You wake up. A cough, need to go to the bathroom, a sound outside.

There is a brief second, maybe an 1/8 of a second when you can stay in zzz mode and fall back asleep.

Unless you are someone with a roaring mind. The moment passes and your brain clicks on.

“Oh hello there!” Should we think about all your to-do’s for tomorrow? Should we review everything you did wrong today? Should we meal plan? Check the schedule? Send an email? Peruse Instagram? Play a word app? Agonize? Agitate? Try to fall back asleep? Fail and get back on the phone? Stretch? Switch rooms? Be exhausted tomorrow?


See you tomorrow at 3am!

Imagine a peaceful place.

The smell of salty water and coconut-scented sunscreen. The feel of grainy sand clinging to oily skin. Buried toes, getting softer. Better than a pedicure. The warmth of a bright sun shining down. (I hope I’m not burning.) The cold big waves crashing. …

I’m not working with a full deck. Some cards are missing. No game is possible without a full deck.

What’s left?

A 4 of diamonds feels important but can’t do much.

An Ace in the hole — could be the best, or the worst.

A 6 or 7 or even 9 are middle of the pack. Not the bottom but always require a second hit.

A Jack may not be that bad. At least it’s a face card. At least it’s in a uniform and wields a weapon. At least it might get you somewhere.

It’s dark. In my head. Alarm goes off. Peel out of bed regretfully. Getting dressed is a dread. Skip breakfast. Get in the car.

Alone. Or maybe other people are there. But still alone. In my head. Music to escape. The only escape. Not a real one but an imaginary…

Sitting in the fields, flying kites

Talking about self and society

Imagining, designing what the world could be.

Long bus rides round the curves,

Heart rate slows, shoulders drop,

Can finally breathe.

Feeling loved and seen,

Laughing and roaming through town,

Trying to fill the vessel with a being inside.

The people — all interesting, interesting. Interested too?

The questions and discoveries,

Car rides, radio, cups of coffee, iced tea, and water.

You cut my heart short; I needed to start over.

Sisters with older brothers, shared names and stories, from beginning to end.

Life moves on, new cycles and adventures.

But the wild fields will always be there.

“People say I’m the life of the party

Because I tell a joke or two

Although I might be laughing loud and hearty

Deep inside I’m blue

So take a good look at my face

You’ll see my smile looks out of place

If you look closer, it’s easy to…

What’s worse?

I remember the older patients used to say friends and family hated the manic episodes more than the depression.

I was only 19, down in the deepest well of sorrow — my first — so I didn’t understand. How could excess joy be worse than pure darkness?


Perhaps you watch a sad movie or read a news article. Quite likely, you are scrolling Instagram and catch a glimpse of someone you used to know’s perfect life, and suddenly the fog sets in.

You push it away.

A couple days later, it happens again. But this time the…

Like millions of others, I grippingly read through Sally Rooney’s novel in about a week, terrified of saying goodbye to the characters, then reluctantly embarked on and swiftly finished the series in three days.

And now, a happily-married, fulfilled working mother of two, I find myself weeping for days on…

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

It was one of the many ingenious axioms calling from the colorful cards of Mary Engelbreit during an era when my friends and I thought playful stationary was the 20th century’s greatest invention.

Those six words meant nothing and everything to us, as 14-year-old…

Lindsay Stricke Bressman

Always in the process of recalibrating.

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