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How do you ride the wave? Saturday May 13, 2017

I rang my son recently because he had blocked me on Facebook messenger.

I was surprised, but soon discovered this was just the tip of the iceberg as far as his fury and frustration was concerned.

He said, if I don't take my mental health seriously, I would never be invited to his home, or to see his as yet hypothetical children. He said everyone could see I am bipolar, including the people who stopped to speak to him or his sister in the street about it, everyone in my little town, and even the guests who come through my Airbnb and leave such glowing reports about their stay.

I came off the phone furious, and hurt. The conversation has replayed itself endlessly in my mind and I have reevaluated my whole summer in light of his comments. I have become withdrawn, mortified, and wonder seriously about the future.

This is not unusual. I charge on in my life, sometimes saying and doing absurd things, acting impulsively, busy with a myriad of unspoken thoughts and beliefs until a blast from a loved one brings me up sharp.

This is the end of what I suppose is a manic ride, and the beginning of a depressive one.

Now I hide. I sleep, I rise, I shower. I eat just enough to get by. I down pills and watch my hair getting thinner and whiter. I worry about the state of my house. I feel lonely, frightened and old.

Have I always been "bipolar"?

I remember as a child the delicious wave of creativity coming over me on cold winters days. The fire would be lit early and I would feel a sudden urge to make. Drawing, writing, painting, making scrapbooks or dolls house furniture from match boxes, cardboard and beads. I loved this moment.

As a documentary maker I became comfortably familiar with the ebb and flow of creative inspiration. At times the world was bleak and dull, and I would slog away in the editing studio. At others there was a story at every turn and I collected, planned and went out gathering audio. I learned to ride the wave.

Now the job is gone and the children don't need their mother. It is too easy to overbalance.

How do you ride the wave?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Mary Wednesday Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 6:34am

Dear Deb, I am so sorry you are estranged from your son. Yes indeed, I too am familiar with the constant undulating waves of creativity and then troughs of depression.
From my own experience, when my behaviour got to the point where it threatened family relationships and friendships, that's when I had to do something. I'll be honest and say that this drug has made everything much more boring. The creativity is still there, but it is now a calm, well mannered hack rather than the fiery stallion which would gallop away with me into wild and uncharted territory. Boring, as I've said. But - worth it in terms of the comments made by the aforementioned friends and family. Everyone says how well and steady I seem. One friend said "I feel as if I've got my friend back. I haven't seen her for the last four years."
I think, in some cases, bipolar does worsen as we age. Maybe your have always been bipolar, but now your moodswings have become so violent they are difficult for others (And you) to deal with.
There are new treatments and medications being developed all the time, so I would recommend investigating.
Just another point worth considering: is the fury of your son more *his* problem than yours? Is it *he* being unreasonable, rather than you?
Talk to people, my darling, and gets lots of opinions. But especially that of your doctor and local mental health team. Good luck!

Leah Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 8:26am

Mary, I am sorry that you feel things are boring now you are on medication. However it is interesting that your friends and family see something in you that is far from boring. Maybe I am lucky but I dont see myself or life as boring and I have been on medication for a long time. My friends and family would not describe me as boring. Everyone is different as you say.

Tutti Frutti Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 1:20pm

I would definitely recommend a diagnosis and meds. And I don't feel like I have lost any of who I am from the meds. Love TF x

Hopeful One Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 7:09am

Hi Deb- I have no direct experience of bipolar to make any meaningful comment so I will leave it to others more experienced to do that. However, one of the bridge players at my bridge club suffers from it. as he calmly told me one day, after I had got to know him a little better, that he was bipolar when I asked him 'How are you?'He told me it was now 'burnt out' and did not bother him any more.It does not seem to have affected his bridge as he is an exellant player.

Hopeful One Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 7:16am

Hi Debs - the gremlins struck before I could complete my post but I am sure humour will not go amiss .

This is what the Squadron found following today's sortie- not top drawer I admit but it will have do today-unless anyone knows different?

A nice, calm, respectable lady went into her local pharmacy, walked up to the pharmacist, and said, “I would like to buy some cyanide".
The pharmacist asked, “Why in the world would you need cyanide?”
The lady replied, “I need it to poison my husband.”
The pharmacist’s eyes opened wide and he exclaimed,'I absolutely cannot give you cyanide to poison your husband.'
The lady reached into her purse and pulled out a picture of her husband in bed with the pharmacist’s wife.
The pharmacist looked at the picture and said, “ Oh! You didn’t tell me you had a prescription.”

