Blog Elle

Cosmic Re-entry Syndrome (Elle)

I’ve said before that for me, mania isn’t plain sailing. It’s a long time since I had a ‘pure’ manic episode characterized by elation and expansiveness and psychosis that reflects that and makes me feel like I’m in control of the universe….. These days when I go up and over it quickly becomes far spikier and more uncomfortable. Like an engine overheating causing engine parts to scrape and grind and rattle….

But the outcome is always the same. Change is the nature of the beast, and I’m never in any doubt that I’ll eventually come back down. The dizzying part of it all, though, is the actual getting back down. I call it cosmic re-entry syndrome, and it’s pretty painful. It starts with a feeling of dizziness or extreme vertigo – like you’d get with your toes curled over a cliff edge looking down into an abyss. Then there’s having to renegotiate my dimensions in the world – psychically speaking I have to go from being the size of the universe, to fitting back into my normal body again. It’s uncomfortable and disorientating. I have to go from a place of full psychic expansiveness, where only those racing thoughts have any reality, back to a world where physical stuff is equally important. I find myself blinking and trying to negotiate my place in an unfamiliar world. This lasts until I can catch hold of my old patterns again, and step back into them like a comfortable pair of old jeans.

On the way down I always pass through a giant cringe, too. A phase where I’m full of excruciating embarassment for whatever I’ve done when I’m high. This could simply be the realisation that I’ve done something pretty stupid when I’ve been dis-inhibited. But sometimes it’s a psychic thing – I’m embarassed that I thought for a while – in my insolence – that I was as important as the universe. A strong feeling of shame that my ego got so inflated…..

Cosmic reentry is – for me – the gradual and natural way back down from a high. But there’s always – of course – the risk of a crash. And this is a more painful way of coming back down. All of my significant depressed episodes have happened on the back of a manic episode that then turned into a crash. When it’s happened, the crash has happened quickly – over the course of a few hours. And I’ve bottomed out so suddenly and so completely that I’ve been left virtually unable to move for a few days while the worst of the psychomotor retardation kicks in. For me – the best way to avoid depressed episodes would be to make sure I don’t get too high. But something I’ve noticed in myself is this – I think it’s possible to actively ‘hold on’ to mania – to deliberately drive it and promote it and chase it and keep it going. It’s totally understandable why we would – the experience is so compelling that it’s no wonder that we’d keep the energy as high as we can, avoid the meds, stay awake all night, whatever it takes to keep fuelling the mania. But, in my experience, the more I do that, the more I keep driving the mania, the more likely I am to crash into depression rather than doing the cosmic reentry syndrome and settling back down to earth again.

This time round I did the cosmic re-entry syndrome. I’m needing a lot of comfort and rest now, because cosmic reentry shakes you up body and mind. I firefight a lot of mental health problems, and it’s hard to find some space to rest and recover from these episodes before having to deal with the next thing that comes along. I’ve travelled miles (light years) this past few months… And you just thought I’d been shouty and sweary for a few weeks!

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