical blessing, for we can tangle ourselves up thoroughly in our neurotic ideas and impulses and never enjoy a damn thing. This mood is also the blessing of years of practice - meditation, prayer, writing poetry, paying attention to others, letting go of one fantasy after another. Suzuki said we meditate so we can enjoy our old age. It's true. It's like a retirement saving's account that is going to be your salvation when the time comes.
I hope you have a wild and precious day, too.