I’ve been using the term “complex healing state” to refer to a state where some of what is usually part of our down, depressed state mixes in with some of what usually is part of our manic or up state. They all get mixed in together, which is so unlike the polarizing that they usually do with each other, that it is genuinely healing. It’s where the real healing happens with bipolar disorder. My friend Tony Godwin is encouraging me to call these states “paradoxical healing states”. I like both terms, but tonight “paradoxical” really works for me – things coming together that seem like they shouldn’t come together.
Paradox – sometimes things show up where it seems they don’t belong.
Sometimes a complex healing state happens from pure coexistence – where I spend the whole day maybe depressed in many ways, but also for example encouraged about my writing – which doesn’t usually happen when I’m depressed. Tonight, it was not so much them coexisting as something happening late in the day that seemed like it shouldn’t happen on a day like today. I had a bunch of days of complex healing states last week, but this week has been more down than that – not as much mixing, more just solid depressed. Yesterday was like that. It was not a socially isolated day, but it was internally a very isolated day: I had several extended interactions with people, but the contact I had with them couldn’t carry through beyond the boundaries of our visit.
Last night I went dancing – Asheville Movement Collective ecstatic dancing (see the page at the top of the blog). Most of the afternoon I felt too depressed to go. But I had been energized by a call shortly before going, so I had some limited hopefulness. I had spent the day depressed enough that it was more likely that I would have a bummer dance – the kind of dances that frequently I have been leaving. And it looked like it might go that way. As the regular dance started, I really started to sag. My body couldn’t respond to the music, I was feeling more and more isolated – was psychologically leaving, was picturing myself really leaving, and might have. It was at that exact moment that my friend Forrest came over, planted the side of his head against the side of my head, and got us moving together. I don’t know what moved him to do this. When I asked him after the dance if he had picked up the signals that I was in trouble, he said no, just that it was his intuition to do this. He just felt moved and he moved.
Did Forrest somehow know I was in trouble? Not consciously, apparently – but something moved him to come over and dance with me.
That was the turning point for me – it got me back in the dance. I then went through several cycles of starting to lose it, my mood going south, feeling like I was dropping out of the dance – and then someone presenting themselves to dance. Two of these dances were with young Kristin, whom I had never met before. She was a wondrous dancer, with way more energy than I – especially in this particular low-energy state – but I rose to the occasion and pretty much kept up with her. We had two terrific, fun, very alive dances.
So it was a paradoxical experience for sure – a day when this should not have happened. In spite of some instances of social connection, the overriding theme of the day had been personal disconnection. I came very close to not going to the dance at all. It was totally unexpected to have so many magical connections on the dance floor. It was a day when my body was dense and contracted; it was very unexpected for my body to get so loose and expressive.
When I came home from the dance, was I happy? I would say I was relieved. I would say I was grateful. It had been a few days since I had a complex healing state – much less feeling good. So, at the tail end of my day, that it got so complicated – so much more complex – is paradoxical and pretty wonderful.
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