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Change of State. Wednesday November 23, 2016

Today we are publishing the first of a series of 5 blogs written by Mary:

It never fails to surprise me, how physical is this mental condition we have.

I awake, stomach cramping; churning, and barely make it to the bathroom in time.

I huddle over the toilet, retching miserably; a miserable wretch, my last few meals racing through my mind as I try to think what could have disagreed with me so?

Will the rest of the family be affected? What if it is a stomach bug? Will the children need time off school?

I crawl back to bed, head pounding, shivering with cold, and still nauseous.

It is only after three days of constant sickness and headaches that the penny drops: I am coming out of mania and into the depressive part of my cycle. These symptoms are effectively the withdrawal pains.

This is the third time it's happened. The first time the nausea worried me. I hadn't felt that ill since being pregnant with my children. I even took a pregnancy test – just to be sure: a late life baby was not something I wanted to deal with!

Now – well, it gives me time to prepare, to warn people what's coming. I can look at my diary and make sure I have scheduled only one thing a day for the next few weeks.

The next thing is the exhaustion.

I'm not aware of it first thing. I get out of bed and if I wobble on the way to the shower, then that's just because I haven't quite got my body into gear yet. It's only when my legs start to shake halfway through washing my hair that I realise that this is not going to be a good day.

I can make breakfast for the children, but walking them to the bus stop is an impossibility.

The day becomes punctuated with rest stops and naps. They call depression an invisible illness. Not for me. My face is pale and strained and I walk carefully as though drunk. "Go to bed, Mummy/Darling," is repeated like a mantra throughout the house at various points of the day.

"Do I really look that bad?" I ask. But I can see in the mirror that I do. Even photographs show a pale face without life or vitality.

Somehow I will perform the commitments I have scheduled. I know I can deliver a class, a lecture, that I can talk to a hundred people and they will suspect nothing – just so long as the adrenaline is there. When the clients have gone, when I step off stage, I can collapse. I do collapse.

Driving home is always a nightmare.

But you grit your teeth and get on with it, don't you? I love this job so much and want to stay professional.

And it will pass. I know that this will pass. It always has before; it will again.

Just hang on in there.

Just hang on.




A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Eva Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 7:06am

Hi Mary, I feel for you. I used to read your blogs and struggle to recall feeling that wobbly and ill with depression, but looking back more closely I have been there once during my darkest period and am dealing with this currently to a lesser degree. The fatigue is similar (but not as severe), coldy symptoms, exhaustion, lack of focus, feeling not right, but not enough to convince myself that going to the doctors is justified, plus they've told me time and time again that this grief thing takes time and to rest. I was doing quite well, but pushed a bit too far too fast (again), so I've got to retract now and wait for the energy to return. NOT frustrating or anything!

Look after yourself, do you read a lot when you are in this phase, seems like a good opportunity, that is what I have been filling my time with when too ill to paint.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 8:07am

Thank you Eva. Yes. Reading is a great blessing.

Salt Water Mum Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 8:12am

Dear Mary,

Thinking of you and anyone feeling like this today.

Yes, you're right, we do grit our teeth and get on with it - aren't we bloomin' amazing creatures?!

Amazing but fragile,

Take care of your lovely self,


Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 10:23am

Bless you!

Tutti Frutti Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 8:21am

Hi Mary
Thankfully I have never had to go through the nausea which sounds horrible for you, although my husband gets this when he is stressed. You say it is your first warning sign that you are switching from mania to depression. I know you have been seeing your team recently and taking meds I think. Are they able to use this early warning sign to adjust your meds so as to cope with the depression a little better. Even if it is too late this time it may be worth raising with them at some stage in case it could help in the future.

I really empathise on the exhaustion that comes with depression. I tend to fall asleep as soon as I sit down somewhere comfy. I have to be really careful about constantly setting alarm clocks so that I don't miss appointments.

