Exhaustion to me is an amazing thing. It is that single feeling that can literally take you down paths you know are dark, and it is that single feeling that overpowers all others: love, hate, anger. Exhaustion literally takes it all away, and places itself right front and center.
I understand that I have a disease, and I understand that I am going through the dark period of the disease. I understand that the depression, the sadness, the hurt and loss of hope is part of the disease. Knowing this, of course, will not stop me from feeling it and in some ways being destroyed by it. I know that when I am not eating, it isn’t because I am forgetful but rather a literal sickness that makes it impossible for me to even smell the food I make. Even know my lunch sits in the microwave three hours after my lunch hour, waiting patiently for me to find some desire to consume it. It will probably sit there until quitting time, when I will finally get up and throw it away. I cook it because I know it is smart to eat, but the feeling of hunger is literally destroyed.
I know that there are pieces of me that will be lost when I recover from this episode, the same as there are pieces destroyed each time I feel the suppression and weight. There are days that I think the darkness is alive, and takes that which I need to survive away; when it comes and flows through my bloodstream, I imagine it picks up pieces of my soul, pieces of my heart as it smoothly goes by. And I may be screaming on the banks, I may be fighting a battle with no weapons, but I know the struggle rages.
In that struggle, there is exhaustion. I am not talking about yawning because you are tired. I am not talking about needing a nap because you did too much yard work. I am talking about the exhaustion that is so deep inside of you that you can almost ignore it. It hurts like a physical wound, and it creates in you the sense of defeat and literal loss that only true exhaustion can bring.
I know I am exhausted because my body, my soul, my mind, my faith is in war with an intangible being. I know that I am fighting a combat against an enemy with greater weapons, smarter soldiers, and tougher skins. I know that this disease requires me to stand up and fight the invisible with no medals or promises of victory. The truth is every battle is a war to survive. I know this about bipolar. I know this about the disease. I feel it, I fight it, I sometimes even survive it.
But the scars aren’t physical. The scars are exhaustive, deep and completely without the faith of healing. The exhaustion is my soul’s need to heal after fighting a war that no one can see. Exhaustion is the reward for losing to the darkness. Exhaustion is the reward for defeat and even for surrender.
Exhaustion is the moment that my body fights without my brain. It is the need for my body to take over where my soul can no longer fight. It is a period when that which is bruised, that which is in mortal danger can find a moment. A moment to remember why it is important to survive, a moment to remember why the fight exists. I don’t fight with whimpers and shouts; I don’t fight with words or even with any upper body strength. The fight is in my soul; and sometimes that fight demands not only recovery but bone-deep hiding.
In sleep we become vital. In sleep we recover and become just a moment stronger. In sleep, our cells relax into the nutrients and vitality we can give it. In sleep our bodies gather.
In exhaustion our bodies cease. Our souls lay down and simply breathe. Our minds stop working, and our desires perish. No one, including God himself, can touch us, as we lay down and rest. It is here that we are most vulnerable, and it is here that we are most likely to forget the threads that hold us, bind us to this earth. It is here when those that might cause of pain can do so; and it is a risk that are minds and bodies are required to take just to survive.
Like many aspects of bipolar, this kind of exhaustion is not something I would wish for. It is something that is both a horror and a salvation. It is mandatory, it is essential to the disease. It is a journey of madness that I will once again take. Tonight, I will lay down and somewhere, somehow hope that my fate can protect me from the demons roaming so freely.