The tide goes out.
The offshore hurricane churns away, slowly, peters out without warm ocean and wind currents to feed it. The roiling surf eases up, slips back away from the sand. You can see what it carved out, this latest storm: a new shape to the shoreline. Shells from farther south, seaweed heaped in miniature mountain ranges, and then -- some new thing jutting up from the sand, a shard of a boat, weathered but preserved and now, finally, visible.
A manic state for me is an excess of energy. Sometimes that feels indescribably wonderful and sometimes, when my energy is high but my mood is black, it feels like an outsize chainsaw I can't quite manage and can't turn off. Oxcarbazepine brought the fury down. I stopped wanting to -- seriously planning to -- smash my fingers with a hammer, slam my head in a door. Okay.
Then the bottom dropped out from beneath the place I thought low enough already. I don't know that I've ever experienced such pure depression -- mine have always been energized rather than lethargic -- and I trudged instead of walked. Spoke slowly. Could barely raise my eyes. I wasn't sad, for the most part; I was empty. Void. The constant music playing in my head went quiet. (I mean that literally -- I always have some song going on in the background in there.)
I fed everyone something every day: something out of a jar, something out of the freezer, something crunchy out of a bag. My basic caretaking abilities, like brain stem functions of breathing and beating heart, are the last to go. Crud accumulated on the floor. Sean kept up with the kids and the laundry. The garden died.
Buproprion turned the sound back on, the color back on. And my mood lifted, my energy returned, with shocking rapidity. I've been taking it a week and I have had a handful of days where I felt normal. Took an exam, ran two errands with the kids, made lunch for them, read for a while, worked out, cleaned the house, fixed dinner, practiced fiddle with Sophia (an excellent measure of both mood and energy level for me). This all happened without me screaming or breaking anything or even wanting to.
It felt revelatory. No way to take the full measure of what is missing until you find it back, again.
Now I have to quiz myself: am I too happy? Too bursting with ideas? Am I accepting of myself or crazy overconfident? Okay for now. But I get to ask myself those questions every day. Several times a day. From now on.
About the rowboat, now.
The froth of a mixed state settles, in the clarity of adjusted brain chemistry, and what you get isn't some Perfectly Fine version of yourself, but a chance to see the junk and driftwood that was waiting under. It gives shape to the illness; the illness moves it around; but they are separable, and require different kinds of cleanup. No pill will unmake me a person with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility to the people I care about (to the point of self-obliteration), will unknot my assumption -- my acceptance and understanding -- that no one wants me around.
No, that's my wreckage to tidy up. Without the manic depression, though (and I am going to call it that because it's a better way to describe what I have rather than try to sort out discrete states), I can see that it is just wreckage -- a rowbat that maybe served me once, when it was the only way to stay above water, but isn't fit to use today. That boat needs to be hauled up out of the sand and burned before some kid running on the beach stubs a toe on it.
But I can haul it up, now.