I step inside Mrs. Dalloway’s mind:
it twists, turns – I’m lost in the maze,
as she spills thoughts on the page –
a link to her consciousness;
it’s a stream that overflows,
breaks embankments, floods my psyche
‘till I put the book down,
lest my mind goes manic and
doesn’t come back.
(Photo credit: A portrait photo of Virginia Woolf from Britannica.com).
Note: This poem was inspired by Mrs. Dalloway, the classic novel by Virginia Woolf. I’m reading it now, and I love it, but I’ve had to put it down a couple of times because I felt like it was triggering a manic episode.
Soon after the pandemic began, I could feel my mind starting to speed up. I was reading too many news stories about what was going on. I was doing what some people now refer to as “doomsurfing,” which is reading all the negative and almost-apocalyptic predictions about what’s going to happen in the world because of the virus.
I’m getting better. That is, I’m getting better at accepting my bipolar diagnosis, managing it, and doing self-care. I’ve come to learn that a big part of this is accomplished by tracking my mood.
Over the past few years, I’ve tracked my mood via a couple of apps on my smartphone. When I first started doing it, I always marked that I was feeling good. This was kind of like replying, “I’m fine” when someone asks how you’re doing and you’re obviously not fine.
What does it mean to have bipolar disorder?
I was diagnosed with Bipolar I in college. After a clear manic episode while going to Temple University, a psychiatrist working on the campus prescribed me a mood stabilizer, along with the depression and anti-anxiety medications I was already taking.
“Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that
cause changes in a person’s mood, energy and ability to function. Bipolar
disorder is a category that includes three different conditions — bipolar I,
bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder.” -American Psychiatric Association
Madness seems like such an old-fashioned term,
much like “insane asylum.” However, I’ve known madness in my life and, when
going through the mental twists and turns, it can be difficult to recognize
just how mad I am.