Just checking in 

– I write when I’m sad. My long absence means I am not sad anymore. I will be back – it never lasts when you’re bipolar. But I’m in remission. If you have cancer or anything else that severely suppresses your immune system, remission is the sweetest word. It means… normality. That’s all it means. Everything that healthy people take for granted. A road trip with friends, a visit to a theme park, even just a day in the mall without assistance, without equipment, without pain and without the difficulty of putting one foot in front of the other. 

– The reason why cancer and autoimmune diseases are so awful and so difficult to treat is that they are basically caused by your own body turning against you. The cells that are supposed to perform their organ functions – your liver to absorb toxins, your skin to protect you, your bones to support you, etc. – decide that they’d rather grow for growth’s sake and kill the cells that are still doing their job. 

(Sound familiar?) 

Killing these cells (with medicines and with chemotherapy) is like massacring the inhabitants of a city because a few dangerous criminals live there. (That sound familiar too?)

– Mental illness isn’t too different. I don’t know how much of it is biological. I have heard that bipolar disorder shows up on brain scans. But whatever comprises what we consider the “mind” – whether it’s simply the meat in my skull and the electrical impulses buzzing along its surface (?) Or it’s something more metaphysical – whatever it is… turns against itself, from time to time.

– But not lately. 

– snapshots from the last few… months? 

1. Our new apartment is in one of the top floors of a high-rise building. It had not been lived in for a long time. Dust covered the furniture and the few appliances that had been left behind. There is a bunk bed, with a queen-sized lower bunk and a single-sized upper bunk. This upper bunk we name the Observatory for its view overlooking the city. For the first few weeks we sit at night on the Observatory, dazzled by the city lights. After that we mostly forget about it. 

– I buy furniture and bring extra furnitire from the office. A little bit every week. A table. A lamp. A sofa chair. And so on. We spend hours arranging everything. In moments of self-congratulating satisfaction I name each corner of our apartment (seemingly enormous, after the cramped misery of our first one; but really just a decent-sized city apartment) like rooms in a house. The small counter overflowing with dishes and appliances is the kitchen. The folding table on the south side with the sofa chair is the dining room. The smaller table on the north side next to the shelves laden with books and paints is the den. The lower bunk is the bedroom. I experiment with hanging curtains around the bunk, but it just makes it hard for the airconditioning to cool the “bedroom”. 

– We fight, a lot. We don’t have sex very often. I don’t really care. I have never been so sure, and sometimes when I look at her I think she has never been so beautiful. 

– We watch too many hours of TV shows and we eat too much junk. We should probably put a stop to that. 

– I read a metaphor in Sophie’s World about the nature of philosophy and the minds that seek it. The world is like a rabbit that a magician pulled out of a hat, and we’re like the fleas on the rabbit. Philosophers are the ones who try to stand on the tips of the rabbit’s fur and gaze into the magician’s eyes and find out the truth about why we exist, why this rabbit was pulled from the hat. And everyone else burrows deep into the rabbit’s fur and happily consumes. 

– I have burrowed deeo down and nobody’s suffering really bothers me anymore. 

– It used to be like I was standing on top of a hill and watching a city below burn down. And I could hear the screaming and cries of people dying. And that no one else could see what I was seeing and thought that I was crazy to care. 

– I don’t care anymore. 

– I could explain my newfound apathy as a type of peace, as a necessary acceptance of the way that the world is. I could, you know. I don’t even need to, because no one else cares and now I’m just like them. But I won’t explain it that way, because it’s not true. I have just simply given up, and I have chosen to be… happy.

– it’s entirely possible I may have misremembered the rabbit metaphor. 


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