Things are still wild here. Poor lovely Rose was up half the night vomiting bile. We think she might have food poisoning, and we’re going off to see her doctor soon. Around 4am she finally stopped long enough to keep an anti-emetic down, thankfully, and has only vomited a couple of times this morning.
I’m sleep deprived but still good. There’s been a fair bit of plans going astray and wheels falling off and last minute shocks lately, but after the inital feeling awful and hopeless I seem to be bouncing back incredibly quickly. My mind is still clear, and still going a million miles an hour. I actually have a callous on my fingers and a permanent numb patch from writing so much lately. I can barely keep up, ideas are flowing through me like a constant sleet of inspiration. I’m having to work thoughtfully to find ways to calm my mind enough to focus on driving – I’m constantly having to pull over to write things down – and sleeping. Last night I was writing after waking up with Rose sick – she went back to sleep but my brain woke up and began to spit an entire theoretical framework for mental health service provision at me. I wrote and then put the pen down and turned off the light and after 10 minutes gave up and turned the light back on to quickly capture the next few ideas spilling into my brain, then turning it off again. I did that for about an hour as the pace slowed down. Finally there was only a trickle, and then a pause. I had the sense that in that pause I could tip the balance – in one direction I would go back into intense idea generation. In the other, I could close the valve gently and let all the ideas spin and burn safely in my subconscious. I gently learned in the direction of the closed valve and instructed my mind “No more for now, we must sleep and rest, let all the ideas keep going in my subconscious, but do not allow any more to come up into consciousness”. I also used an energy visualisation. I saw and felt my energy as light and buzzing and whirling, currently in my brain. I gently moved it down from my brain, into my body. From there, I moved it out of my body, into the room, changing from a whirling ball and into a peaceful, illuminating soft light, the gentle touch of awareness. I immediately felt my mind and body settle and calm. I felt a sense of connection with my surroundings, a kind of mindfulness that was highly aware without being alert. A kind of resting state that was still aware – possibly the same state hypnotists help people access. And then sleep came deeply and peacefully and I slept in through the morning to catch up.
Today it’s back. I cannot keep up with the ideas. Inspiration is everywhere. There are connections in everything. Profound realisations happen every hour. I’m constantly writing. I’m a prolific writer and blogger anyway, but I’ve never experienced this level of output before. It’s phenomenal. It’s still – to use Kay Redfield Jamison’s delineations in her book Exuberance: The Passion for Life in the territory of Exuberance rather than mania, but it’s pretty mind blowing. A short quote that sums a lot up from this fantastic book:
If exuberance is the champaign of life, then mania is its’ crack cocaine.
I have astonishing resilience at the moment – there have been some major setbacks this month and they still impact me and knock me over – but I bounce back like I never have before, within hours, strong and calm and ready to deal with it. My fibro is lesser than it’s been in many years – in fact I don’t think I’ve been this physically well since I was about 9 years old. It might not last, but it doesn’t have to. I’ll use the time I have.
Everything I’m learning about theory and history in my Visual Arts Degree is having profound implications for my mental health work. I’m learning more about the history of psychiatry and the developments of the science/humanity split in our disciplines than I ever did in my time trying to do my psychology degree. It’s so pertinent and explains so much about our current models, how we’ve developed them, the context we were responding to, and the losses that have happened along the way. I feel absolutely vindicated in my school time stress at being required to choose a stream when actually I love both science and humanities. They have so much to offer each other and so much to learn from each other, especially in a field like mental health that needs input from both to function – the rigor and research metholodoly of the sciences, their morally neutral assessments of ‘madness’ and hope for restoring health, and the human skills of connection, relationship, rapport, communication, and bringing hope. For the first time I firmly believe that I have made the right call to train in the arts while working in mental health. I am learning unique skills and insights that are essential to my work in mental health – which is so surprising and unexpected! I do not want to be a psychologist or a counsellor or a psychiatrist or a social worker – not because I do not value those disciplines but because that is not how I want to practice. I want to be a peer, a communicator, a community hub person that is friends with people and helps to connect them with the resources they need. I want to collaborate with the mental health disciplines and form alliances with them and work along side them, but as who I am now and the roles I naturally play best – artist, entrepreneur, activist. We need people like me in this field, we just hadn’t realised it before. So I will work as a freelancer and build the role around me and my skills – just as many others have in the past. We will bring new voices to the conversation and champion inclusion, community, and hope.
And I will do more figuring out how manage this exuberance, to shepherd it wisely, and to calm my brain and sleep.