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Getting Better. Saturday August 2, 2014

It's been quite odd for me, the last few weeks, to read the blogs on Moodscope that I sent to Moodscope some time ago.

You see, on 7th July, I came out of this particular depression.

It happens that way with me: flip, and within a space of twenty-four, or even eight hours I come out of it completely and it's as if that bad time had never been.

So reading the posts I had written while in the belly of the whale (because I think of my depression as a great grey leviathan which swallows me up whole on a regular basis) has been interesting.

I remember doing the Moodscope cards each morning was a huge effort because I had to work out just how scared or anxious or jittery I was. For instance, was I just feeling on edge (1); or did my children notice and comment that I was trembling as I hugged them goodbye in the morning (2); or was I shaking so much that I couldn't even pour out the breakfast coffee my husband had made for me (3)?

It's been so lovely for the past couple of weeks to put a zero for jittery without thinking about it, and just to debate (for a micro-second) whether enthusiastic gets a 2 or a 3!

Everyone tells you this, but it really is true: colours are brighter, the air is fresher, food tastes better and (for me this is fantastic) just one glass of wine tastes lovely and has enough of a buzz for me not to want another one and oops, another one after that.

This is a respite, not a healing: the whale is still out there and next time he swims round (in 2016 if past performance is anything to go by) little Mary will abruptly be slurped up like some kind of blue slush-puppy, yet again.

But oh, it's so nice to be well for the moment. Maybe we can appreciate the days when the darkness lifts all the more because we are intimately acquainted with that dark.

I wish for all of you too this energy, light and peace, and, if it is not with you now, at least the hope of it in the future.

Mary
A Moodscope member.


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Comments

GreenJean Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 8:06am

Hello Mary so pleased that the horrible whale has swum away Can so identiy with the feelings and emotions you express so appropriately and with the sudden-ness of the swing which is also like that for me. Take care of yourself not to overdo it now you are feeling better. your blogs are so helpful and once again so reassuring to know that we have friends out there in the Moodscope safe haven who can really understand. Bless you

Anonymous Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 8:45am

Hi Mary, everything you said really resonated with me. Today I'm feeling on top of the world but yesterday I was, as you say, in the belly of the whale. Just 24 hours ago I was holding a prescription for antidepressants and debating whether to collect them. This is all quite new to me so it's nice to know I'm not alone. Your words have given me comfort so thank you and stay strong :)

Julia Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 10:02am

Hi Mary
It amazes me how you can map with any certainty when your depressive episodes will next occur.Mine are so unpredictable. We are all so different in how we react to life. I am so pleased you are well and optimistic again. You will be able to enjoy your holiday on the beach but presumably you still have to be careful as per. the rules you and your therapist laid down? Or are you now so recovered that you can lead your life on a high knowing you are going to be on great form for the next year or so whatever you do? How wonderful (although it's probably more complex than this; I wish I understood bi polar. I am trying! and my buddy helps although I think even bi polar affects patients differently)

Tim Clayton Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 11:14am

A wonderful post. And even better news. What's struck me, over the months, is that you seem so lucid and verbally versatile even when depressed. There have been times when I could barely scribe a single word into a diary. (I always intended to flesh them out, but they make better testament as are). The ability to express, creatively, isn't just a partial antidote to the languor of depression, but a divinely inspired "human right", almost; perhaps the meaning of life, without getting too grandiose. I, too, identify clearly with the logic-switch sensation of a black mood descending or rising, usually without warning. It happened fastest like that in the early days (2003). It happened once while I was driving over a mini-roundabout! Those slumps lasted only a few hours, then a handful of days. Occasionally then a month. In time, after some years, they grew to three or six. Medication helped, but seemed to wear off. Psychodynamic therapy was probably the best aid, and happily carried on automatically for me when I was "left alone". Perversely, writing stuff down, the "scribal exorcism", had been shown an unnecessary dependency. Living lighter, in the present trivialities and mundanities, was what I needing weaning toward. And so it continues. Group Therapy (2013 to date) is very good: forcing you to see yourself how others, those mixed bag of all types, do. The whale belly allusion is neat. You often use biblical ones. I wonder how your thinking about "higher orders" fits together with all this, as. I have done. We cannot be but fodder.

