It’s best not to overthink the first steps you take towards something.
Which is why I make a habit of overthinking every single thing I do. As you might know from the title of this site, my brain doesn’t always know what’s best for me.
Still, I tried.
I didn’t go for a fancy walk. I walked the same loop around my neighborhood that I always take with my dog when I’m looking for some quick exercise before work. It’s familiar, a little boring even.
I didn’t go far. I walked a measly 1.3 miles, which is nothing for most people. But everything has to start somewhere.
I didn’t bring anyone else with me. Well, that’s not exactly true. I did bring my dog, Doc, and he would be very offended if he thought that I didn’t consider him to be “someone.” I do.
I thought a lot on my walk. I thought about being in the hospital one year ago. I thought about what it was like to be alone there, how detached it felt from reality. About how fuzzy and confused I felt, even as I started to heal and came home. I thought about how even though my anxieties and uncertainties still haunt me a year later, I have the gift of clarity. Which is something I hope to never take for granted again.
But mostly, as I walked, I thought about all the different ways the walk might be a metaphor.
This is something my brain does a lot. Too much, really. When I was manic, in particular, everything was connected. Everything was a symbol. I couldn’t do anything without exploring the deeper meaning behind it.
It’s one of the things I worried about as I walked today. “Does looking for too many metaphors mean I’m getting manic again? Or does it just mean I’m trying too hard to write a blog post?”
If you are looking for a metaphor, walking a dog is, actually, a lot like having bipolar. Sometimes things are just so exciting and so compelling that there is literally nothing that could stop you from being dragged down the street for three blocks until you’re crashed into a bush at top speed.
Other times, it seems like nothing could possibly get you moving from the one particular spot that is just too unsettling, too strange-smelling to leave behind.
But luckily, blessedly, especially if you’ve found the right medications like I (hopefully) have, there are also plenty of days where you’re trotting along at a normal pace, enjoying the spring smells and sights of your neighborhood.
And then there are asphalt trucks blocking the second half of your route and you forgot your mask and it is very awkward and your dog is terrified and you’re trying to make this meaningful but at the end of the day it’s just kind of tragically comical.
And that’s what happens when you have bipolar and you go on a walk looking for metaphors.
Thanks for reading,
Hello there, fellow Postpartum Psychosister! What a great post!
Thanks so much for raising awareness about postpartum psychosis & bipolar disorder.
My name is Dyane Harwood and I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder in 2007. While it took time to get better due to the bipolar “flavor” I had (treatment-resistant bipolar depression), I’m doing well now.
I wrote the memoir “Birth of a New Brain—Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder” & I’d be happy to email you a free PDF if you’re interested. I wrote about my forest walks and my dog, Lucy; both walking & Lucy have been hugely positive healing forces. (You can email email@example.com if you’d like a copy and your social media followers are welcome to free copies as well.)
I signed up for your blog and I look forward to reading about your walks etc. Hope you’re having a good day & take care.
Thanks so much for your kind words, Dyane!
It’s a small world- my husband bought your book when I was going through my episode, and I’m just about halfway through it now.
It’s been so helpful to hear stories from you and other women like you- thank you so much for being so open about your experiences! I particularly appreciate how reflective you were about the insights that your diagnosis provided into earlier years of your life- I’ve found myself doing a lot of that kind of reflection too.
Looking forward to continuing the conversation with you and with other survivors- thanks so much for reading!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Steph! Just wanted to leave a note to tell you that I am so happy I found your bog and I look forward to following you along. You are one of my favorite humans. Xoxo. Jill H
Thanks so much for your kind words, Jill! You’re one of my favorite humans as well- and it’s great to hear from you! Hope all is well ❤️