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Restoring Normality. Wednesday December 2, 2015

"We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can't cope with is therefore your own problem."

British folk from my own generation and geeks from every generation will probably recognise that quotation from Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy.

I wrote those words to a Moodscope buddy on Friday 13th November about my "normal" score in the seventies. Maybe I should have taken better notice of the date. Because on Tuesday 17th I was back down to 25%. Oops!

Just when I think I have a handle on this condition it throws me for another loop. My experience for the last four years that I've been with Moodscope has been that depression arrives with Easter Bunny and varies in length and depth from mild and three weeks (no medication required) to deep and three to four months of spaced out zombie-hood only slightly alleviated by medication. When it leaves, it leaves instantly, completely and in the space of twenty-four hours and that's the last I see of it until the next spring.

This year I have had two depressive episodes, not one. This one, which started on September 8th lifted in late October – for a week only and then slammed down again. Friday 13th was "normal" and then – whoops, bang, wallop...!

...Big sigh...

This unusual pattern makes me doubt myself. It takes away the certainty I was beginning to develop about my condition and puts question marks over my coping and management strategies.

But the only thing to do is keep plugging away at the Moodscope test, plotting those results on the graph and adding further data into the equation.

I can't come up with a new and improved management formula without more data. Probably a lot more data.

The graph (fully annotated) shows when I started or changed medication, it shows when I had a cold or a tummy bug, when I was on holiday or under stress with work or family. The data is invaluable for analysis.

But the trick is to be regular with inputting the data and then actually analyse the results.

So my new quotation is from slightly earlier in that same Hitchhikers' scene is, "We are now cruising at a level of two to the power of twenty-five thousand to one against and falling, and we will be restoring normality just as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway."

Happy space cruising everybody - and keep collecting the data.

A Moodscope member.

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

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LillyPet Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 7:34am

a unusual September dip? It's great that you can track your scores and see patterns and events. It's a shame that we cant always predict and prepare for changes.
I also do my scores regularly but not for as long as you have. They've been up and down in a pretty steady way since I've been keeping track and overall my average has gone up slightly, (so far!).
I remember years ago having episodes starting in the Autumn. Then they shifted to later in the year. I think they may have been linked to anxiety and stress. I've remained on my prescription as I feel fairly stable on it and it thankfully doesnt make me feel spaced out or anything. I'm still vulnerable to PMS though and stressfull events. Lately I've been constantly tense and I always feel it around the jaw area. That could be down to me excercising less during these shorter days. I still have an underlying struggle with how not to let certain people "get to me". Thankfully they are in a minority, but feel bigger because they cant be avoided. They can trigger negative thoughts emotions feelings anxiety and I do resent that.
Still, all those negatives can be bundled up together and set aside as they're not here now! Best only to deal with them when I have to!
Sorry all, rambling a bit! Thanks for a great Star Tracking blog! Let's keep going and may the force be with us! LP :) xxx

Sally Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 7:42am

Absolutely great blog, Mary. I can relate so much to what you are saying, and just love the Douglas Adams quotes. Sadly missed, that great brain and humorist! My low periods arrive just as yours seem to, and depart in the same way. I can usually predict a low during the year ( August) but this year it lasted longer. When I feel "myself" again, I feel creative and useful, when I feel low, I feel hopeless and flat as flat. In spite of medication.
Certain people have been suggesting writing a sort of letter to self...would I read it even, or believe anything positive in it in the low state? I somehow doubt it as everything is skewed negatively. Worth a try I suppose, but a quick fix there is not, alas. Sooooo annoying, but at least, I can talk with decades of experience about what it's like ( horrid) and empathise with everyone and anyone who has or has had a mental health issue. It is comforting to be part of the Moodscope community where others go through pretty much the same difficulties, and yet can bounce back and help others. Thank you. Go well, Mary. And everyone else.

Hopeful One Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 7:57am

Hi Mary- I liked your blog as it gives me insights into bipolar which I would not otherwise get.

Isn't the best thing one can take in Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy a towel. Hmmmm wondered if it was relevant in any way.

Apologies for the faux pas yesterday. Here are two Tommy Cooper one liners to keep the laughs coming.

Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one and let the other one off.
D'you know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said "Parking Fine."

Mary Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 9:03am

Dear HO - I did hope that you got the "mock offended" tone of my comment yesterday! I do actually enjoy blond(e) jokes although I did get absolutely furious when my (then) 9 year old daughter explained to me in all seriousness that she wasn't clever at school because she's blonde. Grrrr. What a terrible message to receive and take on board. Fortunately she is now near the top of the class where she jolly well ought to be with her brains.

