A few weeks ago, my younger brother expressed a concern that with all the medication I’m taking I might be losing some of the more essential elements of my personality. Specifically, silliness, passion, enthusiasm, and creativity. I’ve suspected this for awhile, but I didn’t want to admit it. I just kind of blew off his comment. After all, what’s most important is that I’m well…right?
Then my sister-in-law said something similar:
“Sometimes I just miss silly, crazy-ass David.”
And my first thought was. Hey, I miss silly, crazy-ass David, too. My second thought was, I’ll bet my wife doesn’t miss crazy-ass David, though.
I’ve paid closer attention to this matter over the last few weeks. Am I really losing parts of myself? And are those parts just symptomatic of my bipolar disorder, or am I losing something that is truly core to who I am?
The next time I visited with my brother and his wife, I was conscious of their concern. I loosened up and had a few belly laughs with them. It felt good. But it was almost like it took some effort. It wasn’t exactly forced, but there was a certain level of self-consciousness to it. But I fought against dull.
One thing that I lost when I began my treatment was my ability to write fiction and poetry. I just didn’t have any inspiration or feeling to put into it. So I wondered, is that something I have less of? Feeling? The answer is: most definitely. And isn’t that part of the goal? For my strong feelings to subside? When I’m manic or depressed, I have too much feeling. But you know what? I chose to pick up my fiction series and breathed new life into it. I’m fighting against dull. Is it as good as it was before? I’m not sure, but at least I’m trying.
Silly has always been one of my essential qualities. I believe it draws people to me, but it also makes me a little bit of an oddball. I live in a mid south state where men are expected to be serious for the most part. There’s an expectation of dignity. But dignity does not come naturally to me. I have to work at it. Levity, though, comes naturally to me. I suppose from time to time it gets me in trouble, but the goal of life is not to stay out of trouble. Is it? Silliness is something to be enjoyed. And I’m afraid that I’m losing it.
My Dad said something recently. He said, “Maybe it’s not always okay to be zany, but I want you to know that you can always be your zany self around me.” I felt both touched and saddened by this remark. It’s hard for me to be zany now. I worry what people will think. Perhaps they’ll wonder if I’m going mad again? So I’m cautious about it. I restrain myself at work and at church. And it’s true that I have fewer impulses to be silly now, but when one comes along, I do my best to pounce on it. I will fight against dull!
I’m a very passionate person. And people describe me as being very enthusiastic. But passion and enthusiasm is a double-edged sword. On the one side, they fuel my creativity and my ability to be innovative at work. Who needs a musician who lacks passion? Who wants a software developer who lacks creativity? But on the other hand, it’s difficult to be around someone who is too intense. I’ve been known to wear people out. Passion has to be tempered. But no drug can take away my passion and enthusiasm for life. I refuse to let it.
I don’t want to be crazy, but I don’t want to be dull.
I think it would be very easy for me to just give in to letting my treatment neuter my personality. Perhaps it would make everyone feel more comfortable around me. After all, comfortable has it’s merits. But I choose to believe that part of my healing process is in rebuilding my personality. I can identify those qualities that are essential to who I am and find a way to reclaim them healthily.
I can be whole again.