Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Flow



I would like to let you in on a private and detailed experience of Red; of what it feels like when I am pulsing through a period of Flow. Of what it feels like when I am not Blue. Of what it feels like when I am not Depressed and I am instead Hypomanic. 

I want to share it with you not only because it may be of interest to you, but also because I need to document this for the next time I slip back into Blue.

Bread crumbs. When I write, I am trying my best to leave myself bread crumbs. I have to remember what it feels like to be happy, to feel "normal" so that when I lose that feeling, I can at least have a potential life preserver. Or at best, an Emergency Exit in case of Emergency. 
(Emergency = I am so lost. I don't even believe that I will ever, ever be happy again. Or be "normal." ...Or have a chance to lead a viable, positive life in my future. In my remaining tenure, in my remaining experience as a human, here on earth.) 
Ok. Let us continue. 

"Flow" is a term made famous by Russian writer Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi from his brilliant work, "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience." This man is charmingly, mysteriously, almost scary smart. And he is one of my heroes. (Watch his TED talk if you have time.)

So, Flow. I've used the term for years (although I have actually never read his book ;) with my therapist to describe my experience when my brain is working on high octane. It's the easiest way for me to describe the experience of hypomania, or even of full blown mania.

Here's my best description of Flow:
Flow is unadulterated consciousness. It is cruising down a desert highway at 80 mph with (_____ insert music of your choice here) and warm air is caressing your face. And your hair is perfectly messy. You can inhale the oxygen...you breathe deeper into your lungs than you ever could in a boardroom status meeting. When you are in Flow, the Universe is pulsing through your micron-sized veins. It is fully, ugly/sparkling/awestruck authenticity of the human soul. Flow opens all of your receptors to the Good and protects you from the Bad. It is orgasmic. It feeds the soul. Flow is scary. Flow is comforting. Flow is edgy. It is no apologies. Flow is failing and succeeding at the Test at the exact same time. Flow is...I don't know. It just is. Flow is God.

Here's the best description of my Flow, Right Now:
I figured we'd have some fun and I'd just freestyle write stream of conscious to be as authentic as possible, ok let's goooo!... 

Right now, it's raining outside. 

Put the headphones in, step outside. You are alone now, it's time to roll. Let's roll. Where's the dog? Pepper? You ok? Ok, you are ok, you are under the Jeep away from the rain. I am standing outside, standing in the rain. It's completely fine to get wet, be calm. You do not need to worry about getting your cell phone wet. You have insurance, you pay for it every month. Breathe, I AM...SASHA FIERCE. Ha, remember when you were driving that rental mini van across the Golden Gate bridge (or was it the Bay Bridge??) with Em for work and the clients were in the back and the wind was blowing the van so hard, you were soooo scared about looking unprofessional in front of the client and under your breath you said, "I am Sasha Fierce" just to feel brave and Em laughed, then you parallel parked the van perfectly when you got to the ethnography, that was awesome. Pepper? You cool? Good. Cause I can't hear anything so you protect me. Jamming, blaring, Bae in my ears. Man, she was so good at the Super Bowl. Change the song. No, change it. Change it to Chemical Brothers. Or, cool. Change it. Change it to... um, yes. Covers, you will probably play a cover at the end of a set if you ever get an encore and THAT'S when you play the cover. Where will you start? You will start at the Depot, just like high school. Man. Remember how scary that was!? You, up there, with your guitar, and everyone keeps talking and drinking their coffee. It was so difficult to sing in tune with all that talking. That's cool, this time it will be different as Susan B. Agony because, hello, you're old(er) now, you know that nobody gives a fuck so just keep playing. So, yeah. Maybe this Summer? This Fall? Will you be ready? Should we take lessons at MacPhail? No matter. [Hey, this is gonna be fun to write in the blog cause it is textbook manic-grandious-illusions-of-grandeur thinking. But that's what we wanted to capture, right? That's what we wanted to tell them? It is, Yep. I'm sorry, as always. Always so sorry for expressing myself. I am sorry mom. But I can't...I can't stop. If I do, I just...Right. Be brave, Suze. TRUST YOURSELF, SUSAN, YOUR ARE SAFE, take a breath, trust me. I promise. You are not hurting anyone here. YEAH but what about job searching and social media? Shut up, fuck that. Fuck you, listen. Concentrate. Onward...] So, yeah. Sip of whiskey, sip of cig. Back to the fantasy/planning session. Depot, open mic night, Check. Maybe do stand up. Fuck, I still miss Second City. Maybe I move back to Chicago?? Ok, next, eventually. Change the song. Change it. Iggy? Ha, no, that is so two summers ago. Listen to...[God, get this out, get this out, hang in there I know you are revving the engines hot. Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing. Do you need a break? Do you? No. No! Finish this, you can be done in less than 10 min then we get it break. Ok, breathe] listen to...yourself. Myself? Like my own songs? YES, your own songs, where are they. I need to get them recorded, I know, I know, I know. I'll go, I'll go, I'll go (heh, Ferris). Ok. Stop. Listen to...Should I? Should I turn off the music and try to be quiet? Purgatory. You took the broken headphones instead of the good ones and the music went out on Nike Plus before you were even done with the first mile. Running. Wow, I can run so well when I am Red. NEON GREEN RUNNING SHOES. Ok, ok, ok. All the single ladies. Omg, you are going to tell them in ink on the Internet that you are still listening to Bae. Whatever. Concentrate. What is it that you wanted to tell them. What is it? Tell them... Ugh. [SMOKE BREAK] Ok. All right. Here it is. I got it. Go back in, you got it now. Take off your raincoat. Take a sip of water. You are going to listen to...Pilgrim's Hymn. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in for 1, 2, 3, 4, Hold it for 1, 2, 3, 4, Breathe out for 1, 2, 3, 4, and now hold for 1, 2, 3...and...4. Picture the four sides of a square. Thaaat's it. Here it is. This is what you wanted to tell them...

