Disclaimer: I can’t say everything at once. I am genuinely sorry about this, despite not actually wanting to be sorry. I can barely articulate a fraction of the things that I start thinking. There’s a necessary compromise I have to make in any given moment—in every given moment—between trying to stay on a particular train of thought or getting off and trying to describe where I’ve got to so far. If I choose to do the latter, that necessarily involves trying to make myself heard over the sound of hundreds of other trains leaving the station at once. And who even knows if the train I’ve just got off is ever gonna come again—let alone at a time when I will actually be able to jump on it and keep all my limbs.
Nothing I do or say will ever be sufficient. Please accept this as fact. Please try to refrain from seeing this as just an opinion I have, or some warped idea I have because of my mental illness. It’s just the main truth. It’s the principal reason why I’ll never be ready to die. I’ll never have felt as if I’ve done or said or thought or felt enough. I consider that a good thing. If I ever feel differently, I hope it happens moments before I cark it.
Disclaimer: I want to talk about my mental health again, but I feel like ~mental health~ has turned into a cute little flag to wave that obligates people to notice and congratulate you. It’s like, the law now. If someone waves that flag, you gotta drop everything and send them a heart emoji. Not to be a shithead or anything.
But, to be honest, I kind of want to be a shithead about this. Let me try to be real: I definitely want to be noticed and I definitely want to be congratulated. But I don’t want the fact that I’m –brave enough to talk about my mental illness– to be a shortcut to getting noticed and congratulated. I fucking love the sound of my own voice and I especially love when I get to talk about myself. This isn’t bravery; it’s straight-up attention-seeking.
But……… I am NOT ashamed! I deserve attention. I am very very insightful and interesting. I just want you to know that I don’t need your pity in this instance. I need it at a LOT of other times, for sure, but please don’t congratulate me for being brave this time. If you wanna congratulate me, congratulate me for being really fucking smart. I dunno, up to you. The emotional honesty is easy for me. I specifically live for vulnerability. It’s the –forming it into words that don’t make me sound like a total fuck– that’s the hard part.
Disclaimer: I’ve learnt recently that I’m somewhere on the bipolar spectrum, which means (among other things) you now have to take everything I say with more grains of salt than ever. I don’t want to freak you out (that’s not necessarily true, I just feel like I have to say it) but almost anything I say now could be construed as a ‘delusion of grandeur’ or, you know, some other low-grade manifestation of ‘insanity’. While I know that everyone loves salt because salt is ubiquitously delicious, it can also be overpowering. There are truths in what I think and say that will suffer from being packaged as manic (or as depressive). I challenge you to suspend your disbelief for a while—just imagine that what I am choosing to write is, on some level, worthwhile in itself. I have to imagine this constantly—not just about my writing but about every small thing I think and feel and say and do. I am constantly battling to see the value in my own existence. This is deeply painful and difficult and it is also a bit comical. In any case I think you should be able to do it too, for however long it takes you to read this. Or not—that’s fine, I’m not judging you. Just leave me alone and let me get on with my navel-gazing.
Disclaimer: The recent discovery of my bipolarity is nothing but self-diagnosis. Sorry to have led you along! Why are you even reading this! My claims haven’t been backed up by anybody. The psychiatrist that my mum pays for me to see has been on holiday. There is no reason for you to believe anything that I’m saying right now! I’m not the expert on the things that go on in my brain! Other people are! You are! A perfectly rational thing to do right now would be to stop reading this, knowing that its only source material is inside the brain of a 23-year-old! The brain of a 23-year-old woman even! A notorious den of ill repute! The only 23-year-old women worth listening to are the ones who can be bothered tempering every single thing they say with nuanced acknowledgment of other perspectives so that you won’t dismiss it as hysteria!!!
Disclaimer: I apologise for that outburst of sarcasm. I feel guilty about every instance of sarcasm I have ever stooped to; I also acknowledge that I will likely feel the need to use it again, and I already feel guilty about those future instances. Do we need to keep going through this? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Disclaimer: While the notion that I’ve got some minor form of bipolar disorder is something I’ve essentially just decided to believe, I didn’t pick it out of thin air. I don’t really want to go into my reasoning too much because I consider it a waste of time at this point; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve doled out my inventory of justifications over the past few weeks. But people always seem to want evidence, so I hope this suffices:
- I’ve got a not-insignificant genetic predisposition;
- I’ve done a fair bit of googling since people started hypothesising that I might be bipolar at age 12;
- I resolutely laughed off these hypotheses even when they started coming in slightly thicker and faster a year or two ago;
- Despite my scepticism I have had some detailed discussions with psychiatrists and non-psychiatrists over the course of the past year about what bipolar disorder is and what mania is;
- I had a manic episode earlier this year that was identified as such by psychiatrists (but at that stage I still didn’t think I was bipolar and didn’t consider that other experiences in my past might also have had something to do with mania);
- As far as labels go, bipolar—or manic depressive—fits me a whole lot better than ‘depressive’ did. I have a lot of thoughts about labels; for now I’ll say that I can suddenly make sense of a lot of things that mystified me before;
- And finally—here is a cross-reference to an unfinished piece of writing that I began in early October in order to be able to sleep, which I am including now as a partial illustration of my personal experience of mania:
MISTER* FREYA DALY SADGROVE IS LOVE
I am fully qualified to define love. Therefore I will now define love. Love is simply very very strong interest.
