I Am Not OK

Maybe this is what bipolar disorder is like. Some days are manic, the others depressive.

The sun was shining yesterday and I took a long bike ride but all I could think about were worries of infection, my eyes peeled while I rode to ensure no one got closer than 10 feet to my imaginary bubble nor I to theirs. I tried to exhaust my body to match my emotional state, beating the anxiety out of myself with physical flagellation.

The rain is steady today, the temperature cool, but I am buoyed by the thought that I am safe at home. I have a second cup of coffee from underneath a warm blanket on my deck and finish a second book alongside the coffee. A cat curls up next to me.

I know we’re likely still at a beginning, but it feels like being stuck in the middle, hoping for a happy ending. Moment-to-moment is manageable, but I am not OK. None of this is OK, even though yesterday all my friends and neighbors were OK that’s no guarantee that today or tomorrow will be OK.

I Am Not OK.

In some ways, I’m fine with the not-knowing since each day has the freedom to be its own adventure or horror, but then I try to tell the story. The story of the between-days, the story of the span-days, and I lose the plot, find myself staring into a middle distance filtered in Gaussian blur and I wonder what I was even saying.

The coffee is the perfect temperature now. I’ve perfected my craft this past month – the beans, the grind, the water, the steeping, the cup. It’s a little ritual dance that hasn’t lost the luster of shoe-tying or teeth-brushing. I can still see the newness of each coffee molecule and enjoy the sparkle. The result is warming and slightly bitter, reminding me to drink up each day and note the subtle shades of difference that color the world and my experience of it.

I want this all to be over but I also don’t want it to end. When again will I have so much time to simply exist and watch the natural world? When again will I experience this alchemical mix of total stress and complete relief?

I am not ok. The world is not ok. Maybe both me and the world never were before but maybe they can be soon? This is my hope and written prayer.

I have smiled and laughed and fought and cried and shouted and cheered, all in the same hour, in the same day. I have lived, I am trying to live, and I will be alive come Monday.

In my broken beauty – in this “not OK, but fine” between – I am in my own personal bardo. When I re-emerge I will be an anti-butterfly: changed inside but looking just as you remember me.

I am not OK, but I want you to know I’m fine. If you’re not OK, that’s fine too. I see you and nod respectfully from a safe distance. It’s my way of promising a big bear hug later.

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