Moodscope's blog



More on Drugs. Wednesday December 7, 2016

When I was nine I stole a penny gobstopper. It was acid green and about as big as the circle you make when you touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger. I sucked on that gobstopper and enjoyed it – right down to the crunchy aniseed bit in the middle. But even though I had stolen that gobstopper, there was still a price to pay.

I discovered something in the week that followed. I discovered that I cannot steal. I suffered the agonising and writhing pangs of remorse and guilt.

The following Saturday I chose another penny gobstopper, duly paying over my shiny penny. Then I dropped it back in the sweetie box while my little sister was picking her selection. I thought that would make it right, but it didn't. I remember that acid green gobstopper still.

I remembered it again last Friday while spending two hours with a consultant psychiatrist.

He asked me about my behaviour during my manic periods. Do I spend money without thinking (yes – but not to the point of irresponsibility), do I indulge in sexual behaviour out of character (yes – I do flirt, but I am not promiscuous), am I tempted to break the law?

Suddenly, I remembered all the times I have had to fight that almost overwhelming impulse to shoplift. Only little things: a magazine, a trinket, a bottle of mid-price perfume. I had never connected the dots before. These impulses occur when I am in my manic phase. I am deeply ashamed of these dark desires and have never given in to them; but only because I remember all too well the lesson of the acid green gobstopper.

The problem is that the periods of mania and subsequent depression are getting more frequent and more extreme. I was talking to the psychiatrist for a reason: we need to find a new treatment before I am arrested for shoplifting, before I do land myself in a situation I cannot control. Before the impulse to end it all swamps me and ends me.

He asked me too about those suicidal impulses. Do they come out of the blue, or when I have been brooding on unhappy things (they come without warning, and I try not to brood.) This was news to my poor husband sitting next to me and providing moral support. I had not told him how bad things get; I had not wanted to worry him – and he doesn't read these blogs.

So the psychiatrist recommended Lamotrigine. He's a sensible and compassionate man and he knows I want to go away and do my own research before making a decision.

The last time I saw a representative from the mental health team, nine years ago, they seemed more interested in ticking boxes than relating to me as an intelligent and responsible human being. They prescribed Sodium Valproate – a drug with many unpleasant side effects. I decided I would rather live with the bipolar.

This time, well – there seem to be very few side effects, and Lamotrigine is apparently effective: it can restore normality.

I think I might give it a try.

A Moodscope member.

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

Permalink  |  Blog Home


David Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 5:48am

A good Parable but are drugs an answer to Self-Control and understanding the triggers of the MIND.

Pablo Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 6:27am

I think that if self-control was the answer then none of us would have a problem. Good luck with this particular drug Mary. Sometimes you have to use chemical-control. I myself am not bi polar (I count my blessings), just a delicate 60yr old male flower who gets dragged into depression now and again. All the very best. Pablo

Mary Wednesday Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 7:33am

Thank you David and Pablo. David, I give thanks for my faith and for the strong moral framework within which I was brought up. This has no doubt helped immensely over the years. My strong belief is that Bipolar disorder is a physical condition presenting with mental symtoms. While talking therapies can be beneficial to many (and I have benefitted myself from many years of counselling) there comes a point when medication seems the most logical (indeed, the only) way forward. Pablo - thank you so much for your words of encouragement and support. Much appreciated.

LP Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 7:57am

My view is that if there's a chemical imbalance that is so clearly identified by a particular set of symptoms, then it makes sense to me to rebalance it. We don't stop being who we are! :) There's no one "should" solution for all. it's about what works for each of us and it's not an either or. LPxx

Helen Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 8:48am

I'm feeling really proud of you Mary - a life threatening illness needs to be taken seriously. Glad the psychiatrist respected you. They are there to help, but the first step is recognising help is needed (on both sides) and then the tricky bit is working out what's right for you, together. Love & prayers for you and your family. You're one amazing woman

Mary Wednesday Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 11:31am

Bless you LP and Helen. We all have to do what is right for us and there is no "one size fits all". Thank you for your encouragement.

Tutti Frutti Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 7:36am

Good luck with the lamotrigine. I hope it works for you.

