The drive down by the river
Echoed in the burned out trees
Sage brush nearly absent
Seems also are the honey bees
Blackened and hollowed out
Tall sprawling oak
Now in fevered disarray
Scorching heat of fire
Tearing at their fine souls
Threatening their ability to stay
In mother nature’s favor
Walking this fine line of
Pomp and circumstance
Fire black leaves blow in the wind
Crippled and broken
No more growth around the bend
Dire days for the manzanita
Beautiful red blazing skin
Now thick with smoke
Yet on the horizon and
Deep into the valley floor
Mustard spreads its wings
Billows of yellow sprouting
In its finest glory
The brightest smile of life
You’ve ever seen
Nature is fighting
Plotting its course
Bringing us small gifts
Within the raindrops
Within the wind gusts
Within the anxiety that startles
I’m going to share something that is so counterintuitive my credibility will probably be in question. I had a travel day for work today. It was only a little over an hour away I had to drive to my appointment. It was a beautiful crisp morning. By the time I had to get on the road, all the frost had disappeared in the glistening sun. My iPod was plugged in and I was ready. My impending appointment wasn’t stressful, so my anxiety was rather low.
I live in Northern California in what many people would probably define as a rural area. I was able to travel this distance without getting on the freeway. I took notice of the black, brown and Oreo cows standing on the hillside. I could see reflections in the standing pond water off to the side of the road. I felt the sunshine insulating my car window. Dare I say, I felt at peace.
I’ve been focusing on being grateful. Forging a connection with a higher power. Allowing myself to believe I belong in this world. Just about 4 weeks ago I didn’t believe this and landed in the psychiatric hospital. Just about 4 weeks ago I had a solid plan I was ready and prepared to carry out. But 4 long weeks later I’m back at work and enjoying this drive. Bipolar disorder has got nothin on me.
As I leisurely take in the view up ahead, I picture myself take my hands of the wheel and glide through the air. Arms out to the side like one might do on a bicycle. I think I want to feel this contentment forever. The only possible way that could happen is to veer into oblivion.
The urge to carry out this fantasy becomes overwhelming. My heart start racing. My thoughts start racing. My vision blurry. Panic attack. I pull over as soon as I can to gather myself and my breathing. I always always leave early. I’m sure you can understand why.
Soon, I turn on my signal and begin my road trip again. I practice what I will say when I arrive. I practice what they will say. I turn on some mellow music. Sink into my seat and remind myself I’m OK.
After my appointment I meet a co-worker for lunch. I do not mention the earlier incident. I prepare for my return drive home. I reach out to my higher power and mumble a few words into the car. Again some sort of comfort comes over me. I notice my surroundings. I take it slow and don’t feel rushed to get home. Its that feeling of peace surrounding me, enticing me, promising me what I perceive as freedom. If I died right now, I could actually say I was at peace. Seconds later I pulled in front of a semi truck barreling down the road. He blared his horn as i narrowly made it through the intersection. I didn’t panic. I didn’t seem to care.
Holding on to a positive feeling can be challenging in this world. For my bipolar brain it’s seemingly impossible. I shoot up, then careen down. With all that lies in between. This was all in the span of 6 hours.
How could someone who thinks they feel “at peace,” such a coveted feeling, put herself in harms way at the same time? I don’t really know. Its completely counterintuitive. I’ll tell ya its the truth. Its not hard to want to feel good. Content. At peace. But, with bipolar disorder, everything is a balancing act.
Beautiful morning ushers my eyes open. Sun shining bright. Heater running full blast to keep me warm and safe. Not to mention the big strong man sleeping next to me. My husband holds me near, keeping monsters away. The depression of yesterday crept long into the night. The little clock reads 7:57. We slept in and it felt so good. Rest. Restoration was much needed. Yesterday was a rough day, but now a new day dawns. Well, I missed the dawn. But, I embrace it just the same.
We listened for the coffee to brew. The signal to officially wake. The last spit of water and air was heard and we jumped up as if it were Christmas morning. Energy filled my body and a smile graced my face. A real honest to goodness smile. I love the man I share my life with! He makes me laugh, allows me to cry. Talks me through the darkness and the light. I am blessed to have such a loving soul to hold hands with.
We raced to the coffee pot. One grabbing creamer, one grabbing mugs. Its not too often gratitude comes into my mind of its own accord, but this moment was an exception. Warm coffee made its way to my belly. Perfect.
He played my favorite record of late, Chris Stapleton The Traveller. His gravel(y) voice just reaches into me. We looked at pictures from our 2 day excursion to the beach. Memories were made and we were reliving them. Each push of the button reminded us of another moment in time. Surfers. Sea Lions. Waves. Portraits. Vast open space of the Pacific Ocean. Beauty. Our tv transformed us back in time as I captured the journey with the click of technology. I could almost smell the ocean air. Feel the pebbles on my feet. Feel the sun warming my face. Behold the magic of water.
Steam was spiraling from my coffee, cats sleeping on the couch, music coming from the corner of the room. Couldn’t be more perfect. Hard to believe yesterday I had thoughts of jumping off a bridge. Just yesterday I wanted to give up. I felt I had no more fight in me. No more resilience. No more energy to carry on. Less than 24 hours has passed and I feel like a new person. Its amazing. I tend to curse Bipolar disorder. It has caused so much chaos and havoc on my life. But today, it allows me to be grateful for the change in mood. For the time spent with my best friend home and away. For the little things like favorite records, hot cups of coffee, kitties on couches.
When you are lost in an inner world of voices and visuals, or steeped in a depression so low you can taste the ground, or racing thoughts carry you from room to room, or agitation wraps itself around your body and mind, genuine smiles and appreciations are hard to come by. I am no stranger to sudden changes in mood. But, I am not going to stand in my own way this morning. I am going to let the day unfold as it will. Worry will not keep me from visiting a friend later. Fear will not keep me from expressing myself. I promise myself to take hold and enjoy the grace that has been given to me, if only for today.