Well done for keeping going on the work. If you are interested and committed to your work I think it can help boost your mood. Is there any way of making the journey a bit easier on yourself - a friend to drive you, a taxi, public transport if not in rush hour?

Sorry that I seem to be in practical fixing mode right now which may not be what you need at the moment. I am thinking of you and praying for you as you go through this low. As you say keep hanging on.

Love and hugs TF xoxo

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 10:28am

Thank you TF. As I have Tom living with me now I could ask him to drive me. Thank you for the suggestion.

Tutti Frutti Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 3:11pm

Mary Sorry that the other suggestion will obviously not work given what you've said below. It takes me a bit longer to move from one state to the other. Unfortunately one size does not fit all here. Love TF x

Hopeful One Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 8:40am

Hi Mary- I did not realise that the shift form mania to depression could be so sudden. It must be horrible to experience those symptoms during this stage. I thought meds would smooth shift but apparently not so?

Any way I hope this offering makes it bearable.

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He descends to a lower height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised my friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don't know where I am." The man below says, "Yes. You are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above this field. You are between 40 and 42 degrees North latitude, and between 58 and 60 degrees West longitude." "You must be an engineer," says the balloonist. "I am," replies the man. "How did you know?" "Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost." The man below says, "You must be a manager." "I am," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?" "Well," says the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you are going. You have made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are in the exact same position you were in before we met, but now it is somehow my fault."

Sophie Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 9:47am

hahaha oh how very true! Funny yet alarmingly accurate!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 10:34am

Dear HO, the shift happens within 24 hours. So by the time the sickness hits - it's too late and the antidepressants take about 10 days to kick in. Even then, they merely take the edge off it; they don't restore normality. Great home today, thank you.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 10:38am

That was joke not home. Typing from the sofa on my phone which has auto correct. Autoerror more like!

Sally Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 8:40am

Been there. Four days of constant sickness led to my husband calling out the doctor in case it was "serious". I had in fact already "self diagnosed " as the physical side of what you describe. Isn't it funny, though, how little we connect what is going on in the HEAD with what transpires in the BODY as a result?!
Thank you ,Mary , for a clear description and helpful summing up of what it is like, and what you personally do about it. You are one brave woman, believe you me!!
All the very best to you and your family. Feel the love, as they say, only this is genuine, from me to you!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 10:39am

Thank you Sally. I appreciate it.

Michael Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 9:06am

I've just had a six week period of waking up feeling like I've been beaten with a baseball bat. The day consists of backache, stiffness maybe a migraine. In the last week ALL of the physical stuff has vanished into thin air and I'm back to feeling depressed with episodes of anxiety. Sometimes I'm lucky and get a day off in the changeover period.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 10:40am

Oh Michael, that *does* sound from. Sending you a gentle hug and support.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 12:01pm

Grim. Not from. Autoerror again.

Michael Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 1:57pm

Thanks Mary. I thought your blog was important and should be acknowledged.

Sophie Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 9:32am

Hi Mary, though I don't have manic episodes I do suffer with depression and anxiety and much of what you have written is very easy for me to relate to. In particular, the last part. We want to keep our job, remain a 'normal' part of society, and the hanging on....oh lordy I certainly have been doing a lot of that recently! But yes you are absolutely right, it will pass, we just have to wait it out with as much self care as we need to get us through. Hope today is a better day for those who have been struggling x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 10:42am

Indeed Sophie. This morning I have done the grocery shopping. Now it's time for a nap. With no guilt.

Leah Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 11:07am

As you know I have always admired and envied you for your ability to write even when depressed. I can realte to your explanation of exhaustion but I find it hard getting other people to believe me. Today I nearly fell asleep at the checkout!
Big hugs to veryone who is struggling at the moment. Thanks Mary.

