Bipolar disorder and cyclothymia
It’s my birthday today. I’m thirty one. What a lovely subject for me to write about on my birthday. Though, relevant, in the sense that everyone appears to have decided thirty one is the age at which they can stop sending cards, presents, money, and emails… I was pretty depressed this morning.
I suppose if I start labelling myself with various official medical conditions, my friends who read this blog are going to start labelling me as “weird” (or, rather, “even weirder” – a label that one or two people will stick with forever, unless I set up a Freaky Friday experience for them to prove I am not making stuff up).
It’s taken me a while to figure this out. I have always been prone to depression. I was a very depressed teenager. Something is always wrong for me. There have been a few periods during my life when things have been quite good. I used to think of these periods as being my “not depressed” state. But they’re not. Looking back on them, I was totally high.
I can pinpoint a few of those times. When I went on holiday to the states for six weeks, I was off-the-wall high for the whole time. It actually made me do quite a few irrational things. When I was in the states, my cousin was killed in a road traffic accident. I knew that as soon as I returned to the UK I would be hit with the worst depression in the world. So my behaviour was avoidance, I put off returning, missed the funeral, even stayed a couple of weeks longer than I had arranged to. When I got back to the UK, I was hit full force by one of the worst depressions of my life.
The next time I was really high was when I first got together with my partner. Then we had to move to Sheffield because of work, and it totally took the wind out of my sails. When my boss at the time decided he’d make me redundant to save money on his failing business, I dropped through the floor (to save face I have to point out here that he was taking out a £70,000 wage, but he thought saving my £17.500 grand wage would turn things around).
The next time was when I started Atkins. I lost loads of weight, became really confident, felt sexy, bought lots of fashionable clothes. I was high for six months. Then we moved to France and I went even higher. I became a completely different person. Most of my life I’ve had a problem being able to talk to people. When I moved to France, I couldn’t stop gabbling. It’s like my symptoms switched over from the quiet, dreamy symptom set, to the loud, hyperactive symptom set. At the time I thought I was well. I thought I was healthy and normal at last. Then I got really sick, and a few weeks later we came back to the UK. I deflated over the course of about a month. That was the point when my eczema came back. It’s taken me until now to realise that I was not healthy and normal, I was High As A Kite. I was manic.
It used to be that people called bipolar disorder “manic depression” and only really, really ill people had it, and they were put on drugs and locked up in mental hospitals. Now bipolar disorder is recognised as being fairly common, and not nearly as extreme. There is another word for it too – cyclothymia. It basically means mini-bipolar disorder. The extremes aren’t as extreme, but there are still swings in both directions.
I was high before Christmas. We went for a short break to London. During the time we were there, I ate a lot of amines in the form of sashimi. I was in a state of what I can only articulate as “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” the whole time.
Two people very closely related to me describe themselves as being “a bit bipolar” or “a bit manic.” They have both been on antidepressants, something I would never do, having seen what terrible things SSRIs can do to some people. I guess it runs in the family. It’s really strange, but the problem with having this stuff running in the family, is that everyone regards it as normal and never labels it as a condition. I’ve always thought it was normal to have asthma, eczema, depression, ear ache, fibromyalgia… There was a point where I stopped labelling myself as having fibromyalgia because my symptoms were so normal to me that I just started to put it down to getting old. I was in my twenties.
Fortunately something else that runs in the family is my mother’s overpowering Sensible Streak. She has always been sensible. She’s always taught my sister and I to be sensible. I am the most sensible person on the planet. I don’t get irrational about things most of the time. If people try to jolly me along, I hate it, because I feel patronised. I know already! Duh! I always talk myself back from the brink without any help. I don’t think crazy things, I don’t do crazy things.