"When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide”
-Demons by Imagine Dragons
When I got diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, relief washed over my soul like a Southern river baptism in the middle of a hot July summer. Suddenly, wrapped up in a neat little package, I had the answer to everything that I had ever wondered was wrong with me. I had been cleansed of my sins and my past behaviors were suddenly justified and understandable. My “quirky” personality, my impulsive behavior and explosive anger, even my insatiable sex drive and memory loss and my obsessive compulsive tendencies…it could all be medically, scientifically and analytically explained. The dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline levels in my brain are all off. That in turn causes distortions in my reality and causes illogical thought patterns and behavior. Throw in a dab of brain damage caused by some extended child abuse and the recipe for me is complete. Born from the dust of the ground true, it was just bad dust. I like to think I’m made from the dust that got swept under the carpet.
With my diagnosis I came to see that I’m not just simply a bad person. I do have a soul. I do have a conscience. Things that I have always thought were missing in me for as far back as I can remember. And this is good. I think. To begin feeling things.
But with every re-awakening and redemption comes a set of commandments. Rituals laid down to ensure your soul stays in good standing with your redeemer. The same can be said with me.
My redemption has come in the form of a daily communion wafer made from a cocktail of various pills and to be washed down with the glorious water from my kitchen sink tap. My kitchen sink has become a Holy Water dispenser, and I treat it with the appropriate reverence as I gulp down my dose of sanity every night. I also attend “Confession”, in the form of therapy, once a week to try and reconstruct and remember my past and to prepare for dealing with my future. I’m learning to sift out what was real and what was altered by my mind to help me survive what I’m starting to see was a horrific childhood. My therapist is beautiful and smart and funny. Honestly, I look forward to seeing her every week. But she can read me like a preacher can read the Good Book. She knows my mood the second I walk through her door and she can alter her sermon instantly based on who she might see in my eyes at any given moment. And she is taking my mind to places that it shut me out of a long, long time ago. And that is the part of being “Born Again” that I don’t particularly like.
When I envisioned my cure beginning, I imagined it to be a lifetime of pills and therapy. Necessary evils that I had mentally prepared myself for. After all it seemed like such a small sacrifice to make in return for being saved. Little did I know that in order to exorcise demons, you first have to face them.
As my mind has slowly begun to clear, and the synapses sporadically fire properly, I catch glimpses of myself from the past 20+ years and the things I have done. My memories have been coming back whereas before there were periods of just blank nothingness scattered throughout my life. Events that I have always had a perception of having occurred a certain way are now flashing through my mind in their true forms. The demons are trying to stay buried where they have always been protected: in the recesses of my subconscious. But my brain, my soul even, is fighting to expel them out into the open. I know this is natural. At least that’s what I’m being told. I’m also being told that as I rewire, it’s going to continue for a long time and intensify, the memories will continue to replace the darkness. And I’ll have to deal with them.
The demons hurt. But I guess that’s what demons do isn’t it? My first true love that I lost? I had never really thought about how it ended. Just that it ended. I flashed last week on exactly how I lost her. How it was my fault. How she didn’t see it coming and it didn’t make sense. That’s what she kept saying to me on the phone. “This doesn’t make sense. You’re not making sense. Think about what you’re doing. I don’t understand why you’re doing this.” She’s right. I ended a 5 year relationship in the middle of a manic cycle and she was gone forever. And I never thought about those final moments again. It was gone from my mind. Until last week. It all came rushing back to me out of no where. I was watching the news and all of a sudden I was reliving every second of our last moments together. Except this time, I felt how she must have felt. I also felt the shame and the guilt that had been missing all of these years.
That’s one example. There have been a few more. And I know this all may sound odd to someone who has never experienced this, but I’ve never really questioned the gaps because they have always been there. It seemed normal. “I have a bad memory” I would say. I didn’t think about bad things because I had no recall of bad things to think about. I didn’t know they were there. And my childhood? Boy. That’s the Devil himself. I have become the definitive master of coming up with excuses for my therapist to avoid that darkness. But she, in turn, is a master at what she does and somehow we always end up right on the edge of my Abyss peering down into the enveloping vacuum below. She says for me to take it slow. She tells me it’ll come with time and that she will be there for me when it does. She’s gentle, but firm in her resolve to help me remember.
This is not as easy a redemption as I thought it would be. No weekend church-going with this guy. I have to bow to the alter of my psyche every day and beg Him to accept me into His fold. If this had been caught when I was a teen in it’s early stages, I’m sure things would be very different for me today. But sifting through twenty-five years of the suppressed memories of things done to me and of the things that I have done to others is taking it’s toll on me.
These demons of mine are tricky, but I’ve got twenty-five years of their tricks inside of me and I’ve learned from the best.