The Thing That Should Not Be
My clock reads 1:00 AM exactly. So does my cell phone, which I've obsessively checked every 30 seconds for as long as I've been awake.
At least, I think that's what I've been doing; my short term memory is so butchered I can barely remember what I'm trying to document here. Gaps in my recollections seem to outnumber the fragments I can actually remember. I've certainly lost count of how many times I've been through this cycle.
Clarity of mind is elusive. Random side tangents overwhelm my thought process, threatening to drown out the resolute forward plodding of what I'm trying to write.
A couple of times I've woken up with what felt like some kind of amnesia. At one point I literally had no idea who I was. Every waking cycle is a miniature permutation of a personal hell. Sometimes I know why I'm lying on the couch in the middle of the night. Other times I've become so lost in the chaos that my mind has dredged up some bizarre attempts at explaining what's going on.
The worst cycles are the ones where I want to hurt myself. Those seem to be getting rarer, as I catch a few minutes of sleep here and there. But they don't go away entirely - even when I feel as sane as it gets.
It always starts innocently enough: one late night to hit a deadline, some party that lasted longer than it should have, maybe sleeping in a little too long on the weekend. Then, slowly, the daily routine of life starts to morph and distort. Schedules become increasingly difficult to maintain. Random bursts of complacency and laziness threaten to undo any productivity scraped together during the increasingly rare moments of lucidity.
I haven't figured out how to predict which way it will go, though. All I know is that an episode will occur. It may be a bout of depression so intense that I spend hours curled up in the corner sobbing. But worst of all is the siren call of mania.
There is a peculiar kind of temptation associated with mania for me. To ride the edge of the emotional high can lead to incredible productivity, efficiency, and quality of work. Managing a hypomanic state is difficult, but possible - especially if you're willing to rearrange your medication regimen a bit. You can have a consistently great outlook on life. You're unstoppable. Everything is possible and nobody can stand in your way.
If I could, I would live with being hypomanic every waking hour of the rest of my life.
Sadly, it doesn't work that way. Hypomania, while technically unhealthy, is still fairly pleasant and productive. Unfortunately, it invariably ends in either a depressive crash, or a spiral into true mania - and that is a horrific possibility.
Mania makes you forget. Mania makes you irritable, driven, focused to a laser point of perfection. Mania makes you feel unrealistically powerful. Mania short-circuits the mind's few lines of defense against completely delusional and dangerous behavior. There's a reason for the connotation of the word "maniacal."
I've been trying to get to sleep for hours now. Sometimes I'm successful, if only for a few brief moments. The rest of the time, I lie twisted up on the couch, aching and feverish, and wondering whether or not I'll get through this alive.
Melodramatic, maybe. But the last time I felt this, I found myself in the driveway in the middle of the night, desperately trying to scrape the skin off my hands. I don't want to think about what would have happened if I'd been holding a knife.
0116 hours. I started the evening with 25mg of Seroquel in an attempt to bring on a restful sleep (and usually it works pretty well). I've just taken another 50mg in the hopes that it can clobber whatever it is that's got ahold of my brain.
Ibuprofen for the fever. Drink some liquids. No caffeine.
0119. I've lost what I wanted to say. Everything seems so slow, so mired in some kind of ethereal sludge. Mind is fogging up again, and I don't know if that's because I'm about to spike, or because I'm finally falling asleep.
0122. Done, can't say anything useful anymore. Hope I make it.