Photograph: Rui Gaudêncio
Nurse Margarida can tell, just by looking at Catarina´s house from the outside, whether she is “up” or “down”. The confirmation lies inside. Everything is sparkling clean this time. She is watering the few plants that have survived the darkness of a month where she “practically was not alive.”
Catarina keeps her old diagnosis inside a soup tureen: a faded handwritten piece of paper reads “bipolar disorder”. Where she lives, in the village of Campinho (in the South of Portugal), no one can understand her and the strolls she sometimes takes at dawn. They think she is strange even when she does the most normal of things, like when she asked to borrow a bicycle to go for a ride. She only feels at ease when these outsiders, a doctor and a nurse, come to check on her from the nearest city. The rest of the time she keeps to herself and her house.