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Home for a Dozen Horses. Wednesday March 15, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here:]

69. 74. 73. 73. 75. 71. 73.

So, what's with the numbers, Mary?

Those wonderful numbers are my Moodscope scores for the past week.

Please, I'm not boasting or crowing. If you've been stumbling along in the teens, for what seems like forever, and the most you've ever scored is 35%, then I can see that the above numbers might seem like I'm rubbing your nose in it.

But I'm not. Believe me, I'm not. If you've been following my blogs for more than six months, then you know that I too am familiar with that deep dark place called depression. All too familiar.

But back to those scores.

You see, the numbers themselves don't mean too much; it's just that they're steady. I've never – never – been so steady before. I simply cannot remember a time when I have woken up every morning feeling about the same; give or take a percentage or two. It's been six weeks now. It's simply wonderful!

And – because I've been doing the Moodscope test almost every day since 12th May 2011, I can check. I've gone back and found the longest stable period I can and looked at the scores. This was a month-long period when I was neither in mania nor depression; when I was what I would have called "steady" and "normal". The scores in that "steady" period see-sawed from 65% to 85% and back again. Several times.

So, okay, that was much, much better than going from 96% to 6% inside twenty-four hours, but it's only now I realise it was not exactly steady.

Ever since the new drug kicked in I've had a variance of only 5%.


Sorry, just taking a moment to appreciate that.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder ten years ago. It's taken ten years to find the right drug. And – even now, I can't be sure: it's still early days.

If, in April, the Easter Bunny visits in place of the usual Dementors; if I can get through to Christmas and out into 2018 without any period of incarceration in my own personal Azkaban; if this year I don't have to fight the allure of the river, then I might be able to say, "Yes – this drug works."

Not just the drug, of course. Therapy, meditation, writing this blog: they all help. But for some things you need to fight fire with fire. There is a chemical imbalance in my brain and this new chemical is providing the counterweight.

Yup – I'm so stable now, I can give dozen horses a home!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Pablo Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 6:25am

Great news Mary. Long may your stability continue. All the very best.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 3:31pm

Thank you Pablo

Molly Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 6:32am

But you have gone on a high Mary, and it's great whilst it lasts but it's not real. Lots of love to you xx

Tutti Frutti Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 7:57am

Molly Those scores would certainly sound worrying if I got them as my norm is 40 to 55. But I think we all have different norms depending on our underlying personality, how we interpret the questions etc. So hopefully Mary is correct that this is a good place for her to be. I think she said that a previous period she looks back on as stable scored between 65 and 85 so it sounds encouraging to me. Love TF x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 3:40pm

Hello Molly, thank you so much for your concern; I really appreciate it. TF is quite right though - and everyone's scores are different: only you know your own pattern. My "perfect" score is marking a 2 on all the red cards and a 0 on all the blue cards. This comes out at 73%. Sometimes I will get a 3 on determination or Inspired which might take it up. Usually it's only a 1 on Pride, which takes it down. If I start with lots of 3s then I know it's time to watch it - especially if I start getting 1s or 2s on hostile, jittery and irritable. I'm sure you have noticed patterns in your own tests as you build up month by month. Because I now have six years' worth of scores I know exactly where I am on any given day. This is so useful. Sending you the very best of wishes, Mary

Molly Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 6:33am

Fair enough Mary, I am pleased for you. I don't do the tests anymore, although I used to do them. They would vary considerably. See what you are both saying TF and Mary. Just cannot help wondering though, if all is ok, why you even do the tests but I'm probably being controversial by saying that. Im not feeling that great. But thanks for responding and keep well xx

Mary Wednesday Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 7:01am

Hello Molly, I hope you are feeling a little better today. I keep doing the test because it has only been six weeks so far. Because of the length of my cycle (most recently 6 months, but before that annually and before that, bi-annually) I won't know if this new drug has really worked until this time next year. Even then, I won't be certain until it's been three years. Doing the test is a useful discipline. It also reminds me that, in the words of the starship Heart of Gold from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, " We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can't deal with is therefore your own problem." :)

