Last week, I faced a situation I knew would happen when I started writing a blog – not just a blog, but a blog titled BIPOLAR GIRL RULES THE WORLD.
I was in a BAD PLACE. It’s hard to break out of shame, fear, sadness, and hopelessness and write anything. I was in the BAD PLACE where I thought enough is enough. I’m tired of working so much on self-growth (insert sarcastic tone wherever italics appear), and spirituality, and really what is the point? Why bother going to my fabulous therapist, or talking to my wonderful friends, why bother asking for help. What is the point? I’ll just end up again, here, in this horrible sucky place.
What made the BAD PLACE worse is that I had just left my extended NJ family at the beach. Let me tell you about my NJ family. I open the basement door, and everyone – my grandmother, two sets of aunts and uncles, my parents, and five cousins – ranging from 15-22 – are hanging out one floor up. I let my dog off the leash, and she runs upstairs. The general loudness of the room – talking, television playing, laughter – turns to exclamation. “Kacey’s here, Kacey’s here!” And then I come up the stairs and I am greeted by smiles, and love, and every single person gets up to hug me. Eery single one of them. Good hugs, too, strong-armed and substantial. It’s enough love to get anyone through a desert of loneliness.
Now, only being able to spend a couple of days with my family because of work did contribute to the BAD PLACE. A stomach virus and an incredible amount of work to accomplish also precipitated the BAD PLACE.
But the worst part of the BAD PLACE was to be aware of my outrageous blessings, the love of my family and so many good gifts – and not be able to feel them. To know I should be wildly grateful and to be constitutionally incapable of feeling gratitude. The shame and hopelessness of that state is what makes a BAD PLACE even worse.
Perhaps worse than depression is the fear that depression will never go away, or if it does go away, it will only be for a short time. Ah, and tricky, tricky depression, you smarty pants, the fear that depression will never go away is a standard symptom of depression. There’s a way of living with depression (and by “living with depression,” I mean, acknowledging that it’s a fact of your life that there is this thing, depression, that you are vulnerable to) that is constructive – eat healthy, take your meds know you need to sleep enough, try to get exercise – it’s a preventative medicine kind of thing, like any other illness.
But then there is the feeling that depression and hopelessness is hovering, ever-present, and even if you feel ok right now, in this moment, you are not safe. It’s not safe to make plans for fall or fall in love or apply for graduate school or take any kind of big leap because you just don’t know who you’ll be in a week, a month, six months, a year.
Now, this feeling is could be called an exaggeration of the “well, you just don’t know,” that everyone has to live with on some level or another. If you want to make the gods laugh, tell them your plans, someone said.
But I seem to have returned from the BAD PLACE with a bang.
I had a few gen-u-ine miracles in these last couple of days that require writing about, but with more time and thought then I have today. Miracles seem to come just at the wonkiest times, unexpected.
My most basic theory about miracles is that there are two parts to any miracle: the miracle itself, and then recognizing that the miracle occurred. It is possible to be so busy, to be in an altered state and utterly un-present, that you’ll miss a miracle. My sense is (and I guess this is part two of the theory) is that it is more than likely you will get another chance to see the miracle – it will happen again in another time and place, and maybe this time you'll be ready and watching. I have this vision of a patient, world-weary God saying, “Well, it didn’t work this time, I’ll try again later.”
One last thought – I don’t think I came up with this idea – but I’ve talked about a lot with Pastor Pam. There are two basic prayers (I’m breaking it down today): helphelphelphelp and thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou. I think there was a third one but I can’t remember it right now.
This is a little cutesy, but I’ve been thinking about the connection between help and hope. Just asking for help (something I can be exceptionally bad at) implies hope. It implies that you think that there is a point in asking. Plus there is this nifty little thing that they are only one letter different, and if you say them one after another really fast they begin to sound alike.
The help prayer, even when it doesn’t feel like it, is the hope prayer too. Plus it’s simple and easy to learn, nondenominational, all purpose. You can write it on your hand with a Sharpie if you need to.
And yesterday's miracles involved reaching out for and accepting help.
Anyway, the BAD PLACE feels beyond help or hope, and gratitude is only a knife in the side.
It’s hard to write about the BAD PLACE from within it, but I will try. I don’t want to be so cheerful about being bipolar that you all start to hate me.
p.s. I think the third prayer might be, “oh s*#$t” or something a little stronger, if necessary.