Tomorrow I visit a new psychiatrist whose office is right around the corner from the apartment. (In case you’re tuning in for the first time, you should know that my bipolar disorder – first diagnosed in 1994 when I started claiming to those who would listen that I was Jesus come in the flesh a second time and was thereafter hospitalized twice, the second time for 13 days in Georgia Regional, where the average stay was seven – doesn’t do well when nobody is watching.)
So I have this new guy, Dr. F——- (to use the obnoxious Dostoevsky habit of writing only first initials of surnames so that you can never remember who committed what crime and you always have to refer to the first page where the author gives a one-sentence description of the seventy main characters)…Dr. F— is doing a 45-minute initial interview with me, hopefully to be followed in the days to come by a series of helpful and low-cost ($30 specialist co-pay, thank you very much Oxford Freedom Plan) appointments during which time Dr. F—– will aid me in taking my health to the next level, which shall surely involve winning the Tour de France while blindfolded and reading Shakespeare (I’ve already done it reading e.e. cummings), or perhaps it will involve simply avoiding these deep, molasses-dark depressions that once every few weeks threaten to keep me from working and cause me to drop into an existential sinkhole.
The Lovely K occasionally reminds me of the other side – the manic side – where once I was quite tempted to ask my previous NY doc, Dr. S—-, whether I could work part-time as his filing clerk. Where I get these notions, I haven’t the foggiest. Fortunately, the manic thoughts usually involve the more harmless things in life such as menial labor and routine office supplies and do not tend toward scaling large steel structures over fast-moving bodies of water.
So I am not sure what to expect from Dr. F——. What I do know is that with my $30 specialist co-pay for instance, and with the power of the World Wide Web that Al Gore so kindly invented for us all, I can surf the Oxford site and find some 47 psychiatrists within ten blocks of West 84th Street.
At the moment, I’m in a punchy mood. Not manic. Not heady. But a little too stressed about a big week at work and a meeting I am chairing that I want to go very, very well. It is a good punchy, because it is the kind of mood in which I can still enjoy other people – such as a work buddy I had lunch with and especially my wife and children – and it sure as hell beats the other end of the spectrum, when my body yearns for punch, yearns for any emotion besides despair, when my mind tries to interpret its own pain and fails by necessity, as though the back tried to interpret and make sense of lower back pain as opposed to having the mind interpret lower back pain: the former simply cannot be done. No, instead, the mind folds in on itself and aches without remedy or hope for remedy, until one morning, or afternoon, or evening, you notice the sun or a cloud or a homeless man standing under some scaffolding shielding himself from the 38-degree January rain – he could be a con-man or he could be a pitiful soul - and you think, “Oh, there’s a world around me. I better get to it.”
And so you do.