Karen Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 6:52am

Congratulations Mary long may it last. I too have bipolar and am a long term moodscope, I always remembered an early blog stream about Moodscope scores for 'bipolar' should be looked at in terms of bands not specific scores. Until recently I was 'well' moodwise between mid 20's to mid forty. That seemed to be my 'normal'. I like to think of bipolar in terms of it being TRI polar - I go down into depression, I go up into manic but most importantly there are periods of my norm - they are the best of times, hopefully you are in that phase. I to changed drugs last year - I took me around 6 months to realise that my consistently higher scores were not indicators of running into early hypo mania but a shift in my 'normal / well ' band as I'm now running quite happily (it seems and I hope) between mid 30's to high 50's. I hadn't expected such a shift, but its yet another reason I value my moodscope scores and the insight they give me. Keep strong, Keep in your 'well' range and enjoy - it feels so good.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 3:41pm

Hello Karen, your story of a year of consistently high scores with your new medication gives me hope that this change is long term. Thank you so much.

Christine Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 7:13am

well done Mary, long may it last, look after yourself, best wishes

Anonymous Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 7:53am

Hi Mary. All good! Finally, in my case too, a mood stabiliser has been found that works - in the correct doses - and life is easier. Advice to fellow sufferers is that however sceptical you might be or reluctant to commit to long term medication, there may be a cocktail of chemicals which alters your brain chemistry; don't dismiss the opportunity to find out, if it is offered to you by a trained professional. Go well!

Tutti Frutti Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 8:13am

Well said. I may not always be in great shape even with my mood stabiliser but I know that I am loads better than I used to be without it!

Tutti Frutti Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 8:02am

Hi Mary
Looking encouraging. I hope it keeps working for you. I am pretty low today - scored 28 last night when I really need to be above 40 to feel comfortable.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 3:43pm

Wishing you all the best, TF - your presence here is always appreciated. I hope your score improves tomorrow and stays above 40.

Tutti Frutti Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 8:04am

Phone playing up. Stopped letting me type mid message. Failed to send hugs etc. Love TF x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 3:43pm

Hugs always appreciated! ;)

Tutti Frutti Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 8:08am

Also keyboard problem stopped me defining what I was trying to say. I am genuinely pleased for you even though I am not in great shape and wish I could get back into normal range myself. Seeing my counsellor on Monday which will hopefully help.
Love TF x

Night Owl Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 12:05pm

Grrr, technology! My phone doesn't ever like replying to blogs! Best wishes, TF, hope you start to feel better again very soon. NOx

Tutti Frutti Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 8:10am

Hopefully last one from me. Not "defining" should be "refining". Love TF x

LP Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 8:24am

Wishing you feeling better soon TF xx

LP Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 8:34am

Hi Mary,
It's lovely to celebrate wellness with you!
I wonder if Moodscope would be ok about us knowing what the medications that you and Anonymous have been prescribed if you both don't mind. I know that different things work for different people, but I can remember how it feels searching for the right one and the lenth of time it takes to try something and see whether it worked for me, as you say alongside the other things that also help.
Thank you for sharing your wellbeing. Mental HEALTH is what thos is all about!
Best wishes to you and all LP xx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 3:49pm

I don't mind at all. I am on Lamotrigine. It has taken 10 years to find this drug as - 10 years ago when I was originally diagnosed, it was not available as a bi-polar treatment, only as an anti-convulsant used for epilepsy. In the meantime, as my mania was only hypomania, I opted only to treat the depression with fluoxetine and then citalopram. To be honest, these drugs only took the edge off, but enabled me to function to some degree. I shifted to Lamotrigine as my mania was getting worse and the cycle was getting shorter and more severe. I hope that answers your question.

LP Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 4:51am

Yes it does, thank you Mary and congratulations on your new stable! :) xx

Hopeful One Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 8:37am

Hi Mary - congratulations! Finding a drug that works for you is great news but you have also demonstrated how useful Moodscope scores can be providing as they do an objective picture of the state of one's mind.

Today's sortie produced this.

Warning : this joke contains religious content which some readers may find offensive.

A drunk sat down next to a Catholic priest on an underground train. His tie was stained, he looked unkempt had lipstick on his collar and with a half-empty bottle of gin sticking out of his torn coat pocket.He opened his newspaper and began reading.

