At the start of April this year, I go insane. A series of meltdowns and manic episodes land me back in the psychologists office for the third time in my twenty five years. When I walk out an hour later, I am grappling with a new diagnosis and a subsequent new invitation that comes with it… I get the image of a Soul trapped in a glass jar.
It’s a bright ball of light energy, crashing into the sides and banging nervously at the lid.
Accompanying the image, I hear my inner guidance say,
Of course you feel trapped… Of course you feel completely lost and hopeless one minute and on top of the world the next.
Of course you’re bouncing between the ceiling and the floor.
Your container is too small.
You were made for something bigger than the box you’ve been placed in.
Don’t tighten the lid, it’s time to break the glass.
That’s what first occurs to me.
I’m moving out of a house I love, to move back in with my mum for a few months before LA; it’s exciting and scary and… messy.
That’s the only way I know how to describe it.
We’re lying in bed one night before I leave when he turns to me and asks, Why are you going back?
I don’t know what to say. I know it makes no sense, and I venture a guess that he won’t understand, but I try anyway.
I’m not sure, I just know I have too.
I’m right, he doesn’t understand.
He asks me if I’m running away. He’s not the first person to pick that up, and for a second I wonder if I am.
Am I afraid I won’t make it here? That I won’t be able to maintain the energy I’ve found myself in? That I can’t tolerate this new level of peace and bliss and joy I’m experiencing?
I consider ignoring the pull and staying exactly where I am, but then I remember the voice of God, asking me – so clearly – to follow Him, to the ends of the earth.
This is what I’m being called to do, and I can feel it in every ounce of my being.
When I get home, something inside me shifts.
The sadness starts to come over me in waves, like nausea. I’ll be in the kitchen making breakfast one minute and the next I’m doubled over sobbing on the bathroom floor.
It’s beyond the usual entrepreneurial angst I’m used too, these are waves of total indecision and utter hopelessness.
Along with the sadness comes a new friend I don’t recognise. She takes my hand and drags me upwards, like we’re riding a car travelling up the ascending axis of a roller coaster.
My hands shake and my mind runs on overdrive. I have a million ideas and a cacophony of desires all vying for my attention at the same time.
I bounce between tasks, my movements frantic. Urgent. Never stopping to finish one thing, before I move on to the next. It’s a hostage situation, with the two states alternating power over my constitution, like two parasites arguing over who’s going to occupy the hosts body. I have no control whatsoever.
I wake up each morning and quite literally have no idea how I’m going to feel. I open my eyes and lie in bed, waiting…
is today going to be a good day? As someone who’s spent the last five years choosing her emotional state, and teaching thousands of others how to do the same – the swings are disarming.
The voices in my head become ceaseless and demanding. They convince me I can’t trust myself.
Every thought is like a runaway train; if I don’t catch it, I’m screwed. There is something I have to do, and I have to do it now. It’s the one thing that’s going to save me. And yet, no matter how much I do or how fast I work, it’s never enough. As far as my mind is concerned, everything is a matter of life and death.
Even picking out what to wear becomes a monumental task.
Mum comes home most days and asks what I’ve been up to.
Writing, I tell her.
I say the same thing every day. Some days because it’s the only thing I can think to say, and others because I don’t want to disappoint her with the truth… Suddenly, I’ve been trapped in an endless cycle of torture in my mind, screaming in to pillows, and crying until I fall asleep,
doesn’t seem like the most productive use of my time.
In some cruel ironic twist of fate – I have so much excess energy I could burst – so sleeping it off is out of the question.
I walk, a lot.
And run, when I can.
I don’t remember what it feels like to be tired.
Most days I collapse in an anxious heap on my bed – mentally exhausted, emotionally drained, completely distraught.
I’m desperate for a way out.
The lie I tell myself is, I shouldn’t be going through this.
If everything I said and believed and thought about the mind and God and life on the planet was true – this wouldn’t be happening to me. I would have this figured out by now.
I know it’s a lie because of the way it seeps sneakily into my subconscious mind, like toxic smoke that subtly infiltrates every room of the house.
He comes to visit me in February, and I’m grateful for the reprieve.
I’m a mess the whole morning before I go to pick him up. When he gets off the plane, I run into the bathroom. My hair won’t sit right and I’m a bundle of nerves, insecurity and regret.
I invited him here, and now suddenly I’m not even sure I want to see him.
I bash my arm coming out of the bathroom and it’s still throbbing when I catch him standing by the arrivals entrance. He’s wearing a moon boot over a tear in his ankle; it looks stupid and I want to tell him to take it off.
We go for coffee but I just want to be at home curled up with my laptop. All the ideas for every instagram post I’m ever going to write and every Facebook Live I’m ever going to film come flooding through me and I’m desperate to get them out – the energy is frantic and urgent and tortures my heart.
I’m done, I decide. I switch off my phone, and let the ideas go to die.
We have the most amazing sex for 48 hours straight.
We’re on the beach and I drag a towel up between the dunes for us… I’m in a green one piece and he can’t take his hands off me. The way he looks into my eyes and holds me against his body, feels slow and peaceful and heavy with meaning – like we’re trying to collapse the space between us. Like we’re drinking each other in.
We stop every few minutes to catch our breath and smile between kisses. We’ve never been this close before.
Suddenly I’m back in Sydney.