Di Murphey Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 2:29pm

Dearest Mary,
I am in awe of your lightness and rich description of life for you. The belly of the whale vs. appreciating that place when you are no longer in it with peace and light is particularly meaningful to my own craziness.

I, too, am curious as to how you can chart your next "whale experience." When and if you choose to answer is fine. Be well.

Warmest regards,
Di Murphey

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 4:19pm

Hello Di and Tim. Firstly, thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this post; I really do appreciate the thoughts and feedback you share. In answer to your question "how can I predict the timings?", it is a result of some careful analysis of all the depressive episodes (or unexplained illnesses -because at the time we had no idea what these times of lassitude and withdrawal were) I could remember (or, sometimes, that others had remembered) since 1970. So I could see very clearly, that these episodes had occurred in 1970, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1984 and so on, right up to the present date. The timings are not 100% reliable: I wrote previously in "Not what I was expecting" about how miffed I was that this one showed up four to six months early; but they are pretty regular. I also have another early warning sign that gives me at least a few days' notice in that I will get a week of unexplained headaches just before a "change of state".
Having lived with this for forty three years now gives me a pretty good advantage in knowing the beast and I have also tried to find out as much about him as I possibly can in order to make living with him an inconvenience rather than a tragedy. In answer to Tim above, yes, I have a Christian faith, and while it would be theologically wrong to claim to have been given this condition by some higher power, at least I can try to use it for good, just as did other great depressives, such as Gerard Manley Hopkins for instance.
Whoops - that's all sounding terribly earnest; let's stop it at once and go out into the sunshine... except we've got a thunderstorm here. Never mind: let's go out into it anyway and dance a tango for one to the music of the raindrops and the rhythm in our heads!
Wishing you both brightness and joy.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 4:26pm

Hi Julia, oh no -I still need those rules! It takes discipline to stay balanced for the two years, because the natural state is "wobbly". But the wobbles are only the 24/48 hour type which I find I can smooth out with routine and constant vigilance (like Professor Moody in Harry Potter)! I slipped off the waggon on Thursday and so Friday was a bit grim. No doubt there will be a blog about it soon!

Anonymous Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 6:28pm

Take ' to the fields ' in a thunder-storm... ( away from trees ofcourse ) and dance
in the warm rain -
It's healing.

Tim Clayton Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 6:38pm

I thank you for your reply, Mary; I didn't expect one. Long may your rainshine tango go on! I felt a lot better, during one episode, by "productively" rereading the previous decade or so of diary entries (not kept daily), and plotting a scrawny pencil-graph on some lashed-together sheets of cheap landscape A4. There was no particular pattern, other than ebbs and flows of life's pressures. And I remember making my therapist do a mock laugh and say "You needed a computer algorithm to tell you that?!" When I said I'd fed forty years' worth of its text into www.wordle.com, to see what themes I typically wrote about (very instructive, as it happened). But what was more telling to the professional fraternity, I suspect, was the fact that (1) I wrote "to get it out" in some way, for some nondescript audience, and (2) I had elected to pick colours for my text, depending on mood (red was appreciably down; green unrealistically up; blue was me fathoming what could cause all this; and black was "normal" ... a word I hardly ever use these days). I could then show (try to show!) my therapist what the proportions were. But she always wanted me to put it vocally. In fact, the most helpful thing ever said in the last ten years was right at the start, during assessment: "you may feel you haven't described it adequately, Tim, but you HAVE conveyed it". Gold dust. I do still write, sometimes, but not like that. About the joys and perils of being alive, perhaps, but people are the route to getting "better". And maybe that's why A&E were not expected to pass their days eyeing-up just the fruit, but rather each other, so we had each other to help. Tell that to the Israelis and Gazans, eh ...

