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Meanderer’s Musings: Wading through the swamplands

My faithful and faithless followers might have been wondering where I have been. Those who have watched my work for the past few years might remember that I periodically go off the grid. It has been a month of not walking. I haven’t gone on my regular walks in my neighborhood, though my day job is highly physical and involves no small amount of walking. It has been a month of not writing. I haven’t written a dose of The Good (and Not So Good) Words since October 30th. I haven’t written anything for my letter project, which involves writing a handwritten letter to the same six people each week, since the beginning of November. I haven’t worked on any of my other non-Bishop Bishop writing projects. It has been a month of not working. I have projects- video and performance- one of which I am being paid for, that I haven’t done much of any work on.

The main problem was that the time change and the shortening days exacerbated a not so minor case of the blue megrims. I had a couple of hard weeks and then it takes a few weeks for me to find my way back into my more elaborate routines. For a few weeks all that mattered was keeping to my stripped down daily routine. It used to be that after being derailed for a month, I would castigate myself for falling off the wagon into the the swamplands of my major mood disorder. It helps that my episodes are not as bad; that I don’t sink as far and so have less muck to wash off.

It also helps that while I aspire to consistency with my writing and art making, I finally understand that my cyclic work habits are part of what makes my work good. I work hard for a good long while and then things need to settle. I need to let my brain work its magic. I recently had a meeting about the video project. While there are specific tasks related to the project that I have been avoiding and very much need to work on, in the meeting I realized I get more work done than I think I do.

My swamplands have their own beauty, thought that beauty is best appreciated from the roads that run through it, perhaps with a hand lifting up thick muddy gunk for close inspection. My swamplands often nurture my work. They also can suck me under for way too long. I do not want to leave you with a romantic image of the tortured artist. I do not want you to take away the idea that my mood disorder is some great gift. Both of those ideas should be tossed into the middle of the bog. What I want you to understand is that for those of us with major mood disorders, especially those of us for whom medication just doesn’t work, that the adult response is to find ways to make wading through the water work.

People move to Florida and are pissed off to find their homes are in badly developed areas that flood too easily. If I deny my swamplands, if I overbuild, then I am sunk when the stresses and strains of my life, like a deluge of Florida rain, cause my swamplands to flood. I have no choice but to live in the swamplands. I still am figuring out which patches of land are high enough, dry enough for me to build more permanent structures. I am learning to be patient. It takes time to build new structures and to learn how to live in them. It takes time to rebuild necessary structures damaged by 20 plus years of a major mood disorder.

I now understand that sometimes the storms will come and despite building on high, dry land, everything will get a bit damp. There will be some flooding on my first floor even though my structures are cracker style, up on bricks. At the end of October, beginning of November, I had some flooding. I spent the rest of November mopping up the mess and only am now ready to get back into the swing of things.

Today, I wash the last of the muck off and exchange my gaiters for galoshes. I will start my walks today. I am writing again. I have begun working on projects. I am slowly but surely catching up on various obligations- social and artistic. I could complain about the need to wear some sort of muck protection every day. I could fuss about the fact that where my pants meets the muck boots always seems a little damp. But I’d rather make the most of my time. The sun is out. The air is crisp. I joyfully put on my boots and walk about. Today, I happily smack my foot down hard enough to splash a small puddle left over from the recent flooding of my roads. I look over my swampland and am content to be where I am. This is my land. I learn how to live in it by walking through it. And after walking all day, I will walk up the ramp to my porch, take off my boots and enjoy my well built refuge.

Everyone has their own swamps. My hope is that all my faithful and faithless followers can find ways to enjoy walking through their muck. May your refuge be high and dry yet easily cleanable in case of floods. May you enjoy putting on your boots. May you relish taking them off. Take care and keep on keeping on.

{ 2 } Trackbacks

  1. […] accept that I am shaped by petulance. Petulance, along with other not so admirable traits, make my swamplands‘ soil rich. Posted by admin on Monday, February 11, 2013, at 8:59 am. Filed under States […]

  2. […] of hours I have spent wading in my swamplands means that I do not have a good sense of what the swamplands are like for folks without mood disorders. Everyone spends time stuck in mental muck, but I do not […]

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