When I was 13 I went on a walk with friends. We came to the top of a steep hill and started the walk down. I soon missed my footing and found myself trotting to keep on my feet. This accomplished, I tried to slow my pace, but the momentum of my downward trot soon had me running. I tried to slow down with increasing desperation because I could see where this was going. As I continued downwards my momentum would outstrip my pace, and then I would really fall. And that's exactly what happened. No matter what I did I couldn't slow down; in fact I was gathering speed. Half way down the hill my feet went from under me and I fell headlong, bounced a bit, and finally came to rest with the breath knocked out of me.
Apart from the initial shock and some impressive bruises, I was fine. Because this was a real hill and my body took the fall. When my mind takes the same journey things tend not to turn out so well.
It's hard to describe (hypo)mania to someone who hasn't experienced it. Surely high is good? At first it seems so. It's like increasing the colour saturation of a photo, making everything more vibrant and engaging. But slide the bar too far and what you see is a scarily unreal intensity of colour.
Someone once told me that a high is actually depression in disguise. And I do see that as my mood goes up, I'm running faster and faster down that hill and the only possible outcome is falling. It's just a matter of when, and how much mayhem I create in the meantime.
Because I do try to slow the pace. I know as soon as I recognise the warning signs exactly where this goes. But there's something so compelling about the momentum of it that I can't make it stop. And, initially at least, I find myself running in the opposite direction of anyone or anything that might slow me down.
Like standing atop a hill, the first part is amazing. Such a clear and beautiful view, perceiving things that are just not visible at ground level. The world is big and expansive and there I stand at the top, above everything that surrounds me. But as I embark on this upward descent the tipping point comes sooner than you can imagine. And then I'm really running, exhilarated but terrified, leaving a trail of chaos In my wake.
They say what goes up must come down, and it applies as much to mood as wallpaper. Because once I'm on that headlong run, the only possible outcome is falling. And falling downhill is no fun at all. You zip past horizontal to land sprawled in a heap somewhere near the bottom.
I don't know the answer. I've not yet found a well paved, level path to walk. All I can hope is that, when I first miss my footing, there's someone there to reach out a hand to catch me.
A Moodscope member.
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