I’ve had a lazy few days.
The thing – one of the things – with being unemployed, is that with oceans of time around you it becomes easy to drift. And while I’m not ill right now, I do think I have a natural pattern of ‘do all the things’ v ‘do none of the things’. As I recover, regather, rewhatever, I’m beginning to appreciate the non-pathological aspects to what is generally understood as pathology.
So I’ve had a lazy few days. No gym, stuffing my face, mostly playing xbox. I’ve kept up the meditating, every day, although only one session. Possibly because of that, I’m more distracted, more distractable.
Thing is. I don’t mind.
It’s not that I don’t care.
When I’m ill, I don’t care. When I’m hypo I don’t care and when I’m down I don’t care, and when I’m both I really, really don’t care.
I don’t care that I’ve not showered in three days or shaved in five. I don’t care that I’ve spent all my money on takeout and haven’t been to the gym in a month. I don’t care that my life is pubs and fast food joints or that families are trying not to stare at me in McDonald’s as I drunkenly shove a quaterpounder in my mouth, don’t care about the ketchup stains on my shirt. When I’m low I just don’t care, and when I’m in that storm of high and low I really don’t fucking care.
These days, ostensibly better (‘symptom free’), I still spend a lot of time trying to taste my own mind. Am I swinging down or up? Is this me, or just a temporary accident of genes and chemistry and the big blue world? And so it is now, and so the important distinction between not minding and not caring.
Because I have had a lazy few days. I’ve been slouching in my trackies and keeping holed up even as I look at the sunshine and think it’d be nice to get out. I’ve gone from a (at least) 3 day a week gym habit to a 0 day a week one, a 4 wispa a day habit (local Asda does multipacks for a quid). Sat mostly on my arse.
Objectively, this is brushing up against a depressive dip. Lack of care in personal appearance, binge eating, hiding from the world; you can see why I’m curious, tentative. Maybe a bit wary.
Except I feel fine about it.
All psychiatric conditions, including bipolar, share one thing in common: we know fuck all about them. We don’t even know if we’re asking the right questions, if they should be thought of as illnesses in the traditional sense or just extreme personality types – or more, globally, extreme ways of being human – that don’t fit snug into the modern world. We don’t even know if that’s a meaningful distinction.
To the extent that some ways of being human are disabling, even deadly; to the extent that they prevent normal social functioning – I’m happy to think of them as illnesses. When I’m furious and thoughtless and a danger to myself, destroying my life and attempting to destroy my body – that’s an illness.
I’m aware that if stressed too much (which isn’t a lot) I run the risk of being burned up by that fury again; but right now I’m fine; symptom free, with a handful of symptoms. Generally happy – euthymic, as the psychiatrists say. But not engaging in the world, snaffling away on chocolate, not bothered about the effect on my waistline.
It’s a bit like someone with T2 diabetes controlling their blood sugar. As long as I’m careful, I’m back in the normal range. It’s just that my normal range involves swings not just in mood but in extraversion, introversion; clarity of thought, sleep patterns. Food intake.
I’m OK with that. But learning that that’s not pathological, that that’s just ‘me’, is a big part of piecing myself back together after being broken apart so spectacularly.