I don’t know if it is true for all people who live with depression, but moments of solitude, serenity and calm are havens for the rabid mind of the Bipolar experience. Today I sat in the office on my own, at times with no music on, window open and the sun shining in that I felt at peace. Being able to stop and just enjoy this little fragment of sanity in what is turning out to be a difficult down patch for me.
There are times when this illness makes me feel lonely in a crowd of people, where my social skills dry up and I just want to run for the door. Conversely there are other moments when I am on my own and hate having time to think and overthink every action, word and relationship. But there are times – most of which are just before I go up to my bed and everyone else is already sleeping – where complete lack of voices, either external or internal and stillness are joyous.
Mindfulness is the current fashionable phrase that covers this in many ways. To just live in the moment, using your senses and focusing on your breathing. This is nothing new – you’ll find it in many eastern cultures and religions – and it’s nothing new for me. Going for a walk on my own in a forest, up a hill, along the beach, provide escapes from the hullabaloo of everyday life. I love my family but some days I just want to sit and watch TV or read or just chill without anyone else being there. Same goes for work and life in general. A loner.
We use that word like it’s a bad thing – loner. On many occasions I wonder what life would have been like if me and Jill had never met and I was still single. We all know she would have escaped a bullet, but how would I have been? Flying Solo in life is not such a bad thing I don’t think, so many people now do through divorces and those who focus on careers and never marry. I worry that I might not still be here were it not for Jill and the kids and most of the time I want and need them around me.
Then there are moments like today that allow me to just exist in the moment. The best comparison I can think of is that moment when you are on holiday somewhere warm with a beautiful view. Gazing across the water to the land opposite you take in the surroundings as you sit in the warm evening sunshine on your balcony and you forget for that glorious moment that anything else exists in the world. Those moments are like gold dust in the modern world.
We run from appointment to work to the kids’ party to grandparents to school to the supermarket to the next door neighbours to pick up the parcel you missed because you were busy. We just don’t stop enough.
Close your eyes.
Listen to the world around you.
Enjoy the moment, just a few seconds of nothingness.
No traffic jams, bills, parents’ evenings, microwaves pinging at you, TV or mobile phone. Just you and that moment.
There are very few things we get for free in life, but these moments are available throughout our lives. Whether we choose to accept them, use them, enjoy them is up to us. Too often we haven’t got “time” to stop. When your mind is racing with ideas in the fuzzy mist of Bipolar disorder, to stop occasionally is one of the strongest antidotes to the symptoms. Unfortunately it can also be one of the most difficult to grab. Today is a rare occurrence for me having the office to myself and also that shiny yellow thing in the sky does help the mood too.
The thought that I always bring to mind when these plateaus appear are the words of William Henry Davies:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Take a moment. Build it into your life. You might find, like me, you really do need it.