Echo Chamber of My Mind
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone home?
I hear you’re feeling down
I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again
I’ll need some information first
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?
It’s been a rough go the last six weeks or more. A bipolar mixed episode is by far the worst of the worst, and this wasn’t even the worst of the mixed episodes I’ve had. But the upside of the whole event, has been the culmination of learnings I’ve made in the end.
I have what I have come to think of as an echo chamber of a mind. And dare I admit to it? Even the Faux News kind of Echo Chamber…you know the sort, the ‘so-much-spin zone’ where they weave tapestries of drama out of skeins of invisible thread.
That is me. Give me an irritant. A personal failure. ANOTHER person’s failure…that is always good for a concussion of echoes. Anything to do with my kids. My echo chamber takes one of these, a couple of these, or by golly, let’s have a MIXED EPISODE and throw the whole lot into one big twisted combination and watch as my addled brain turns in on itself. It isn’t unlike the picture to the right. Really.
But this time was different because I knew what was happening. And because it was like watching a person in a not very good movie (my life is full of very simple, stupid, self-destructive drama- not the passion-filled suspense of the theaters today), I was able to take positive actions. Instead of becoming more involved in things to “fix” them in my obsessional ‘rightness’, I just chose out, reducing my stress considerably. I looked for other ways to reduce stress. I withdrew my name for consideration for the Presidency of my local writer’s chapter. I deactivated Facebook for a while. My husband and I decided together that working outside the home for me was not something we should continue to pursue. I became very focused on what was important Right Now–health, family, and writing. And that was all I did. Period.
My husband is my best echo chamber killers. Once I started visualizing this echo chamber of nastiness that my mind wants to play in, I realized that Marc is the anti-echo chamber. Most of my friends are not. They have their own chambers and we tend to intensify each others personal dramas. Marc on the other hand, he just stops it cold. It looks something like this.
And it is awesome. I love him for it.
I hate the idea of being a ‘drama queen.’ It smacks of a narcissistic personality. It screams my mother in all her glory. Maybe, like all terrible addictions, the first step is admitting it. Dealing aggressively with my brain chemistry is first order. But not with yet more drugs that only leave me tired,creatively slow and dull, operating outside of myself, numb, and barely control the disorder as it is. No. I turn fifty in a couple of months. And I’ve been trying this now with limited success since 2006. Four of those years I have no memory of. None. Zilch. I don’t remember my children’s birthdays those years. I don’t remember family vacations or visits by family. It is just blank space, filled in by photographs and stories told by other people.
Now, after an unplanned (LOL) but fortuitous bout with norovirus, I am medication free. I plan to stay that way, working with my doctor, therapist, and husband to use natural medicine to manage my bipolar disorder using something called Orthomolecular Medicine, along with exercise, DBT, food and environmental detox. It’s a big change in our way of life.
But more than all of that, I want to surround myself with people who make me want to be a better person, and expect the drama queen to close up her echo chamber and will call my bullshit when the reverb begins. Marc does that. I fell in love with him and married him because of it. I need to have more people around me who will help me be the person I aspire to be, not come wallow with me in the depths of my chamber of judgment and despair.
When I was working for pay, companies compared themselves to others to find out what was working for others and what we could adapt for ourselves. So I started looking around me at people I admire and checked out their best practices. One ‘friend’ on Facebook volunteers at the Washington D.C. Mall, giving tours, works at the humane shelter, runs marathons, and is all about car racing. Plus she works full time. I’d say she has a well-rounded life. And she is interesting. Unbeknownst to her, she is the one who has inspired me to look into volunteering beyond the school/boy scout thing. Best practices, right? Another friend has a daughter my son’s age. She’s busy with her business, her daughter and husband, and yet she still manages to have a life for and of herself. It’s hard to describe, but she has interests beyond her business (massage) and her child. I admire how she finds so much peace in her life, despite the very real challenges she faces every day, but she is comfortable in her skin and her beliefs, and her interests and friends are manifold. I’ve applied to volunteer in organizations that aren’t related to my kids and that are focused in the much larger community. I’m focused on writing my book like never before. I’m reading history and biography again (romance books will rot your brain, have you heard? LOL). Getting beyond my own echo chamber and learning from others’ best practices seems a great way for me to be the person I aspire to become.
So bottom line? I want to leave my little narcissistic circle of concern where my echo chamber resides. I want to surround myself with people who will hold me accountable to be a better person, to live in the present, to let go of the little stuff, to realize that in view of the world, it’s all little stuff. (Note: My new personal benchmark is Mali. When I start to think something is fucked up, I just think about Mali and that puts it ALL in perspective. I’m very visual, so this sort of thing helps me.) I want to find friends who are interested in art museums and books, writing and creating, exercising and relaxing. People with challenging ideas who are unafraid of challenging discussions. I want to become a person these kinds of people would be interested in being friends with.