Saturday, February 6, 2010

Greased Mania

This is a bit of a timed writing. I've got about an hour before I have to pick my wife up at the airport, so off I go, into the wild unconscious...

Read Ryan Christman's account (what he's posted so far at of his initial realization and diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Very good read, well presented and riveting. Do check it out.

I found a lot of similarities to my own experience in his words-- the all encompassing, grandiose thoughts that are so compelling, so utterly super-logical that they explain away the most erudite fact. It's thrilling, really, and terrifying at the same time. Thinking you have all the answers in an exhilarating brief moment, that you've figured it all out, only to find yourself groping for what it was you had been actually thinking about...

My first experience with mania and non-drug-induced psychotic thinking (there were some LSD trips that certainly covered this territory) was after a vacation to Greece. I started to come apart mentally towards the end of our trip. I hadn't been sleeping well, as I had a head cold come on part way through the trip. That and my thoughts started racing as I took in the scenery and culture and had extreme fun with friends old and new. I was having the time of my life, and I almost didn't want to come home. I certainly didn't want it to end.

We had traveled to the island of Samos, a relatively small island near the coast of Turkey. It had been home to Pythagorus, that really smart dude who invented the theorem and all.

We spent about a week on Samos, doing touristy stuff like shopping at all the markets along the water, visiting beaches and fishing towns, taking hikes to secluded beaches, and even lounging at the hotel pool and bar.

One day we got up early and went to catch a boat that would take us to Turkey. Several cruise ships were docked at the same place where our small craft with about 80 people landed. We got off the boat and made the trek by bus to Ephesus to visit the ruins of an ancient civilization.

We had to fight the heat-- it was at least 100 degrees-- but it was pleasant, venturing into the former city, walking along what used to be streets teaming with markets and activity, and seeing what was left of what had been built so many thousands of years ago. There was a library and an ampitheater, and also pointed out to me was a mural of a soldier, with sword and shield, being confronted by a pen with a large quill. Depicting, of course, that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Had to get my picture with that.

After touring Ephesus, we were fed a fair meal and then taken to a room full of salesmen who would try their best to sell us as many hand woven rugs as we could arrange to have shipped away from Turkey. We watched as carpet after carpet was unrolled, and each displayed remarkable beauty and craftsmanship. But we weren't about to buy a rug.

As we left the room, we had to snake our way between all of the salesmen that were cued up to make sales. They were almost menacing with their stares, ready to take advantage of any guilt we might be feeling for being shown such amazing carpets and surely being given the greatest deals on the planet.

One of the more savvy travelers (and shoppers) from our group hung back and asked to see the highest quality rugs that they hadn't shown yet. She had a hunch that the best were saved for the more discretionary connoisseur. We got to hear her story at dinner that night, about how she had coaxed them into sharing with her the Tree of Life rugs that are extremely rare and special. She had purchased some and had regarded them as an exceptional find.

After the "rug show" we opted to check out the shops nearer to the boat and dock, so that we could easily make our way back to the boat on time. The shops catered to tourists and had lots of knick-knacks and trinkets, as well as film and batteries and other stuff you tend to need when you're a tourist. But it was fun going from shop to shop and talking with the locals, as much as you were able through the language barrier. Most of the shop clerks knew some English, and we had fun looking around at things.

What we didn't do was go with a group that went quickly to view what is purported to be Mary's final resting place. There wasn't enough room in the cab for both my wife and I, and we didn't want to spend the money for a cab for just two of us, so we stayed near the dock. Someone who went did get some holy water for my wife to give to her mother when we got back. My wife would actually use the holy water on me later, while I was having my psychotic manic episode. She didn't know what else to do.

The boat ride back to Samos was a lot rougher than the ride out in the morning. There was a lot more wind, and so the waves were bounding and rocking the boat up and down. I learned that I don't get seasick very easily, but I watched some others in our group struggle with it. I sat down just below the captain's windshield and had a great conversation with Dr. Garcia, one of the friends of the family we were touring with. I wish there were some way to go back and record the conversation, because my recollection is that it was a very good one, but I don't remember specifics much at all. We laughed a little, but mostly we were exchanging ideas and concepts at a highly intellectual level. It felt good, and I remember it as being rejuvenating, and confidence building.

My confidence and very self-concept would be shattered just a few short days later.


Gerri said...

Interesting reading. I can't wait for the next chapter.

Gerri said...

I just finished reading "Deep Blue Calm", or at least as much as was on the website. What a great read...very insightful. I plan to go to the bookstore and buy the book as soon as I can get my hands on it. I read his mission statement, too, and I think it is wonderful that he wants to help everyone understand this illness.