Mary Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 9:03am

Oh and thanks for these jokes today. I always love your jokes.

the room above the garage Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 9:46pm

HO, I adore TC! And loved the blonde joke yesterday :-)

Down the well Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 8:32am

Another lovely blog Mary, thank you. And good on you for being so consistent with your scores. As others have said its great to be part of this community where people are so supportive and honest about their struggles. Sally i absolutely agree its a nightmare that there are no quick fixes, though my mind still appears convinced there are. I'm yet to find any coping strategies that really work for me and that bothers me as I want to know I can be proactive in dealing with this. For me it just seems to come and go of its own accord, but my recent low, a combination of life events and terrible anxiety, has brought me very low and doesn't show signs of shifting any time son

Down the well Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 8:39am

Oops wasn't finished. Yes any time soon was what I meant to write. I try to practice acceptance but I am just so pissed off that I feel this way and have done for months. I feel blocked in my ability to make improvements in my life as anxiety holds me back, interferes with my brain functioning sensibly and basically drives me nuts! I get tiny glimpses of the old me then am swept down again into the darkness. I cant seem to get any enjoyment or relief from anything and that scares me as the darkness feels so all encompassing. I have wonderful supportive people in my life but I feel so removed from them right now, like my negative thinking style prevents me getting any reassurance from their kind words. Love to you all, keep fighting the good fight xx

Susie Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 9:56am

Sorry about the Susan/susan confusion. I've changed to Susie - thanks to everyone who sent their love and good wishes over the last couple of days. Depression & anxiety running pretty much full tilt and fear is a terrible crippling factor. Trying to hang on and sorry not very articulate. Utter thanks for your humanity.

Down the well Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 10:41am

Hi Susie, sending you love and light today. I am pretty much where you are right now, trying to hang on too. It's not a lot of fun is it. Wish I could say something that could help but just know everyone here is there for you and we'll all find a way through one way or another. And you're perfectly articulate so don't worry on that one x

Dolphin Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 11:57am

Susie and Down the well, I'm with you in the dark place too - huddling morosely. With a history of depression and family depression, I know why I am depressed now - too much change (several house moves, relationship break down, immigration, not enough work), too much stress, several family deaths of the oldest generation (I identify with the blog about mourning - I am now the oldest of the next generation - yikes) etc etc. What gets me is how LONG this takes, although I think I have some acceptance and see this as taking at least a year until I feel more robust. There seem to be the obvious things you can do to help yourself, but really it seems you just have to sit it out. I've found it easier on myself if I don't watch myself all the time for improvements, just accept that this is what I am right now... Thomas Moore's book Dark Nights of the Soul has given me solace and links to the marvellous blog on the new normal. Mary - strength with your rollercoaster and thanks for the Douglas Adams quotes. Thank you to all of you for your openness. xx

susan Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 12:04pm

Hello Susie, I love your new name. Am thinking of changing mine as wondering if a change of name will make a difference to the way I communicate:) I'm glad you know we're here for you and hopefully the darkness will pass soon. I hope you can find time to just 'be' in the moment. There is refuge there -- anything that will focus your mind into a still place--ironing, jigsaw puzzle, whatever! We all feel for you. xx

susan Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 12:12pm

Hi Down the Well and Dolphin. There's nothing to say other than that I am sending good thoughts that you will each find strength as you wait out this 'thing' we all deal with. No, not fun, as you say DTW. Life is not easy at the best of times, and when it heaps misery upon us, one thing after another (Dolphin), it really makes us dig deep. I believe you both have what it takes to get through this. xx

Mary Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 9:04pm

Hello Dolphin - yes I think you are so right to say that sometimes you just have to sit it out. I have found that this is the only way to deal with my own dark periods. Trying to do anything else just adds stress to the situation. Not recommended.

Julie Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 10:26am

Hi Mary, your massive score drop from mid seventies to 25% is interesting and I wonder what was happening to you over the intervening weekend to create such a drop. You say that you annotate all your scores but perhaps your missing something and it may take a friend to point out to you that actually maybe you took on too much, drank a little too much, the weekends events were chaotic and you weren't realistic about the high score, but rather excited that this depression is over. I find the level of self awareness required is relentless with this condition but sometimes I must listen to those around me as I have blind spots. Take care. Julie.

Mary Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 9:07pm

Thank you Julie. Yes - I think you are very probably right. I have decided to give up alcohol for Advent (getting an advance on those of my friends who go dry for January) and am already after 4 days seeing a lightening of spirits. And - of course - the moment all seems well we always charge right back into doing far too much, don't we!

Norman Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 10:58am

I have three years of scores and they seem to cycle up and down but not in any recognisable sense like hormones, biorythyms or moon phases. Often a steady rise or fall of 7-10 days is followed by a crash/leap, (or vice-versa.) I suppose someone with a PhD in statistics could make sense of it...

"We need more data!" The feeding call of the lesser spotted researcher ;-)

"Hurry up or you'll be late"
"Late for what?"
"Late as in the 'Late Arthur Dent'
It's a threat:
I was never very good at them."

