Thank God for this New Laughter...

I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear
~"Born" (Over the Rhine)

I'm laughing today. Not just at the moon. Not just at the night. Not just in some feeble attempt to convince myself that I'm happy. Today, I am truly laughing.

It's just... Something as small as laughter. Something as important as laughter. Something that I haven't fully experienced for a while. Something I'm afraid to allow myself to experience most of the time, because of what it usually means for me.

See, laughter often signifies a manic episode. I become hyper-active, bounce off the walls, fail to sleep (and sometimes eat), and laugh hysterically over stupid things; I'm invincible and uninhibited and I am literally unstoppable. And I'm often not aware of it. Oh, I know how I feel and I know how I'm acting, but it doesn't register.

It registers more clearly when I hit the intense irritability and anger, the almost paranoia over the feeling of spinning completely and wildly out of control, the panic attacks that make it impossible to breathe with stabbing knives in my heart, and the inability to stop laughing, even when it's wildly inappropriate to laugh.

During my last manic episode, I made a comment on Twitter about how the upside to a manic insomnia was the ability to go all night without sleeping and still feel charged and ready to go the next day. A friend replied with something to the effect of, "I think all moms should be manic."

No, Sweetheart, you really don't want that. Manic episodes are terrifying, and not just for me, but for everyone around me. Sure, I'm far more productive during those periods, but I'm also entirely unpredictable and irrational, and no child should ever have to deal with a mother like that. Happily, my mania is mild, my kids are in good hands, and I have the help I need to make sure we're all taken care of when necessary.

Still, because of this, laughter has become a bit of a warning signal for me. A symptom of something else that has incredibly ominous potential. And so, it's been a long time since I have been able to enjoy laughter this much.

But I do. Today, I do. This is a new laughter, a healing laughter. This is a laughter that overflows from hope and love.

Because I have found reasons for laughter. Reasons to believe that the pain of the past couple years might actually be closing and a new chapter in my life might actually be opening.

And this chapter might actually be full of real, honest, and non-mania-induced laughter.


twenty(or)something said...

Beautiful. Beautiful and wonderful and I'm so proud of you...your strength as you got through the darker times and your acknowledgement that you're healing. May life bring you more laughter. The good kind. Love you!

Deana said...

Manic episodes aren't anything to laugh about, you're right there. I used to be up nights on end doing mindless, almost insane things like scrubbing kitchen cabinets. I hated what it did to my family and my kids. I thank God that I no longer take medications but I do still get mild manic episodes on occasion. I fully understand that fear of laughter. Be glad in that you can tell the difference, it's a vital part of the healing process.