Am I a manic depressive, bi-polar freak?
These past few weeks spent traveling and on the beach have given me time to think (probably too much time to think). I've made some very difficult, painful discoveries about myself and I think that what I have to say might be interesting to others like me.
Some days I find myself in an absolutely exuberant state of inspiration and brilliance. On those days, everything works -- relationships, creativity, work, and everything else I engage in. I am full of energy and, when I let that energy shine into the world, life is beautiful. I hold onto this version of me as my self-identity. This is the identity that I attempt to project to the world. But it isn't the full truth about who I am.
The problem is that I am never able to sustain the inspired state of being beyond a few days. After some time, I find myself burning-out or maybe just becoming too influenced by the depressing state of things in my life or in the world. I start worrying about money. I start to feel the burden of my inability to achieve everything I set out to achieve. I withdraw from relationships, keeping everything inside. On my worst days, I go through life with a negative attitude and offer those who love me very little emotionally. I get depressed.
This is my normal cycle. The only question is how extreme these extremes can become. Maybe there's something wrong with me, or maybe this is how any creative, experiential person goes through life. That is what I'm trying to figure out. Is this simply normal and inevitable for a person like me? If so, why do we pretend otherwise?
Is it possible for anyone to maintain an inspired, bliss-filled, exuberant state indefinitely? I don't think so. If you allow yourself to enter into a state of feeling fully-alive, it is absolutely inevitable that at some point you will come-down. That feeling of coming-down, when compared with the feeling of being fully-alive, will always feel like depression.
People like me accept the world not as it is; rather, we see it the way we want to see it. We try to find beauty where we can, we chase moments of bliss where they can be found, and we take risks to achieve our dreams. To live freely and openly is to inevitably live somewhat recklessly. We end up facing more judgment, negative consequences, painful failures, and disappointments than most people. The natural consequence of bringing a flash of inspiration into the world is that "reality" hits back like a cold shower.
The great ideas we chase are often completely rejected or they fail miserably. The inspired works of art we create are often criticized or, worse yet, ignored. The relationships in which we invest our energies often fail to meet our needs in return. On top of that, we all face financial / economic realities, we get older, people around us pass away...life happens. And, when life does happen, we feel it more severely than most because oftentimes we are coming-down from a state of being that is really fucking great. We know how great life can be because we touch it, feel it, experience it all the time. But nothing lasts forever. It goes in cycles.
My conclusion: all of this is natural and completely unavoidable. Nobody who attempts to be or do anything extraordinary can experience life any other way. To avoid these ups and downs is to live in a way that isn't worth living at all.
Still, there are things we can do to make it better. I find that, when I am taking care of my health (eating well on the slow-carb diet, exercising, not drinking too much, and getting enough sleep), then my low-points are not as low. Also, my wife and daughter bring a great deal of stability and contentedness into my life and keep me sane. My highs and lows simply aren't as extreme because they are put into the context of this amazing, loving relationship and the responsibilities that come with it. Finally, I find that it is really important to be a generalist; to pursue many different passions and interests at once. You can't invest all of your hope, dreams, and expectations into one thing or you could crash in a really big way.
In the end, I don't regret how I live or how I am. I think back on the overwhelming number of experiences I've had and wouldn't change anything. My somewhat ridiculously high hopes for the future get me out of bed each day. That said; I also know that it isn't easy to love me, to live with me, or to understand me. I don't mean to hurt or disappoint anyone. This is just how I am and, like all of us, I'm doing the best I can.