I thought I had been drugged with LSD. That was the only thing that made any sense at all. I was single and living in San Diego, struggling to make my way in the world and was struck by lightening.
My first manic depressive episode led me on a wild ride of driving throughout San Diego County and marking an expansive territory by eating at sacred restaurants at the north, east, south and western boundaries. I raved at friends and shouted obscenities at strangers.
At one point I was surrounded by a bright light and was invited into The Sacred Space. At another part of this three-day journey, I found myself enclosed in a glass barrier while I watched myself do and say things that I would never have done, but was unable to stop.
There was a Voice of Authority that commanded me to do these things. Throughout this episode, I tuned into the radio for additional instructions gathered from song lyrics.
Finally, some friends dragged me to the ER. No sign of drugs of any kind. The next day I was checked into a hospital and began medication treatments to bring me down. The drugs disconnected the neurons that were wildly firing so that I was able to come down from the manic high. I could not have brought myself back to coherence without these treatments.
Down I came. I crashed. As high as the high had been, I was now hopelessly depressed. It was like a rubber band that had been stretched to the breaking point in the mania was released and snapped wildly in the opposite direction.
I remember sitting on the couch watching “A Few Good Men” and being unable to change the channel because I couldn’t lift my finger. Could not move. So I watched the movie three times in a row. I am thankful a slasher movie wasn’t featured on HBO that day.
Ultimately I lost my job, my health insurance, my friends, and was very close to being homeless. It was time for ET to phone home. I limped back to the family farm and into my old room. I had never intended to come back, certainly not like this. I couldn’t talk to my family about what had happened, and they asked no questions. I was ashamed and felt like a failure.
I attempted to return to college for a teaching degree, but ended up with a second episode instead. My parents were gone for the weekend when I revved up and dashed off in combined panic attack and bipolar mania. I ended up in jail with five felony charges related to bomb threats.
I grew up on a peach ranch in Central Valley California. The first sign of spring was the lone daffodil that popped up near a huge walnut tree in front of the house. The bulb was planted by my grandmother during the Great Depression.
Now as I sit in my own garden 15 miles from the ranch, I hear the faint cadence of a song; a whisper, really, that has been in the background for a long time. The song is a type of bolero, a steady beat, an instrumental whose rhythm is felt before it is heard. Finally, the tune comes to the surface of my consciousness. Now at last I can hear George Harrison.
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
...I feel that ice is slowly melting...
... It seems years since it's been clear
...Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
It's all right
Tears come to my eyes, and a quivering smile.
I remember something Dad said to me years ago. “Honey, there is something special about a walnut. It won’t sprout under the usual mild California climate. It rots in good weather. The walnut seed has to endure a really long, cold, hard winter. That’s what it takes to crack that tough nut and get it to grow.”
I have finally sprouted. The song becomes a symphony as I continued to push through the rich soil of this experience and burst into the light. The brilliance seems overwhelming, but it is genuine and warm.
Please remember, dear reader, you are not alone.
There are steps you can take to heal.
You are loved.