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Delight

Most of the time, my depressive episodes are just a hard, tragic slog, trying to keep my life rolling along at a reasonable level of responsible, healthy, and safe until the shift in my brain chemistry. Very occasionally, though, they can turn into deep reflective calls for growth and change. When I am depressed, I see most clearly (and somewhat inescapably) the parts of myself I don’t like. I feel most clearly which relationships in my life are not working, even if I’m not always able to be very fair or accurate about why they aren’t doing well or what I can do to improve them. This latest round (for the past two weeks) began with a hard crash that involved a ton of weeping, which led to a sense of emotional emergency that prompted the shift into the latter kind of episode.

When I’ve been very social, as I often am during hypomanic periods, it takes me a while to let go of the desire to constantly have companionship. I had to actively restrain the impulse to make tons of plans for a few days before it died down and I remembered how to be alone in a way that didn’t involve just trying to make time pass as quickly as possible.

Something funny has happened over the past few days. Phrases in foreign languages have reappeared in my regular speech, after an absence of years. The way they fall naturally off my tongue delights me, even though no one I say them to has the slightest idea what I’m saying. I began reading a book about transnational Muslim youth cultures, and am delighted to be reading something so unapologetically demanding of my intellectual effort. I haven’t read something like that in a long time. 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the concept of delight as a guiding principle. It’s not something I’ve previously given much thought. Most of my life has been a process of getting through and getting by, trying to snag a few moments of happiness where I can. While recently considering some interpersonal relationships that I’ve been feeling frustrated in, I realized that those people delighted me utterly. I felt like I lit up when they were around, I wanted to tell other people about silly things they had done, and dive into new interests they’d introduced to me. The problem has been feeling as though I don’t in any way delight them. It was hard to realize how little I delight myself or pursue the activities and thoughts that delight me.

“Guiding principle” is such a woo-woo phrase that it makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but I think it’s one I really want to pursue. I want reciprocal delight, and I want to reconnect with the things that make me feel that charge of excited happiness and self-satisfaction.

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