Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Falling Star

At a WW meeting yesterday, our leader asked us if we had ever exorcised a bad habit, like smoking or drinking. My mom piped up and mentioned that for her, a big part of learning not to smoke was viewing herself as a non smoker. Making that change in her mental outlook helped her to affect a larger change in her life. The pebble that starts the avalanche.

I've been pondering how I see myself lately. Most people have a reasonable idea of who they are and where they're going, but the past several years have really disoriented me. I'm not sure that I've had a clear idea of who I am since my mental health saga began in earnest in 2001.

I have a lot of trouble reconciling the image I hold of myself as an independent person with the memory of sobbing on the phone with my Daddy about how I couldn't possible survive school my junior year of college. Most kids freak out as freshmen, if they are going to freak out at all. Not me. I was fine as the 17 year-old adventurer. In fact, I was fine as an 18 year-old sophomore. I worked as an editor at the school newspaper and the executive director of a student assembly with a budget of more that $30,000.

And then, it was over. It was as if my rocketship just ran out of fuel. I backed out of my student leadership commitments. I was just too exhausted to do anything other than school work. Brendan dragged me out to a few shows and activities, but other than that, I only went to class, the library and my apartment.

I barely managed to graduate. In fact, the primary reason I was able to nab my degree (frickin .03 of a pt off of graduating summa instead of magna cum laude) was that my advisor cut me a lot of slack because Brendan had talked to him and told him that I was in the hospital and he knew that by hospital, Brendan meant a psychiatric facility.

I only took two courses that semester. Five semesters before that, I had taken five courses and written for two different sections of the newspaper. By my senior year, the rocketship was dead.

I picked up life again at ASU after a summer of laziness living with my parents. At ASU, my existence has retained the same lackluster glaze the last two years of undergrad had.

And here I am today.

I guess it's time that I sat down and reassessed the accuracy of my self-image. This illness has changed me. I'm not sure that I'll ever find the vitality I used to have. I think I have to reassess my life goals, scale back my dreams and learn to live my life in a diminished capacity.

It's time to accept the fact that I don't have the luxury of having "normal" ambitions because I am not normal. Instead of running an election campaign or teaching university students, maybe I'll breed dogs and work a cash register.

I think it's time for me to compromise before I become psychotic trying to capture some shape-shifting mirage of success.

Maybe I'm just bummed. Or maybe I'm on to something.

At any rate, this study on sex and the brain is most definately on to something for you scientific nerd types.

This post over on the blog synergy provides an excellent glimpse of the challenges of having a bipolar partner.