Fighting Depression with Magnetic Poetry

I have known for some time that I could be soon heading into a state of depression. These past couple of weeks I have not been as vigilant as I usual am about doing my daily exercise workouts, and I have allowed myself to slack off in some other self-care areas as well. Most of this afternoon was fairly painful, both from two sets of unpleasant physical illness symptoms, along with telltale symptoms of depression.

I mindfully experienced those various types of discomfort for a few hours. This was helpful to me in that I validated my experience for myself. However, I know better than to think I have not choice but to endlessly wallow in discomfort when it happens to arise, for physical or emotional reasons. Since I have a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, any particularly severe emotional distress stemming from that disorder is also really a physical health concern. I took a moment at one point today to remind myself of this since it is a medical fact that Bipolar Disorder is an illness which comes about from having chemistry not quite properly working in the brain. So, emotional distress caused by Bipolar Disorder is also a physical health issue.

While I was mindfully feeling these various symptoms, I received a friendly text message from a friend of mine who was thinking of me. I knew I had a choice to make when I received her message. I could ignore the message and continue wallowing. Or, I could read and respond. I took the chance, and I was completely honest in replying to my friend.

The resulting lovely and empathetic conversation we shared briefly via text messages ended up serving as another helpful reminder for me. This second reminder was that a state of melancholy mood has, on more than a few occasions previously, inspired me to compose poetry. So, I thanked my friend for reaching out to me, and I told her I was going to do my best to drag myself, if need be, to my magnetic poetry activity bin and fight these depression symptoms with poetry.

Here is the poem I created using words from two different magnetic poetry kits. My day could have been a day primarily composed of wallowing in pain and unpleasantness. I now feel quite proud of myself for choosing another ending for the story of this day.

My Musical Month of Bipolar Depression

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Staying one step ahead of the symptoms that come with the depression side of Bipolar Disorder isn’t an easy task to achieve. It can be exhausting. It can be draining. And it can seriously rearrange what I want to do with my days.

I’ve been battling a Bipolar depression episode most of this month. I have lots of tools at my disposal to help me in this battle. I don’t always have the best time at accessing the wherewithal to *use* all those those tools I have at my disposal, but this month I think the tool that I’ve been most successful at battling depression symptoms with has been music.

I’ve always enjoyed listening to music. And I’ve always loved to sing. When I was fourteen years old I began formal study of singing.  I studied singing for two decades. I never wanted to be a professional. I always attended voice lessons because I enjoyed them.

I didn’t know at fourteen that I would develop Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder in my twenties. Since the onset of those two conditions I have found that those voice lessons that I took for those twenty years were extraordinarily helpful in managing my moods. I find it just about impossible to feel emotionally lousy when I am engrossed in singing beautiful music.

All those years I was studying singing I also really wanted to learn piano, but my family could never afford to buy a piano. My parents felt that if you were going to learn piano then it was important to have regular access to a piano to practice on. I agreed with them, so I didn’t get piano lessons. Even so, I’ve always loved the idea of learning piano.

This month while I have been feeling pretty low on a regular basis I’ve been puling myself back out of those lows from the depression side of Bipolar Disorder with signing. In particular I’ve been signing along to the Broadway cast recordings to musicals. My singing training was mostly classical, for opera and classical concerts. I also sang a lot of musical theatre in my voice lessons.

This month I’ve been choosing the Broadway cast recordings that have subject matter that’s pretty heavy. I have a history of acting in theatre, both straight plays and musical theatre, so when I sing along with those Broadway cast recordings I let myself really get immersed in the stories those musicals are telling and go full-on in acting the roles I’m singing. Even though I’m standing in my kitchen with cats watching me.

I have found this month that singing the scores to shows that have pretty dark subject matters help me manage my moods better than the lighthearted musicals. As I’m singing I really pay attention to what’s happening to the characters in shows like Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and Spring Awakening. Then I compare what’s happening with me to what’s going on in the lives of those musical theatre characters. Even when I start the day not feeling well *at all* I still have to admit, every time, that I am not facing the issues those characters are facing.

I’m not fighting for my life in the French Revolution, or in the war in Vietnam. I’m not facing the horrors that take place in Spring Awakening. I’m living my life. And compared to all those options? I’v got it pretty darn easy.  Singing along with those shows gives me a fantastic dose of perspective. Add that dose of perspective the amazing melodies I end up singing to help myself feel better and well, by the time I’m through to the end of any of those musicals I feel a whole lot better.

Last year I purchased a nice electric piano for myself. All those years I didn’t get to study piano but I still wanted to. And still do. So, my new electric piano has been sitting here patiently waiting for me to start learning to play. So, while I’m still fighting the good fight against these depression symptoms I’m finally taking some time to start learning to play piano.

It’s been a long long time that I’ve wanted to learn piano, but I’m still here in this life. So, it’s  not too late. I don’t expect to become a virtuoso pianist, but I have a feeling that making music on the piano just might become another tool I will be able to add to my arsenal to help myself through these occasional seasons of Bipolar depression.

I feel so grateful to life for providing me with singing lessons when I was young, with the ability to get my own piano last year, and for the existence of music in the world. They say that music soothes the savage beast, and I’m feeling really pleased today that Bipolar depression symptoms are the savage beast in my lief that I am able to soothe with making music.

 

 

 

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