Every time that I log onto this website, pull up a blank screen to put my thoughts on, I do so with the expectation that I will be able to bring wittiness, intelligence, honest and dear hope, to my readers. I try to come up with topics that are relevant in my life. Topics that I live each and every day. I take these little things and dress them up and give them to the world hoping that somehow it will help keep together one more person.
I do it when I am so manic that the words being typed are literally flying faster than my fingers beating on those keys. I get so manic I am happy to tell my reader about the incredible sun that shines only for me, the amazing world that I live in that while often lacking amusement does in fact control me. I want to talk about the million of things I did today; things that would have been literally unthinkable even a week ago. I want to share my highs because they are often the roller coasters that give the thrills that no other feeling can do. I want to give the feeling of flight that lives in me for those short times.
Then of course are the depression days. The days that literally are steeped in the knowledge that I physically can’t do the things that I am expected to do. Those days when it isn’t so much getting out of bed that is hard but learning how to smile at my child’s antics. When I can sit and stare for hours at nothing and let my brain roam free to topics that I will not remember the next day; the times when eating simply isn’t an option because it would take too much energy to feed my desperate soul. I need to explain these days so that others understand that tears are universal; even when you sit alone with the voices telling you all that will destroy you.
All those with mental health issues know there is one other major place that your brain can go: the middle. Not the high, not the low, the middle. And those who don’t have mental health issues would take the idea of no high and no low as a healthy state to be in. They would consider this place the normal that we are all supposed to achieve. This state means that the drugs are working, the food plan is being eaten, and the requirements we must all have in life are easy to obtain and easy to end. It is the place not filled with Pearl Jam nor with Diana Krall but rather a place of that one song that defines the relaxation that can only be felt in the notes of the greatest of songs.
It is very hard, at least at the beginning, to distinguish this place differently from a place of depression. It mimics depression much more than it will ever seem like manic behavior. It is a place that is quiet like a depression’s comfort. It takes very little energy to survive and be in a place in the middle, just like those who live mostly in depression understand. It is not the absence of the disease but rather the very fabric of these dangerous illnesses as no high and no low can truly be defined.
What those without mental illness cannot understand, simply will never understand, is that the manic is identifiable and therefore in ways controllable. The depression while not always easily seen can be breathtaking enough to be acknowledged. For me depression is a sort of home, a place that I can go to that is familiar and makes sense. I have been to that door before, I have read the welcome mat of depression, and I take great comfort in knowing that despite the fact that millions the world over are wary of it, it is a place that is a source of everything that makes sense for me. It is where the rain is the softest.
Explaining the middle is not an easy task; I am literally sitting here hoping that words that I am tying will come together to help my reader understand where I am trying to go. But it isn’t a place that can be imagined and it is not a place that is easily shared with those that we love. It isn’t even a place that we can easily explain to the doctors and therapists who have probably heard it all and might be the closest thing we got to someone to help us. Maybe the understanding of the human brain is hampering our movements or maybe the silence is preventing the world from hearing from the invisibility that exists only in this state.
The state of the middle may have memories, but they don’t have memories that can make us change. The state of the middle may have desires, but they don’t have the desires that allow us to change into the person that we have always hoped that we could be. The state of the middle is sitting in the midst of the ocean, without a paddle and sail, and simply looking around at what is before you. You aren’t concerned with finding a paddle or sail; there is no concern about food or water. You don’t lose faith, you don’t fear, you don’t try to escape. The sky has finally fallen but there is a discordant between you and that reality.
Maybe it is living a day with no need to live any other. Maybe it is a day that there isn’t responsibilities because no one is expecting anything from you. Maybe it is a day that simply doesn’t bring the comfort of depression or the excitement of mania. It isn’t a bomb about to go off, it isn’t even anything one needs to worry about. It simply is a state of being that only can be truly described as something.
Like most things in mental health this state of invisibility that comes from being caught somewhere unfamiliar is completely dependent on the person that we are. It isn’t the middle of depression and mania, although that is a more reliable way to put it. It isn’t a place, it isn’t a feeling, it isn’t even a lack of feeling. It is no more numbness than it is pain. It is no more joy than it is shame. It is a state of being that doesn’t exist unless you have a brain that brings you such sorrow and such joy that only insanity can give.
I sit here writing this and I wonder if it isn’t the place our souls go to rest from the daily fight that we engage in between depression and mania. I wonder if this middle is so unique because it is a place that only those who understand the comfort of darkness and the inability to see that sun shining so brightly can truly feel. I wonder if the middle is a place that we go to not when we are sad or happy, not when we are full of energy or when we are dead tired, but a place we go to instinctively in order to find rest. Not peace, but rest.
Anyone with a mental illness knows instinctively of the battle that must be fought each morning and each night. Addicts fight the same battle but against a real foe, while those of us with brains that are considered diseased fight battles that we cannot see, hear or avoid. The battles are similar in that there is a need for something, the fight each day to be better than what those around us have designed for us, and the consequences of the failures that come as easily as the rain in the night.
What I know is that today there is no battle and the only answer I can come up with is quite strange: today, I think my soul is simply invisible. It is invisible to the touch, to the thought, even to the dream of it. It is invisible so that tomorrow it can once again be exactly what they all need for me to be.