Normal? Or Not?

August 30, 2019

My goodness, someone is a happy busy bee lately! The last few weeks I have been buzzing around my hives (Lewes and home in Oreland), productive as heck and “high on life.” Tidier than usual, accomplishing entire “to do” lists in a single bound, keeping up on the exercise and my correspondence. My often-fuzzy memory is sharp as a tack again, and I feel confident and contented.

Before that, in late spring, I was definitely in a bit of a slump. Just generally cranky and uncomfortable in my skin. Maybe because work was super busy and I was a little burned out? While I got everything done, I was often irked by the people in my life—and life in general. I really identify with Lucy from Peanuts, and I was certainly channeling her “crabby” most of the time. Then came summer and the switchover from life in a minor, to a major chord.

One of the most unfair things about being bipolar is no longer trusting that my moods and emotions are normal. My radar is so attuned to signs of a relapse that even a totally understandable frame of mind is seen by me as a symptom of my disease. My doctor is pleased with my progress, my meds are regulated (and I faithfully take them), and by rights I should be enjoying the regular ebb and flow of life. But I distrust my ups and downs, and don’t know if I can ever go back, emotionally, to the old days.

I feel a real kinship to someone suffering from a chronic physical ailment. That stomach pain…is it a sign of trouble? Or just the three tacos you ate last night? Headache after a day in the hot sun? Logical or worrisome? I totally get it! Whereas John or Jane Doe thinks nothing of that nagging cough or brief spell of sadness, we know better (or so we imagine)! We are hyperaware of our brains and bodies, 24/7, and I tell you it’s NO fun.

Getting out of my head helps, I find—that running/walking thing I did on the boardwalk every morning in Rehoboth, taking time to pray and meditate—the mental static recedes, and I can deal with things logically again. But my head is a place that is always beckoning me back…”Whooo ooo! Come in here, Elise! Let’s just dwell on everything! Life is one big problem and it’s your job to wrestle with it all!!”

This afternoon, the sun is shining, and there’s a hint of lovely breezy Fall in the air. It’s my day off, with nothing pressing on the agenda. It’s been such a good summer, for me and my family, and I’m so tired of borrowing trouble. Here is my prayer, for today and every day: May I learn to love the gift of exuberance, and not fear occasional sadness. Joy is not a pathology, nor are the occasional blues.

Don’t worry, I tell myself. Be happy.

Hey, that’s catchy.




    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

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