I’m alive. I’m okay. In fact, I’m in love and I’m on a sort of half-baked vacation, so really I’m doing great.
Except for the moments when I’m not.
Isn’t it funny the way that they way we feel has such fluidity?
I can instantly retreat inwards, protectively, at the drop of a hat. He doesn’t immediately introduce me to someone. WHOOSH. He talks about the tour on which he met his ex. SWOOSH. He talks about himself in the past– a him I never knew. BAM. I close up tight.
But then, sometimes the little mushy parts are so easily exposed, and I can let myself NEED and FEEL and LOVE. Tucking my head under his arm and on his chest. PHEW. Feeling him reach for my knee under the dinner table. AAH. Having him ask about my family situation, and seem to really want to hear the answer. SWEEE.
There have been moments of this relationship that I’ve felt so in love, I’m afraid I’m manic. Because I was bipolar primarily as a young kid (I stabilized around 14 with the help of Zoloft), I have noticed the “manic” tendencies less apparently than the depressive ones. I doubt if I’d even still be diagnosed as bipolar at this point– but there’s no denying my moods are ever-shifting, and my ups and downs seem to move at a pace and an intensity that is, let’s say, more than most other people.
If I were to look at larger moments in my life as manic (after age 14), I could tag off my years at boarding school– I was an overachiever, always put together and organized, and eventually crashed into a horrific depression after I wasn’t accepted to Juilliard– my summer as an apprentice at a fancy-pants theatre festival– the beginning of the unconscious restrictive behavior, bouncing back from an illness by working EXTRA hard– and perhaps moments of this last summer– enormous joy quickly supplanted by depression upon returning weekly to NYC. I could pull out a number of times in my life that my bipolar moods (whether clinical or simply active) vacillated from mania to depression.
But maybe actually being in love isn’t clinical mania. I’m not restricting, I’m still messy and imperfect, I still get angry, I still tell him when I get angry. But is the excess of love an OVERexpression set in contrast to the amount of times I feel scared or upset or sensitive? Or is that what being comfortable with a person is like? I know that’s sort of what being with my family is like… And when I was a kid, oftentimes the mania was expressed by clinginess and an excessive need to express my love. Is THIS love THAT love?
I don’t think so. But again. I have to get used to feeling this way about someone. I’m so used to my own moods now, to allowing myself to regulate myself, to separate when I need it and feel when I need it and not have to do any of that in front of or around anyone else.
But with A, I have to negotiate my feelings with HIS feelings, my moods with HIS moods, my affection with HIS affection, my frustrations with HIS frustrations, etc etc and on and on. A lot of times this makes me anxious. I’m afraid that by feeling angry/frustrated/unloved/uncomfortable I’m pushing him away– I’m not doing what I’m “supposed” to be doing as a girlfriend/roommate/lover etc. But the fact that I am willing to go through that process with him, and I never want him to NOT be there, to NOT interact with me and my feelings, is a sign that there’s something right in all of this.
I tell him all the time that I’m still relearning how to BE with someone else. I’ve grown so used to only dealing with my own cyclical moods and my own mental hangups. I ask him to cut me a lot of slack… which I know is asking a lot. And THAT makes me anxious (of course). But I haven’t scared him off yet. I have been a bitch and a depressive and an angry, irritable crankster around him, and he’s still here. He still misses me when I’m not by his side.
And I feel the same way.
I’ve never really approached love in a way that tied into my mental issues. They have been the END of relationships, and I did have one relationship in which I said “yes, I want to” to someone who I eventually had to leave because it was a selfish kind of thing– I wanted his affection because it made me feel beautiful and special– but I’ve never been someone who had a lot of manic sex or lashed out at significant others or kept them out of my struggles (at least in a conscious way). And I’ve never felt more in love than I do right now.
Every day. Every fucking day. Isn’t THAT crazy, you guys? We muddle through every day with a portion of our brain always processing, always tuned in, because if we stop, we fall. If I don’t process what I’m feeling, it will take me over. That’s sort of how the ED stuff happened. But it can be an exhausting task. That’s one of the reason I like having A around. He helps me stay on the boat, even when the water is rocky.
“Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don’t believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it’s good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason.”
― Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression