Thursday, January 11, 2007

The shadow of succeeding

A reminder of how oblivious I can be.

I've known for several years that I'm mildly bi-polar. And I know that I'm not on meds. Even so, I trust my own perceptions, foolishly, at times.

Last week was the culmination of a couple of really hard weeks of yoga workouts. I'd been in strength-building mode, and I'd worked everything as hard as I could, and I was loving every minute of it. When that was added to the snow-shovelling we've been doing so much of here in Denver, the result was a constantly aching right shoulder -- the one the doc operated on in August.

So last Friday, I find myself in (yet another) yoga class, and the shoulder collapses on me. It loses stability. It hurts sharply, and I spend about half the class in seated meditation: angry, disappointed, hurt, frustrated, sad. Mindful? Not in the slightest. In short, a mess.

Though I hate it, I lay off practice Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. As I progress through those days, it occurs to me that not only does my shoulder hurt a lot, I realize that I'm actually depressed.

This is a good thing, because I have a practice for what to do when I'm depressed. I notice what my mind is up to, and I watch it trail down the pretty familiar mind paths of depression. I don't get attached to those thoughts -- just watch them. I make sure that I get exercise -- though I do it on an elliptical trainer, since everything's still snowbound, and since I have to avoid screwing with my shoulder. On Monday, I set up an appointment with the surgeon to see if I've retorn the cartilage. By Monday night, the shoulder feels, actually, a lot better, though it still makes crunchy sounds at times. The depression lifts.

On Tuesday, I find a yoga class, and I behave, respecting my shoulder. On Wednesday, I find another yoga class, and I behave, respecting my shoulder. And today is Thursday, and my shoulder feels quite nice, thank you very much. Still makes odd, new sounds, so I'm glad to have the doctor's appointment next Monday. But I'm through the depression woods, and I can see the other side of the forest.

What I need to figure out, though, is how to avoid getting attached to the elevated-everything experience that goes along with manic episodes to the same extent I've learned to avoid getting attached to the depressed-everything experience that goes along with the other end of the spectrum.

For me, what makes it particularly hard to avoid attaching to elevation is the deeply-ingrained belief that everything ought to be good and happy and growing and progressing and developing and up. When I finally experience those things, I fall into the deception that I've attained what deep down I think ought to be.

Now that is a get-thee-behind-me moment I should recognize next time.

Any guess of my chances?