I got off my plane, collected my bag, and hopped into my supervisor’s car on a bright sunny afternoon. We hummed along down the road to a lunch stop in an odd little town. I had delicious homemade chicken-and-chile soup. The need to spill my beans and get it over with was making me apprehensive, but it wasn’t the right time to say something. Not yet.
After lunch, we resumed the drive. My supervisor (let’s call him Dr. Mycteria) isn’t a particularly verbose guy, so we ran out of conversation within a few miles and he leaned to turn up the radio.
“Actually, there’s something I wanted to talk with you about. Something very serious, as in confidential.” He turned off the radio.
I gave him the overview version of what I’d told Mr. Flycatcher; since Dr. Mycteria sees me much less frequently, a lot of the little details weren’t as relevant. He’ll never see me at the office looking like someone just ran over my puppy, and probably won’t see me strung out or sick from med changes. He’s much more likely to see me when I’m all DeeDee in the Sky with Diamonds. But I made sure I got across the most important detail:
I don’t want you to think I’m slacking when I’m really just unwell. I always want to do my work, I just can’t always do it.
As I mentioned med changes – which I always mention, because most people have absolutely no understanding of that particular brainscrew – he related with an empathetic comment. He’s familiar with what’s involved in psychoactive med changes because his daughter has severe PTSD. It seems every single time I tell someone about being bipolar and having ADD, they respond by telling me that an immediate family member (or they themselves) has a mental health problem.
As we discussed the topic further, he mentioned that he tried Wellbutrin to quit smoking, but he was part of the 1% (or whatever) that get severe anxiety as a side effect of Bupropion. So he knows what side effects are like, and how much they can sideline you.
The conversation soon trailed off; there was nothing more to say, since I know I need to be careful not to overshare with people who aren’t my bosom buddies. But as we settled back into the drive, he said,
Well, I think the world of you, and this doesn’t change that.
I smiled, said thanks, and leaned back to watch the gorgeous southwestern scenery whiz by.
I spent the week in the workshop hardly sleeping and working hard to suppress incipient hypomania. I couldn’t help drinking – it was expected of me, I’d set the precedent myself, and I just couldn’t bring myself to miss out. But instead of staying around for exciting conversations at each break and going out with social groups during free time, I went off by myself outdoors. I realized I needed the alone-time to recharge without getting overstimulated.
I also plied the Ativan, keeping much calmer and quieter than the usual disruptive motormouth that my mood would ordinarily demand of me. Random floaty anxiety popped up here and there (perhaps after-effects of the alcohol), and I ensured it got no chance to take hold. I focused on being there, and left everything else alone.
I was proud of myself for keeping the manic spell in check, but I missed out on the euphoria. I didn’t realize until later how much I missed it. It left a craving, like the feeling of wanting a cigarette not long after quitting, and a sharp pang of sadness that I must deny myself that which I crave. I almost wonder, if I hadn’t had anything to drink, whether the euphoria would have joined in the party?