After a few minutes the man turned to the priest and asked, "Say Father, what causes arthritis?"

The priest said, "My Son, it's caused by loose living, too much alcohol and lack of a bath."

The drunk muttered , "Well, I'll be damned," and then returned to his paper.

The priest, thinking about what he had said says "I'm very sorry. I didn't mean to come on so strong. How long have you had arthritis?"

The drunk answered, "I don't have it, Father. I was just reading here that the Pope does!"

Night Owl Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 12:07pm

Tee her, Thankyou HO!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 3:50pm

Tee Hee!

Liz Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 8:54am

Hi Mary, that is a really positive blog! Thanks for posting.
I am curious as well to know which meds you are taking?
I have been using this site since last November, My highest score was 52! That was only once and the rest has been generally in 25-35, lowest was 17! Sometimes I think my mood stabiliser isn't working as I still get depressed and have relapsed whilst on it. Anti-depressants don't work for me, it doesn't make me high just more depressed.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 3:54pm

Hi Liz, I have answered Lilly Pet above and I hope that covers it for you too. I think each of us has such an individual score that commenting on any "number" is counter-productive. It's the pattern which is important. I am a naturally happy and bubbly person. So much so, that people assume I am on a high all the time when I am just normal. This makes the lows even more dramatic. I hope you have been able to spot a pattern and know what is a "normal" good score for you and how that is made up. I know that for me, Pride is always low and determination and Inspiration usually high. Active depends on how much sleep I got!

Med Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 9:06am

Hi Mary, I think it's brilliant and don't think you were rubbing our noses in it even if I'm currently struggling. Far from it, it's that I am struggling that makes me happier and smile both for you (as I always enjoy your blogs) and also in hope for myself. Enjoy the "moment" however long it lasts - you like all of us deserve it xx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 3:55pm

Bless you Med. I hope your period of struggling ends soon and the sunshine comes back for you.

Leah Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 9:15am

Thanks for the update on your moods. I hope things continue well for you. I suppose I am different from you as I am not after stable I just don't want to have the destructive moods. I hope that makes sense to someone.
Leah xx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 3:59pm

Oh Leah - absolutely! Before I embarked on this with the consultant I needed to make absolutely sure that it would not interfere with my creativity as I could not bear to look out at life "through a letter-box" - which is what some people say Lithium does. And - yes - I have started to wonder if this will get so "boring" I will be tempted to come off the medication.... after all, we are so used to our mood swings it seems very odd to be the same every day. But - I can see that the benefits to my business, my family and my friendships will be inestimable. And - I just couldn't bear myself in the last couple of highs - those were the destructive ones for me. I don't know if it's the same for you?

Mimine Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 10:37am

Dear Mary,
So pleased for you that you are in a comfortable and stable mood and that the new drug seems to be working well. May it stay this way from now on!
Being French, may I ask what the sentence "to give a dozen horses a home" means?
You have also given me an insentive to do my Moodscope test regularly in order to provide a doctor/specialist (?) with the record of my mood swings. I seem to go low everytime I don't sleep well and I seem to be a chronic insomniac... Anyone experiences the same?
Keep well Mary!

Tim Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 10:58am

Chère Mimine ... je crois pas qu'il y ait quelque chose di'diomatique au fond de ce dicton. C'est à dire, de mon expérience, "to give a dozen horses a home" n'a rien à voir d'un foyer ni de la réhabilitation. Peut-être qu'il ne s'agit plus que du fait que Marie aime garder chez elle une jolie petite ménagerie? J'attends à me corriger.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 4:04pm

Hello Mimine, Not speaking French, I can only assume that Tim has explained far better than I. Just in case - In English, just as a dog lives in a Kennel, a horse lives in a Stable. So the word stable has two meanings; it is a homonym. Stable means both level, firm and solid, and also a building where horses are kept.