Mary Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 9:08pm

Love it! Oh and let us always remember that correlation is not necessarily causation....

susan Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 11:54am

Hi Mary, it's awful when our condition plunges us into uncertainty. Living with it is one thing but losing control of the management of it is another. You mention the drop you experienced after Friday the 13th. Do you think it had anything to do with the Paris horror? I believe we are all struggling in one way or another with the fast-changing realities. This may not be a factor, but I'm curious. Lovely to see your blog, as always. xx

Mary Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 9:09pm

Susan - you are brilliant! Yes - not so much the horror of Paris, but the reactions to it from the world and my friends around the world. It did plunge me into gloom. I had not thought about that.

The Gardener Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 1:26pm

Normality? I've always liked a bit of excitement in my life in my life - but have always liked the 'routine' stuff out of the way - giving me a clean palette for the more interesting things in life. Turmoil is name of game - medication change, house all changed round to accommodate wheelchair - trip hazards dealt with where possible. Husband, home, dying to get out of hospital is already back to refusing to eat much - yet he did in hospital. Son and I in conference - desperately trying to keep apprehension at bay - if he stops eating again, it's hospital again. At least son 100 per cent responsibility

Another Sally Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 5:01pm

Hello Mary and bloggers,
I do not often make time to read the comments, but when I do it heartens me to see the same names because it feels like a little community. I enjoy May's blog more than any others and am heartened by the generally upbeat tone, even when you are feeling rotten.
I don't think my hole is as deep and dark as those I have read about, but at the moment I am suffering with a particularly stressful family problem, which is causing me anxiety, sadness, anger and a variety of emotions. This has brought my scores down somewhat, but not too low. I am fortunate to have a husband with whom to share the stress and had just had a good lunch with a friend, who lifted my spirits.
Thank you all for sticking together and making me feel that there is a lot of caring in the world.
I could not think of a pseudonym so Another Sally will have to,suffice for,the moment.

Mary Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 9:11pm

Bless you Another Sally - yes - families invariably cause problems - yet to be alone and without one is so lonely. Thinking of you and so glad you have a supportive husband and your good friend to have lunch with.

Anonymous Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 6:39pm

Hi Mary, I enjoyed your post. Thank you.
I, like Dolphin, am aware of the reasons for my low scores, and there are a few - grieving over parent's deaths, grieving over the ended relationships, money worries, ex-partner antagonism, single parenting, children's illness, unemployment, feeling inadequate, isolated and alone.... but knowing doesnt really resolve the problem, unless I can extricate myself from at least some of the stress, I cant see how it will ever be possible to feel good about anything again - which I havent acheived in 10 years. I loved yesterdays post, it really offered compassion and understanding, but honestly, I dont remember when I last actually came out from this dark scary place and felt happy, joyful, inspired. I love it that these things are in the world though - just wish I could access them myself, and change my life!
I record my scores - I see the reasons I'm so low & I ask GP help, but the scores are still there staring me in the face. I meditate, exercise, eat, sleep and try to understand myself better, but still the low scores. I reduce what I'm doing, (very sadly now no longer studying either, which was something I had seen as 'mine'). I try to rest, do less and less but feel guiltier and guiltier and get taken over by life's demands anyway. I feeled pulled apart by what I need, and what is needed.
Psychological services seem to treat me as if I'm unusual for not getting better with a few months of 'therapy' and discharge.... this blog reminds me that I'm not unusual, I'm simply under severe stress and a highly sensitive, decent human being. And there seem to be many other people just like me here. Thanks Moodscope!

Anonymous Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 6:49pm

To say, I am thinking of a name. I tried one a few weeks ago, but discovered someone else with same name, and making decisions isnt my strong point at the moment.

Mary Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 9:17pm

No need to have a clever name - we will know who you are. What a long and lonely shadowed road you are walking. I can see that your faith in a brighter future must be wearing very thin. Have a hug from us here and know that this is a very safe place to share. For goodness sake do throw away the guilt. The grief of relinquishment (for the studying) is absolutely fair, but guilt is just a negative and vampiric emotion. The sun is there - just behind dark clouds and the trick is to keep on walking. Keep doing the right things and - eventually - the clouds will lift. No - I don't know when either. I assume you are on medication? None of us like it - but - for a lot of us - it does help. And if one type doesn't then try another. Every good wish my dear.

readerwriter Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 9:51pm

If it rains at 2pm one day, we don't expect rain every day at 2. Not Douglas Adams alas, but Libby Purves talking about babies.... And the fact they have no routine. Depression and anxiety could be a baby. I have also tried to understand this illness, for years. I know about factors that make it better and worse. But it is what it is. Being here on the blog lets me know that I'm not crazy.......ironic..... Or alone. Or without humour light and love alongside the dark and the suffering. Go well all & thank you

the room above the garage Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 @ 10:04pm

Hello Marydoll, just a thought...and I'm probably not going to explain it there any way that your high in the seventies was unnatural (albeit 'regular') and that you are undergoing a change which will bring down your score but ultimately might also bring a more steadfast state? As I said, I'm not convinced I've explained myself well...! Xx

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