I had a dream last night. I was in a large restaurant, and Pavarotti was sitting at my table. A waiter came over and asked if Pavarotti would sing for the restaurant, and if I would play the piano. This involved me sitting on a long bench that stretched the length of the piano keyboard, that slid me up and down from the low keys to the high ones and back down again, all the time hitting random keys as they passed beneath my hands. Above my head when I slid to the low keys was the biggest spider I had ever seen, waiting to drop on my head.
So my subconscious found me another analogy of what being bipolar feels like to me. Variously out of control but still working hard to try and thump out a tune; with slippery ground beneath me and a serious threat hanging over my head whenever I hit the low keys. And the image is so comic it reminds me not to take myself too seriously.
I’m getting a bit high. It’s been a long while since I felt like this so I have no idea what will become of me next. I know when I’m hypomanic that I’m prone to grand ideas and notions, and this may affect my writing (bear with me)… However, I’m going to say this anyway: a meeting between psychiatrist and patient – I believe – is one of the most complex things that mankind does with its complicated brain. It entails the patient trying to communicate what ‘it’ feels like, and the psychiatrist trying to interpret that to best help. The psychiatrist may never have experienced what the patient is experiencing, and together they have to negotiate the conversation using the best language they can find. This is tricky, and short cuts in language are often required and taken. I’d say that too often short cuts are taken. But I’m trying to find different ways of using language so that the best doctors – those that are intensely curious to know what ‘it’ really feels like and how they can best communicate – can really meet with their patients and really understand them. This blog is set up as a conversation between two people living with mental illness – I think this format is going to help us find many ways of describing our experiences.