I have a picnic with the girls who mean the most in the world to me. My hair is still plastered to my head and dripping from the ocean, and my nose is red from sunburn, but they make me feel like the most beautiful woman on earth. We laugh, cry, chat and reminisce. A few girls meet each other for the first time and it warms my heart knowing the group I created will carry on without me…
They insist on dropping me at the ferry, and we walk through Manly with our arms linked around each other, our own little convoy of love.
In March, I go to Melbourne.
It’s annoying and I hate it. I don’t win the award I’m up for and I’m bratty and selfish about it the whole time.
Instead of exploring the city, I take the train out to St Kilda every day by myself to sit by the water. On the last morning I meet a woman who sits down next to me… She asks what book I’m reading and inserts herself into my solitary experience.
“It’s Glennon Doyle Melton,” I hold up my tattered version of Love Warrior.
“Oh, so you’re the hopeless romantic type too?”
She’s a former addict who wants to be a life coach. Of course.
It’s a trap, I want to tell her, don’t do it.
But I don’t. Instead I smile and nod and encourage her like I’m supposed to.
In April, I play Mary Magdalene in my Church’s Easter show.
The whole time I’m waiting, asking, praying.
“When are you going to LA?” Everyone keeps wondering, and every question is like a punch in the stomach.
I don’t know! I want to scream.
I know they’re being lovely, and genuine and kind – they know I’ll get there. Most of them know my drive better than I do.
But it’s a reminder I could do without.
Around this time I decide to hire a business coach.
I’m so excited.
I’ve been eyeing off her social media for months. She’s everything I want in a coach and more. Her posts resonate with every fibre of my being and I get excited just thinking about all the breakthroughs we’ll have together…
She’ll have the answers, I think to myself.
I go to pay the invoice and something inside me is screaming. It’s more than anything I’ve ever spent on personal development before.
But I know what to do here; feel the fear and do it anyway, I tell myself.
I hit send on the invoice, and immediately want to throw up. But instead I just shut my computer and push it away.
We have four sessions and I’m showing up. I’m working, putting in the time and energy… I’m staying up late, posting every day.
She gives me an exercise to do with loving my mind. In the same way I love my body, I’m supposed to sit in meditation and send love to all my thoughts as they pass.
I find it weird, but it works.
I’ve never ‘loved on’ my mind before. It’s always been this thing that I have to fight against, this thing I have to tell to shut up all the time.
As we continue the series, I give my all. My soul, body, mind…
A few people join the Mastermind I’ve made, and I love the energy of having somewhere to show up every day. It feels like a container I’ve built to bring out the best in myself.
As I launch my new coaching package, I film a three-part video training series and collapse at the end of each video; completely, blissfully spent.
This is it, I think to myself, this is the best I can do…
I wait… but nothing happens.
No one cares.
A few people message me. Some watch the videos. But for the most part, no one says anything. At the same time, clients begin to drop off one-by-one.
I want to crawl into a hole.
I secretly begin to wonder what’s worse; being hated or completely ignored.
The end of the moth rolls around and the second invoice comes through. I have $0.64 in my bank account. The hopeful excitement I held on to quickly turns into a dreaded panic. I’m a nervous wreck, and it filters into every area of my life. I can’t even drive the car without getting myself into a spin.
Money begins to feel like quicksand.
There’s never enough.
The debt creates cavernous holes in my foundations; so when money does come in, there’s nothing left to build with.
Everything is such a rip off, I think to myself.
I have several consults with potential clients. All tell me they can’t afford to work together.
I see my own beliefs being reflected back to me.
My card gets declined for $15 worth of groceries at Woolies.
I have to leave my food there and bail. I shoot an apologetic look at the woman being the counter, before running out with tears stinging behind my eyes, threatening to spill over. I sit in the car park and bawl my eyes out.
It’s a new kind of rock bottom.
I finally know what’s worse. It’s feeling as though you’ve done your best, and no one gives a fuck. At least if they hate you, it means they saw you, I decide.
Most days I don’t leave the house. Not because I don’t want to, but because I have no reason, and the solitude only makes it worse.
One day the anxiety gets so bad I beg mum to take me to hospital but she shakes her head, “Trust me, Jae. You don’t want to go there.”
She’s been through all this before, and I know she’s right, but I don’t know where else to turn.
Through it all, writing is my saving grace.
I pour my heart and Soul onto the page, sometimes praying for revelation – others just desperate for reprieve.
One morning, I’m writing in my journal when I have the bright idea to go away… I need time to lick my wounds and I know every square inch of this town like the back of my eyelids. There’s nothing new I want to see here.
I think about where the people I love most in the world are now…
They’re all in Sydney.
No. I’m not going back, not yet.
I consider renting an AirBnB alone, somewhere along the coast – but figure that probably won’t help the isolation.
It makes perfect sense.
The start of the year saw a mass exodus of some of my closest girlfriends from the East Coast to the other side of the country.
That night, I’m sitting at my computer ‘umm-ing’ and ‘ahh-ing’ about whether to book my ticket, when I get a message from a girlfriend I went to school with, who left to do her doctorate at the University of Western Australia right after we graduated.
A smile spreads across my face when I see her name pop up, of course.
‘No idea why but I’ve been thinking about you heaps lately. Hope you’re so well… x ’
It’s all the confirmation I need.
A week later I’ve packed my bags and I’m on a plane to the other side of anywhere…
This is a recount of my own experience with Bipolar disorder. It is in no way intended to treat, diagnose or discredit any other individual experience. Stay tuned for Sunsets in Suburbia Part II. Enjoyed my writing? Consider donating here.