If you all read Jeff's blog, you know that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few weeks back. At the time, I was had just started taking a small dose of zoloft for depression, and it made me nuts...I was constantly bouncing from very high to very low, and thankfully, the psychiatrist had me stop taking it right away. Unfortunately, she wasn't comfortable prescribing a mood stabilizer (that's what's generally used to treat bipolar- lithium, depakote, etc) because I am breastfeeding. So while the pendulum is swinging less quickly post-zoloft- every few days instead of several times each day- it's still swinging, and with the year heading toward fall and shorter days, the lows are starting to get lower and longer, while the highs are disappearing completely.
Season is a big influence on when mania and depression manifest in me, although obviously not everyone with seasonal affective disorder should be diagnosed bipolar (you could, however, make a pretty strong argument that SAD is itself part of the bipolar "family"). Pregnancy wields a lot of influence, too- I wonder if a lot of the reason I have been so much "healthier" the past five years is because I have had very stable, mostly uncycling hormone levels thanks to pregnancy and lactation. Which begs the question- does that mean that when I am no longer breastfeeding I will rapidly lose ground to this illness? I doubt that the influence of hormones and lactational amenorrhea on bipolar women has been studied (heads up to any research psychiatrist or psychologist who wants to break ground!), but I think it's likely that they have therapeutic effects. I know that it has been found that buildup of hormones during late pregnancy makes bipolar women manic, and that it usually lasts 4-6 weeks after delivery (then we tank). Jeff's comment: no wonder you feel so good when you're pregnant! My response: yeah, and now that I know that, I don't think I like being pregnant as much as I used to...being in a good mood is a wonderful feeling. Knowing you're in a good mood because you're getting manic kind of kills it, at least for me.
I also think that if you go through my archives, you could probably get a decent idea of where my mood was at by the length of my posts. I don't have the energy to write as much when I'm down (right now I would characterize my mood as "headed down"...but not there yet).
Oh, hey, if anyone needs to get ahold of me, your best bet is to either email Jeff or call our house...I probably won't be checking for comments, and my response time for emails right now leaves much to be desired.