I have experienced several manic episodes over the years. I have had several periods of hypomania, where productivity increases for a while. The effects usually wear off or I drift into full blown mania. I have tried to learn from each experience, never taking anything for granted and never accepting that it can't be improved. Each mania was less severe than previous ones. Each hypomania was less severe than the previous ones. I wrote my first book in a state of hypomania. That started almost 2 years ago to the day. My life seems to have gone full circle. My mental state was valuable in my writing. While I felt in control, I was definitely in a state of hypomania and riding sort of tsunami. I was awake from 2 until 4am every day and most of the writing took place in that period. I was also blogging prolifically. It is 2 am as I write this!!
I woke up on January 5th feeling "normal" for the first time in months. "normal" is not a concept I understand, but it might be what I would like as my "normal". I seem to have woken from a waking nightmare of anxiety and worry. This may sound dramatic but I believe it. These past three weeks have been peppered with problems, sleep problems, hyper activity and a tendency to do too much for too long. It never felt like it was hypomania while it shared many of the traits. The edginess, the dashing around with no time to lose, the clear thinking and the feeling that there is no time to lose. My sleep has remained constant, even though it has been somewhat chaotic at times. I have gotten over tired at times due to doing too much.
I get to doubt my improved mood when I am very tired. This doubt has faded as I learnt that the mood dip was caused by tiredness. Once I accepted this, I have gone from strength to strength. The stream of negative thoughts has diminished to a trickle. They now come and go as the positive thoughts used to. I feel really calm and really at ease with myself. I was dreading the rest of my life when the New Year came. I can no longer see what that was all about. I can't see why I struggled to get out of bed every day, why I wanted to go back to bed as soon as possible, in short why I was an anxious mess.
Christmas came and went. I made the most of it but soon returned to my isolated existence and to my comfort zone. I cancelled a concert visit in May of 2010, a trip I had planned much earlier when I was more "normal". I was looking forward to my first concert in ages. The anxiety prevented me going and I was sad about that. I wasn't anxious about any aspect of doing it. I was just anxious. This is hard to explain to people, the same people who say "What are you depressed about?". They just don't get it and probably will never get it unless they suffer themselves.
I am reluctant to express these feelings. It might well sound like delusions of grandeur. Nothing could be further from the truth. Given my previous M.O. , I would have been long gone by now on a flight of fancy to somewhere a long way away. I am no longer nervous of having a passport and available funds. If I felt any danger of a problem, I would place my passport in safe keeping. I am thinking of travel in a way that anyone else would think about their next vacation. Last year I was terrified by the thought of travelling alone. I am amazed by the range of mood variations. It is not surprising that others are frightened by them. They are incredulous to me some times.
I feel great. I am nothing like the "Clive" that long term friends and family have experienced. That is too bad. I can't do the same thing to myself that lithium may have done for so long. I have to be who I am meant to be not the largely messed up Clive described in my autobiography. If people can't go with me, it is unfortunate but unavoidable. I have held myself back all my life because of everyone's expectations which became my expectations. It has taken me until near to my 61st birthday but I was always a slow learner, a late bloomer. Fortunately, my weight loss has given me the physical health to match my mental well being.
What next? Who knows? I am going to work hard on maintaining a sense of self. I am going to work on the second book I promised ages ago. I have found my focus. I know what I want to write and I know why.