I Fucking Hate Waiting


Today and the last couple of days have been a waiting game for me. Mostly waiting for my shrink to answer an email I sent Saturday after my husband and I figured out some really important things about the manic break I had last month, which was really about how long I might have to wait to get back what I lost last Monday when I “crashed”.

I had a couple of good days, and then an okay day that ended not so well, and then today, which found me awakened in a mental state of yelling at my shrink about what he might or might not have to say about my email and observations, followed by sitting on the porch crying over how long I’d have to wait to get back what I’d lost.

I’ve been spending my time at Twitter instead of Facebook, and somehow found myself at John Pavlovitz’s feed, looking at an article he’d written about Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. I read it along with a couple of articles about his death, and felt compelled to share my observations and suppositions about what may have led him to take his life, since at the time it happened I was pretty wrapped up in my own experiences and didn’t want to touch on that subject just yet. You can read it at When the Windows Darken and the Doors Close.

I felt much better after I wrote the post, with my brain quieter and less agitated. I decided to focus on learning more about the drugs I’d been given as well as the nature of bipolar disorder and other things that I suspect are wrong with my brain. I got sleepy, though, as I am wont to do these days, and took a nap, albeit relatively unsuccessfully.

When I got up, I began reading the Wikipedia articles I had intended on looking at when I laid down to go to sleep. The article on bipolar disorder was interesting, but it was very clear that, while I obviously do suffer from some features of bipolar disorder, there are other major features that I do not suffer from, namely cognitive disability. If anything, my mind is sharper and clearer now than it has been in a very, very long time.

And I suppose that is reflective of my shrink’s continued unwillingness to really label me, and instead relies on referring to my symptoms. Because indeed, I do not fit into any of the neatly labelled and structured boxes created by the DSM-V, the main American guide to diagnosing mental disorders. I display features of bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder which verges occasionally on panic when I’m in the wrong state of mind, obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as complex post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a convoluted form of PTSD typically suffered by people with really traumatic childhoods, rather than single incidents like a soldier that has been in a bombing, that are often caused by what is becoming known as multigenerational trauma, or the passing of traumatic traits from one generation to the other via methods that aren’t entirely clear, but that involve individual family behaviors as well as the possibility of epigenetics, or the turning on and off of genes in response to different environmental stimuli.

As I wrote in another post, my particular mental Universe is a bit like a solar system, the movement of whose bodies affects one another’s orbits. Knock something out of place, and the whole system goes wacko. Given the complexity of my past, how I’ve dealt with it personally, how its manifestation in the present has been influenced by outside forces like people and situations, and how it has been treated by medical and therapeutic professionals, I will likely never know exactly what got knocked out of orbit or when, or if it was a series of orbit knocks that happened over my lifetime, ultimately culminating in my manic break over a month ago and subsequent resettling into a new set of orbits that was itself thrown back into chaos by medication I didn’t need.

And that’s what I’m waiting for now that I’ve stopped taking that drug with my shrink’s blessing, which will hopefully allow for the continued stabilization of my mental orbits into something that once again allows for the experience of happiness and joy, which hopefully allows the return of critical elements of my personality that I lost last Monday when I “crashed”.

I spent most of the afternoon reading about not only bipolar disorder, but also people who suffer(ed) from it, most specifically Vincent van Gogh, a character that fascinates me, and not just because of his paintings, which I adore and am inspired by, particularly The Starry Night, and Starry Night on the Rhone.

As a sufferer of mental illness/neurodivergence, I am particularly fascinated by The Starry Night, mostly because of what is NOT in the painting.

Bars.

Vincent van Gogh painted The Starry Night from his studio in the lunatic asylum into which he had been placed, and there were bars on the window he looked through to create that painting.

I don’t know why, but that fact adds an element of what I can only call magic to the painting, which now looks even more beautiful to me because I know he had to look at, yet past, those bars in order to share with us the vision of the night sky that he beheld. Interestingly, The Starry Night was not one of van Gogh’s favored paintings because it deviated from the realism he sought in paintings like Wheatfield With Crows. Yet to me, and to many others, The Starry Night is emblematic of the phenomenon of the “crazy genius”, those people who see the world differently than the rest of us, yet also suffer from mental troubles varying from mildly annoying, to so severe that they ultimately end the way van Gogh’s life ended: in suicide, following a lifetime of mental torture.

So there’s a sadness and a warning in the beauty of The Starry Night to me as well, one that is beautifully shown in the Doctor Who episode “Vincent and The Doctor”. Even if you don’t like Doctor Who or have never seen it, “Vincent and The Doctor” is well worth watching, not only for its portrayal of van Gogh’s tortured genius, but also because of the message of the end of the show, which is that no matter how hard you try, sometimes you just can’t save someone. Because The Doctor and Amy try. They take Vincent to the future to the Musee D’Orsay to see his paintings and how much people love them in the hopes that perhaps they can prevent the suicide history tells them occurred. But after they take him home and return to the museum to see if there are any new paintings, there are none.

I do not suffer from the same kinds of mental torture that Vincent van Gogh did. Mine are different, and I have never found myself in a place so bleak that my only recourse was to end my own life. Which is not to say that I haven’t found myself looking at that big black door called DEATH, but I did not once consider going through it as Vincent did. So my story about van Gogh is not meant to frighten anyone who knows me, or anyone who knows anyone else that suffers from mental torture or suicidal thoughts.

Yet it is an all-too-real possibility that can suddenly strike down people from whom there may have been no previous warning, people like Anthony Bourdain and Chris Cornell, and others like Spalding Gray from whom there actually were warnings, and still we lost them to that black door.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, and it doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t have patience either as a mental illness sufferer or someone who takes care of one. And maybe that’s how my fucking hating waiting wraps around to the story of Vincent van Gogh and The Starry Night, along with the other tortured geniuses I have admired throughout my life.

I don’t know when those missing elements of my personality that I lost last Monday will come back, and I would be lying if there wasn’t a part of me that fears they will never come back, that I was only given a brief window of time through which to re-experience a joy and happiness I had lost decades before. But I know that’s irrational, both from a logical perspective, as well as my own spiritual one that is guided by the Voice of the Goddess, and yes, DEATH. I’ve been presented with DEATH’s lesson many times in my life in a variety of ways, and whatever else may be laid over the situation, there is always an underlying message for me of “this is not for you yet, you have to wait”. I’m only 46, so hopefully that wait will be a very long one yet, and when put in perspective, the wait for happiness to return is in all likelihood not that long.

So fine, I’ll wait for however long it takes, and if I have to I’ll take medicine to see if that makes things come back that can’t by themselves, for whatever reason, though I will wait even longer before trying that because I don’t want to disrupt what I believe is a process that is necessary, and indeed, there are particular medicines that I will not or cannot take for a variety of reasons. I have patience, I have faith, I have gumption, I have my Voice, and I have what those we have lost have left behind that inspire life, not death: tv shows about food and travel, music about all kinds of things, movies and monologues that are funny yet reveal somber truths, and the paintings of Vincent van Gogh.

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