You could plot it on a graph—the number of pages of writing increases exponentially when I’m hypomanic. I have decades of notebooks from which I could graph my moods, especially the bad episodes. The notebooks that are completely filled spell out periods of brief madness, pages covered in frantic, slanted, unselfconscious handwriting, expressing Big Thoughts and Great Ideas alongside the minutiae of life, more than you ever wanted to know.
Then, there are the times that I come across the notes from my stay in the crazy house. I forget. They’re in a binder, unlike everything else—and labeled “Filler Bunny.”
During the fits, there are multiple overlapping notebooks from the same period. From 1990 to 1998, one notebook. October 2000 to June 2001, three notebooks. I took out one notebook during March to June 2001 alone. Sometime in July, things cooled off, and back to the old pattern: June 2001 to October 2009, one notebook, never finished, just retired.
Every time I move from one apartment to another, or even my desk from one room to another, I sit on the floor, open a notebook or three or four and rediscover my past. The life that used to be. The person I am no longer. The worst episode spreads across a couple of years, several notebooks, and at least one planner. I have to piece them together like a puzzle to find out what went so terribly wrong.
The 2000 election kicked off a particularly long, nasty bout, a true scribbling episode in the finer tradition of crazy. That period features a mix of observations, quotes from books, journal entries, personal diary, delusions of writing, and pure babel. In later years, I endeavored to keep a separate diary, reserving the notebooks for notes and less nutty drivel.
In the beginning, when I started keeping a journal in high school, I began with a simple composition notebook, but now, I like snobby notebooks. Ugly notebooks offend my senses. And, I use fountain pens when the paper isn’t too thin. Unfortunately, lately the fountain pen ink overpowers even the pretentious notebooks. To be honest, my fountain pens are second-hand, and I can’t afford nice paper.
These days, I divide everything up into separate notebooks. Compartmentalize. Use a diary built for the purpose—well, sort of. My current journal is a 2014 Moleskine Diary that also houses entries from 2015 and 2016. I don’t have much to say these days, which is probably a good sign. I started separating diary-type entries from journal-like notes in 2005, and have been using mainly Moleskines ever since. They’re neither ugly nor too fancy, but there is that bleed-through issue.
My latest endeavor is a bullet journal (yes, I’m a bit late to the party). It seems a perfect medium for indulging my graphomania in a healthy way while remaining productive and focused. And, the optional artsy crafty aspect can be therapeutic, though I mostly stick to pen and ink and gluing in graph paper when needed.
I’ve told my husband to burn it all when I die. I probably should have waited to say that until after I get a Leuchtturm1917.