Why The Agony and the Ecstasy?
Why would I call my site The Agony and The Ecstasy of Cavalier Queen?
Sometimes one such as myself find they are in need of a serious break to recover their sanity. I am bipolar. Many creative and influential people are and have been bipolar including Jim Carrey, Robert Downey, Jr., Carrie Fischer, Vivien Leigh, Beethoven , Francis Ford Coppola, Sting, Sylvia Plath, Mark Twain, Poe, Van Gogh, and Winston Churchill. Some of the names you may recognize because of the tragic lives they have led, and others the lives where they have overcome what I call the Agony and the Ecstasy of being bipolar. I am in no way comparing my experience or talent with theirs, just giving examples of those with the disorder.
For me, the Ecstasy (mania) allows one’s mind to be freed from all normal constraints and embrace creative magic for oneself and for the benefit of others. Being in the hours, days, and weeks of a manic episode lends one to little or no sleep but with enough energy to get amazing things done. I feel like Super Woman who can do anything including fighting off speeding bullets with her cool wrist bracelets. Writing five chapters over 3 days for example, or unpacking 6 large boxes of moving stuff in the middle of the night, or organizing the thousands of books my children have by topic at 3am. Or my personal favorite, waxing my eyebrows at 12:30 in the morning in the dark because I absolutely *had* to (I don’t recommend this!).
As the Ecstasy is at its peak or is changing into the Agony, I have a constant need to clean, to organize, to adjust, and to spend money. Anything even a centimeter off can be the source of obsession and an uncontrollable need to fix it. I can spend thousands of dollars in a matter of hours, which if we had the money it might not be so bad. But, since we are both unemployed, that is a problem. These are times when my house is spotless because my OCD has kicked in to an extreme level. I also write and write and write, sometimes never leaving my laptop or my bed all day. I forget to eat, sleep, or do anything that a normal person might be inclined to do.
As the Ecstasy turns into Agony, passionate interest turns into consuming obsession. TV shows I once enjoyed become too highly stimulating for me to watch. Writing also becomes too stimulating as I begin to write scenes and stories in my head throughout the night instead of sleeping. During the Ecstasy and the slippery slope into Agony, 20 minutes to 2 ½ hours of sleep might be all I get in a 24 hour period time. And my mind is good with that. But alas, after a while my body gives out. Once reached, the Agony is a time of extreme darkness, loss of hope, catatonia, cutting off of all relationships, closing myself away in a cave of my own making, and eventually becoming unsafe for myself. These periods can last a very long time, and ALWAYS follow an extensive and high manic episode.
Twice my physician offered me a choice. On both occasions, I walked into his office unable to sit still, talking rapidly, and banging my head on his door, literally. He could admit me into the hospital to monitor my behavior and begin a new drug regimen that I have been very opposed to, but at this point have little say in the matter. OR, I could go home, deescalate at home, cutting off all the things that cause my obsessions and my mania and have my husband manage my medications. I tend to be lax about medicines and eating, my very very bad.
Now, after a stable regimen of medications, DBT therapy, exercise, and a lot of education of my family and myself, instead of the high flying loop-d-loop of a roller coaster, I’m more on what I would call the kiddie-roller coaster. Yeah, I get my highs and my lows..but they are not so high or so low that I come flying off the seat. My neck gets jerked around, and I might utter a scream every now and then, but I don’t get off the ride sweating and anxious. Much better.
“What in me is dark, Illumine;
What is low raise and support.
What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?”
Paradise Lost, Book I 22-23,105-106, 108-109, John Milton