Hormonal Meltdowns and Brushes with Insanity Are Great Teachers
Though I said that I will be writing about creative visualization for the next four weeks, I not only missed a couple of weeks (I have been finishing my YA novel for a contest at the end of this month), but also I have to write about a topic more immediate and relevant to this past week’s events.
Namely, why hormonal meltdowns and brushes with insanity are such great teachers.
All the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.
– M. C. Richards
I have two days a month when I am certifiably psychotic; when I have the ability to interpret everything, every thought, and most interactions from the standpoint of a soft-bodied creature who has lost her shell. During those two days, I feel misunderstood, lonely, unloved, doomed, ugly, wrong, victimized, dark, insecure, jealous, and shitty simply because I’m feeling all of the above.
During those two days, I’d be wise to retreat to a cave and be alone till my storm passes.
Last week, the storm rolled through. And though this storm comes each month like clockwork, I was completely caught off guard. My husband Paul spotted it a mile away and told me so: “Janna, right now you are hormonal.” It should have been enough to at least soften the blow. But no. During those two days, I thrashed around, cried, yelled at Paul, broke a coffee mug that I really liked, and tried like hell not to let Oliver and Lucy see that their mommy was nuts.
Writing and meditating and yoga and walking–all of that wellness stuff that is so very useful and important and worthwhile and necessary–could not save me. It could not save me from the struggle. The truth is, there are times when nothing can save us. We must be in the middle of it all, in the middle of Life, getting soaked with rain and hammered with hail, and there’s not a damn bit of writing or breathing or bending we can do to hide from it all.
But the point is not to stay dry. The point is to get soaked and cold and still take up the pen or sit in zazen or stand in warrior–summon our courage and take up our power and keep living and learning. Because this is life, what we are living now, how we are feeling now, who we are now, in this moment.
All art requires courage. – Anne Tucker
I loathe these moments surrounded by my own darkness. But really, these are the moments when the ground is most fertile for pulling weeds and planting seeds. While the lighting strikes and the thunder booms, the ghosts of my past can be seen and dealt with in full potency.
It is within these moments that we find out what we are made of. No other time or mindset motivates me to change as much as my times of darkness. It makes sense–if everything is going smoothly, why make the effort to look deeply within?
When I’m in those moments of darkness, I sit down, take my power, and pick up my pen. I find my ground by beginning with the most basic of writing prompts: “I am….” I am mother to Oliver and Lucy, I am not my past, I am courageous, I am feeling like this feeling will never go away. I am sick of feeling insecure and small, I am that little tomboy with a Dorothy Hamil haircut and too many cowlicks. I am evolving and growing.
As I write, I am able to get deeper into the feeling, into its source. My writing becomes a realization: I am feeling the way I felt when I was twelve years old, feeling so separate and ashamed of myself. This feeling isn’t the truth about me. This feeling comes from a past from which I have grown.
The thing is, when we take the time to sit and dig, when we summon the courage to look at the ugly parts of ourselves and ask questions like, “Where did this come from?” and “Why am I feeling this way?” we will eventually hit a bedrock of truth.
And it is for this truth that we write.
Hormonal meltdowns and brushes with insanity are great teachers. They teach us about survival. They teach us about our own resilience. And they teach us that we are ever-unfolding, ever-evolving. And while writing does not make the hurt and confusion and inward thrashing go away, it is a rock to hold onto in the midst of it all. It is a means through which to weather the storms and peek into the deepest parts of ourselves.
As they always do, the clouds dissipated and blew away. When the storm receded, I took my up pen and gave a holy thanks for a blue-sky mind. Till next month around the 20th when I have yet another hormonal meltdown and brush with insanity.
With my pen held high, I say, “Bring it on.”