The Magic of Manic-Depression

You know those days when you roll out of bed, after staying asleep too long, and all you want to do is shake the mood you’re in? All you want is to feel an ounce of enthusiasm and excitement to begin the new day but here you are, depressed in the morning and not sure how to keep moving?

I don’t like to identify with what western medicine would diagnosis as manic-depressive or bipolar, but sometimes referring to these terms is helpful in understanding what I’m feeling. I used to find myself sobbing for hours in the center of my room, surrounded by the contents of my closet that I pulled out to organize and that were now in an overwhelming pile on my floor. I would be non-functional for days. I’ve seen dramatic improvement over the past year since starting to supplement with magnesium and no longer have such intense episodes, but the waves of high and low still come and go.

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Almost like an intense fever that spikes and is unbearable for several hours but will eventually come down, the depressive states are something I endure. I now know to think of them as waves, maybe lasting for few days, rising and cresting before falling again. When they’re rising and I’m in the thick of my discomfort my first instinct is to ask, “how can I get out of this?”, “how can I change how I’m feeling?”. Simple tasks seem impossible to complete – the dishes pile on the counter, the laundry goes unfolded for days, dog hair piles up on the floor. I look to all the possible tools in my toolkit – maybe coffee will lift my mood and help me to be productive. Maybe smoking herbs will clear my mind and bring me into the present, helping me to get going again. Maybe I just need to start a project, or go into town, or visit a friend, or get bodywork. And often times these things help, at least in easing the symptoms.

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Manic I think of as an overwhelming love for life and of feeling in touch with the magic of each moment. I feel spiritually aligned and grateful that every choice I’ve made has brought me to be right here and now, experiencing the juiciness of life. It’s the type of thing where I fall in love with the mundane – where I may have had an ordinary, simple week but I am so content and grateful to be alive that I exclaim it’s been one of the best weeks of my life. I invite strangers over for romantic dinners, take weeks off from work, fast and pray alone in the woods, stay up ’til four in the morning cleaning the house, making art, and moving my body. It’s the type of state where I feel “THANK GOD I’M HUMAN AND CAN EXPERIENCE ALL OF THIS!” and where I realize that my life is in the making and that the risks I take weave a tapestry of beauty.

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The more I accept that these swings are part of who I am, the easier it is to embrace both extremes. I can accept that some days are just gonna suck and I may or may not be functional. And I can wholeheartedly enjoy and rejoice in the ecstasy of being alive.

I trust in transience and know that all things change. Knowing this makes the lows of my mind endurable and the highs even that more magical.

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