Dragonfly Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 1:02pm

Hi Leah, I find the dragging tiredness a struggle too - I sometimes feel I could sleep for England! I've finally got an appointment at a fatigue clinic soon (after waiting since March) and I'm hoping this different approach by my GP might, just might, be of some help x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 11:08pm

Big hugs back to you Leah. I slept most of today on the sofa. So glad I had nothing in the diary for today apart from the grocery shopping - just doing that totally exhausted me!

Eva Thu, Nov 24th 2016 @ 6:44am

Hi Dragonfly, I'd love to hear how the fatigue clinic is, if you think it's appropriate, maybe you could blog about the basic principles of your visit? No pressure though.

g Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 2:21pm

Dear Mary , first of all , even before thanking you for this blog , I have to apologise .I thought that I knew it all. I have actually decided to stop reading moodscope blog because it takes too much of my time and seems really addictive. Little did I know that I was very high hence had engaged with most comments on daily bases for a while on top of my busy schedule - exhausting . I am bipolar I . I do suffer from highs and lows . If I was not in control I would be in and out of hospital. I have managed my condition for a number of years now quite successfully . I have a number of other complaints too and I do blame bipolar medication that I took over the years for some of them but I would never in a million years connect my morning "hangovers" with change of mood . Rather thought that my mood changed due to my physical symptoms. Thank you so much for standing it on its head . How enlightening to have a different perspective ! I do not take any medication for quite some time. Even stopped taking paracetamol and ibuprofen which were like my sweeties in the past . I used to take much stronger painkillers and meds specific for migraines and all kinds of other unbearable pains seemingly without a cause. I have put hangover in brackets because this is what I called my symptoms . Hangover in the morning , sometimes caring on for the whole day or even a few days without touching any alcohol on these occasions. Obviously my GP did not believe me and probably suspected me to be an under cover alcoholic. I do like wine with dinner and an occasional drink but the times that I was puking from taking in too much alcohol are long gone - really long. I call it hangover because it feels the same. GP said that nobody complained of it other than me so why when after another bout when ambulance was called to attend to my wretchings - not my idea , just called wrong number for help , never again - 111 - I believe when a person on the other end of the line tried to talk me into having a heart attack . I knew I was not having one but informed her that I probably would soon after talking to her ant longer , still , she had sent one , and they did find something the matter with my heart but nothing urgent , actually to the point that to this day , approximately a year later , nothing can be found ( the ambulance team do not send anything to GP so nobody knows what they suspected ) .. but I digress .. coming back to my non-alkoholic hangover I decided to ask google and surprise, surprise lots of people have this experience. What helps a lot - result of reading lots of stories of experiences , suggestions - is sleeping on lots and lots of pillows ( I had started almost upright ) and a complete overhaul of my diet . It may not do it for you Mary but if somebody suffers from reflux as well it definitely will . I did spend all day in bed yesterday and cried a lot when my husband came home , clicked instantly and just cuddled me . My insight was so poor that he had to tell me that I fell into depression.
After a long time I could only cry . I had no desire to talk at all . And he stayed with me and he held me. It was a life saver for me. It stopped me going down this treacherous spiral .

Michael Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 4:22pm

Yes, I also refer to "waking up have been batten with a baseball bat" a hangover (no alcohol involved)..brain fog, thick head , dull mental processes. Mental and physical pain apparently use the same pathways.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 10:54pm

Oh g, I am so glad to have helped at least one person to understand a bit more. Maybe it is because I spent so long with my depressive periods being diagnosed as everything under the sun *except* depression. How lovely that your husband is able to just hold you and be with you when you are in this state. That is a great gift. My son Tom can do this for me, my dearly loved husband is better at supporting me practically by making sure I rest. We need both types of support - and I know that many of us sadly have neither.

