Go to the ocean. The ocean may have been calling or I might have simply been talking to myself. But somewhere in my head a voice said, “go to the ocean.”
I went because I thought the warm sun might feel good on exposed skin. Skin that hadn’t felt a breath in weeks.
The beaches here aren’t like the postcard-perfect vistas of Hawaii, they don’t have imported, pea-size gravel, like those of Monaco, and they don’t have the azure water and latte froth sands of Venezuela; but I like them just fine.
Here we have navy and teal water butted up against fist-sized rocks, sun-bleached and strengthened driftwood, framed by often slimy kelp. Every surface is difficult to walk on and inevitably I fall. Someone’s wet dog always seems to find me irresistible.
But I like it just fine. It’s a West Coast beach. It’s where I come from. It’s who I am.
A Life With Bipolar Disorder Is Lonely
I am the only person here alone. I am always the only person alone. People have brought friends, lovers, children, and dogs, but I, as ever, have no one to bring. I sit with stones digging into me and kelp’s slime drying onto my sleeve, to watch the people. The people with lives. I don’t have a life. I can only watch life pass by. Observe it. Like a specimen in a lab.
I try to read a book or think of the over-romanticized notion that this loneliness is simply fodder for the writer in me. But I’m not 21 any more. I’m past the point where it’s poetic to be alone, knowing that I have all the time in the world to create a web of relationships. Being alone isn’t romantic or just a convenient pretense for ennui. It’s just lonely. And increasingly pathetic.
I have spent depressed years crying on this beach and no one has ever walked up and sat down next to me. No one has ever asked why I am crying, sometimes wailing, at the sea. I’m sure it’s because they are there, on the beach, with Someone. I’m sure it’s because with Someone to focus on, my pain is easily ignored, dismissed. If I had Someone, maybe I could ignore it too.
No, of course this isn’t true. I know a convenient lie when I write one.
Once Bipolar, Always Bipolar
It’s too easy to pick what you don’t have and assume that its acquisition would fix everything. Would fix a life broken by tears, knives, sickness, and sorrow. But it won’t. Having obtained it, there would simply be another brass ring to hopelessly reach for. Broken would still be broken. Sick would still be sick. Nothing gets you better except getting better. Being better.
In bipolar disorder, this is being “in remission”. You never get to be not bipolar. You get remission from illness. For a while you’re “better”. You remit. Until you don’t.
And I don’t.