And that isn’t a bad thing.
It feels very strange and foreign to be sitting here typing this. How long has it been? Four days. It’s funny how much time you can fit into four days. I feel like I haven’t done this in something more like months, for two reasons.
The first reason is that these past four days have been fairly difficult, as days go. The benzo withdrawal – well for now I think I see the other side, but it was definitely something to get to this point. I drew the drapes and hunkered down, both literally and figuratively. But the figurative part, the part where I shut down and shut out everyone and everything, that wasn’t such a bad thing either, though it felt that way at times. It segues nicely into my second reason.
Reason two: extensive thoughtfulness and self-examination. Some of it has been conscious and extremely deliberate, some of it has just been the result of shutting out the drone of other voices and the constant babble and noise that is the soundtrack of the world in which I reside.
You see, I’ve been spending a great deal of time alone with myself for a while now, in one sense. I’ve been avoiding interacting with people “in real time,” face-to-face or on the telephone. But I still blogged some, emailed and read other blogs and Facebooked and kept up with the external Rattle and Hum. These past few days though, not so much, leading up to not at all.
Depressive isolating, right? Wrong. I entertained that idea some, but that’s not what it’s been at all. I’ve just had a great deal to figure out.
When I was first formally diagnosed as bipolar, I didn’t tell anyone for a few months. I wasn’t shocked, or even surprised, I knew exactly what I would hear going into the process. Nor was I ashamed or afraid of what my family and friends would think. Everyone close to me knew I was having a very difficult time of it and seeing a psychiatrist regularly. Hell, my parents were footing 20% of the bill for the appointments (the part the insurance didn’t cover – yes, I am aware that I have very good insurance).
I didn’t tell anyone because I needed time to process and decide what the diagnosis meant to me, without any outside thoughts or any form of input. Much as I knew about manic-depression and was already certain that was what was going on with me, there was a slight disconnect between knowing it inside and having an external source, a doctor whom I had a burgeoning trust in, officially confirm that diagnosis. Some processing and shifting and reshuffling and sorting had to take place within, and I knew it had to take place without any external influence to disrupt all of that. By the time I was through, I was secure enough in how I felt that I could talk to others without fear of their thoughts and opinions coloring my own.
That’s how I had always lived. My conceptualization of things was the only one that mattered, at least when it came to me and my life. I would listen to the thoughts and advice of those whom I respected, and on rare occasions I would even allow some of it to penetrate my tempered steel skull.
These past years, while I was in professional treatment, a paradigm shift occurred. From what I can tell by my memory and journals and other external references, it actually occurred very suddenly, over a period of just six months. And it was enormous, tantamount to a profound shift in the earth’s major tectonic plates. I’m still working on isolating a cause – maybe I never will – but it decidedly produced volcanic eruptions and deep earthquakes, which resulted in nearly complete and total internal destruction.
The nearly part is the part that saved me. But two years later I am still excavating and rebuilding the parts of me that survived. It’s a slow, difficult task. Sometimes I move forward, sometimes I slide far, far back. But what I have, the bits and pieces of me that survived, well they’re pretty amazing. There is so much to work with inside of me. I am like a long lost temple containing riches beyond my wildest dreams.
I used to know that so implicitly, it was woven into me and probably the most central truth in my life. My mother tells me that even when I was very young, I had such a strong, secure sense of myself, a confidence such that she never worried because she knew that whatever happened, I would always land on my feet. I never thought about it, I didn’t ever have to remind myself of my value. That certainty was so deep that I can only relate it to the beating of a heart. You never have to nudge your heart and say, “Hey in there, wake up. You’re slacking with the whole circulation of blood throughout the entirety of my body business.” At least that’s how a heart works when it’s functioning properly, and you don’t need a pacemaker or anything else external to help it along.
Maybe that’s why all of my efforts to get back on my feet have been unsuccessful thus far. I’ve been building the right things, I’ve been building great things, but the foundation has been faulty. Sooner or later anything you build will crumble and collapse if the foundation isn’t firmly in place.
So that means my immediate task is to perfect and fortify mine.
Moral of the story: ”The trick isn’t in living forever. . . It’s in living with yourself forever.”
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