Annette Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 7:26am

Hi Deb I am sorry that your son has thrown a strop.It isn't easy to have Bi-polar do you have a supportive GP or Community Psychiatric Nurse?You may need your medication tweaked.My dad had Bi-polar.We rode some waves with him until dad was stabilised on his medication.So hard to witness a man who was a pillar of the community a great man turn into somebody that at times we didn't know.With unpredictable behaviour.But we all hang on for dear live, and through his living years we were there for him through the happy angry frustrating episodes.Try and do a wee thing for you each day.Hang in there you sound a lovely amazinv person x

Sally Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 7:48am

Hi Deb. You poor lady. I really feel for you. You've obviously had a great career, have super creative gifts, but there is that downside, the lows. Could you ask your son what exactly he objected to in your behaviour while you were were on a high? Find out what you are supposed to have done?
With my alcoholic father, I regret that we didn't tell Dad openly how we felt about his nasty comments while he was drunk, and the abusive way he dealt with his wife and children. But we were too scared of his rage. I do wish in retrospect that I had sought help as to how to challenge him.
Whilst your son was insensitive in his dealings with you, you could learn from his comments, and rather than withdraw and feel bad about yourself, act on his blunt suggestion to seek help. You haven't got anything to lose, but everything to gain. I am sure you will find some positives in the midst of the deep hurt of rejection. You are a valuable member of society, retired or not. With lots to offer. And you write beautifully.
We all seek the same goal, I believe. To love and be loved. Striving to attain that is a lifelong goal with many pitfalls. Ones' children are judgemental , in their youth and inexperience, as we were towards our parents, sometimes without seeing the wider picture. They mean well, but can hurt us to the core.
Have you got a good patient friend you could poor your troubles out to? You probably do need help, of the right kind for you. Counselling, medication, there is help at the end of the tunnel. Good luck Deb.

Leah Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 8:32am

I find your blog sad and confusing. I assume that you have never been diagnosed.Is the rebuke from your son , a one off, or one in a long line? You say you get a blast from a loved one every so often. Is that from your children or others? Is one person doing the blasting?
Can you sit down with your children and listen to their grievances.

I have lived with a diagnosis of bipolar for over 40 years and for half of that time I was in denial.

No one can tell you how to ride the wave. It is your life and we hardly know you. If you want help it is there but maybe you like the creative highs that you are prepared to ride out the low bits.
You are a clever documentary maker, a thoughtful writer ad a sensitive person.
Thanks for your honesty, I wish you well in working out what to do.

Nicco Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 8:42am

Deb, I am sorry things are tough just now. I can certainly empathise with your words, 'I hide, I sleep, I rise (I don't shower - not enough energy), I eat just enough to get by, I worry about the state of my house, I down the pills, I feel lonely, frightened and old'. You have put into words what I couldn't. I do hope things will soon improve for you. Best Blessings, Nicco.

the room above the garage Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 9:50am

Hello Deb, at the time you most need support, the words from your son have cut the deepest. Who do you have to cradle and support you? If you can, try to use this moment as a turning point. A time to look at what works and what doesn't, in your life, your health, your friends and family. No need to rush because your energy will be limited. Try to keep some structure, some routine, especially if you don't like it...if you do then it's possibly what you need most. Most importantly, do not blame yourself or your son...this is not who either of you are, it's just where you are at the moment. Keep talking in here. We'll listen. Love ratg x.

The Gardener Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 10:11am

Hello Deb - your sad blog came as the last straw in a list of horrors - I've got 4 days respite for Mr G but it seems to have incited him to be even nastier - petty, sarcastic, hurtful - won't let me watch TV or DVD's, says I am well paid to look after him and don't do it properly. Charitable people blame the lot on his condition - but there is real thinking behind a lot of this, cannot all come out of a diseased mind. He is scared of everything, and he actually listens to the news - so of course the cyber attacks he takes personally. And as we seem to have Star Wars and Trump as Dr Strangelove at the same time it is a bit scary. This 'preamble' pertains, I hope, to the 'nub' of your blog - the worst hurt ever, to be rejected or estranged from a child. I have 5 children (only 2 of which have stayed married, 6 grand-children and a g-grand child. I'd love to hear from them more. Only eldest son and his wife are totally selfless, and will take anything I throw at them.If I reach tip-over point I can phone them and they are adept at 'de-fusing' the situation. In cases like mine, and yours, Deb (plus so many others in your situation) I think our kids are in an invidious position. They've relied on us for their formative years - and faced with a 'volte face' they find themselves impotent, 'in denial', and, often scared - of being expected to spend time - visiting, phoning, advice (often not taken - or not understood). My answer, if there is one, to feeling 'down and out' is to engineer some luxury. Medication, if you must - but as Mary says - smoothing out the 'bumps' can be counter-productive - ending up on a flat plane. Drink, within reason, not as a 'must' but as part of the 'luxury'. Long bath (me, best oils, drink and book). Comfortable chair in sun - with book, SUDOKU, cross-word - the whole lot to lead to 'opting-out'.

