Music, mania, and bipolar disorder
It’s music to my ears when I hear the people living upstairs shut their front door, start their car, and drive away. I sneak over to my side window, peek out the blinds, and my sense of sight confirms that indeed the car is gone. Though I can’t be sure, I tentatively listen to ensure that both have indeed left the building. I plug in my Zulu USB Digital audio converter to my mini macbook air, and with the click of the keyboard the momentary silence is filled with high quality sound vibrations that giggle every molecule in the room. Every now and then check the window to see if they’ve returned. With closed blinds, I can sing, I can dance, I become a musical instrument. I feel embodied. Lately, I take to singing in this way whenever I can, as long as I’m in the mood. Funny enough, it’s not a difficult mood to get myself into. I also have an itunes playlist that has songs that I like to sing or that help me to practice. I belt them out as I drive, only partially disguising my enthusiam. These are some of my recent music musings.
5 years ago, during my first mania, I felt strongly connected with certain songs. When I returned home after spending 3 weeks slowed down in Santa Barbara, I couldn’t listen to the electronic music I usually preferred. It all sounded too fast. I returned to listening to Brittney and other corny stuff from my teenage years. After that ridiculousness wore off, and mania was leveling off into a felt sense of “we are all one”, I was attracted to certain songs that resonated with me. It’s like each song contained a message or a truth for me, or at least what I intuitively felt for myself at that time. When I would listen to the songs every morning, I would burst into tears of happiness, sadness, joy, and the connection I felt so strongly with Earth and all her earthlings. Apparently these were signs of illness. I’m not sure about that, though perhaps it’s not helpful to be incapacitated by love each day. It wasn’t very functional, yet how much life is functional and how much is just plain beauty. We humans try to participate in this beautiful mess call life. One way is by song.
Celine Dion’s song ‘Immortality’ really spoke to me, especially when she sings”so this is who I am, and this is all of me” and “there is a vision and a fire in me”. Somehow, each day I felt like I was starting over to reconnect with the vision of myself, as myself, for me, which is what I could truly give to the world (I can’t give much by being something other than I came here to be and in that way it is my responsibility to keep a watchful eye on myself). I cried as I felt connected to that version of me, with a blank slate each day, going out and doing what I can, as me, without wasting energy in tension over a thousand yesterdays or fears of a thousand tomorrows, or no tomorrow. I really felt the depths of the being that I am, that we each have inside.
Michael Jackson’s song “Heal the World” is self explanatory. Each day, with a blank slate, I felt hope that “the world we were conceived in will shine again in grace”. I felt like I could see that world and that it’s here right now. The trouble is, people don’t see it. I felt like after I encountered a number of people who couldn’t see, it extinguished my belief, until I was told to believe that I was ill for seeing it (though I made many mistakes attempting to exist this way, as there is no training on how to be this way). We’ve been trained and conditioned to not see that world and to believe that money and so-called progress are actually real and not just abstractions that we send people to die defending. This song made me cry the most. I really felt deeply the resonance of each song. This song encompassed the feeling I had, the connection to myself in Celine’s song. It reached out and included everything, like a hologram.
I love Aqua’s song cartoon heros as I really did feel like a cartoon hero, no doubt during the height of mania. I guess I’m not a cartoon hero though it was sure the coolest feeling ever. This has a lot to do with the archetype of the hero in the collective unconscious. I plan to consciously create a super hero version of me. Like being consciously deluded that I may be able to do something. That way I can be silly and playful and embody elements of the manic self I once experience. I can practice those elements so that they are grounded in reality. Mania planted the seed. Now I must earn it.
ABBA’s “Super Trouper” made me feel like a star. I would sing it and it would bring me out of my “Heal the World” induced kneeling on the floor looking up to the heavens posture.
“Joyful Joyful” from Sister Act 2 got me on my feet reaching for the heavens and connected me to the psuedo-religiousness that I often experience in mania. I felt connected to God and one with God. Singing this song and feeling this song was an awknowledgment for me that there were greater forces at work and play.
I still love these songs, though they don’t have the same affect as they did at that time. And I’m glad, because I’d rather listen to music than be so immersed in it I can barely function. It was cool to have this temporary immersion of body-mindedness. It was like my body and mind were one. If I was listening to music, I was listening with my whole body. It moved my body to tears, to crouch down, to reach for the stars or the heavens. Come to think of it, it was like that every moment of mania, a whole-body-mind experience. There was no half way. I couldn’t split my attention. Have you had similar experiences with music?
Enjoy the songs!
Celine Dion – Immortality
Micheal Jackson – Heal the World
Aqua – Cartoon Heros
ABBA – Super Trouper
Joyful Joyful from Sister Act 2