“How do you know something bad isn’t going to happen?” – Marlin
“I don’t.” – Dory
“The train, it won’t stop going. No way to slow down.” – Jethro Tull
I have just started a new series of prints that deal with my experience living with bipolar. This series of self-portraits mostly depicts the manic end of the bipolar pendulum, and especially the racing thoughts that are so prevalent in my experience. This is the first new series I have worked on since my senior thesis show and I am enthusiastic about it.
I am also preparing to start a full-time job. Although it has been several years since I have worked full-time, this is an exciting opportunity (that I hope to write about very soon) and I’m rearing to go. I am certain that I will be able to be successful at both the new series and the new job. I realize that it is going to be an awful lot of work, but I am confident that I can handle it, especially with Trevor working with me.
Looking at my own history and my past cycles I know that now is a dangerous time for me. I need to make sure that I don’t bite off more than I chew. That will mean that I will probably only post on this site once a week instead of the two or three times a week that I am posting now. That may also mean that I will need to walk away from my Daily Osteen project for a little while.
My cycling usually follows a predictable pattern. I have a depressive episode and find myself unable to function. The depression lifts and I am able to work. I get excited about the possibilities and take on more than I ought to. The excitement leads to long, stressful hours. The stress initially motivates and focuses me but then leads to unhealthy obsession.
The obsession causes me to work longer and longer hours, unable to stop, to rest. The lack of rest causes increased anxiety, irritability, and energy. The energy becomes less controllable. The racing thoughts increase, becoming faster than I can process. The lack of rest, the racing thoughts, and an elevated mood make me more and more irritable. The increasing stress, irritability, and anxiety make it even harder to rest, harder to slow down, and eventually I crash into another deep depression.
I don’t always cycle like this when I work. I can also be stable. I have been stable before, occasionally for years at a time. I am stable enough right now to want to work a full-time job and to feel like I am able to do so. I am not particularly elevated at the moment, nor I am depressed. I feel like my mood, while it still fluctuates, is well within the range of that of “neurotypical” people. I feel good.
I need to stay active. I need to stay engaged. I need to be able to be productive. To not do so is to risk a depressive episode. But too much engagement, too much activity, can kick off a manic episode, and that will always lead to a crash.
The goal is stability. The goal is to find balance. I know that it is possible; I’ve done it before.