Showers are powerful things

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Anyone who is Bipolar or Depressed can attest to the fact that showers are magical things. It may not be a completely blanket statement, but to people who sometimes can't make it out of bed sometimes, a shower is a thing of power. It forces you to be alone with yourself. Not sleeping, not the internet, not eating or whatever it is we do to pretend we're not where we really are. You might see it as a few minutes out of your day to get ready for work or school or it may be a thing to wipe away the day. If it's the later, you might also know what I'm talking about.

First you have to strip and then look at yourself in the mirror. This is not pornographic, it is powerful. Okay, take me. I just took a shower. I see someone who has waited way too long since her last hair cut, but that it is a lovely shade of red. My left eye is bloodshot because I've stayed up too late. I have 2 red lines across my stomach where it shows that I've bent over a desk for 4 hours cramming for my math test, then 2 hours in my bed decompressing with a phone call and tv. My hips stick out. They do. I think it's funny looking. My face looks tired. I need to shave my legs. The mirror forces you to recon with who you are. Great hair, lumps, and all.

Then the shower. Hot water, alone with your thoughts and shampoo. All that's happened today- waking up, getting out of bed, lunch with a great friend, English class where I bombed a quiz on the Wife of Bath, Math Lab where I dealt with not being terribly sure of the exam I have tomorrow, a trip to McDonalds because I craved a cheeseburger and I wanted some of those monopoly pieces they have, talking with my little sis and Mom (if you're reading this- you didn't call me back like you promised!), studying for Math for hours, getting lost in episodes of "Felicity", then freaking out that I got lost stayed up too late, shedding a few tears, and realizing that I warded off a panic attack!

A mostly triumphal day, I realized. I did things that I wouldn't have dreamed of last week. I may have bombed a quiz, but I WENT TO CLASS AND TOOK IT ANYWAY. I STUDIED. I was alive- a participant in life, rather than a spectator of lives around me. I talked for over an hour to my friend Sarah (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!). I talked to Thomas for a long time. I laughed, poked fun at him, and remembered that I'm head over heals for this guy, completely in love with him. He came to visit Clemson for the first time this weekend. He held me as I cried, he stayed up for hours on Sunday teaching me math that I've missed, he walked me to class on Monday as I was slightly terrified of re-entering the world, he made me laugh, we had tickle fights, and he always reminds me that I am beautiful, special, worthy of life and that I have something to offer. He may not know this, but I went back to school for me. Back to class. But I went there because of him.

Being Bipolar changes you. You look at people differently. You fear that they won't understand you. I've said this before, but I'll say it again. I have faith in humanity. Most people are innately good. I tell people when I have to, secretly afraid of rejection, but people don't. Not for the most part. They may not understand. That's okay. But they're willing to listen or willing to learn or willing to love or willing to have faith in you. It's hard to express gratitude.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. . . -Leo Buscaglia

Being Bipolar also makes you think about how you change. I have Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. A vague diagnosis. In the "mild", "moderate", or "severe" category, I'm a "moderate." Though somedays it feels like I'm leaning toward "severe." But there are two sides of me. The part that I am when the Bipolar Disorder rears it's ugly, nasty head and the part when it's not so apparent. Being Bipolar is confusing sometimes. When the former happens, logic flies out the window and whatever emotion turns on is ON. You can't change it. At that moment it is what it is. The brief and rare moments of clarity are sometimes wonderful and sometimes horrific. Wonderful when you can think your own thoughts. Horrific when you realize what you were when the Bipolar was there. Depressed beyond belief or moody or reclusive or even mean or afraid or scared of things that aren't scary to a non-Biploar person. But let me assure you in the most animated terms- when you are Bipolar the emotions you feel at that moment are as real as they get, IF NOT MORE SO. It's not something you snap out of. It is supremely real. That is life. You can change your thoughts afterwards, you can realize that they're crazy, but while you're in it (and it can last for weeks, months), that is it. That's the hardest to explain- no, not explain, to make people believe. It is so so so hard and frustrating.

I want to be honest. The past two days have been good. I have been happy. Not temporarily, but for hours at a time. And I hope it lasts. For a long time. Oh how I missed school- highlighting and taking notes and knowing an answer. I am such a geek. I love being a geek. I love my life. I hate being Bipolar, but that's just a thing. A big thing, but still just a thing. My life- the essence of me- the geekness, love of letters, overly sarcastic, passionate about love, bold when I have to be, my love of writing, the fact that I own too many pairs of jeans, crazy about religions, crazy about God- is the same. My friends and family and boyfriend and professors- the fabulous people who add color, substance, love, and meaning in my life- are still there for me. My life is awesome.

Thought for the day:
What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
It's one of my favorites because it reminds me of the true substance of life: not things or actions, but gumption, heart, bravery, integrity, and soul. Have a good day.


  1. You donot know me that well, neither do I. I never read your blog before, today I am devouring all the posts. I am not Bipolar, I never understood what difficulties you went through and I cannot assume I will ever know. Sometimes I judged you for your decisions, your behavior and thought nasty things about you behind your back. I am truly sorry dear. I understand how horrible life can get, I am on anti depressants now, crying my eyes out at weird hours,insomnia and god knows what else.I get the whole "bad day" deal now. I wish I had you around. God bless you.

  2. I haven't been sure about how to reply to this. Here is what I know for sure. I forgive you, truly, for what you thought or did. I am sorry this is happening to you and I'm sorry that it took something awful happening to you to realize what has happened to me. As for having me around, if you wish, you can email me at the address listed in the "this is me" at the top of the blog. Anonymously, if you wish. Lastly, remember there is hope. I can't promise a cure, but find a community and be strong. You can find a way to be who you are and what you want and live with it. Much love and God's peace. L