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Pushing the Button. Sunday March 8, 2015

You cannot run away from a weakness; you must sometimes fight it out or perish. And if that be so, why not now, and where you stand? ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Gratitude first: Thank You RLS for this clear call to action. And, high praise and gratitude to Helen Keller, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, David Pelzer, Karla McLaren, Temple Grandin, Wilma Rudolph, and Nick Vujicic for being my teachers in how to fight it out with weaknesses.

It's been a year of daily fighting against a weakness for me.

It all began with a swift and catastrophic mistake due to hypomania. Specifically, success-triggered mania. A unique form of mania that I didn't understand I suffered from until this loss. I called this manic aspect of my self Icarus after the Greek mythic figure. He was the son of Daedalus the Inventor. You may know the story: Icarus flew too close to the sun with wings made of wax and feathers and crashed to his death in the ocean.

My research led me to Stephen Fry's BBC documentary The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive. As he interviewed people experiencing bipolar episodes he asked them if they could push a button and forever fix their mood swings, meaning they would forego ever feeling those crystalline highs again, and also never feel the devastating lows again either, would they push it? All except one person said "no."

What if Fry has posed that question to me? I thought long and carefully: no emotional flying, no severe crashes, no tedious recovery, ever again? I decided I would push that button.

I lit a candle. I imagined a ceremony to bury Icarus on the beach on the Isle of Icarus. In attendance were a life coach, Daedalus, my recovery personalities, and several new traits to take his place. We each spoke of our love of Icarus and how we will miss him. We each laid a feather on his chest. I laid my feather last. I blew the candle out.

At the end of this ceremony, my image of Icarus, which had begun the ritual 'alive,' lay still and … dead. I had pushed the button. I cried real tears. I'm tearful now.

To Icarus: the highs were the greatest, but the repair of wreckages tedious and long and sad.

Rest in Peace.

A Moodscope member.

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Leah Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 4:08am

Than you for your piece.

I remember seeing Stephen Fry's program years ago and I said yes I would definitely pudh the button. The fact is I pushed the button over 20 years when I reluctantly agreed to take medication which has worked for me. I

I don't regret it at all or miss the highs. In fact over 30 years later I am still paying for my reckless manic behaviour.
All the best in controlling your Icarus.

green jean Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 8:09am

Yours is the most appropriate moodscope message I have read as currently struggling to make sense of life and the enormous battle going on between giving in and being defeated or pushing on. . I will push on and try to get back upon the path of positivity starting with getting out of bed when I really just want to hide here forever. Thanks for your message John.

Julia Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 9:00am

Highs are exhausting. I get them occasionally after a good night's sleep. I have often wondered if I would prefer not to have them at all but the consequence of this would be a low level mood all the time (I imagine). Your blog is intense John but so interesting. I wish you well with your decision to push that button. I think many of us could learn something from this.

Anonymous Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 9:41am

I really respect your attitude John. I too have 'exciting' highs and have far more difficulty in finding help for the lows that often preceed them. Stable is actually pretty productive and not at all boring. What I particularly liked about your tale is that it seems you have made your own decisions. I think we are all entitled to do just that! Many poor prognoses I think come from control from outside.

crafty wee midden Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 12:01pm

John, and Green Jean, Im right there with you. Thank you both.

Anonymous Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 12:25pm

Rest in Peace, Icarus. You were not John's true friend, however alluring. Go well, John. In addition to everyone else's, you have my utmost respect, too. susan xx

Anonymous Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 6:13pm

Dear John,
What a beautiful ceremony you created. Letting go using your active will power and your powers of creation and imagination to make Icarus and letting go of him real for you. I think you let go of an achetype. I've just started reading about achetypes in Carolyne Myss' book "Sacred Contracts". I find it fascinating and I so enjoyed your blog too.

All the best for the future,

Anonymous Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 6:59pm

Excellent piece, and so helpful x

Anonymous Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 7:47pm

Thanks you Leah, yes the costs are extremely high, aren't they? Wish I could say, "do over" and reverse time.


Anonymous Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 7:51pm

Hi Green Jean,
Does it feel like that battle never ceases? Every day, almost every decision. Nothing feels like a given. We're here for each other. Find other posts to comment on, or draft one of your own. I'm on the side of "pushing on."

I'm currently re-reading Zen and the Art of Archery. I didn't appreciate it as a youth as much as I do now. Every frustration of the author I feel, as well as the wisdom of every comment by the Sensei.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 7:54pm

One of the most moving posts I've read in some time. I've written myself that I would choose to get off the roller coaster, as it's exhausting. However, I've also decided that constant and continual medication is worse. I trust and pray your Icarus (seductive enemy - I agree with Susan) will stay buried. Good luck, my friend.

Anonymous Sun, Mar 8th 2015 @ 8:04pm

Thanks everyone for your comments. Just two weeks ago I had a MAJOR moment:
Like Julia, I had high energy of anticipation overnight as I slept. The level of eagerness was just low enough I could get my rest, but nearly conscious the whole night.
I awoke, reviewed my feelings (without reminding myself, which was new) and changed my plans to something less exciting to do!? Because I felt too good? I can do that? I did do that!?
Icarus would have flown on the wings of that nighttime euphoria ... no, no! not even going there …

Julia Mon, Mar 9th 2015 @ 8:20am

Hi John. I hardly slept at all last night but there was a full moon I noticed which invariably affects my sleep. It's probably all in the mind! I did get some rest but was nearly conscious the whole night as you described. I hope you have a calm peaceful day.

Anonymous Mon, Mar 9th 2015 @ 3:59pm

Yes, this has been a beautiful full moon. Today I'm very active and anticipate a calmer Tuesday, or Chooseday as a Moodscope blog recently tweaked.
I enjoy naps during the day, even closing my eyes a few minutes when I'm seated in a theater before the feature starts. Also, I've brewed a quart of herbal tea (now chilled) which has calming ingredients like hops, pineapple weed (relative to camomile), St. John's Wart, etc. I was nearly too relaxed the following day!
You have a calm, peaceful day, too.

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