The problem with being a subdued hypomanic is that life feels too normal. I almost feel like my old self, with just a bit of fatigue around the mid-afternoon. It is not that I want to be crying or feeling depressed. The problem is that I do not know how to describe the way I feel. I do feel energetic and a bit social. I do feel a bit normal. Beyond that, I feel nothing. My psychologist asked whether I would rather be crying my face off and “feeling”, or experiencing this somewhat raw neutralized state. In all honesty, I am not sure. As sick as it sounds, and as much as depression hurts, it made me feel something. But, out of respect for the people I love, I am not rushing for a depressive episode to return.
Today is JH’s birthday, and for the past few days (despite otherwise feeling nothing), I have been pensive about his last year. My husband suffered a horrific year, with my depression, hypomania, and suicide attempts. Yet, through it all, he became stronger and stronger. He became resilient. Where I felt vulnerable, he filled the gap. Where I did not know where to find the answers, he somehow lead me to find them, and made himself more knowledgable in the process. It is not that I fully depended on him, but sometimes I needed his hand. Sometimes, I needed to hold onto his hand really tightly. Sometimes, I needed him to clutch me in a nest as I sobbed. He was and is the husband that really could not have been there more selflessly for any one person. I imagine sometimes what life would have been like if he was not there. I kind of assume I would be dead. The overdose would have been permanent. I might have not went to the hospital. But that’s a bit dramatic because I have my family and great best friends (one of whom which found me and sat in an ambulance with me, and another who got there as soon as she could). But as we all know, for me, I was not logical with suicide attempts. Everything just happened.
So, JH was not the only person affected out of this experience. I know my friends have been hurt and confused. I feel in many ways I have been selfish this entire last year while trying to understand and even conceptualizing the idea of being bi-polar. I was so selfish I forgot how everything affected the most important people in my life. It was very apparent with one best friend, and the way that I hurt her to the point that we almost lost our relationship. But, I did not know until recently how much the suicide attempts and last year affected another best friend. She was always one of the strong ones, who never cried when I broke into heaving sobs. She was always the one to say “do not worry, I am here because I know you would do the same”. She never flinched. She never walked away. But as I saw her recently, and she saw how ‘okay’ I was, she finally let me in.
As I sat there and watched her talk emotionally about the last year (re: the night of the overdose), I felt nothing but guilt and a bit of chills. I felt overwhelmingly sad for the situation and everything she went through. Of course, something so intense was impactful. She, like JH, felt helpless at times, and it was hard to hear her have to say that, because no friend deserves that. She relied a lot on JH. They relied on each other, and I am so glad they did. But in the end, it was I who made them suffer. I am ever so sorry that I put them through such a traumatic experience so that I could selfishly fight and most times only wilt against my own battles. I made a pact to myself that I will look out for her, JH (and my other friends) more this year as they have done for me. They deserve it. Even when I feel depressed I will look out for everyone. It is the least I can do.
So, it is weird to reflect on the last year. This time last year I had just left the hospital. I was without employment, and walking around Toronto aimlessly every day trying to feel something beyond depression. I had no idea what bi-polar depression was, and all I wanted to do was to raise myself up just enough not to have to go back to the hospital. I craved things for all the wrong reasons – alcohol being most predominant. It is not to say that I am 100 percent stabilized this year, but it is funny and warm sometimes when people say you look “so much better”, as if I look glowing. It is almost entertaining. I am not sure if I had a permanent frown or furrow on my face for a year, but it is quite possible.
JH and I talked about this but I do want to be better. I know I will always have this condition, but if I can feel ‘happy’ for a few days in a row, I am going to take it. If I can be social with my best friends I am going to take it. If I can concentrate and focus on work and all the activities in my life (and more if I have the capacity), yes I am going to take it. And so, as JH’s birthday passes, I decided that I am finally going to let go of the last two years. I can talk about the past still, but I will do so in peace without the demons wrapped around my shoulders (re: the picture I drew of myself in April). And as I write this, I am finally crying. Ah my f’d up head.
I do not know what this year will hold. I have no clue if I will try to kill myself again. I have no clue if depression is around the corner. I do know though that I feel positive about what could happen, and I hope that feeling stays that way. I haven’t felt this positive in a long time. I really really for the life of me hope these feelings stay.
And…now onto the Summer Berry Chocolate Birthday Cake for JH.
I am being a little bit more half-assed with recipes now, but there are talented food writers out there that just have it right. So, if there is an amazing cake recipe, I am just going to tell you where it is with my adaptations. The main components of JH’s birthday cake are as follows:
- Sweetapolita’s Chocolate Cake – Adaptation: I use three 9″ layer pans versus two 8″ pans for slightly thinner layers (and a seemingly taller cake).
- Serious Eats Flour Buttercream – Adaptation: I use whipping cream versus whole milk just to make it that much unhealthy.
- Chocolate Glaze – recipe below
- Garnish with Macarons – My basic macaron recipe (French method) is here. I usually bake these in advance and freeze them for months. I use raspberry jelly, nutella, or cocoa buttercream for fillings.
- Also garnish with berries – I used frozen golden and red raspberries, blueberries and strawberries to make the cake look like summer. I used old signage from my favourite vendor – Bash & Co.
Necessities & Fumblings
- 60 g dark chocolate
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- A pinch of cardamom and salt
- Thinly chop the dark chocolate; put aside into a heat-proof bowl.
- Heat up the white corn syrup with the whipping cream and seasonings.
- Do not allow the mixture to boil. Once you see a bit of steam and bubbles, instantly pour the hot mixture over the chocolate.
- Allow the mixture to settle for a minute or so before stirring. The mixture should be smooth and shiny.
- Put the mixture into the fridge for about 12 minutes.
- After 12 minutes, stir the mixture, and working along the entire outside of the cake, drip along the sides for the ‘drip effect’. Use an offset spatula to smooth the excess chocolate over the top until the sides and top are covered.
- Allow the glaze to set slightly before putting on garnish.