I am not a monster. [Wait -  but - suze, they are not the ones who think that. You are.] I am not a monster. 

Pause. Letting THAT realization sink in for a moment...

Breathe

I am not flawed. Susan, you are not flawed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Nothing is wrong. Everything is going to be ok. [cue Clair de Lune, final closing, music.] Susan. Susan, look at me. Right here, it's just us now. You are safe. You are not going to hurt anyone, Honey. It's like this now [Shout out to Mark at Common Ground Meditation Center!!!]

Aaaaaaand SCENE. Whew.

Damn, that was...um...fun?? What did we just do. I don't know, yet. I guess. Thanks for hanging in with me there, it was exhausting. Was it good for you? It was good for me. I think.

But what was the point? [You need to circle back to the thesis now.] Wait, oh yeah, the point. This, my friends, is Flow. I wanted to capture it. What it feels like. And, to be honest, I slowed it down just so we didn't get car sick. I mean, I have so many thoughts. They come so fast. So incredibly lightening fast. And, for better or for worse, they all make sense to me. It's like everything in the entire universe fits into place, like The Truman Show. It's almost scary to see all of the coincidental things. All the things...

And it is like a giant [cue Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prélude, thank god you're here, Bach, you made it just in time]...it is like. 

When I am Manic, I feel like I am my highest self. Like I am living at full capacity. Like I stole the Rule Book and now know all the answers. It is achingly comforting. Knowing what your life means. Knowing what it all means. It is so comforting I could cry. I think I understand God(!!!!!!!), even though I don't even normally talk about God much and I am "Not that churchy."

And then.

And then. [Here's the part where we all take a collective, ironically sad inhale.] And...then. 

And then I come back down. And it is so...painful. Heartache. Stinging like an oozing infection on your elbow. But this is not the kind of heartache where it feels good to cry cause your boyfriend cheated on you and everyone is on your side but the kind of heartache where You. Are all. Alone. Alone by yourself. 

And not the kind of "all alone" like "we are all alone together" but actually, you are totally alone like they left you on Mars and no one will ever make a blockbuster film about it. Nope. You are left there to sort it all out. No one is coming to get you. To go back home. 

And the saddest part. The part that I hope makes you cry cause it makes me teary-eyed just thinking about it is that you are alone from Yourself. You don't know yourself. You don't understand the decisions you made, the thoughts you had, the plans you made. You just plain do not recognize YOU. You don't. And, if you're an old hand Bipolar chick like me, nobody even knows the difference. 

[Unless you blog about it. See, this is why I do this. This is why I tell you. To help you to help me to remember Me. Thx in advance, btw.]

__________________________________

Trampled by Turtles. Alone. [This makes sense to you now cause everything makes sense to you now cause you are Red.] Wrap it up. Get your pjs on. Trust that the Fear of showing them your guts won't hurt too much in the morning.

You are loved, Susan. Don't listen to anyone but your own heart. Listen to your chemically imbalanced brain. It will get us there, if we just follow the bread crumbs.

Thank you, and Good night.
Susan






7 comments:

  1. Suicide seems to be the best option, actually.

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  2. I never respond to comments (or have yet to) but I am going to respond to this one. No. Yes, I get it, Dear One, but No. We can't. We don't own ourselves, these machines are not ours. We are but borrowing them for a fraction of a cosmic second before we move on to the next event. And, I don't know if Suicide may, in fact, impair the orchestrated oneness in that. Don't piss off the Universe. Don't break God's heart. Don't devastate family or friends. It's not worth it, it's "selfish" as they say. No. Don't do it, and I won't either. I love you, so goddamn much, Susan.

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  3. But an independent courage.

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  4. When you are in awe with an image, and that you suddenly love life because you have become a tool of destruction, you dig your own grave.
    That's what you do. The best relatives, are these who are not aligned on your thoughts. Remember that God may not love you at all.

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  5. You have, we all have free will. You are entitled to your own opinion. Go in peace. Hopefully remaining on earth. Now, I am done with this exchange. Thank you, Susan.

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  6. P.S. arrêter tout de suite avant de faire ressortir les gros canons . considérer ce dernier avertissement parce que je suis tout à fait sérieux . vous avancez et vous ne serez pas seulement entendre de notre avocat, vous serez arrêté .

    ReplyDelete