I am very strongly interested by every thing in existence, even the very boring things.
Boringness is a construct.
I love that boringness is a construct, I love boringness, and I love constructs.
Which is to say that I am profoundly interested in boringness; constructs; that boringness is a construct; that I am profoundly interested in boringness, constructs, and that boringness is a construct; and also every other thing.
I love that I love. Which is to say that my interest interests me. And my interest in interest interests me. This is an artificially occurring** phenomenon called mise-en-abyme.
I embody the artificially occurring phenomenon that is mise-en-abyme.
I am strongly akin to a snake biting its own tail. I am strongly akin to a snake eating itself tail-first until it disappears.
The only way to express the emotional truth of this situation concisely is to assert that I am love.
I radiate love. I love every thing. I even love things that I hate. I love that I hate. I love badness. I love – possibly more than anything else – struggle. I love difficulty, because it produces more things for me to love.
I love not knowing. I love knowing. I love absolutes. I love grey areas, and consider grey areas to be in themselves absolutes. I have this attitude because I am love, and love is absolute.***
I radiate love. I practise love, by which I mean my practice is love.**** Because I am love. Because I love my self. I embody my own love of myself. I am a perfect symbiosis of form (love) and content (love). I am not akin to a snake eating itself tail-first until it disappears; I am akin to a snake giving birth to itself.
I practise love, and, because I am love and I love every thing, I love hate and I must practise hate. I must practise hate, but I am bad at hate, because I must practise hate with love (because I am love, love love, and love every thing).
* I identify as a female mister because mister is short for master and I identify as a master. I do not identify as a male; I identify as a mister.
** ‘Artificially occurring’ as the inverse (not opposite) of ‘naturally occurring’ – i.e. I did it myself but it was inevitable.
*** Love is inherently reductive; to love something is to reduce it to a loved thing.
**** I.e. my artistic practice, which is not separable from my personhood.
Disclaimer: You know how Alice goes ‘I can’t explain myself because I am not myself,’ well, that’s kind of funny, cos I go ‘I can’t explain myself because I am myself……………’
Disclaimer: In all likelihood, after I see the psychiatrist on Tuesday all of this will be shot to hell. But imagine if I’m right; imagine if she backs me up! I feel as though my life has been on hold since a few weeks ago when I woke up at 2am thinking ‘oh fuck, I think it is mania. I think it is bipolar’. It’s like secretly opening a gift weeks before Christmas and it turns out to be a beautiful, comfortable coat that fits perfectly, but your family catches you in the act and as punishment they make you wear it every day with a big ugly sign that says ‘I’m not supposed to be wearing this yet! I’m very very bad and nasty!’ And you almost don’t even mind about the sign because the coat is so awesome.
Oh yeah, did I mention? I love my mania. Maybe that’s to be expected, but I also love my depression. I’m sorry. I know you’re not supposed to. You’re not supposed to love your mental illness. You’re supposed to work on overcoming it. You’re supposed to get to a point where it doesn’t interfere with your daily life. You’re supposed to have a nice clean breakdown so that you can be fixed up and sent on your way. You’re supposed to either be functional and fully independent or be fully unfunctional and have every decision made for you. You’re supposed to want to be yourself but also remember that yourself is not your illness; you’re supposed to be honest but not too honest (otherwise no one will give you a job); you’re supposed to look after yourself but never with marijuana; you’re supposed to be kind to yourself but never lazy. I don’t like these rules and I don’t intend to follow them. I welcome your judgment.
This is all to say that if the psychiatrist tells me I’m right, that I do have some form of bipolar disorder, that all this is not a delusion—well, then I will be pleased as fucking punch. I have spent the past year not trusting anything I think because it might be dangerous and wrong. Imagine if I’m right about something that’s going on in my own brain.
When I pretend to be the boss of my own head, I get to make the rules, and they are these: be as kind as you can as often as you can (including to yourself); make art; and don’t drink by yourself. I’m following these rules right now and while I might not look like a success to the General Populace, I like myself and I like being alive and I’m writing good poetry and I feel like things are gonna be okay.
But I’m not the boss, I’m not the expert, I barely even trust myself – so why should anyone else trust anything I have to say?