Part of what makes me weird is this little thing called bipolar disorder. I’ve lived with it since I was fifteen. Unlike most people, I take medication to keep myself from being too miserable and from yes, having too good of a time.
I’ve got a type of manic depression that’s hard to peg. “Nonspecific bipolar” is what one psychiatrist called it, which means, I’m just a little tiny bit crazy. My illness is not severe and medication works great for me.
There’s this drug that I take—Olanzapine. I have a love hate relationship with it. Up until two months ago I was taking the smallest dose possible…a little white, sliver of a moon that a psychiatrist once said is “so small it’s almost homeopathic.” But this little drug—I’m telling you—has power.
Half a pill worked great for ten years when I lived up north in overcast, snow bound Wisconsin, but here in Florida with its eternal summertime, barrage of sunlight, and barefoot living, I am seduced into a playful freedom.
I walk on the beach and feel the life within the waves and am connected to it all. I feel as if I’m falling in love, not with a person but with existence itself. I’m funnier, smarter, and more wise. As a writer, ideas come to me as naturally as the wind blows on my face. I write sexy poems, stories of unity, wisdom and power. I plan all sorts of book themed events, I bring people together, make community work and I feel really great.
Thanks to my Florida induced hypomania I get to experience a mild cocaine buzz without any drugs.
But there’s a catch. (There always is, isn’t there?)
Things don’t stay good.
Think of it this way: A slice of rich chocolate cake is a wonderful thing, but devouring a whole flourless chocolate cake will make you feel like crap.
Being manic is exhausting. Two weeks into my hypomanic fervor, my three kids beg for me to return…not just home, away from my activities, but to a place of groundedness. They want their mom back , not out on some soul searching adventure. What starts as an innocent escapade turns into too much obligation, too many ideas. I no longer felt attractive and strong, just tired and old.
And so rather than slicing my tiny pill in half, two months ago I increased my dose.
My husband says he likes me better. I’m more present. I’m more grounded, more reasonable.
But I’ll be honest with you, it’s not as fun. The world no longer sings to me. Its lacking the emotional intensity that I love . My beach walks feel more matter of fact and I no longer feel a connection to god.
I am happy with life, just not blown away.
And so I write, now solid and steady, no longer distracted with social engagements. I am the same me, just a little more present. It’s a good thing, living with my feet on the earth. So now in the days ahead I will work to find that happy medium, where I still feel creative, playful, adventuresome, but I do it from a place that is earthbound and content.
Becky Pourchot is the author of I Look Better in Binary, a book humorously recounting her most embarrassing moments of childhood. You can find Binary and Pourchot’s other books at www.beckypourchot.com.