Torpor and Acedia 


There’s a great story about Robert Pinosh, a man who left his copywriting job for Hollywood, and crafted one letter that changed the whole of his life. In it he wrote about his love of words, a must for a writer. Words are the only medium that matters to those who write; it is an exhausting, but never exhaustive pursuit to reveal something never before described, to help connect the concept with the reality, and to shape the attenuating emotions, largely because one’s own life seems to be nothing but chaos. Life is indifferent to words, but we writers refuse to be spurned in our advances. We are ever vigilant, ever optimistic, ever hopeful that one day we will be understood. 

Every person with bipolar disorder (BD) is different. I cycle rapidly, even while on meds. It is getting better–though that can be hard to believe sometimes, especially in the midst of a dramatic cycle–but dearly beloved BD is draining. There are times when my skin is on fire from itchiness, my head is filled with noise, and I feel so zapped of energy that making it from the bed to the bathroom takes several hours, a vast majority of that time being spent convincing myself that I can get up.

Torpor. 

That’s the word, bird. Because most often writers use the word torpor to creat a contrast. Torpor is a deep apathy, an overwhelming lethargy. Torpor describes a being who is bereft. Torpor makes the opposite highs–exuberance, perhaps?–that much more dizzying; torpor defines the reified air that accompanies the precipice. Torpor. While Pinosh does not use the word in his missive, I like to imagine that if he were alive and deigned to read my scribblings, he would smile at the mention of torpor. Words elicit reactions. That is their ontology. 

And I would smile because it is such a perfect word for where I am right now. For those who know me, it can sometimes be difficult to discern if I am manic or not because I am naturally a passionate and upbeat person. The price, though, are these periods of excruciating madness. Or feeling my body disconnected from my mind, which in turn is impacted by the capricious, arbitrary secretions of my brain. I feel myself a meat bag filled with chemicals brewed in God’s laboratory.   

I have lifted up the tent flap of the big top so that you may peek; the three rings of my mind circus each have a featured attraction. Torpor and acedia are center ring right now. Their’s is a long love affair, a fickle romance that is devoid of commitment to anything except the void. A sucking darkness, dementors of one’s own demented delusions, removes all the joy from the room when they are in center ring. They will show you the where and when of your most vulnerable underbelly, poking disinterestedly but insistently, wearing away any armor or defense until you have a choice: continue to blister, or build up a callous. 

Torpor and acedia: Fickle in their felicity.    

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