Posted by: Harold Knight | 10/20/2009

To Write. Writing. I write. I wrote. I will write. Sometimes writing makes me jolly.

Or is it simple bipolar hypomania, and I write because I’m feeling jolly?

...Juiter as the planet of benevolence...no thunderbolts to hurl down on us but only knowing smiles and a wink or two

...Juiter as the planet of benevolence...no thunderbolts to hurl down on us but only knowing smiles and a wink or two

What follows is, of course, exactly the sort of self-revelatory writing one should not—ever—post in a public blog. “Fools’ names, like fools’ faces always appear in public places.” However, I’ll stick to my guns (how much of our idiomatic speech is militaristic, anyway?). And if I had a way to make sure that anyone who reads this understands I’m not depressed, I’d use it. But I’m pretty sure the density and serious sound of my prose makes it difficult to find play and fun in what I’m saying. Oh well. 

One could, if one had to choose, find far worse afflictions than having to write every day (every hour?). In fact, when I have only my writing/myself to think about, I can be positively jolly about it. I am, or so I am told by several psychiatrists, Bipolar (two, too, or one?—different doctors give different answers). That means automatically I go up and down and down and up, so it’s difficult to know at any given moment where I am in the up-down cycle. (Can we spell teeter-totter?) That’s because I have “mixed mania episodes” rather than manic or hypomanic episodes (in my humbled opinion).  

Young Bringer of Jollity, Leon Cugnot, 1886

Young Bringer of Jollity, Leon Cugnot, 1886

That means, at least some doctors think, that I meet the criteria “for a Manic Episode and for a Major Depressive Episode (except for duration) nearly every day during at least a 1-week period.” (That’s a definition from a website.**  I wouldn’t accept such a citation from a student.  But I don’t have time to read books or academic articles on the subject while I am writing. Maybe this afternoon.)  

Let’s see, now. Mood disturbance suffiently severe to cause marked impairment in occupational functioning. Check (I should be, once again, grading papers right now). Mood disturbance sufficently severe to impair usual activities or relationships with others. Check. (I have inviations to two social events this weekend, neither of which I will keep. Does it count as a “mood disturbance” if you know in advance what you’re going to do?) Mood disturbance sufficiently severe to necessitate hospitalization to prevent harm to self or others. Check. (Been there, done that.) ** 

Yesterday. Had to write instead of grading papers. Cried walking from my car to my office. There’s a reason for that which I won’t go into. Suffice it to say that I think most people would not have cried over it. Dunno, though. Shut the door to my office during my office hour. Spoke to two people besides students (thank God for my students) all day, one my AA sponsor, the other an AA sponsee. Cried at Oprah (that doesn’t count because that’s her aim, and she succeeds—ladies all over the country are crying). Driving to dinner with my sponsor was thinking about how at the next traffic signal someone would run the red light and destroy my car (me?). I don’t know how up and down my feelings have to be in one day to count as hypomania, but they certainly feel out of control. Avoided one more day taking care of some business because I can’t bring myself to call the people I need to help me fix it. Procrastination? I suppose. Or something worse. I don’t know. My psychiatrist and my AA sponsor will have wildly different interpretations. Oh well. 

Am I making all of this up so I will fit the definition of hypomania? Dunno. 

Do I want to be sick? Maybe. It’s about all I’ve ever known. But in the midst of all of this, I do experience real pleasure and some joy. Let’s see. What was it yesterday? Who knows? Laughed a bit with my sponsor. Wait. There must be something. Do you experience pleasure and joy every day? Let me know. Just curious, that’s all. And about that mania. Nothing grandiose, no talking rapidly. No increase in goal-oriented activity. No increase in potentially dangerous activity. Decreased need for sleep (let’s see, it’s 6:00 AM and I’ve been up for more than two hours). Flight of ideas or distractability. You’ve got to be kidding me. 

So I’m not unhappy that I’ve teetered down and apparently will stay that way for awhile. This is not a particularly unhappy place to be, this sadness, this lethargy, this (perhaps) depression. Dear me, this was supposed to be a writing about feeling jolly. Oh well. 

Bringer of Jollity

Bringer of Jollity

Here’s a question to think about: if I prayed, asked God (Now there’s a problem I haven’t dealt with on this blog—who or what is God; let’s not think about that right now; let’s simply accept the likelihood that there is a “God” to whom one might pray. Or not. If, like me, you grew up in a culture where “belief” was a given, where the whole of the “narrative” [another ridiculous buzzword] of the community was belief: “That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee” Exodus 4:5; it’s impossible not to believe. Or it’s impossible to believe; one or the other), tried to align myself with the Great Spirit of the universe—is the Great Spirit the Big Bang or the creation of our solar system; never mind, however you want to say it—in order to get some kind of help from a “Power Greater than Myself” to get over this compulsion to write, what would happen? Would the need go away? Would God help me? Would I be happy? Would jollity arrive in my writing without my having to think about it?  

Oh well. 

** Dr Greg Mulhauser. “Mood Disorders.” CounsellingResource.com. ND.<http://counsellingresource.com/distress/mood-disorders/mixed-symptoms.html> 20 October 2009.

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