“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
I started reading Plath at an impressionable age. Pausing in between chapters to relearn to breath, because I could feel the oppression she described so perfectly weighing on me. I remember finishing The Bell Jar and lying with my brain cracked open across my bed. Everything that was in that book resonated with me and, until that point, that had never happened before.
I want this quote to be my epigraph because it has been a consistent mantra from my teen years on. It reminds me to stop and breathe which is particularly crucial for a person with bipolar & anxiety issues. My mental spiral spins into physical reactions such as increased pulse rate and hand tremors. I practice working on focusing on only one thing (my heartbeat) while constraining my breathing to the rhythm of “...I am, I am, I am.” This helps me regulate my breathing while helping me reset my brain in a fashion. At the very least, I can typically knock myself off the crazy anxiety train ride my brain was taking me on. My brain lies. It swears that the anxiety train ride is actually super cool and really fun, but no, it isn’t. My brain says the same thing about mania and well, that is also a gigantic lie. Mania is only fun in the beginning and then again fun doesn’t equal safe.
When I feel my mood elevating to watchdog levels I recite this quote help to keep myself still. Sometimes the last thing I can even comprehend is staying in one place, but the rhythm that is my heartbeat is something I can focus on anywhere and at anytime. Watchdog levels: code for wondering if my mood is just a normal really good mood or if I am edging into the land of too happy. Bipolar: the joy of constantly wondering if you are too much of something.
I am currently working 40-50 hours per week and have a half time school load. I also seem to have a pair of butterfly wings attached to my back. So my schedule can get quite full, mostly due to my loathing of saying no. Who needs sleep, when you can laugh? I know my glitches by now, but this quote reminds me to slow down, to cancel some plans or drag out the dreaded No word.