All at once, the hypomania is here, her nails digging into my shoulder. First, my energy spikes. I’m excited and hopeful, but I’m irritable and angry at the same time. My head is flooded with ideas. I’m on my soapbox telling joke after joke or monologuing about a theory I have (which is likely delusional), getting mad if someone doesn’t understand me and then laughing hysterically seconds later.
Hypomania Is Hyperactivity, But Not Necessarily Productivity
I go through all my old papers, trying to sort writing and quotes and articles I’ve read for books I’ll probably never write. I go through my closet, finding old shirts to cut the sleeves off of and letters I saved from years ago. I paint and glue and glitter and cut and it’s all pretty much crap, but it looks amazing when I’m hypomanic. Everything sounds beautiful when I’m hypomanic.
Or everything sounds like nails on a chalkboard. My senses are heightened. Noises are louder. Colors are brighter. My body feels trapped in my clothes, the previously soft fabric like inflexible metal pushing against my skin. How do people live like this?? Who invented clothes? I hate them! The hair hanging over my right air feels unbearable. I grab a pair of scissors and start clipping randomly at pieces that particularly piss me off.
Maybe I should get into running again. Right now. I decide to run around my neighborhood at two in the morning.
A song is playing. One, two, three, four… I’m doing cartwheels and running in place. I’m taping up more things on the walls and writing my ideas down in page after page. I’m breathless and excited and ambitious, and I run around the block again because I’m destined to be a runner even though I haven’t been in any races since 5th grade. I post a Facebook status about the progress of my book, regretting it later when family members ask about its progress.
The lights are dim, and the people are following me around town as I run, trying to catch my cold breath in my fists. Christmas lights hang off the trees, and it looks like the most honest, beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. The world feels so good, safe and warm. The air feels light and sweet on my tongue. How could I not have noticed it before? Where have I been for so long?
Hey! Don’t touch me. I don’t want to talk anymore. I don’t want to dance. I don’t want to paint. Everything is disappointing and uninteresting. I hate you, but more than anything I hate me. I comb my short, uneven hair until it feels just right, and then check my teeth for cavities instead of brushing them. The world is falling apart. What is everyone doing? I can’t save the world all by myself. Death is inescapable. So is pain. Where are my car keys? Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! What is the point? It’s all so frustrating. Who is that following me?
Hours later, a day later, or a week later, and I come to, accessing the damage. I go to the hairdresser’s again to get my hair fixed. I clean up the mess of papers I scattered on the floor when I had my big idea and took a new turn on that book I’ll never finish writing. Everything sort of slows down. The music skips and then stops. I can taste my bad breath. The dancing poinsettias that were keeping in time with the music wilt and fall to the floor. I notice the pile of dirty dishes in the sink and look at stickers and stamps scattered on the carpet.
What has she done now? What have I? What have we?
When I pick up the pages of writing I thought were profound, I register the scribbles and words rewritten over and over in shame. How can I even call myself a writer? I no longer feel strong and unbreakable or righteously angry. Words hurt. Even the wind on my cheeks feels unbearable. I look in the mirror at the girl who remains a mystery to me, even after 21 years with her. I’m embarrassed by the things she’s said, by the things she’s done. Why won’t she listen to me?
There are so many things I want to do: finish school, marry, have a career, publish that book. But the main task has and always will be to figure out this beast behind my cold nose and dry eyes. She is the one calling the shots. She has been for years. I scroll through my Facebook memories for the day and bite my lip, finding her beneath violent words, obnoxious profanity, and sentences that just don’t make sense. There she is, swooping in and out to call the shots since 2009, making me post weird, cryptic statuses that disturb me seven years later. It is different from just being embarrassed. It’s looking back and knowing that even then, my mind was splitting in half, fragmented by my brain disease, schizoaffective disorder.
I’ve always heard people say that in the end, you’ll only have yourself, so you better learn to like that person. In the end, it will be me. Me and her. The savage, unkempt monster that I sedate and soothe and bait with pills. Just me and her. And oh god, I’m so scared.
About The Author:
August Blair is the writer behind Writers With Mental Illness. She is a freelance writer and blogger. She is passionate about psychology and writing. She studies at The University of North Georgia. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.