Today I walked to a cemetery. Not for any particular reason, except that I like the view. It sits on a hill, in the shadow of the distinctive mountain near my house, with some old scraggly trees.
It’s the kind of place that’s good for thinking.
I’m realizing I’ve been avoiding doing much thinking lately.
My friends have been phenomenal about stepping in to talk to me any time, day or night, to ensure that I don’t get too lonely and can process my experiences.
I’ve had that residual manic energy, which led me to finish my Christmas shopping, make Matt a dentist appointment, order Christmas cards, send countless messages of appreciation on social media, and even get more work done (I started back half-time today).
Of course, I’ve also been writing, which has been highly therapeutic, and I can’t wait for my support group tonight.
But there’s no real replacement for good old fashioned thinking.
So I hung up the phone and walked back through the cemetery to my home by myself.
I thought about a lot of things, but one of the things I thought about was thinking about thinking. How scary it is that psychosis robs you of your metacognitive abilities.
It’s strange how you can simultaneously think, “These are the thoughts that were bad last time,” and also think, “But this time they’re real.”
This is particularly insidious because many of the experiences you have the second time may feel familiar from the first time, which makes you feel like your previous predictions about the future have come true.
Last time, I claimed that I was birthing a new world where mothers would be free to share their postpartum pain and we would all heal together.
Now I am under no illusion that a blog with a small following has ushered in a new global era- but it has helped me make connections with amazing, powerful women from all over the world.
To the manic mind, this is divine providence, a premonition, a vision realized- and if one such prediction came true, why not all of them?
My psychotic mind is particularly susceptible to thoughts about Bailey having the special powers of a Goddess. She is so smart, particularly with picking up language. She is so perceptive, even seeming to sense my mania by having one of the fussiest weeks of her life as I spiraled down. She is so resilient, still acting like a little angel at daycare the whole time I was gone, until I returned to her and she sank into my arms and sat uncharacteristically still so we could soak up each other’s love.
How could I not think that she was God’s gift to the world?
As her mother, how could I not believe that she was capable of literally anything?
The line between sanity and insanity is so thin.
It’s practically just a thought away.
Who wouldn’t want a reality where their daughter couldn’t die?
Who wouldn’t want a reality where they could worship her?
Which is to say: I know I have bipolar. I know this is an illness.
But if it’s given me a gift, it’s the experience of wholeheartedly believing, even for a short time, that my daughter could truly be as perfect as she is in my eyes.
In education research, we frequently cite a study where teachers were assigned a class of gifted students and, predictably, they all excelled in school and in later life. The catch? There was nothing that classified these children as gifted. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy, where teachers who taught average children as though they had advanced abilities provided the level of instruction that led them to demonstrate advanced performance.
I’m no longer psychotic. I don’t think this is an actual prophecy. But maybe I can gift my daughter by treating her as the powerful yet benevolent being I thought her to be, and letting her fulfill as many of those expectations as she can.
Thanks for reading,
65 miles down, 35 miles to go