I think we all react best to different things. I have been taking sodium valproate for 13 years with no side effects and have only been seriously ill once in that time when I got myself in a muddle and failed to take any for 5 days. On the other hand if you do have side effects then I would always try something else rather than just try to stick with it. At the end of my last episode my psychiatrist would ideally have got me to take a low dose of quetiapine going forward as well as the sodium valproate. But when I said how bad I was finding the side effects and asked to try something new he agreed that leaving me on quetiapine for ever wasn't viable. He opted to go back to sodium valproate alone though as he didn't want to mess with new meds while I was basically well.

Thinking of you. Love TF x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 11:32am

Thank you TF

LP Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 7:42am

Hi Mary,
It's amazing how shame stays etched into our psyche. What an interesting symtom and that there's still much to learn about what makes us tick. I'm glad it's helping to smooth out the sharp edges for you.
Big hugs all rround.LP xx

Orangeblossom Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 8:07am

Hi Mary thanks for all your blogs and for sharing your experiences and thoughts. Thinking of you. Love & affection

Tychi's Mum Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 8:15am

Hi Mary, I too am on Lamotrigine. It's the fourth medication I have tried. I have not been diagnosed with bi-polar but I'm convinced that I am (at the lower end of the spectrum). So far it hasn't helped to stabilise my mood but I live in hope. At my last appointment with my psychiatrist when I was in the depths of a "crash" she calmly informed me that I may be on a sub-therapeutic dose.....aarrrgggghhhh. Why hadn't I been told this before???? I would have pushed to increase the dose. I have now been given permission to increase the dose every two weeks as required. I've increased from 150mg to 250mg in the last four weeks. I generally stay "well" for 6-8 weeks. I'm into my third week usual, time will tell, but as I say, I live in hope.
I'd be really interested to hear how you get on.
For those of you interested in a potential hormonal link to depression you may be interested to read the findings of Proffesor John Studd, a gyneacologist with a special interest in hormonal depression. When I read about his work it was a real Eureka moment for me. I strongly believe that my illness is biochemical not psychological (although I am having couselling).
Good luck to all of us x

Tychi's Mum Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 8:39am

I loved your blog btw and I was fascinated to read about your compulsion to shoplift. I too have it....I now understand where that desire comes from. Thank you for opening my eyes to a reason for what I thought was bizarre behaviour and totally out of character.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 11:34am

Yes - utterly out of character. But once we understand where the impulses come from we can stop feeling guilty about having them. I think it is still our job to resist, if at all possible!

Tychi's Mum Thu, Dec 8th 2016 @ 3:29am

Absolutely, and resist I do....but as you say now that I recognise why I have the impulse the guilt has gone.

David Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 8:31am

Hello, Mary
I was not advocating a drug-free regime.
At 67 I have tried many pharmaceutical medications and found there is no magic bullet but a combination of therapies.
My problem is my driving confrontations with the law but I have now mainly solved that with a defensive driving Course with the Ministry of Defense.
My best remedy is educating myself from Fellow sufferers and their experiences.
I have met over 500 Bi-Polar labelled people with the condition and an amalgamation of them solving the conundrum of life has resulted in myself now with a good life

Mary Wednesday Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 11:37am

Thank you David. I know that, for many people within the church, there is a feeling that if one has but faith enough, then all illness, and especially mental illness, should be healed through the love and power of God. While none of us would decry the power of God to heal, we cannot reduce Him to the role of a performing dog. We have been given minds and intelligence and Lamotrigine is just the same as aspirin on a moral basis.

Sally Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 8:40am

Good luck to you, Mary, with the Lamotrigine. I do hope it provides much needed relief from terrible depression and suicidal thoughts.
I shudder to think how many people have died refusing to try medication... it can be literally life saving. So here '/ keeping fingers crossed for you, Mary. A very difficult situation. Thank God you have a caring and loving family as well as many concerned and true friends. Wishing you peace and love this Christmas .

Thank you for writing it as it is.