Jul Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 2:25pm

Hello Mary. I don't have the extreme physical symptoms you describe when your mania ends and your depressive period starts. This may be because I am not bipolar. It must be a chemical change in your body which heralds the end of the mania and the start of the depression. I do experience physical symptoms born out of sheer fatigue but none so dramatic as yours. I know you and other bi polar sufferers have written about stabilising drugs specifically for bi polar and many are on them very successfully I gather. Anti depressants are prescribed for those who are depressed all the time and not for bi polar as I understand it. I look forward to reading your blogs to follow. I hope you feel a little better today? Jul xx

Tutti Frutti Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 5:56pm

Jul Although mood stabilisers are the main medication for bipolar we do sometimes have to have antidepressants or antipsychotics as well. TF x

Jul Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 8:23pm

Ah Ok. Thanks for this! I didn't know. That seems a lot of medication but if it works, that's great. Julxx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 10:58pm

At present Jul, I just have the anti depressants as in the past I have not felt the need to regulate the mania. After the last bout however, that may have to change. The trick with me is to come off the ADs the moment I click back into normal. As it is, I have a few days in the high nineties before they wear off - which is a bit scary. But - oh, how I need them in these dark times. They are just kicking in now and taking the edge off things, thank you.

Lexi Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 4:19pm

Hi Mary, this past Friday I lost a friend to suicide. He was my neighbor and comrade in our struggles with life. But he was also extremely good at hiding his pain. Now I am left feeling like I failed him, that I should have done more. I know when I myself am in the throes of a full blown depression I too hide myself from the world. But now I wonder, is that the best course of action? My friend was in desparate pain and could not/would not reach out. I am in pain because I did not reach out. I know how difficult it is to keep going. So do please hang on Mary. Please.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 11:02pm

Oh Lexi, I am so sorry. At times like this we always ask ourselves could we have done more? But - as you say - he was good at hiding his pain. In the past I have hidden away and I know that the pain get worse when you do hide away. The times I have been closest to suicide were the times nobody knew about. Now I am open and honest. It is hard for some people to cope with (my mother especially) but it does mean I get more support. And yes - although I'll be talking about the suicide temptation in the next few blogs, I will continue to hang on. As I said to Jul above, the Anti depressants have kicked in now and things are a bit more bearable.

The Gardener Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 6:05pm

Hello Mary - I've never, luckily had some extreme symptoms. But when it was finally discovered I was 'manic' I knew nothing except for the clanging of bells - my ambulance charging to Westminster hospital in the rush hour. I was helping at an exhibition, and the rising panic of mania lead to hyperventilation. I was sent home and fed Mogadon for a week. Now I wake each morning to a litany of misery from the next bed. There are parallels with extreme depression because I have to keep my temper, think of all that has to be done, and try to present a 'front' to the outside world - which I so well remember doing when depressed, especially 'hiding' the situation from the children. Awful for you, Lexi - the 'who'd have thought it' happens too often with those who are so good at hiding the real situation

Mary Wednesday Wed, Nov 23rd 2016 @ 11:07pm

Indeed. I remember thinking, as I wrote this, that at least I know that I will come out of this misery again, and of you who are in a far worse position. I am sending warm thoughts to you. I know we share the comfort of faith and a love of music - these things are very precious. I always look forward to your comments - they are like jewels or the flash of iridescent bird wings - you paint such a vivid picture with just a few words.

Nicco Sat, Nov 26th 2016 @ 4:46pm

Oh Mary! Yes, for me one one of the worst things is the nausea. I, too, used to think it was a stomach bug. I remember when in my teens retching over the sink every morning before school and my mother getting cross with me. I still hear her words..."Oh, you're not like that again are you?" (tutting and sighing). Later on in life you'd think I'd be used to it but I don't think I'll ever get used to that dreadful sinking, churning feeling. I do manage to control a lot of it these days by cutting out wheat and dairy - it does help, but not always. Yes, I always used to grit my teeth and get on with it and I think that was my down fall - it certainly contributed to my huge relapse in 1997. I wasn't able to get out of bed for 3yrs and I'm petrified of ever going back there. Sometimes I even get fearful of the fear - I know that sounds weird. Thank you for helping me feel less alone and less of a 'freak'. Best Wishes to you, Nicco.

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