Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Bipolar Souvenir

Crazy pill count:
AM .5 Ativan
PM 10 Zyprexa, 90 Cymbalta, .5 Ativan

A post brought to you by The You Are Awesome Topic Request Request Survey:
I've been curious about this for a while: What does Dr. Crazy's office look like? Is is a typical psych's office or is it calm and relaxing?

I am so delighted you asked this question because it gave me the opportunity to observe my surroundings, during my last appointment, like the side kick of one of my favorite childhood character's, Harriet The Spy!

I have mentioned Dr. Crazy's waiting room before. I talked about the stellar reading selection here, and the musical ambiance here, but now I will get to the juicy part - his office.

I wouldn't exactly call Dr. Crazy's office calm and relaxing, but I wouldn't call it the typical psych's office either. His office is a nice large room with a big messy desk and two large, apple, computer screens that are linked together so the screen saver moves back and forth from one to the other. There are several large windows and lots and lots and lots of plants. This man must love plants because I'm talking about a lot of plants here, people.

He has three large book shelves with books of all genres. Medical and psychiatry of course, but also meditation, art, poetry, rock climbing, philosophy...and on and on. Books covering a vast meridian of topics, and yes, I asked, he has read them all. What a smarty pants.

He has a chess board set up, on which we have never played, but he has often offered, and his walls are covered with crooked framed papers - degrees, certifications, awards, and such. However, they are crooked for a very good reason. If you fix one, suddenly a different one looks crooked. Fix that one, and another appears to be askew. We have played that game for at least ten minutes on more than one occasion.

Dr. Crazy's office is filled to the brim with artwork, which I love. He has two, large, fascinating paintings hanging on the wall as well as a beautiful photograph he took of a solar eclipse.

The surfaces of his office also adorn artwork. The windowsills and open spaces on the bookshelves hold all kinds of wee art. Some appear to have been made by children, perhaps his children, and some of them have been given to him by patients including the word art blocks I gave him.

My favorite of his wee art collection is a broken ceramic pineapple his daughter made for him. It broke during the earthquake we had last year. He wrote the date on the bottom and kept it displayed in two broken pieces as an "earthquake souvenir."

But I have saved the best for last.

There is something very curious about Dr. Crazy's office. It is not unusual to arrive for your appointment and enter into an only oddly familiar room. Dr. Crazy is constantly rearranging his office. Like all the time. I'm talking completely rearranged. His desk always stays in the same place, but everything else is up for grabs. I find it both endearing and very amusing.

To me, entering Dr. Crazy's office for my appointment is a lot like the work we do navigating my bipolar disorder.

It's not always the same.

Sure the same elements are there: desk, bookshelf, lamp, chair, plant, painting, ceramic pineapple, etc. But they're not always in the same place, and oops, one day you walk in and the pineapple is broken.

But you adjust. You settle into the new arrangement.
You notice new things you didn't notice before because your chair is in a new spot.

And that pineapple?

Well, yeah, it broke, but write the date on it. It broke because something happened. When something "happens" to us, when we have an episode, when we feel like a broken ceramic pineapple fallen from a shelf from a mania or depression...we are not broken. I can promise you that. I will say it again. We are not broken. Dr. Crazy proved it to me. We are not broken. We are an earthquake souvenir. And that is something not to be ashamed of, but something to be cherished. Because we are something to be cherished, bipolar disorder and all - mania, depression and all.

I know it's not easy to embrace the idea of being a earthquake souvenir, or rather a bipolar souvenir, if it means embracing and accepting manias, depressions, mixed episodes, and all the heartache that comes along with it...but's truly our best chance at living that full and beautiful life we are all entitled to and capable of.

We're so much cooler than these magnet souvenirs.

So what do you say? Instead of worrying about precariously gluing our pineapple back together, let's get out our sharpie, write the date, and put it on display - a reminder we can make it through difficult times because, by golly we can, and we sure as hell have.

Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. He deserves a medal for the most awesome office in the world! I'm serious! :) His office is MY sort of office- practical, yet welcoming. All the psych's offices I have ever been in were clinical and meticulous in their cleanliness and I felt like I was walking into a freezer. There was no warmth anywhere! They were also devoid of colour or personality. *shudders* Thank you for that very comforting description.
    Wish Dr C a very Merry Christmas from me! :)