The idiom “between Scylla and Charybdis” has come to mean being forced to choose between two equally dangerous situations. In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite her counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow’s range of each other—so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass too close to Scylla and vice versa. For the purposes of bipolar disorder interpretations, Scylla has an acidic, raging, violent fury about her, akin to the worst of mania. In contrast, Charybdis, was simply a large whirlpool. Downward Spiral, end stop. No recourse. In bipolar disorder our choice is not simply between avoiding one monster or the other. It is between becoming one monster or the other. Between the two, is it any wonder that Odysseus chose mania over depression?
The thing about manic superpowers is that they are in part real. When I was loony tunes manic I didn’t make a lot of sense and was not productive. But when I was encroaching on it from hypomania I dazzled. Seductive. And very destructive to me, to those I love, and to my relationships.
Odysseus had to navigate between the two destructive forces — a ferocious six-headed sea monster and a downward spiraling maelstrom. If you read the Odyssey and work through the analogy there are similarities to navigating between mania and depression. [This is a reissued version of my first post. A reader referred me to a George Harrison song, which I felt was a useful addition and so added it to the end.]
I made this for a different post and didn’t use it, but I like it so I’m gonna hang it up here anyway.
I bought a hummingbird feeder recently. It warms my heart to give these little guys with the manic wings some sugar water and the chance to take a load off. I have fluttered my wings a million miles a minute, but to ill effect. So I chose a feeder where they can sit quietly, dipping their beaks into the syrup and resting for a while where they feel unthreatened. This reminds of the blurred speed in my manic episodes and the fact that the fastest way to induce a manic episode (in someone wired that way) is to seriously threaten them.