Total Eclipse of the Mind

Once upon a time, I was falling in… ha! There’s your ear worm. Turn around, bright eyes. Every now and then we fall apart.

There is a rhythm to this illness, a strange syncopation of the synapses as conducted by one f*cked up composer. The melody one moment dominated by a slow swell of sweet cellos, next punctuated by an accelerated staccato piccolo that pecks at your eardrums with increasing speed.

One moment sings distant, forlorn and fragile, the next a strange tarantella racing through your mind. The rhythm fractures and mutates, leaving you dancing on tip-toes under the control of a maniacal metronome.

I’d been dancing by myself for a while, getting more and more dizzy with each spin. It was only a matter of time until I collapsed, clinging to the tilting earth below me as reality came in and out of focus. It was a bipolar tune all too familiar, and the inevitable chorus had arrived: I was falling apart.

cue thunder and tympani
big cymbal crash

As luck would have it, falling apart is one of the things I do best. I know the drill. Turn around, bright eyes. I am once again a guest of the seventh floor psych ward. Chemical intervention failed, and I have checked myself in as a potential ECT candidate.

This dance is exhausting, and the wounds it inflicts are slow to heal. Using electricity to trigger a seizure is a tricky business, particularly when the patient has been relying on medications that suppress the seizure threshold, so they’ve been set aside for the duration of the ECT treatments. As prescribed, 15-20 bilateral sessions, during which controlled electrical current will be passed between the electrodes on my head until my brain misfires while my chemically-relaxed body sleeps.

I do not dream on ECT days. I swim through the fog of anesthesia, holding my breath as long as I can, gliding just under the rippling surface of Lake Reality all the while hoping I won’t lose track of the fuzzy shapes on the other side. I’ve been drawing the dance of my days with an Etch-A-Sketch only to have them shaken away while I sleep.

We’re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks

One must feel the symptoms to feel the cure. The despair and the mania quieted but not completely muted. I know I will lose some memories. The end of the treatment series is marked by an intelligence test, and I will have forgotten the faces I’ve seen in the past months but remember the five random words (face, velvet, church, daisy, red) that so bewildered my psychiatrist from the baseline test. I don’t get to pick and choose what gets written where on my hard drive, and f*cking around with the circuits of that hard drive comes with a price.

The first solution to any mysterious malfunction is to turn that unit off and then back on again, that is precisely what we’re going to do. It is the best way to safely make significant changes to my treatment regimen, and certainly the quickest way for me to take back my life. I am willing to dance in the darkness of this bipolar symphony while the sun undergoes repair. To sing the suite in a minor key until, in a satisfying Tierce de Picardie, the melody ascends to rest comfortably in a more contented tune.

I am committed; I sing in full voice: Every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of my tears.

Turn around, bright eyes. You are not trapped in the dark. The sun will be back to dry those tears before you can count backwards by seven from 100 to zero.

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