The Bipolar Coaster

Adventures in a Manic World

Depression Day, June 6, 2014

Frustration Followed By Anger Becomes Depression

Frustration Followed By Anger Becomes Depression

 

I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. The indicators were all there. It begins with the clumsiness, and lack of coordination. I began to drop things: pens, books, and the plastic container of Pellegrino mixed with pomegranate and grape juice. The bottle top wasn’t screwed on properly and the sticky mixture spilled all over the floor. When I leaned down to wipe it up, my pens fell out of my shirt pocket (I had forgotten to slip them in with their holders) and into the spill. I became upset. When I rose I banged my head on the kitchen counter. I cursed loudly to no one. Later I had to go to an appointment. As I opened the front door with too much force, it bounced off my right foot and cracked me hard on the side of my head. For minutes I was stunned and stumbled to my vehicle. Late for my appointment, I raced across town yelling at all the stupid drivers, who got in my way.

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The following day still unbalanced. I tried to make some new business cards using Microsoft Word and a template. The attempted was a total disaster. Nothing would work. I couldn’t get the type where I wanted it to be, nor could I print my efforts. Calls to the Avery Company who make the business card printable sheets began with being cut off in mid-conversation because cell phones do that all the time. My second call provided assistance, which only half worked. My psychic temperature was escalating fast.

 

I have difficulty with all computer programs that require you to insert this or that, and then follow this sequence to get the result. I am dyslexic as well as bipolar and numbers and button pushing drives me nuts. I make too many errors. Dyslexic people transpose numbers, become confused easily, and push the wrong buttons. Computer program designers never consider that people make errors and provide no egress when you fall into the black hole of their cyber world.

 

Word Press drives me frantic. Their means of inserting photos into articles is an exercise maximum frustration. Sizing a picture is a total mystery I have yet to figure out. The Microsoft geniuses that correct your spelling when you don’t want them to do it put me into a total fit of frenzy. Dragon Dictate moves words in dictation without any reason I can determine. In I spend a lot of time screaming at my computer when confronted by their inscrutable actions.

 

After maximum frustration, I gave up on my business card design, and began another project. I was carefully trying to cut out an image to be used in my art project “Grand Opening,” a reworking of a Chinese ink scroll of the Great Wall to which I was adding images of a Wal-Mart, an IPhone, Mao Zedong, and a poem of my own creation. Everything takes so long to do. I am delayed by unanticipated events, and the things I find hard to do. Yet I was close to finishing this work of art so I decided to press on with actions that required a sure hand. It was another mistake, exacerbated by the unexpected.

 

Deep in concentration attempting to cool an overheated psyche and control a shaky hand, I was startled by a loud “Grrrh” sound outside my open studio door. I jumped up from my seated position and turned around utility knife in hand. A friend had come into my backyard, walked down the path to my studio, and made this noise. I was furious. I don’t like loud noises. When I work, I work with no music or radio commentary. I like quiet. I can talk to myself, if I wish, but no other sounds are allowed in my private space. I felt violated and I considered slashing my friend in his face.

 

I didn’t do it. My friend sensing my unease did not visit long. I was relieved by his departure, but my anger had scrolled to the top. When I returned to my project, I kept making stupid errors. I knew I should have stopped and meditated, but in this state of high negative energy I always try to push beyond. It never works. It took me five attempts to glue down one image. I would make a bad cut, position the image wrongly, or smear the ink on the Chinese chop that bears my name. I finished my project discouraged with the result, and retreated to my bedroom cursing at the world. Lying in bed I yelled at the ceiling that I hated life. It is too damn frustrating. Nothing is ever easy. Everything is a struggle, and the struggle is pointless.

 

This is the point I knew that I was at the zenith of a bipolar episode. I am aware enough to know when I am having an attack. I can’t anticipate them, and I continually miss the warning signs. What I know is that a bout reaching its zenith of intensity will inevitably descend into depression. I can feel it coming physically and mentally. It is like a black hole filling with a poisonous substance. All I can do is let it well up and hope that I survive it. I know that it will drain away by itself as long as I hold on and outlive it.

 

That's the role of faith and good judgment. And faith is not reason. Will I have the courage to not kill myself? Each occurrence is a test. For the past many years I have outlived the tests.

 

Perhaps I pass the tests to death by my own hand because I know that the depression will subside. The dark well will drain of poison. It always has before. I believe it will again. I can continue to travel on my roller coaster ride through life in the good times and the bad. The bad times are horrific,different, but notlike the carnage that took place 70 years ago today, two months before I was born, on D-day June 6, 1944. Someone might question my equating my bad day with the horror of that invasion on D-Day. But maybe only those who have lived through both, and known the sense of always being close to death, would not deny it. Nevertheless "The Longest Day" did end and there was victory in Europe.

 

 

 

The bluebird of Nothingness
A New Yorker cartoon that's right for Depression Day
The New Yorker Magazine

Carlton Davis is an architect, artist, writer, and public speaker about mental illness.

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