I used to hate my brain. I hated it with a passion. I could see my brain as separate from myself, in a dark corner of my skull, plotting. Devising its next wicked plan to dismantle my life. To tear it apart. It was not easy for me detach myself from the reality of my bipolar disorder because it is a mental illness. It was too close to be invisible. The many times I wrote about my depressions and manias, they were eloquently painted with darkness and suicidal ideations or they shouted of vibrant excursions and exciting playtimes.
When I’d retreat, ignoring as much interaction as possible, transforming into a recluse, I was granted silence without much concern; poets, and artists all, are notorious for falling into “a mood.” My friends didn’t know I contemplated committing suicide at least twice a week, I could go up to a week without sleeping, obsessing over heard voices. Hallucinations dominated my senses. An out of control vehicle, spinning further and further away.
By 2012 I was spiraling in and out of the most darkest depressions of my life or from the wildest manias. Sadly, my own children had grown accustomed to my bad days. They knew when to avoid me and when to give me a hug. They were the last of what was anchoring me to this world, and much of the time it pained me to know they knew it. It weighed a guilt upon me that no anchor could ever amount to.
The dissociative behavior grabbed hold of me hardest at night. Once everyone was in bed, I drifted. Rarely did I sleep. My eyes blackened and I would fall catatonic. If I stayed too long in this state, the edges of my body would start to tingle and I’d feel myself, the energy that was my actual self, begin to thin, absorb by the static. Eventually, this started seeping into my days. I would grow numb. The unpacked traumas of lack of sleep, the growing shame and denial took a heavy toll on not only my brain but my entire body. My temper became unyielding. It was unbiased.
Writing has been my outlet for over a decade. For the last thirteen years I have penned my broken mind to journals and for a short time this blog. Normally, when I was struggling with something, I wrote myself through it. In poems, I admitted my ugly, constructed beauty from the demolished, gave every trauma I’d outlived its deserved name. I realize now, I never wrote about living with this mental illness because I wasn’t living with mental illness. Although all the while I thought that’s what I was doing. I was lying to myself. I was running from and fighting with and stumbling through and barely surviving the same of it. I was being beaten. My bipolar, the mental illness, had a grip on me so tight eventually I felt I had no choice but to shock it into submission. And with that it was as if a fog was cleared. A light was turned on. A knob was turned and the door was opened.
The irony is that I’m an educated man. I know the science behind what flaws my brain. But still it didn’t matter. My complicated and botched and beautiful brain. My brain my brain my brain. My brain that sometimes fails me. My brain the designs mercy. My brain that steals. My brain that fights, daily, against its inherited mechanics. My brain that blooms. My brain that wanders and imagines and freaks out. My brain that conjures. My brain that craves Blue October and Merle Haggard. My brain that vibrates with memory and trauma and overloads and retreats. My brain that waited for me to acknowledge if for what it unapologetically is. My brain that gave itself a voice. My brain that gives and asks for nothing in return. My brain that drives me through hell. My brain that wants to be my brain.