Tim Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 10:51am

Well done, Mary. I mean, in having the perseverance over a decade to find a "chemical. Ounterweight" (nice allusion) that does seem to be working well. Long indeed may you benefit from, and even enjoy, it. What often brings a smile in your posts is your creative turn of phrase. And syntactic boundary-stretching. Just one or two words. At a time. Thoughtfully picked. Deftly placed. A style I like to follow. I must confess, I gave up doing my scores as I always seemed to get a middling fault even when my mood varied hugely. And when feeling REALLY low, I wouldn't be able to look at a screen or interpret words. But the the eclectic posts remain a vital drip-feed in, as you rightly say, the overall cocktail of help. And I LOVE the "Easter Bunny supplants Démentor" image: how true! Thank you.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 4:11pm

Tim, your comment has brought a huge smile to my face. What a compliment you have paid me; thank you so very much. Yes, I try. It's lovely to have it appreciated. And - even if you get a middling result - do carry on doing the scores. I can get 73% (my perfect score) even if in full blown mania - because the 3s on the red cards are balanced by the 1s and 2s on the Hostile, Irritable and Jittery cards. So, it's not the scores themselves, but how they are made up. Oh, and, yes - I know exactly what you mean about being so low you cannot even look at the screen. I couldn't turn on my pc for 3 months once - a terrible time. Pre Moodscope, that was. So sending you encouraging thoughts, and wishing you the Easter Bunny too!

Night Owl Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 12:15pm

Great blog, thanks Mary! And lovely to read everyone's replies.
Like Tim, I don't score at the mo, but so enjoy the community, not being alone. I am relatively well at present, though I had a rocky Monday/Tues to remind me what it's like. And why I shouldn't get too tired (as Mimine) or do too much for too long... feeling flat after a big build-up.... but warding off darker thoughts that like to fill my brain on a flat/tired day.... walking, making myself a proper lunch, etc.
Best wishes to you all. NOx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 4:12pm

Best wishes back to you!

Night Owl Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 12:16pm

PS loved the audio. Is that your voice, Mary? Or it is Caroline's or one of the team? (I imagine a team... But not sure that is the case...)

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 4:12pm

My voice. All mine. And thank you.

The Gardener Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 4:00pm

Hello Mary - glad you are on an even keel, even upbeat - do hope it lasts. I've mentioned before, when I was 'manic depressive' (talking 35 years) we tried most of the drugs in the pharmacopoeia, then found, as I only have one kidney, all others carried too high a risk - so, my Doc said 'We (note the 'we') will have to manage on our own. My score goes in to the stratosphere after a super family visit - fun, achieve things, and plan for the future - but, normally, as a care (without indulging in self-pity) 40 - 50 is normal - enthusiasm is useless, because one cannot plan to carry anything out. And prolonged sleep deprivation plunges the score downwards inevitably. Big panic, plunged into Facebook, only chose 5 friends, now all sorts of stuff is coming in and I can't stop it - have called in a knowledgeable friend to sort me out - like, I'm a poor old lady, get me out of here!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 4:15pm

Oh Gardener - I do hope your Facebook stuff is sorted out. It can be a lovely big party in there but is also full of adverts for things you really don't want (nor can imagine anyone wanting). Limiting yourself to five friends will hopefully keep the nastiness out of it. I am lucky that I mange to miss most of the nastiness, but then I do make sure I stay clear if I see anything developing.

The Gardener Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 4:03pm

I don't get the dozen horses - presume, being so 'stable' Mary has the space and the inclination? Perhaps already explained and I've missed it. If Mary wants to 'think big' the elephant stables at Hampi(12th century Indian kingdom) are spectacular.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 4:17pm

Maybe it's a French thing, as Mimine didn't get my joke either. It was a pun, a bit of a play on words there!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 4:18pm

Oh, and I have googled the elephant stables. Magnificent indeed!

DAVE Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 5:02pm

Hi Mary,
It's really good to hear you've found suitable meds to keep you feeling consistently well long may it last and keep you stable.

Brum Mum Wed, Mar 15th 2017 @ 10:40pm

I come to the party late, after a long day, but I delight in your stability and sense of happiness. Long may it continue! I always say to friends who are pregnant that they should be open to take the drugs available during labour as they are there for a reason. (Three days' labour with the first one I had the lot). I don't a kamikaze approach to medication but know it has had its place for me over the years and if it helps me hold down a job and parent my children as best I can then so be it I will take them. I find Moodscope useful in establishing patterns and themes from my annotation as much as the score.

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