No one really uses the term anymore, it's not exactly a technical medical diagnosis after all. But if it's happened to you then you know exactly what it means, and its effect upon your mind and soul. I'll write more about this experience as I begin to feel stronger and clearer in spirit.
At the time I wrote of my eviction crisis I was so deeply in the grip of rapid cycling episodes of deep despair and wild unstable elation which shifted literally each minute to the next without warning, instigation, purpose or what others call sense. At the beginning I had no idea what was happening to me but I was deeply aware that something was very wrong. However I knew that I was not well, and as a result my normal ability to make magic solutions even in the midst of danger situations was now a chaotic mess of random decisions that never seemed to save me.
The fault wasn't found in my intellect or reason - I know that now. It's important to understand that there are circumstances in life that can drive anyone to the edge. A breakdown doesn't have to be the result of any latent mental disease, it's more rooted in the fact that the verge is far closer to each of us that anyone wishes to admit.
The power of the unknown hides and lurks within darker elements inside of each of us. For me, personally, I was in the storm of circumstances that were determinably outside my control. For others watching me fall there was little compassion, I still feel, from my present observation, even now as I heal.
Many people I contacted in desperation just never replied. I was begging for help to avoid homelessness and what felt like a tornado of evil sweeping me into oblivion. Others casually dismissed my distress by assuring me that I was a brilliant lady quite capable of saving myself. A mentor loaned me one hundred dollars and told me with a somewhat coolness that he might even be moved enough to pray for me. A girlfriend of twenty years and many adventures IMed me to say that my crisis of incumbent indigency was familiar to her and that though she wished me well $65 was something she just couldn't condone in helping me, not after a one hundred dollar loan.
Somehow, through this vortex of down, down, down-ness I could not communicate to others what was happening to me. It was taken for granted that my tears were the result of my poor management and fear at suffering the consequences. No one grasped that my behavior was largely wrong; I was by no means behaving or talking or acting within my normal character. Even now as I consider how alone I still feel I wonder how sincere my so-called friendships truly are. As I fell out of contact - no internet, no Twitter, no Facebook - only two or three true, deep and close friends ever bothered to look for me, contact me, find out if I was alright, dead or alive.
In the time I was in deep-freeze fear and danger I was diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder. It was not exactly news - a doctor in 2012, while I spent a full week in the hospital, felt certain that my illness at the time was rooted in bipolar disorder. It's strange about the disease, because one's mood, activity levels, depressions and manias can over-rule entirely one's normal true character. Oftentimes those watching may have seen these abnormalities before and chalked them up to personal quirks or just general weirdness. As I said this is not the first breakdown, there have been four major ones not counting the many, many mini-breakdowns. I wonder if those in my friendship circle were simply bored with the changes that I simply couldn't control. "Oh here she goes again" was the general sigh. I can't get over the fact that in this nightmare no one, beyond my mother who has never ever abandoned or dismissed me, beyond very few deeply precious friends, there was only the support of these two or three beloved people - because of course I needed a support network.
In truth my life itself was in danger and had it not been for the powerful love and commitment of my dear mother I can't be sure that in the mood of desperation, of mania and depression, that the wildness and absence of stability might not have moved me to hurting myself for a quite permanent result.
So, this is me writing in a mood of bitterness and deep sadness wondering how the hell I could have displayed such serious instability, such dangerous depression and unpredictable behavior entirely antithetical to my true self when well, and still be un-noticed? How can such an ambitious, bright woman earmarked for greatness have a complete major break in an Ivy League Ph.D program and not be spotted as suffering for what I now know is a textbook case of bipolar disorder. After all, what is more cliche than breaking down in grad school? Really?? I was a living cliche. How could I have flown so below the radar that no one added up the clues? How could I have not added up the clues.
In truth I had added the clues and sought help. I had a psychiatrist and psychotherapist on retainer and I worked hard with them to help keep me on even keel while I foundered. The trick of this mystery lies in misdiagnosis. From the time I was 14 years old I was diagnosed as suffering from major depression as my mother does. It made sense in its way; the genetic predisposition, the drops from the verge, the clear disorder: except that the conclusion made by doctors, loved ones, friends and myself was entirely wrong. I know this now because under medication and the compassionate embrace of my wonderful psychiatrist my body, my brain are now behaving in a way that feels...I hate using the word...but by God I feel normal, I feel more like me.
I suffer from bipolar disorder and sometimes I haven't always been well. In the unwellness I've often felt very alone, very insignificant so I can't be sure how correct my analysis of others' support or lack of support is. I know how I feel. I know that I've survived a deeply serious trial. I know that it's a blessing and I am deeply grateful to be alive.
The only thing I can say to you Politrixters right now is that I'm happy to be alive. In the midst of another's unpredictable chaos there is a fear and avoidance that others often display, a kind of hands off evasion that people feel necessary to maintain in order to keep their own balance and distance from the edge. I can't be mad at self preservation. I only seek now to find my own balance, to overcome my very serious social anxieties in order to re-connect to that natural human tendency toward needing the company and trust and presence of others, of those loves that lie in the realm of support.
I had a nervous breakdown, and while my intellect survives -with some damage to my memory, my ability to access that near perfect recall which I always took for granted, flaunted and which made me feel so special to myself - my confidence has taken a deeply disastrous hit. I have been stabilized to an extent by I'm still trying to back away, back away from the darkness that precedes the event horizon. Sometimes I am enveloped in self recrimination other times I am gripped by rage at others. I suffer from a disease that is tricky and disloyal and destructive but I do have the love and support of a few stalwart hearts and I am grateful - more so that any of them can ever understand.
I've written this freestyle and you can't imagine, perhaps, how difficult it has been just to share this missive, to commit to taxing my brain to produce what has always been first, second, and third nature that is my writing.
I hope I'll be in contact more often as I heal. Just be patient with me, remember that I share when I can because survival takes time and commitment and true force of will. I'm doing my best and after six months of hell my best is quite a bit more extraordinary and beautiful than my worst.
I'm still all about that life of making little men dance. I'm just practicing the moves right now: I'll get it right before long. Be kind, be gentle to those who are hurting. You can never know what's in another heart, another's mind. And the truth is dark: it can happen to anyone at all, it just depends on how close you are to the edge. If you have the strength and inclination gather together a net of love and support and do your best to catch the falling wo/man. Just try, is all. We all need one another. If you help others stand straight it keeps us all from falling. Mountain climbers call it the Belay - tying one climber to the other, and God knows we need all need ropes of stability.
PS: I'm not checking this little letter. It's easier now if I vent. It's part of my healing. Forgive the raw nature of this missive. It's the truth as I know it to be, at this moment in time. I'm feeling some Survivor's Remorse these days.
All my love,