I knew I’d want to check in and reflect on this day, every year, and pay attention to how quickly time flew, how unpredictable change arrived, and how fleeting all of it was.

I didn’t mean for this to be a mid-year check-in. But I’ve been saving drafts on the blog and adding to them every few weeks… or months, more often. Then I looked at the date and it was the last week of June.

It was also the second anniversary of my diagnosis with Bipolar-II.

What a strange thing to track, I know. But on that first day, I knew it was one of those dates I’d want to remember obsessively since it had split my life into two: before the diagnosis and after it. I do the same thing for the anniversary of my arrival in Manila.

I knew I’d want to check in and reflect on this day, every year, and pay attention to how quickly time flew, how unpredictably change arrived, and how fleeting all of it was. I do not think about Manila in my ninth year on the same wavelength I did in my fifth. I do not think about my bipolar today in the same colors I did that first day.

How quickly time flew

The story of my shift goes this way: for the first six years of Manila, I lived with a demon that I came to call depression. That sixth year gave me the bravery to ask someone to confirm it, somebody who was allowed to call it that. He called it “unipolar depression,” and that was that until it wasn’t.

On the seventh year, he called it “bipolar depression” instead. Not that it was always bipolar before, my body simply changed. It adjusted with the treatment I was on, imperfectly so, and found other methods of reacting to the world around me and of coping with the fact that I was a faulty human being.

How unpredictably change arrived

A month ago, just shy of this ninth year, I heard that my body had changed again. It didn’t alter like before, it developed instead and grew extra limbs. Clumsy limbs that didn’t know how to be limbs, that hindered and never helped me. I was diagnosed with ADD.

Unlike the first diagnosis, which surprised nobody, and the second one, which produced more clarity than anything else, this new label took a month for me to process. I told so few people, struggled to call it by its name, and even thought about it as little as possible. It was hard just to think about. It was confusing and frustrating.

This entire week, as I once again felt my mind malfunction and my heart crawl under the blanket of escapism, the days forced me to face the symptoms for the first time.

How fleeting all of it was

ADD robs me of something I used to pride myself in: noticing, knowing, and recalling details. I used to remember the date I had met a person and what their exact first words to me were. Most often, I memorized their voice, its nuances, and the way they chose their words. I was arrogant about having a mind constantly at work.

I don’t have those anymore, not dependably. I forget entire days, I don’t remember my childhood very well, and I rely on trackers, calendars, pen-and-paper to-do lists like never before. Without those, memories slip. I get distracted while I’m talking and tune or blank out while others are. I miss entire words when I’m writing; it’s an achievement if I ever finish this post.

I forget, I forget, I forget—and that’s if I’m lucky to have noticed in the first place. Some days none of it seem to exist at all.

How I wish that I was lionhearted

I’m frequently unhappy with my condition but I’ve never resisted my other diagnoses. They were like demons whose names I knew and could therefore bind and banish. This one? I feel mostly defeated, hurt, and afraid. It doesn’t explain who I am and why I go through the things I do; it just makes me feel like a useless heavyweight who isn’t the helpful, promising girl I once was.

My life and its old depth has betrayed me and its old brilliance has left me.

It’s not a very rewarding way to spend my two-year anniversary check-in and, ironically, the worst thing to be forced to pay attention to.

But here it is, here I am, and—like extra limbs and the absence of a lion heart—it’s something that is now a part of who I am.

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