Today, I climbed Slemish Mountain. It was such a beautiful day. As I ascended I remembered the last time I had visited Slemish – it was in mid-Summer when I was in a hypomanic phase. Such a difference experience. Today, mania seemed like a distant memory.
When I got home I penned this short poem to try and articulate my feelings on returning to a place that held for me ‘a memory of mania’.
A Memory of Mania
Returning to Slemish Mountain,
Steeped in folklore and limitless memories,
This dark brooding volcanic rock is a reminder,
A memory of mania.
The cold winter’s day
in stark contrast to my last visit.
With summer in full swing,
warm breeze and lazy clouds abounding.
Luscious green grass.
Then – my perception was hazy, mind racing.
Incoherent and irritable.
Reaching the summit quickly was the goal.
To hell with absorbing the atmosphere,
not to mention the view.
Back then, there was too much to do,
plans to make and ideas to enact.
Time was short.
No pause for reflection allowed.
Climb the damn hill and get home.
Now, I take gulps of fresh clean Irish air,
stand back and observe.
The mountain has a life of its own,
Changing colour as the clouds obscure the sun.
As I climb, I caress the deathly cold dolerite
and meander through the heather.
The gradient is steep.
I am a part of this hill.
The well-worn paths familiar.
Pausing frequently to drink in the experience,
I ascend, slowly and deliberately.
The Antrim Plateau stretches out contentedly below,
Fields as far as the eye can see.
Serenity in familiarity.
The summit – exposed and windswept,
Bann Valley and the Antrim Hills to the north.
To the east, the Scottish coast is barely visible.
To the west, Lough Neagh and the Sperrin Mountains.
An inner calm.
I have come such a long way.
My mind now inhabits a different place,
mania but a memory.
Such remembrance is potent and raw.
I never wish to revisit it.
I want desperately to have moved on.
Mania but a memory?
Sadly, I cannot tell.