I used to be lunatic from the gracious days.
I used to be woebegone and so restless nights.
My aching heart would bleed for you to see,
Oh, but now... – No More I Love Yous, Annie LennoxIt came upon me slowly, a faint shadow at the edge of my awareness. Over weeks, the shadow deepened and settled around me, a leaden pall that obscured all light. I woke each morning with the weight of it stifling every breath. It was summer but I felt as cold as death.I've made no secret of my disordered moods. When I was young, I self-medicated myself into a drowsy, depressive surrender but nothing – including trying to starve myself in between binging on pills, alcohol, and cocaine – quite did the trick. The swings between agitated highs and pit-dark lows became more frequent and precipitous when I got older. Prescription drugs and sporadic bouts of therapy enabled me to work and although I imposed on myself strict routines and disciplines – with an almost obsessive, monastic vigour – they were too new to withstand the battering when, often, my unruly psyche busted loose from my control. It sometimes took months to quell it again. The effort wore me out. It also affected my health. Already weakened by my insistence on working unencumbered and unprotected in the carcinogenic miasma of high-gloss enamel, my immune system gave up the ghost just before Christmas. I was able to muster neither the energy nor the inspiration to finish several new works. I'd been in bed for a week, crying, coughing and hearing odd voices when friends intervened. They convinced me that I should admit myself to in-patient care. My accountant organised the paperwork while my mother arranged transport and cleaners for my house. The one room in which I was holed up was about as fetid as a city dump.I have been in a clinic in Sydney for nearly a week, in a sparsely furnished but not unpleasant private room. I have a few books and some art materials. I can get a reasonable cappuccino from the café in the clinic's lobby. What more can I say? I'm resigned to the likelihood that the process of becoming well again might take some time.