Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Feeling very good .. is it real?

This is one of the continued frustrations of someone who suffers mood swings. What is normal? Is my mood a function of brain chemistry, be it elation, depression, anxiety or plain old blah-ness. I find myself doubting my moods and I start wondering if it will last. Will it change back as fast as it became that way. This can happen over night for no particular reason. Mood swings, as in Bipolar Disorder, are not about something. This is a common misconception of the layman. They will say "What are you worried about?” or something equally meaningless to the sufferer. I guess friends and family mean well, but they probably won't get it. It is my goal to explain this issue in a way that outsider can understand. It's not like clinical depression. The symptoms are similar but the Bipolar person is rarely depressed about something when suffering a bipolar depression. The things that someone is depressed about may be a trigger of mood swings, but it is just a trigger. The mechanism of the mood swing is down to brain chemistry.

I became so good at controlling upwards mood swings that I was in danger of suppressing natural joy. This might a price that has to be paid but it is not good for the sufferer.

Recently my whole mood and outlook changed over night. I have no clue why it happened except that I had called the crisis team on the day before. I suspect that it made me realise that I was on my own. Subconsciously, I might have processed it over night. I'll never know, but I'll take it with both hands.

Since the epiphany, I have been a bit out of sorts. I have had a lot of the characteristics of hypomania. I dash about from task to task, as if there is no time to lose. I think it is a common characteristic of most manias. At least that is my experience. I have pushed myself hard all day from waking at 2am to 4am. Straight on to the computer, getting coffee, and really buzzing. It is on and on and on, without a break. It was as though it would fall apart if I took a break. I have been chatting in excess of 15 hours a day and I have been awake much longer, 19 hours on one occasion. It is not surprising that I have been getting exhausted by early evening. My appetite has increased significantly. I feel like I need to constantly refuel myself. Thanks to my slimming world experience, I am making mostly good food choices. Monday was a slight blip. I went to the store on a mission to treat myself. I came back loaded with pizzas, bagels, croissants, bread rolls and some deli cooked meats. I went way over the top. I did freeze most of the stuff and I haven't been over indulging. I really enjoyed the half pepperoni pizza for lunch. I couldn't resist eating the rest cold in the evening. It was just one bad day and I drew a line under it.

Yesterday I tried to get ready for slimming world by cutting back on food. I think my need for fuel wasn't met and I crashed prematurely in the late afternoon. I had to cancel my plans to go to group. I laid down for a couple of hours in the early evening. I salvaged the rest of the evening and managed to stay up until about 10:30. I committed in the chat room not to go in next day until 6am. I did this by having a lie in after I woke up. I was a bit restless but I made it. I entered chat at 6:01am.

I have been pacing myself today. The day is going a lot better. If I find myself going fast, I try to rein it back a little. I left the chat room deliberately to take a break from the intensity.

I feel really good. People might say it is delusion. I have suffered from bouts of mania and hypomania. While similar, it is also very different. I am sleeping fairly normally and that doesn't happen in the manias. It feels like I have the good side of a hypomania. I get stuff done. I think clearly. Washing up rarely stays around for more than 5 minutes. I have been cooking at 100 mph. I have been doing most things at 100 mph. Each time I have suffered a mania, I have gained more insight. Each time I have handled it better. This might be the final result of that process. I certainly hope so. I would like to think I can maintain something of this state.

I hope I am not deluding myself. I have 27 years experience of being bipolar and I think that counts for something. I have a very good support system on-line and my friends will tell me off if I seem out of control. It is good that many of my recent friends have only known me like this. Preconceptions are not helpful when supporting a bipolar sufferer. Friends and family need to recognise the vast swings that can happen in personality. They need to go with the flow if possible. I don't claim that it is easy. I sometimes feel that other sufferers are the only ones who truly understand. Even psychiatrists react to the manic persona.


  1. My moods seem top be more swinging towards the low end mostly at the moment, so much so that when I have an "up" period I start to wonder if something is wrong.

    As Jim Morrison sang "I've been down so god damn long I forgot which way is up."

    Glad you have found some of the good stuff and I hope it lasts for you.

  2. I still get asked what I am depressed about when I am down. My mom still doesn't get it although, bless her, she does try. No one ever asks me if I am ok when I am manic though. Seems a bit odd to me.

  3. This was very good. You have goo writing skills and portrait things so well.

  4. Nice piece. I hate constantly having to analyze every feeling, wondering if it signals an oncoming mania or depression. There should never be such a thing as being too happy, but there is.

  5. Hey Clive! I understand your frustration. You start to feel good after being down for so want to just be able to take a breath and enjoy it. But you know the truth. Not only does that "feel good" moment often lead to out of control feelings from the mania but it just doesn't last. Before long you are right back to the depression. At least that's how it is for me. I really admire you for how you have been able to learn so much over the years and use it to manage your symptoms. I just hope that you are able to stay on somewhat of a level ground and use this time to your advantage.

  6. Interesting piece Clive. I tend to overanalyse my moods too and think "what has triggered this mood", I still forget it can just be chemistry sometimes. I tend more to low moods and my high moods aren't as pronounced as manic episodes but I can identify with what you go through to a certain extent. You seem to be doing really well and have clearly got a good online support system. Keep it up xx

  7. First things first, Clive... Just the fact that you're AWARE of any change in your moods and can assess those changes in a rational & logical manner is quite a feat and I couldn't be happier for you - THAT ALONE speaks volumes about your progress. So KUDOS for that!

    My dear friend, if you are feeling good and productive and it's making you happy, then I say embrace it REGARDLESS of where it's originating from. I know ALL TOO WELL how fleeting those moments can be - and try not to muddy them with worry about why they're happening. You ask yourself if your happiness is real, Clive? If you feel it, it's real. Some people get happy over candy bars - I, personally, do not. That doesn't make THEIR happiness any less real, does it? Of course not.

    We have come to grips with the fact that we are, by nature, unbalanced... it is our cross to bear. All we can do is ride the waves, splashing around & enjoying it when the seas are calm; treading water, hanging on for dear life when the water is stormy. Either way, you know that the tides are bound to change, so enjoy the moments of bliss when they present themselves.

    I can't say enough about how much I relate to how you're feeling right now, dear friend. I could go on and on with a diatribe that would make a Palin speech seem tolerable. LOL Instead, I'll give you this link to a piece that I wrote about MY moods... not at all for the purpose of self-promotion - rather, just to let you know, unequivocably, that you are NOT alone. (And as long as I have MY way, you never will be.) Here's the piece:

    And just one more thing, Clive: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your raw honesty in bringing your thoughts to the table for everyone to see. It's men like you that are bashing the hell out of stigma, and for that; I adore you. xoxox


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