The River I Flee to When My Mind Tries to Kill Me

The River I Flee to When My Mind Tries to Kill Me

During my depressive bipolar cycles, a river is what remains in my mind. Always. The sea, now that you can forget — the way the wind ruffles the surface or falls calm like a lake — but a river is what remains after my memory of it has seemingly passed, even after my imagination stops adorning it with riffles and dark wet holes and oxbow lakes. It lingers.

I am an Alaskan woman in love with a river. I love the muskeg along the banks of that river, the crooked black spruce that struggle for the sky but always fail, their bark wet with the effort, their limbs broken from the start by their own soggy roots. In Alaska, muskeg means a river is nearby. In the case of my very own river, the Delta Clearwater, it means it is flowing, slow and cold and spring-fed, somewhere beneath the tundra at my feet, and somewhere beneath where my grandparents built my family’s rickety old cabin….

A previous blog post of mine has been published on The Mighty. You can read more of it here: https://themighty.com/2018/01/suicidal-delta-clearwater-river-helps-me/

The Bipolar Trickster: Smiling in the Face of It

The Bipolar Trickster: Smiling in the Face of It

Do you ever trick people into thinking you are OK?

Individuals with bipolar disorder quickly learn how to become tricksters—because the truth is simply not polite.

I leaned to the left in the photograph, laughing as I held a puppy on the bow of a green riverboat. I was smiling my slightly crooked smile, and in the background—in a dark sky above black spruce trees—were two bright arcs of a double rainbow. A puppy, a smile, a rainbow—all three were the unmistakable symbols of pure and perfect happiness.

Little did the photographer, or anyone else, know that it was all a trick. Despite the props in that photograph, despite being surrounded by joy and backlit by rainbows, the sky was still dark.

Read the rest of my article at https://www.bphope.com/blog/the-bipolar-trickster-smiling-in-the-face-of-it/.

Self-Tracking: Moving Forward After a Bipolar Episode

Self-Tracking: Moving Forward After a Bipolar Episode

Remorse after a bipolar episode can cause tremendous pain, but when everybody else says “don’t look back,” I say: “look.”

I once read a book about tracking animals, and when I lived for several months on the edge of the enormous Chugach State Park in Alaska, I tracked a snowshoe hare in the alder thickets along the side of a popular hiking trail.

Read more of my blog article at bphope.com https://www.bphope.com/blog/self-tracking-moving-forward-after-a-bipolar-episode/

Hope is the Thing with Feathers: Taking Wing Out of Bipolar Depression (bp Magazine)

Hope is the Thing with Feathers: Taking Wing Out of Bipolar Depression (bp Magazine)


Creativity can offer relief from bipolar depression, and it can help your hope soar as you realize your potential to help others through self-expression. Read and share my first article for bp Magazine:

https://www.bphope.com/hope-is-the-thing-with-feathers-taking-wing-out-of-bipolar-depression/

My Bipolar Fantasies of Disappearance, and Why I Always Return

My Bipolar Fantasies of Disappearance, and Why I Always Return

Disappearance is easy in Alaska, but after decades of wanting to escape into the wilderness, I know now why I always come home. 

He simply got up and walked into the wilderness. His name was Justin and he was teenager living with a mental health condition, an affliction that affects so many of us, so he walked into the Chugach Mountains, the vast front range that towers over Anchorage, Alaska. He was never seen again. I was 13, with my own budding manias and depressions, and thus began my first fantasies of disappearance.

Continue reading my article on bphope.com: https://www.bphope.com/blog/my-bipolar-fantasies-of-disappearance-and-why-i-always-return/

The Bipolar Superhero

Maybe if I can control it, I can use it to help humankind. –The Incredible Hulk

I stood at the base of a mountain, its peak hidden from view, as sleet crept under my collar. Giant, wet snowflakes hit my cheek. There was some semblance of clarity that morning, for the first time in days. The clarity engendered a sliver of hope. I began to hope that I may, again, stretch my hand up and into the sky.

The night before, as I lay on the bed on my back, I wrote it on the ceiling with my mind: “Try harder. Try harder and you will make it.” I have tried so hard that I have often crumpled under my own effort. I have tried so hard that, at times, I made myself even sicker. Over the years, I tried to not only break my illness as if it were a willful animal, but to somehow control it so that I could still ride the waves of my grandiose childhood dreams.

Before I had no control over the bipolar cycles, when I was in my teens, I used my capacity for trying hard, for working hard, to improve myself. I was like any child who wanted to be a superhero, except I wanted to save humankind with the written word. My words would someday change the world, I thought, if only I tried enough. And so, I trained. I read every classic piece of literature I could get my hands on. I wrote up to four times a day in my journal. I practiced, over and over again.

Of course, these thoughts would later be labeled manic “delusions of grandeur” or grandiose delusions, GDs, for short. My GDs were gorgeous, floral, ethereal things and, like acid flashbacks, refuse to be erased. Most children grow out of their desire to be a superhero, because they realize it’s not possible. But for me, it still—at forty years old—seems possible. Just out of reach, yes, but possible.

In the past few months, and after decades of hiding my writing, I finally decided to share my words with the world. I want to use words to help people—people like me who simply want to survive yet another bipolar day, and those who also occasionally want to be a superhero in their own lives. I want to engender that sliver of hope in them, too, that during their times of clarity, they also can share, and, slowly, carefully reach for the sky.

Although I go to a job every day and take several psychiatric drugs so that I can function and to quiet my secret, seminal desires, I still am occasionally mesmerized by a mountain and the thought that perhaps, one day I could still become a superhero.

 

 

 

 

Read my Essay on OC87 Recovery Diaries– Bipolar Disorder: Never Giving Up

On the rivers I used to float upon in western Alaska, I liked to just eat the peanut butter out of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. There was just too much chocolate in the whole thing for me. As I sat on the edge of the big rubber raft in my waders and wading jacket, I would fling each piece of extra chocolate into the ripples below. A velvety gift to whoever fancied it.

Read more at http://oc87recoverydiaries.com/bipolar/