Lexi Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 10:44am

Hi Deb, I think bipolar is such a double sword. I didn't realize until I medicated myself how destructive I was to those around me. I felt everything, but then again, I felt everything. Nothing was done at half speed. Now on medication the ride is much calmer (though it took a few different tries with meds to find the right one to keep me in my lane so to speak). I hear in your words that you are suffering so much; I am so sorry. Perhaps it's time for a medication change? Only you know of course. I will say the meds that I took in my early 30s did nothing for me in my forties. I've had to change the type and dosage as I aged. But beyond meds, do you have something that you love to do? I think as bipolar we need lots of period of activity doing something we love but we also need lots of down time. Finding that balance can be tricky. Don't despair about your son. It's either his stuff and he will get over it or if you really think there is something to what he is saying then listen to that part of yourself and do something about it. But only you know for sure. Big hugs Deb. And kids always need their mothers, no matter the age. They may not act like it, but they do :)

Cyndi Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 11:08am

Thank you for your post Deb. I can relate to experiencing Bi Polar waves. For me, medications keep me alive during the low points, and keep the high points from getting out of "control". It took a LONG time to find the right meds, and balance of them to keep me going with hardly a side effect. I have had to go through a few years of treatment too (DBT) to get through, and I use the skills ALL the time. Going through treatment was a very humbling experience since I had worked in the Mental Health field, as a clinician and administrator. I ended up having to retire from the job and career I loved due to Mental illness. I have accomplished a lot since then. I still have the waves, but usually not as glaring. I must admit though, there are occasions every few years the meds "stop working" (or something) where the bowels of depression get me hospitalized and usually a med change. But I end up going back to what works. I too enjoy the Highs. I have been writing my auto biography during the highs. Still have some work to do. I am blessed that I am able to quilt and play golf during the lows, though they may not bring me as much pleasure. Over the years I have been quite open about the Mental Illness (symptoms) I experience. I am blessed (or may be due to being selective as to whom i share with here, in that I am not aware of alienating others when I share the waves, especially the hospitalizations discussions. I may scare them with how depressed I get, but they are still there for me. So take care of your self. Be amenable to treatment and meds. It is worth it. A healthy life is a journey, not a destination.

Salt Water Mum Sat, May 13th 2017 @ 2:32pm

Oh Deb, I am sending you a virtual hug.

I think we creative folk can have a v difficult time with mental health. We believe that our fine acting abilities cover up the pain so well. So, it can be a nasty shock when a loved one points out that we are in serious need of help.
Especially when that loved one is our own child.

Take care and be kind to your lovely self,


Molly Sun, May 14th 2017 @ 2:16am

I am a bit confused with your post Deb and not sure how to comment on it but I think it is good that your son has recognised you may have a problem, because in my experience, family and friends have no clue and it is only me that can try and tell them. And mainly, there is no point because they are not going to understand anyway. I don't have bipolar but I also look at the past and think, did i have these problems all along and it was not recognised back then. At some point I came down with a crash and probably have too much time on my hands now...when you are not needed anymore and don't have a job etc, it really makes you question your whole life. Forget Facebook !! It has caused me a whole load of bother. If I feel bad, I delete everyone, and if I feel good, I want to make friends with everyone. Worst invention made !! A click of a button and it can make someone feel awful. Also can relate to words that are said that you cannot forget. They are just words and not always meant in the heat of the moment.

And someone said that maybe it is him with the problem. Sometimes I do think that people who make our lifes difficult have a problem themselves. Gosh I have gone on here and I didn't know what to say to start with. Take care, Molly xx

LP Sun, May 14th 2017 @ 8:34pm

Hi Debs,
I'm probably too late for you to see this, but the first thing I wondered was how old is your son? LPx

Sal Mon, May 15th 2017 @ 12:22am

Hi Deb, reading your blog I felt sadness and recognition. I'm imagining that as well as feeling hurt you must be feeling lost, and perhaps puzzled. I have felt like that too, and in my case I've had a sense that people's reactions were unjust, that they could not understand the importance of my reasons for acting the way I did. It was a sudden fear of losing relationships that prompted me to realise that perhaps some of my behaviour was out of the ordinary, and was damaging my life.

Stephen Fry's TV programmes about bipolar were useful, and I went to a few meetings of support groups run by Bipolar UK ( The things I found useful were the phrase 'multiple overlapping / competing tasks' (or something like that), and - a bit like Moodscope - an opportunity to share with others what my mood was like on a particular day, and realising that I could actually observe and (sort of) measure it. That gave me back a bit of a sense of control.

I haven't gone down the route of a formal diagnosis, or meds, but I do recognise my ongoing need to examine my mood and behaviour. I need to be able to work through difficult feelings, using mindfulness and with support from other people, and I probably always will need this. I thought RATG was spot on when she said, perhaps you can use this as an opportunity to take stock, to look at what's working in your life and what's not working, without any blame, but (I would add) with an awareness that you can affect what's happening. I wish you well with this, or with whatever shape the next steps on your journey may take.


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