The main problem I am having at the moment is when people try to tell me what is the best thing for me, in absolute terms, and completely reject my perspective on my own mind. It’s really triggering. The last thing you want after a manic episode is to start doubting yourself more. Yes I lost time and don’t remember it all, but what I can remember is traumatic.
Especially when the idea I was trying to communicate is something that I feel is more necessary now, than it was when I was manic.
And I was manic. I couldn’t sleep, I was trying my hardest to rest, but I kept getting distracted by other people, my carers, the staff, other patients, it was impossible. It was really stressful for me, and it was really stressful for the people around me. I couldn’t articulate what was going on with me. I couldn’t explain it. The only way I can talk about my mania is in metaphor.
And I was very manic. My memory of those early days is blurry, so I have to say I am glad that I wrote every little thing down. When I was writing everything that came into my head down (sometimes to prevent me from saying it out loud) I had no filter whatsoever and I had to express what I was experiencing in some form or other. I’m so glad I did, now I have a record of my manic episode, a record that I can share with you.
I was making connections; connections between what I was seeing and interpreting it in the language of my own journey through popular culture. The idea (hardly original) is an idea that I assume all artists have had at some point or other; spread truth through art.
It’s what the ASOIAF fandom are doing. It’s what podcasters are doing, whether they are discussing pop culture or presenting a completely original piece of work. Those communities look out for each other. They advertise the brands they know, they get financial support through crowd funding, and best of all, pop culture can be used to discuss complicated moral and political issues.
Is fiction a better learning tool than fact? I think so.
So what if I was presenting as manic, I was going through a spiritual and creative awakening, language became such a wonderful toy for me to play with. I feel like I’ve awoken to a fundamental truth about myself as a person, and trying to explain it to people is really hard. I know I must have terrified some of my friends, and all I want to do at the moment is reassure them that what happened was actually a very good thing.
For me it was a tidy up. A cleansing, and I’ve come out of it a better person. I’ve possibly gained even more enthusiasm for writing since I’ve come out of hospital. Even more enthusiasm that the ideas I was having while I was manic are definitely worth-while. There is a mental health crises, across the bloody board, it is affecting us all.
Maybe you are suffering without even realising it?
Maybe you are suffering with a diagnosis; lost in a labyrinthine system.
Maybe you’re well, but you’ve got that label hanging over you; that label that “protects you under the law” at the same time as identifying you as abnormal.
Maybe you are caring for someone with a mental illness, and it’s tearing you apart because you just don’t have the knowledge to look after them properly.
I am blessed. Truly blessed. I couldn’t be in a better position compared to other people going through this system. Unfortunately, my diagnosis will hang over my head for years. I will always be bi-polar, even when I am well.
And the scariest thing about having a diagnosis? A Tory government taking us out of the EU with a blank cheque to take the only good thing away; that all important protection from discrimination.
If anything, going into hospital just enthused me even more than when I was initially going manic. The difference is I can control that pent up energy now. I can direct it, most of the time. I feel like I have been liberated.
When I first started working at 19, and for most of my early twenties my boss used to say “your brain is like an organised library” I had so much promise. Unfortunately over the years I stopped taking good care of the library, and it got really chaotic in there. Throughout my manic episode, insights about my identity were coming thick and fast and I was remembering too much information at once.
I am Suzanne, Suzy, Sue, Suz, Suze, Spoob, Moonbeam, Scully. Those are the personal labels. I’ve been given labels by society too.
I’ve even given myself a fair amount of labels.
For too long I have felt it necessary to hide parts of myself. I’m not sure why yet, I’ll get there eventually. I do however, have a pretty good grasp on the things that made me go manic.
I recorded pretty much every minute of it, after all.