If you are reading this, then I don’t hate you; it’s the depressive part of my bipolar cycle I’m addressing.
At 10.27am last Thursday, 7th October – yes, it’s that exact, I flipped into a low. I generally get two a year, in the Spring and in the Autumn, although I never know exactly when they will turn up. Last year it was 4th December, this year, 7th October.
I decided to list the things about this part of the cycle that are frustrating, annoying and just plain inconvenient. It doesn’t feel like “depression,” just some physical malaise I must get through but it’s bad enough. You might be experiencing some of these symptoms too and, if so, at least you know you are not alone.
1. “Jelly legs.” I have no idea what flavour jelly; it’s probably lime, and it was possibly once in one of those rabbit moulds I used to hate as a child. At every party there would be jelly and ice cream, and the jelly would always be in the shape of a rabbit, all quivering, vulnerable and pathetic. I have never liked jelly since. Now my knees have been replaced by that jelly. When you need to concentrate just to walk it’s - disconcerting.
2. Loss of balance. This morning, walking to the letter box to post a birthday card for my niece, I found myself spreading my arms like a child playing “aeroplanes.” I felt embarrassed and humiliated. I’m clumsy and knock into things. Getting up from a seated position carries a risk of falling over.
3. The unreliable world. Reality is unstable; it shifts and shimmers like a mirage. So far, thank goodness, it has not retreated to a grey smudge on the far horizon, but my connection to it is loose. I’m an astronaut on a space walk and fear the line that ties me to the spaceship will snap, leaving me floating off into outer space to drift for eternity.
4. The hallucinations. When these happen, I have every sympathy with Alice in Wonderland. Performing even simple tasks is tricky when your arms are six feet long. It’s scary when the ticks escape from the clock, swell to enormous size and come after you with snapping teeth. As one of my friends joked, “Well, you never need to take mind-altering drugs, do you? Your brain does it for you without chemical assistance!” Yes, thank you brain; I never wanted to take drugs anyway.
5. I’ve mentioned my speech centres before. I know the words, but they won’t come out. Consonants are the worst. Even the cat looked at me strangely when I fed him his b..b..b..breakfast this morning!
6. The fatigue! I can only schedule one thing a day, and then I must rest. Today’s important job is writing this blog. There are lots of other tasks on the list, but they probably won’t get done.
7. My “colander brain.” I can’t remember things. As I wrote this line, I received a text from a client thanking me in advance for something I promised to do for her not an hour ago: I had forgotten all about it. When I come out of this stage, I will have no idea of all the things that happened in this time. I try to write everything down but often I forget to do even that.
8. This is probably obvious. I can’t work. This has financial implications but also affects my reputation for consistently high customer service. There are no acceptable words to describe my frustration and misery over this.
9. Fear of People. I’m sorry but I can’t meet with you. If you are a very close friend who understands, then a phone call or Zoom might be okay, but I can only be with my family in these times. I’m sorry – just so sorry. I wish it could be otherwise. Please, just hold my hand in an email, message or text. Don’t let me go; don’t forget about me. Please?
10. Again, obvious: I hate the worry and concern this inflicts on my family and friends. Last night my elder daughter asked if she should come back from university to care for me. No, of course not: I will be fine. It’s upsetting that she should even ask.
11. Yes, a bonus hate. Anhedonia. I’ll save you the task of looking it up: it means the inability to feel pleasure. It’s that blank “Meh…” when you think about the things that normally bring you joy.
All this will pass; I know it will. It’s easier if I accept it and don’t waste valuable energy on hating it. Just writing it all down seems to make things feel a bit better.
If you are going through a tough time yourself, then write everything down. Why not share them in the comments here? At least you know we all understand.
A Moodscope member.