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On Being Simultaneously Okay and Not Okay 

I have, once again, rather fallen into the habit of perkily reporting on my ballet is adventures whilst staunchly neglecting one of the other legs of this ostensibly-tripedal blog: the bipolar part. 

That said, I suspect that I often do this when I’m struggling. Keeping a stiff upper lip (which, no joke, autocorrupt wanted to parse as “soft, upset lip”) was a central tenet of my upbringing. I am a Yankee of the old school by birth and breeding; we’re supposed to be stoic  and taciturn and to solve our problems by regarding them severely from beneath or beetling brows, or what have you.

I think part of me still believes that As Long As I Don’t Say It’s Happening, It’s NOT Happening

…Which is almost hilariously untrue.

I’ve noticed that I do this to Denis: often he doesn’t hear that I’ve hit a rough patch until either A) I’m on the third or fourth consecutive night with less than six hours of sleep, B) I’m curled up in a ball.on the kitchen floor literally trying to hold myself together when he arrives home from work, C) I’m curled up as in B whilst freaking out about A, or D) I melt down completely, hit full-on  fight/flight mode, and proceed to get in a fight with with the oven or the cupboard door or some other highly-threatening inanimate object. 

I suppose, dear readers, that I do this to you as well. And that I have been.

As a whole Burning Man was great this year — but there was also a thing that happened which cut too close to old wounds and very much re-awakened the part of of me that is aggressively hypervigilant. This has made coping with the transition back to my normal routine immensely difficult.

Couple that with a couple of extremely-stressful situations at home, add a shot of hormonal chaos and the inevitable weirdness that crops up as the seasons change, and everything has gone right to Helena Handbasket (she’s a busy lady, that one). 

So I haven’t really slept in several days, and now I’m debating whether I should try to go to 9:00 class or try to sleep. It probably says a great deal about the situation that I’m not so much worried about whether or not I can dance — in my current state, I’ve noticed, I always get a miraculous little hit of energy as I belly up to the barre — but whether or not I can drive.

Part of me considers it surprising that I can lie here and write about this lightly and humorously. It feels like hell. I’m getting through it a few minutes at a time, an hour at a time, by mindfulness: that is, by the practice of reeling my monkey mind in when it starts to go “OH G-D OH G-D I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS I JUST CAN’T I AM NEVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO SLEEP AGAIN ETC” with the knowledge that I don’t and can’t know the future, but I’m here now, and this is, in the famous words of Avenue Q, “…only for now.”

I remind myself that I might still feel feel like this in ten minutes or I might not, but that right here, right now, I can sit with this — with fury or despair or anger or terror or sorrow or wrath — and just experience it without either judging the experience or buying into the idea that it will never never end.

It will and it won’t. 

The stream of arising phenomena is unending, and so it shall be until the universe cools or torches itself or we all reach Nirvana or Messiah comes (“… I apologize that I took so long…”)

In the calmer moments, like now, when I’m not actively frothing at the mouth, this is a comforting thing to think about. In the other moments, it’s at least something that lets me hang on until.

Meanwhile, I know that getting back to class on a regular basis will help, which right now feels like a Catch-22 (How can I get to class if I don’t start sleeping? How can I sleep of I don’t make all all my classes*?), but I remind myself: that’s only right now. It will come. 

  • *Physical exhaustion is still the only reliable way to manage my insomnia.

Anyway, I’m finally feeling feeling like I  might actually be able to sleep a little. Maybe I’ll make class, maybe I won’t. That’s in the future ,and i can’t live there, but I can live here. 

Anyway, there’s always noon class.

Bonne nuit, et bonne chance. 

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My Brain Hates Me Right Now, And Maybe If I Write About It, It Will Shut Up

As you may have gathered from Friday evening’s post, I am wrestling with insomnia. Possibly also a touch of dysphoric mania on-ramp action. It’s par for the course (onset of winter, hormones being wacky, somewhat stressed out), familiar enough, but still difficult.

In a comment on my earlier post, Cabrogal referred to that state in which your mind is still blazingly awake and alert but insomnia has begun to make your body tired. I can relate: that’s where I am tonight. I felt tired at 9:30 PM and crawled into bed. Despite many efforts to sleep, I’m still awake.

When I close my eyes, my mind whirls away at 3,000,000 miles per hour: musical compositions (which arrive with regularity at the onset of mania) playing themselves at various tempi (often inappropriate ones), sometimes elaborating themselves into staggering crab-canons that wheeze and clatter along like seige engines. Hard and bad thoughts intermittently surface. I try to just acknowledge them and let them go, but they persist. None of this feels like a conscious process; in fact, the music leaves little room for intentional thought.

When I’m just having difficulty falling asleep (read: almost every night), I tell myself stories. Apparently, my stories are very boring, because often they do the job. (Okay, so actually I think they just distract me from the horrid life-long anxiety about being unable to fall asleep — another trait El Roberto and I share)

When my brain won’t stop musicking, I often can’t tell myself stories. I can’t “hear” them (more like see/feel/smell/hear them) over the din of my mental calliope hammering out my setting of Psalm 137, which is actually a lovely piece of music, but not like this.

It’s almost 3:30. If a miracle occurs and I get to sleep soon, I should be okay in ballet class. I don’t want to keep missing class. I don’t want this to be my new reality, always sliding away from the thing I love the most (after Denis, anyway).

2 AM. Can’t Sleep: Choreography.

I realized this evening that I will have to make an audition video for the graduate programs in Dance/Movement Therapy.

I kind of knew this anyway – it just hadn’t sunken in yet.

Tonight, in bed, I found myself percolating choreography.   This is new – mostly I percolate writing.  But it suddenly occurred to me that here I have this awesome chance to do something cool; make a dance and perform it and film it.

I am thinking about using either one of Eric Satie’s gymnopedies (three, maybe?) or a selection from Holst’s The Planets (Mercury, perhaps?).  Very different pieces, but both ones I’ve loved so long that they’re in my bones.   When we were little, my sister and I created epic ballets to The Planets every chance we got.

So now I can’t sleep because my brain won’t quit dancing.  I guess I should apply the brakes to avoid mania, but this creative force feels really good.

Now if I can just master grand jete en tournant (or, as my phone would have it, en gourmand) by November………..

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