The Melting Point Of The Sky
Imagine being so mentally and physically exhausted that the idea of making a cup of instant coffee in the microwave feels an insurmountable task.
That’s where I’ve been the past several weeks.
My brain has been like an engine trying to run without oil— and we all know what happens to those.
My mind has been frozen and as useless as seized engine components, and there has been nothing I could do about it.
This is the fall after the climb.
This is the price to be paid for manic bursts of energy that leave you sleepless, overjoyed, and productive beyond imagination.
Earlier in the month, I turned around a pass of manuscript edits in four days’ time.
An entire novel’s worth of edits.
The truth is, once I started, I couldn’t stop.
Needless to say I didn’t sleep much: my brain would not stop working on the issues that needed to be addressed until I’d addressed them.
I didn’t eat or drink anything that wasn’t put directly in front of me by my husband.
That burst of unbridled power overriding all common sense (which has no place in Bipolar mania) has carried over into the downfall back from mini-manic episode into the pit of depression.
My brain was so overheated, overwrought from working so much so fast and not being able to stop myself from doing it that my doctor ordered that I, quote, “Just chill out” during my downtime between editing rounds.
If only my brain would listen.
But it won’t. It aches for more of the same, hungry to get back to that biochemical high that comes from hypomania before the true mania really goes bad, a place in which you can create things you never imagined possible.
My mind did not want to stop when the work did.
With nothing to do with itself but wait and being unable to write anything new at the moment (my brain is very particular about if and when it lets me write these days— cruel taskmaster. This is not writer’s block. This is inability to function, period) my mind has continued to overheat instead of cooling down as prescribed. If only it could be forced to follow doctor’s orders.
At one point yesterday I was trying to sleep some more, because at least sleep would make the day go by and end faster, and I had a thought at once so beautiful and so terrifying that I could only put it into one sentence:
This is the melting point of the sky.
That moment when everything washes away and all that is left is darkened silence: no moon, sun, stars or atmosphere to breathe. You feel like a part of all around you— and indistinguishable lump of nothing stuck on a lifeless planet on which you must try to live though it has become incapable of supporting life.
Why do I write about these things, you might ask?
Why do I try to give insight into a condition that most people would rather pretend doesn’t exist, or if they do acknowledge it, get what it does wrong most of the time?
I write about it because.
Because people misunderstand what it really means to be truly Bipolar.
Because people still joke about it or ignore it or make off the cuff, insulting remarks about it, like “I’m feeling so Bipolar today.”
Let me just make one thing clear for anyone who may wonder— until you’ve experienced that rocket-fueled rise into the stratosphere completely beyond your control (a terrifying feeling, not always euphoric as depicted in fiction) then the free fall and crash landing and known, truly realized (only after the fact) that you are not in control of your own mind, can you understand how devastating that thought is: how devastating this disorder is to those who have it and those who love them.
A few years post-diagnosis (the proper one, anyway) I am finally starting to grapple with that. The idea that it is only the medications that keep me from doing incredibly stupid things (though let me make it clear that unlike some people with the same ailment, I have never been a danger to anyone, save myself.)
That sometimes the only choice I have is to accept that the most I can do in a day is sleep, just to get through it until the next one, which may or may not be better. That on the days when I can’t sleep, sometimes all I can do is watch the second hand on the clock and count down the minutes until I can finally sleep again.
It is the nature of the beast and it is a vicious, life-threatening one.
I know the melting point of the sky.
It’s that moment in which my brain morphs into a pump needing to be primed but lacking water; grinding away at its own parts until the heat generated starts to break each one down.
You have to start very small after such a long drop, to try to climb back up out of such a deep chasm, a hole that feels as inescapable as the black ones in space.
Today, I guess I’ll start by microwaving some water, and making a cup of coffee.
I might even remember to drink it.
February Grace is a writer and artist living with Bipolar 1, PTSD, and OCD. You can find out more about her by catching up to her on Twitter @FebruaryGrace or by visiting her blog at www.februarywriter.blogspot.