Sometimes I find myself fixating on bipolar disorder to the point where I shut out everything else that matters in my life, i.e. paying attention to my kids, listening to my husband, or the most mundane of all: cleaning the decrepit house and paying bills.
Yesterday I was feeling “bipolared out”. I was online too much which gave me ample opportunity to notice how many other bipolar-themed blogs and Twitterers have hundreds or thousands of subscribers and sleek designs. I felt like a sack of beans next to them. (Comparisons really are odious.) Sure, I only started blogging regularly a couple months ago and I haven’t promoted myself properly, but still…I got caught up in the “Your bank account is way bigger than my bank account” syndrome. That kind of defeatist thinking won’t help out anyone, particularly myself.
I realized that I needed a little vacation from thinking about bipolar disorder. It didn’t need to be an elaborate trip. All it would require was my focusing on a separate time in my life when I didn’t even know what the word “bipolar” meant. Hell, the vacation I found myself reminiscing about occurred when “bipolar” was referred to as “manic depression”. (Yes, I’m dating myself! I’m turning 44 next month.)
I talk a good game about how there’s so much more to me than bipolar, but I don’t incorporate that philosophy into my days enough. Truth be told, sometimes I am still in disbelief that I have this damn metal illness and it has been over seven years since I was diagnosed. Talk about denial…but it’s understandable, isn’t it?
Anyway, after I decided to write about a non-mental-health subject, I felt a spark of excitement.
Last night I brainstormed about what to write about. I used my Kindle to do one of my favorite activities: search for recently published books about my favorite subjects. One topic I’ve enjoyed learning about, but that I hadn’t thought about for ages was New Zealand. Yes, New Zealand. The Maori word for it is Aotearoa, which means “Land of the Long White Cloud”. (I love that phrase!) I was introduced to New Zealand through music, namely via my favorite bands Split Enz and Crowded House. The founders of Split Enz (Phil Judd and Tim Finn) and one member of Crowded House (Neil Finn) hail from the North Island of New Zealand. Over the years as I listened to their music, I noticed how some of their songs featured New Zealand. They sang about the significance their country had upon themselves. I couldn’t help but become enraptured with this intriguing-sounding country that had such an impact upon my beloved musicians and their music.
I remember watching a riveting film, Jane Campion’s “The Piano”, in Santa Cruz during my college days. It was filmed in New Zealand and it won three Academy Awards A pivotal scene in that film took place on the imposing Kare Kare Beach. Little did I know I’d be walking along that same shoreline in the years to come.
When I turned twenty-four, I worked full-time as an office manager at a special event production company. I was in a troubled, passionless relationship and we broke up. I was long overdue due for a vacation, so soon after my break-up I took two weeks off. I used my brand-new credit card to travel solo to Australia for a week and then over to New Zealand the following week. I chose Australia because I had a pen pal in Melbourne who graciously offered her family home for my week’s long stay gratis. We had never met in person, but we had been corresponding for years. In New Zealand I would stay at youth hostels in Auckland and elsewhere around the North Island.
I was a little worried about the lengthy plane ride. The previous year I had an upsetting experience on a plane that flew from San Francisco to Kansas. I had panic attacks during heavy turbulence. Ironically, I had loved flying up to that point, so much so that I actually started attending ground school to get my pilot’s license. Because of the Kansas flight I wondered if I would be fit to fly the twelve hours from San Francisco to Melbourne. I didn’t ponder that too much, thankfully, and I packed my backpack to the hilt. Friends dropped me off at the airport, and I hopped on Polynesian Air. I had located a discount price for my round-trip ticket (this was hard to do in the pre-internet days!) but it was still incredibly expensive to fly. I threw caution to the wind, which was easy to do when using one’s very first credit card. Charging that amount of money didn’t quite seem real.
Well, the plane flight to Australia was stressful, but not in the way I had foreseen, i.e. bumpiness or mechanical failures. Oh no. There were several alarming problems that took place both during the flight and upon touchdown that I will cover in tomorrow’s post due to the fact that my computer is about to lose power. Until then, I wish you a bon voyage whether you are making a trip to your local Safeway or if you’re headed for exotic, distant shores!