Bipolar 2 From Inside and Out

A Grain of Salt

This week has been pretty bad. I tried to poke my nose out from under the rock where I’ve been hiding from the world.

Bad idea. I was instantly overwhelmed by the crazy-stupid-crazy of various sorts that has been sucking up all the oxygen lately. Read James Thurber’s story “The Box.” I was safe in the box and then I tried to come out.

Mistake. The sheer volume of malignant idiocy in the world seemed to have increased exponentially in the intervening week. I tried to stay away from it, refused to dip my smallest nerveless toe into Facebook threads on topics I have strong opinions about. A friend called to see whether I was okay, and I had a mini-meltdown.

I really thought my brain was going to break again.

It wasn’t just the relentless assault from the outside, though that was more than plenty.

I also had internal stress. My work. My difficulty forcing myself to do it. My exhaustion once I had done it. My total lack of spoons, even plastic ones.

The friend who called suggested a day off, comfort food, a book, cats. All good suggestions, and I tried them all.

The problem was, when I shut off all that other noise, memories began haunting me. Ones from years ago that I’ve never been able to suppress completely. From a time in my life when my psychiatric problems were undiagnosed and untreated, my body began to be plagued with conditions I still live with, my self-esteem was nonexistent, and my soul was being sucked dry by a person who might have helped, but made all of those things worse.

Today is still rough, but I had one good memory return. My husband bought a watermelon and I sprinkled a piece with salt.

This was a thing that my family used to do in the summertime – sit at the backyard picnic table and eat watermelon lightly sprinkled with salt. (And of course compete to spit seeds the farthest.)

The combination of salt and sweet is a trend among foodies these days, with the new sensation, salted caramel. Believe me, we were not foodies. Served with the watermelon were home-made popsicles made from Kool-Aid in Tupperware molds.

But for me, watermelon with just a touch of salt was one of the hallmarks of summer that I have not experienced in years. It was right up there with going barefoot and climbing trees.

My husband tried the melon with salt, but it didn’t do the same for him. It’s not one of his childhood pleasures, and he hates to add salt to anything, even popcorn. But at least he tried it, and listened to my story.

Mostly when a memory leaps suddenly into my mind, it’s the haunting kind. But every once in a while, I get salted watermelon. And I am grateful.

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