I was just thinking a bit ago, as I told Pat that something was "cool", that there are times my voice sounds like that of a 12- or 14-year-old. It's always been higher pitched, unless I've deliberately made it lower - as when I was working in radio or when I answered phones in the offices I've worked in. Once, when I was in my twenties and newly married, a commander of my Army husband's called the house. When I answered the phone, he asked if my father were home. As someone feeling rather grown-up as a newlywed, I was quite miffed at the time.
But it isn't just my voice that sounds young. There are times I still feel young. As if I were still 16 or 17.
Music can trigger all kinds of memories about different stages in my life. Not just because the music was popular when I was that age, either. Sure, music from the 1970s - especially disco - reminds me of junior high and high school to a large extent. But other songs from different eras, which I discovered at other ages, reminds me of the person I was when I was first hearing them for myself.
For instance, when my daughter was a toddler, some 27 years ago, we heard the song "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)" together for the first time. When I hear it now, I don't think of the 1940s as much as I think of the mid-1980s when I was a young twenty-something.
I know that I am more mature in my behavior than I was in my teens and twenties, but there is something in me - maybe in all people - that doesn't believe that I'm as old as I am. I think I should have the energy I had back then. I should be able to stay up late and get up early and be okay for an 18 hour day. But that's not the case now. More often than not, I'm in bed by 9:30 or 10:00 and sleeping in until 6:30 and hoping that's enough for the next 15 hours.
I make better decisions...based on research and reasoning...than I did in my teens and twenties. But the desire to be rash, to be impetuous, is still there.
Sometimes, I wonder how much of this just how everyone is. The immortal thinking we have as youngsters and young adults doesn't give way so easily as long as our bodies are working well. Knowing that the "spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" is a hard concession to time and age that I'm beginning to struggle with.
But sometimes, too, I wonder how much this dichotomy of feeling has to do with my bipolar. Sure, I'm ready for bed at an earlier time and I'm getting more sleep. But is it because my body needs it or my emotional well-being needs it? I've started taking my psychiatric meds earlier because they make me more able to sleep. By taking them earlier, I can get in a full 8-10 hours of sleep, which is what my mind needs to feel rested and not go to racing thoughts on a regular basis. It's what I need to avoid hypo/mania and the behavior that borders on immature. Definitely it can be impetuous and have some repercussions that come with impromptu, unconsidered decisions and expenditures.
That feeling of invincibility -- that I am impervious to pain, consequences, sickness -- happens when I am hypo/manic. I *can* go without sleep, I *can* be ultra creative, but not without the threat of a drop in emotions as I become exhausted both physically and mentally. Hypo/mania rarely ends up reverting to a balanced emotional state, but instead drops into a depressive state. It's as if all the good endorphins become depleted and I have to recuperate.
I'm sure that is true to some extent, though I haven't studied it myself.
And maybe that euphoric feeling - which I associate with being a teenager or a twenty-something -- triggers that sense of being younger than I am because when I was those ages, I was already bipolar, but not diagnosed. I used to go days and days with a few hours sleep and maybe catnaps during the day. Sometimes, I would go 48-72 hours without sleep. Wildly creative, talkative, impulsive, and sometimes even more productive. That was hypo/mania. Argumentative, agitated...that was often there, too.
Stability has been hard won. It's taken medication, new habits, an amazing support system, and a lot of effort on my own to curb my whims. I'm not always successful.
Whether it's because of maturity or just being tired of the rollercoaster of emotions, I try to stay on top of things now. And so far...so good.
But I'm still going to keep saying things are cool.