Anonymous Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 6:53pm

Hiya Mary
Sorry about your bouts of depression, unfortunately mine are more often, and can find no reason or time for them to strike. I weened myself off medication some time ago, I was on a high dose of 2, they said they could introduce another, but I suddenly realised they weren't stopping me gong down, but I was like a zombie, no emotions.
I manage my BiPolar as best I can, you will appreciate how awful it is in the very Black Periods. I have tried various therapies, I think one doesn't need to go back over old ground, because we all have a vague idea why we are like we are, no confidence, anxious, etc etc the list goes on, a CPN I had said you need to see what you can do to help oneself now, because now is the moment and the past, future will not help, what you are experiencing now, needs to be helped. Unfortunately all I should do flies out of the window, I have loads of books CD's etc my husband says (in a kind way) "all the right gear and no idea" which is true, the only thing I can do is work through the awful time and hope to come through which we never think we will at the time, time is a great healer.
So keep up the good work Mary, thanks for your blog,
Bye for now Pat x

Anonymous Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 7:23pm

I am confused. My moods seem to go in 6 monthly cycles, but my therapist tells me that this is too infrequent to be bi polar yet you last years between episodes!. There seems to be some association with large social functions or changes of my routine that bring on my bouts of depression and extreme anxiety. However, they are getting more extreme and with more and more rapid onsets. Can anyone help me with this dilemma? I'm not sure is I should change medication amounts to react/cope with the dips or just ride the storm trying to implement all the CBT strategies I can manage at the first sign, before it;;s too late and the most I can do is dress and feed myself and watch endless TV.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 7:53pm

Hello there. Please, I am completely not an expert, but I understand there is more than one type of bi-polar. The classic form is the "rapid-cycling" form where ups and downs occur weekly, daily, perhaps even hourly. Other people have much longer cycles lasting months and even up to seven years. I found an excellent publication by the British Psychological Society called "Understanding Bipolar disorder". It can be downloaded free by going to shop.bps.org.uk/understanding-bipolar-disorder.html. This very helpful piece helped me a great deal. If you're looking for a cure you won't find it here as their cold pragmatic view is that bipolar is a life sentence, but it does seem to make sense of why each case is so different. Not every GP can be a mental health expert and we all need to take responsibility for helping our GP treat us as effectively as possible. All the best to you in developing strategies that help you cope and get through.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sat, Aug 2nd 2014 @ 8:00pm

Hello Pat. I find I am unable to listen to my CDs or read my helpful books while "down" (one just has to survive as best one can and get through somehow) but by using the good times to create strategies for the bad times, I am finding that each one is easier to get through than the last. Not easy, just easier. A right royal pain in the bottom, but maybe slightly less agonising than each previous time. The CDs are useful but sadly none of them is that magic bullet we'd love to see available.

jenny Sun, Aug 3rd 2014 @ 7:05am

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to a stranger. I will certainly download the book - but secretly hope that my therapist is right and that I do just need to adopt strategies to stay level and build up my self esteem. A diagnosis of Bipolar is not one I am fighting to be given. Thank you again Mary for your detailed and very helpful reply and I hope you keep the whale away permanently. I am sure I will be thinking of you in 2016.

Silvia A Sun, Aug 3rd 2014 @ 4:59pm

I do the same: "I find I am unable to listen to my CDs or read my helpful books while "down" (one just has to survive as best one can and get through somehow) but by using the good times to create strategies for the bad times, "

Silvia A Sun, Aug 3rd 2014 @ 5:05pm

" yes, I have a Christian faith, and while it would be theologically wrong to claim to have been given this condition by some higher power, at least I can try to use it for good, just as did other, such as Gerard Manley Hopkins for instance."

Mary, could you mention other great depressives, please? ( I live in South America and would like to know about people who did great things despite depression.)

Julia Mon, Aug 4th 2014 @ 12:51pm

Hi Sylvia. Leonard Cohen has been depressed for most of his life but has managed to write the most beautiful poetry and song. He talks about his depression on You Tube. X

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