Note: this post has songs in it, which are triggering for some, and mentions suicide. Avoid if you are not used to the internet and fear being triggered.
My husband is a little unwell so I was sent to do the shopping this time. He is concerned that I get enthusiastic and buy stuff we don’t need, so I hadn’t gone shopping by myself for some time.
First stop: LIDL. Second stop: Sainsbury’s, to get the stuff they don’t have at LIDL.
So, nothing really exciting. Harmless.
And yet, almost as soon as I got into the car, and put the radio on, I started feeling excited, elated.
The elation reared up its head and took off with Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtxlvQqvDQs.
Ah, the old feeling: behind the wheel, good music I could sing along to. A song that used to always speak, no yell to me, as the summer was always the major trigger of my manic episodes (I use this vocabulary despite not being officially diagnosed with anything except anxiety and depression some time ago, we’ll see if the psychiatrists agree with my ultra-rapid cycling bipolar and/or BPD feeling), and of course my manic episodes did involve lots of boys. And cars, and driving. I loved the feeling of being behind the wheel, especially of a powerful car.
An avid motorcyclist, I love motorcycles so much that it’s true that I never had the money for a motorcycle licence, but I also avoided them actively, like some drugs, for fear that my excesses would become even more excessive, and contented myself with lusting after men on motorcycles (sometimes quite aware that it was the motorcycle I was lusting after, but the man had to take me on board!).
There I was, an old familiar feeling burning up inside me, I had to watch my speed, was reminded of that feeling, the feeling I got when driving, or on any transportation really, but mainly driving. The feeling I could go anywhere, and make it through anything, and I often did, continue to drive, get on a different train, miss the plane deliberately, and I would indeed go somewhere else, and nothing would stop me.
The thought was just forming: I have to tell the psychiatrist about this. I have to tell him or her that even though I am incredibly level for my standard these past few weeks/months (thanks to basically isolating myself almost completely and surrounding myself only with calming, non-triggering beings and situations), it is always there, ready to come out at the smallest opportunity, the summer mania.
And with this thought, the other thought: Christ I miss it. It was good. It felt good. Feeling you were riding the world and it was at your command. Man I missed it… Damn, do I really want to erase it? Do I really want it to stop? I wondered. And I thought, maybe that was the real me? Maybe this me is overly calm, overly self-censored, overly tame?
Then my brain reminded me of that time when I let that burst of energy grab me in the car and change my life. Not the countless times it did so and either brought to spend way more money than I could afford, or it ended up being relatively harmless fun in a place far, far away, or some big adventure, nor the times when it placed me in bloody awful and dangerous situations. No, it brought me back to the time when I was stuck in a queue on my way to work, two toddlers and a violent and alcoholic husband at home, and I heard Jamiroquai’s “King for a Day”, and it got me so very very riled up that I got out at the next exit, called into the office to quit, called my friend and told her to come visit me and decided to finally leave him, and ended up within two weeks leaving him and moving to Tuscany with my friend, in her yellow car and with her money as I had none.
My brain whispered to me: see? You want to get rid of that? That was your survival! You’d never have done it without it!
In the meantime, the radio moved on. It went onto the news, I was approaching LIDL. It spoke of the Immigration crisis, it spoke of the roads being reopened near Shoreham, and then seemingly out of the blue, almost just for me, “neurologists and some other people I can’t remember are finding different behavioural traits that might indicate someone is likely to commit suicide. Reckless driving and impulsiveness are two of the most likely traits to suggest that person may commit suicide.”
I cracked out laughing. Seriously, I did! I was driving into the parking lot so that gave me a way to stop, and laugh it out, and say “ooooooohhh Billy there you go, there you go, there’s your answer. You CANNOT let that old Billy back.”.
It is funny, in a way, the way synchronicity works sometimes. I know synchronicity does not exist but it is a mere coincidence that you notice more because it holds more meaning for you. Of course. But it sure struck home. Like so often in the past few years, since my process of awareness begun, I am reminded that this stuff does not get better, it gets easier to control provided you give into it, like I have, and shape and tailor your life around avoiding everything that sets you off. But it will never get better, and it will never go away.
Here is what works for me: identify those things that are particularly good at triggering either your manias or your depressions, your anxieties or your panics. Once you’ve identified them, avoid them like the plague, or take the suitable medication that will help you through them before facing them, if you really can’t avoid them.
Sometimes it’s a combination of factors. In my case, today, it was the car+ being alone + music combo. So, no more music for me when in the car, unless it has been suitably chosen to be untriggering music (so no to radio, if alone)
The same sensuous voice that spoke to me to try and make me retain my manic self, is the voice that will talk to me during depression, and tell me all those things that will lead me to suicide. Which, thanks to a previous use of Diazepam, I now recognise, and I stop the moment it starts talking, distracting myself, doing other stuff.
But the two voices are one and the same.