Reasons why people with manic depression are suited to the circus:

  1. because running away with the circus feels tempting
  2. because the sad face behind the clown’s make-up is a good metaphor
  3. because the trapeze is a fantastic metaphor – swinging to and fro, clinging on…

trapeze. Yes, the rumours are true, I am going to trapeze lessons. I booked the first when I was manic and running away with the circus was on my to-do list. It is a lot like childbirth, in that you wet yourself and you swing from ‘I-cannot-do-this-I’m-never-doing-this-again’ to ‘Please, I have to do it again, it’s my turn.’ You go pasty white and pant because otherwise you forget to breathe. Breathing isn’t automatic because jumping off a platform and doing something that causes searing pain (on a level with quite advanced labour, only it doesn’t come and go) is somewhat counterintuitive so you have to switch off all instinctive behaviour.) And I shout ‘fuck, sorry, fuck’ quite a lot. Very much like childbirth. Between weekly lessons, purple splats appear on my skin where little threads inside me have torn. I am splitting at the seams. And I am right up against the child I was in school gym lessons. The humiliation. A dance teacher person mimicked me in front of the class because I’d scratched my bum. When it was my group’s turn to climb the ropes, I had to faff about for the whole ten minutes and try to look busy or invisible so that I didn’t look ridiculous trying to heave myself up. And now I don’t have to do this. I can choose not to go to gym lessons or dance lessons and no one expects me to climb ropes or jump over things. Now I choose to return to trapeze lessons at a circus where people all around me do things I thought had been bred out of humans evolutions ago. They are snakes, monkeys, birds, dancing very high up suspended by swathes of fabric hanging from the ceiling. They twist and turn and tumble the fabric around their limbs. They are human macramé. And I swing from the trapeze with a pain in my pecs that says stop now! WTF! OMG! Perhaps I will go through a barrier. Soon.

Reasons why people with manic depression should go to trapeze lessons:

  1. It pushes your body with such physical force that it shunts the pieces in your head around.
  2. Whilst you are doing it, you cannot think. This is a relief.
  3. Afterwards, you find the shuttling of the pieces in your head has created room for new, clearer thinking.

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