I knew nothing

I thought I understood what was going on in Paul’s head during his manic breaks. But, really I knew nothing — and neither did his doctors. The more I read about this terrible mental disease, the more I realize how little is really known about it — even now. Even so, I tried to describe it in this poem.

Mania

Intoxicated, euphoric.
exhilarated, with visions
of power without bounds,
Paul is like Superman.
He climbs, he circles, he races,
floats above reality.

Then he sees demons lurking in alleyways,
imaginary Mafiosi
poisoning his drinks and cigarettes
and the world’s water supply.
He is left to wander, pace,
click, re-click door latches as he goes in and out.
He babbles unintelligibly, imperceptibly.

The voices he hears echo like violins
ever louder, faster, discordant
until a cacophony of drumbeats
and a tintinnabulation
of scraping symbols
pound his brain.
There is no escape, no way out.

He looks for an exit
where only one exists.

(For a more informed perspective, read Marya Hornbacher’s book, Madness. She writes about mania from first hand experience, her own bipolar life.)

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