Thursday, 10 February 2011

Call me a radical .... if you like....

I am really tired hearing about the inevitability of mood swings, mania in particular. Even Kay Redfield Jamison, an eminent expert in bipolar disorder, talks as though the madness is inevitable. Maybe I am out there with Tim Wootton, but I don't believe it. I suffered my first full-blown mania in 1982. Granted, my manias have never been as severe as other sufferers but the disruption was just as bad. I can honestly say that each subsequent mania has been less severe than the previous one. I don't just take it when the hypomania clutches me. I work on it and I have developed coping mechanisms.

I may have flown off on a doomed mission to work in Singapore in 1996. It wasn't the impulsive manic flight of fancy like in previous manias. It was fairly well planned and considered, but just a little crazy. It was more about the frustration in my life and career at the time. The manic edge gave me the ability to convince some poor person to employ me unseen. I never actually met the poor person because he was out of the office in my brief stay at Citibank's Singapore offices. I behaved inappropriately in Singapore before I started work and I really burnt out. I wasn't at all welcome in the office and I jumped ship back to Los Angeles. I blew a lot of money on fancy hotels but that was the extent of my mania. The crash came in a miserable depression back in England. This was after another abortive job (acquired and started in Sacramento), a spell with my mother in law, and a flight to England without warning. The depth of the later depression far exceeded the heights of the mania.

My few manic periods since 1996 have been very mild. They may have gone beyond hypomania, but only marginally. My hypomanias have been milder too. I shudder to say controlled but I felt that in 2009 as I wrote my first book. I can't claim to have conjured up the hypomania but I didn't fight it and it facilitated the writing process. I came down on the day of the books publication, two and a half months after starting writing. That was my last real period of hypomania. I have become adept at spotting the upward mood swings and I can stop them in their tracks. The only regret is that I sometimes stop genuine good feelings. I feel as though I am getting past this as I gain insight.

I have just had 5 weeks of feeling great, with the odd blip due to over tiredness. It had tinges of hypomanic behaviour but it never crossed the line. I don't delude myself and I would admit it if I was wrong. I might be deluding myself that I have found some sort of Nirvana, but I will take it for what it is. I feel somewhat normal for the first time in years, maybe forever! I have worked hard for these 5 weeks as I think earlier blog posts demonstrate. I have documented the journey and I don't think any of it could be considered "crazy". I get moments of feeling guilty for feeling so good. I worry about being in the company of others who can't accept the difference. I certainly hope the Clive of recent months and years is not the real deal. I have been all shades of depressed, hypomania, anxious, but rarely happy, cheerful, contented... Choose your own word. I could worry for England and now I don't know what to worry about. I don't know what I worried about. Everything changed over night and I can't help worrying that I might revert the same way. I hope I have worked hard enough to give me a fighting chance.

I have been reading Tim Wootton's book Bipolar in Order in the last week or so. It is based on his theory of the Bipolar Advantage. When I read that book, I thought he was crazy. I think he is crazy but he admits it and he is happy being crazy. That is his basic premise. It is not the mania, depression, hallucinations and psychosis, it is the way we treat it as being really undesirable, to be stopped at all costs with pharmacology and maybe ect. Tim lives with his mood swings and delusions. He gives lecture tours. He seems very happy, happier than most people I know.

I hope I haven't rambled on too much. It just had to come out. I hope it makes sense. I really hate to re-read blogs that came out so naturally (without thought). Funny how my vocabulary improves when I am like this, maybe even my spelling.

As usual comments are much appreciated.



  1. Made a lot of sense to me, particaly the choosing your own world, which i keep doing even though others keep trying to change it or make me feel wrong.
    Enjoyed the read.

  2. As I have said to you before Clive my moods tend towards the depressive... but for some reason my depressive traits could be very easily attributed to manic symptoms. I over spend to try and cheer myself up and I often feel like running away from it all, pretty much the same way you describe about going to Singapore.

    I think you wrote this quite eloquently and I am the same, I very rarely read my posts back until after I publish them where I spot the 101 spelling mistakes and have to go back and correct them as I know I would get picked up on them by someone or other.

    Keep up the good work.

    All The Best

  3. I am a new reader, hello!

    I agree with you on several fronts. I'm working on myself to develop coping mechanisms and be more in tune with myself...that's actually a major reason for my blog. It helps me process to write things out, and the "out there" of the internet holds me to keep writing somehow.

    At this point in my journey to find a workable homeostasis, I feel that I need all of my current medications. I say that because being medicated has allowed me to be truly me. Therefore, I have the drive and focus to self analyze and grow. I hope to wean myself off of medications as I get older. I doubt I'll ever be fully off of them (sleep is a huge issue for me), but I do have the goal of using more alt ways of keeping myself in a good head-space.

    But this really resonated with me. The mantra of "stick on the medications no matter what" gets old, and feels...not right for me. But I hope if I keep analyzing, growing and trying new things, I will find the right mix.

    Great post. Thanks.


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