Time is often a huge factor in my mood changes, recognizing a shift it is one of the biggest things that will make a change apparent to me.
On the depression end of the scale, I have witnessed time standing still. Maybe not literally, but it has often felt like it.
This time last year I would go to work and I felt like I was spending hours experiencing each minute, making the prospect of being at work absolutely dreadful. An eight hour day became a lifetime of agonizing and feeling overwhelmingly suicidal. I might as well have been able to count the wing beats of a hummingbird, it was ridiculous. Seriously, the last thing I want when I feel absolutely awful is for time to stand still, but it does.
Maybe my thoughts were moving more quickly than normal, making normal time seem to stretch, or maybe my slower movements made it seem to take eons for anything to get accomplished.
It was like falling down a well, and it was dark and musty and there were centipedes. I really hate centipedes. And when I would build up the courage to finally look up at the opening of the well, if I made any sort of glance up there to plan my escape, I could feel the well expanding like a telescope. The entrance getting smaller and smaller as it moved further and further away.
That’s what the time stretch feels like. Even if I can see some light at the top of the well, the space (or time) between myself and that opening just gets larger and further apart with each moment.
With mania, one of two things happens. Or, well, both.
Sometimes I lose time, and I have no idea where it goes. It is like looking at a mountain, and then the next thing I know, I’m on top of the mountain. I don’t know how I could have gotten there so quickly!
Once I was walking to the bank and suddenly found myself six blocks past the bank. I have no idea how I got there.
Or hours will just disappear. I’ll be making breakfast one minute, and the next it is dinner time. What happened?
Either that, or I accomplish a huge amount in an impossible amount of time.
Like what happened right before Christmas. When that rough manic patch peaked and I decided to go downtown, I had a huge list of things I needed to get done. When I got home, only an hour and a half had passed but I’d managed to take 2 buses and finish everything on the list. By all accounts… it just wasn’t right.
On top of that, I couldn’t remember getting all that stuff done if I tried! So not only did I fit a bizarre amount of tasks into a tiny amount of time, I don’t remember getting from point A to point B.
Often I wonder if my moods aren’t just reflective of time continuing to shift around me. When time moves quickly I obviously have to keep up, and when it slows down I slow down too.
When things slow down and I feel like the time I have is infinite, that’s when I begin to have a problem, because that’s when the hopelessness comes in. Really? Could I keep doing this forever? But I’m tired, and I’d really much rather not do it at some point.
Which means I can never be a vampire, or any other immortal creature.
Brad Pitt in Interview With Vampire, I often feel your pain. That huge amount of time is vast, expansive, lonely, and inhuman. The question of what to do with myself for the rest of eternity is way too much for this mortal mind to take, let me tell you.
I’d love to believe that time shifts all the time and maybe “bipolar” people are the only ones that can sense it. Then again, I’d love to believe that bipolar disorder is, in any sense, some kind of superpower that genetic mutation has afforded some of us. Perhaps our mood swings could be used to detect the presence of ghosts, or time shifts, or uranium. Physical embodiment of the suffering of the world perhaps? No? Alright fine.
I suppose I can settle with the notion that I am, for whatever reason, some kind of emotional enigma.
I know there are arguments out there that suggest the intelligence of those with mental illness is usually superior to those without, but the truth is that nobody really knows anything. Until humankind can wrap their heads around the inner workings of the brain I’m sure it will remain a debate.
In any case, I would love for a bipolar neurologist to make some kind of groundbreaking discovery that answers these questions. Maybe they’d scratch their head one minute, and the next they’d have written a paper and have no idea how it had happened.
That’s the sort of universe I can get behind.