When that happens to a manic-depressive when her bumps get wings and fly away? She becomes “exuberant,” the title of Kay Redfield Jamison’s book (“Exuberance: The Passion for Life“). This is the other face of depression, not mania. Jamison writes:
The infectious energies of exuberance that proclaim and disperse much of what is marvelous in life. Exuberance carries us places we would not otherwise go–across the savannah, to the moon, into the imagination–and if we ourselves are not so exuberant we will, caught up in the contagious joy of those who are, be inclined collectively to go yonder.
I think that’s why Eric has kept me around. My manic depression with all its power propelled our family into Dante’s inferno for more months than I care to remember, but the energy of its exuberance–which “spreads upward and outward, like pollen toted by dancing bees” says Jamison–reaps its own kind of delight and bestows life with a well-deserved meaning and adventure in a way boredom (and mental stability) can’t.
Here’s where God knows my life better than I do: Just as I begin to contemplate my precious pearl produced in the gritty irritation of an oyster’s shell–just as I begin to gently turn around the face of my manic depression so I can touch the smooth side (without acne)–and pull out the copy of “Exuberance” that my guardian angel Ann sent to me over two years ago but told me to hold off on reading until I got well, I read her inscription to me on the first page:
Therese, somehow you seem to reflect the essence of this book and I haven’t even read it yet. –Ann, Amtrak, April 15, 2005
That April day was a few weeks before my laughter up and left me with no note of explanation, back when humor came so naturally (we cracked each other up the entire three-hour train ride), when I took it for granted like so many other things in my life.
But I’m glad to know that exuberance was always there–with my depression–just hiding underneath the bumps.