Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The days pass

I've been struggling, ever since I posted last, with whether or not that last post should remain up or not. Not so much because I swore (I do, occasionally, and we have a rather liberal attitude toward "bad language" in our house), but because I was so open. I have trouble being vulnerable. But in the end, it remains up, and will remain up, because I decided if I can't be honest here, I'm in a whole heap of trouble.

I'm not angry all the time. Right now, I'm not angry at all, just anxious to get started with start getting better. Such is the dualistic nature of this disease, I guess. Daily doses of evening primrose oil (suggested by a friend) seem to be heading off my descent into depression for the time being, but I'm wondering if that is also the cause of the low-grade mania I seem to be dealing with on and off. But for now, I'll take the low-grade mania, even though it's only in fits and starts, because I know when I detour into full-blown depression I will slip from finding it difficult to get daily tasks done to feeling overwhelmed at the thought of having to make lunch. It's hard to describe what it's like to be completely paralyzed by contemplating simple, routine tasks- except to say that I dread it immensely, and while I love autumn, winter to me is a sinister season that sucks away everything I am and everything I love, until I'm left with only the memory of life and enjoyment.

But there is a silver lining, even now. Being aware of my cycling has helped me immensely in managing my emotions. It doesn't help me manage my moods, but that's where drugs come in, I guess. To explain what I mean, differentiating between moods and emotion: sadness is an emotion; depression is a mood. Fear is an emotion; anxiety is a mood. This may not be how a psychologist would categorize things, but it is aiding me, so I'm keeping it. A mood, for me, has emotional manifestations (crying while depressed, biting nails while anxious, talking fast while manic), but in itself, it is not an emotion, and it is not necessarily responsive to emotional triggers...petting a puppy probably won't make me happy while I'm depressed, nor will talking about our atrocious financial situation bring me down when I'm manic. The more I think about it, the odder it seems how completely disconnected my moods are from my emotions. And how disconnected my self-perception is from reality (or, if not reality, at least from others' perceptions...but if you tally up enough people's perceptions, and they agree on the whole, I think it's fairly safe to call the sum "reality"). I think part of the reason this diagnosis in general has been such a crushing blow to me is that I'm a type 4. For someone (in this case, a doctor) to tell me that my perception of reality has some serious flaws was basically telling me that I can't trust my perceptions. And if I can't trust my perceptions, what *can* I trust?

So I'm lucky beyond words to have Jeff. For now, I trust him more than I do myself. And thankfully, he trusts me enough to tell me when I'm full of it (like when I question the validity of my diagnosis). A lot of the time, he can see my mood shifting before I can...example: when I'm getting manic, I start to talk pretty fast. And interrupt people. And talk over them. And almost shout (which I don't realize I'm doing). I don't notice the change until I'm literally stuttering because my brain is running so far ahead of my mouth (which is struggling to keep up). He can hear the change in my speech way sooner than that. It sounds like a small thing, but with something like manic depression, even a small warning that a shift is coming can head off a minor (or not so minor) disaster. Oh, I'm getting manic? Perhaps I should postpone that shopping trip until my mood settles a bit (of course, once I *am* manic, convincing me to postpone *anything* can be a major undertaking...which is why I end up scrubbing the bathrooms down at 4 in the morning).

Small victories, but victories nonetheless. It's not all doom and gloom here...but there are definitely good days and bad.

Since I probably won't be posting again before Friday, happy birthday Michelle and Chico!

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