Tychi's Mum Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 8:46am

My final comment - sorry folks.
I haven't been on Moodscope for quite a few days and I'm glad to be back...I've been doing too much these past few days and it really isn't good for me but I recognise it as being part of my "high" phase. I have really enjoyed catching up with the blogs.
LP thank you for the book info. I have commented on your comments in Talking & ps It's Just A Day.
Thank you all for your wonderful comments in response to my comment In Out Of The Blue.
10 hours sleep last night....woohoo. The "manic" phase (and the adrenalin) are subsiding. I can now, hopefully enjoy a few weeks of feeling relatively "normal" before my potential next "crash" arrives.
Wishing you all a stress-free pre-Christmas day x

Another Sally Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 8:49am

Hello Mary, I have been following your blogs with interest. I loved earlier ones when you have had good times with family and friends (the apple day) and it feels odd to me to read these ones about how dark it can get. Sorry, not expressed well. I hope the new meds are of help to you.
I feel strongly that my low mood comes from diet and physiology rather than pure mental state but have not been able to put my finger on the things that make my brain dull.
You are always so eloquent, as are many of the Moodscopers who comment on the blogs. It all serves to make me feel somehow inadequate because I want to contribute and my dull brain just hurts as I try to express myself.
I have been seeing a psychotherapist for a few months now but I feel it is slow progress and I don't know what I'm looking for.
Thanks to all contributors I do love hearing from you all.
Another Sally x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 11:42am

Hello AS. Don't worry - the good times will return; they always do. There are always happy things to write about. But only writing about the happy times is a) dishonest and b) unhelpful. I am not someone who has all the answers; I am on the same journey as everyone who uses Moodscope - so I write about all the steps and all the stones as well as the flowers along the way. I'm glad you love at least some of the blogs and I promise you more happy ones about family and friends in due course!

DAVE Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 9:05am

Hi Mary,
How refreshingly honest are you in your blogs, it resonates from within to know that your self-awareness is so evident.

What is going through my mind in reading and rereading your blog is a fact that.....the episode in your childhood was an incident in many thousands throughout our lifetime.

Drawing a blank sheet of your honesty and writing upon it ALL those instances down, looking at them, ask yourself can I do anything to repair the damage, Can I even years later return the cost of, etc etc, which may repair the damage caused....TOGETHER with that which is held in our subconscious.

Recently I stated that when we resolve unpleasant and address issues (which were caused by either WE or THOSE responsible) with family, friends and strangers as it has an amazing effect upon our persona...Because it is 'WE' who have made that MOVE to ATONE irrespective of who was the PERPETRATOR....

Why because we need to clear the decks...RESET our minds, to Go back to FACTORY SETTINGS and origins.

If associated to all our 'hidden' mistakes, in thought, word, and deed, a change of attitude in our presentation of ourselves, allows this PEACE and HAPPINESS to OCCUPY our minds, it then becomes a way of life never in fear or trepidation....or to quote your blog.."Suffered agony, pangs of remorse and guilt".

Made new once more to start afresh!
As a Christian together in your prayers to Our Heavenly Father, in so doing you 'Invite' Him into your Heart. That is just the beginning !

I have done this years ago, some I could resolve to mutual satisfaction....So even though putting myself in humility, did nothing for the odd person, who cannot forgive, THA THEN BECOME THEIR ISSUE and no ours.

God bless

Mary Wednesday Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 11:46am

So interesting that you write this, Dave. Just this morning I was praying about the green gobstopper. Of course I am assured of spiritual forgiveness and I did make it right. Besides which, the shop keeper and her family have long since died themselves. What was interesting to me was that the lesson was one I was taught at an early age to protect me from temptation later on: I could see it as God protecting me. And now I can share the lesson with you. Useful all round!

Jack Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 12:44pm

This is a wonderful, beautifully written account, and with your insight and marvelous vision of reality I hope the best for you.

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 1:40pm

Hi Mary....what a nightmare for you...but a sensible approach visiting your psychiatrist with OH in tow- you need not only the drugs, but his support as well.
If you had a heart condition or high blood would take prescribed medication so you need to take something to keep you in balance. I hope this new stuff does the trick.
Waving Bear paws at you and everyone!
Bear x

Another Sally Thu, Dec 8th 2016 @ 7:35pm

Good to see you back Bear. I have not noticed you contributing recently. Not that I get to read all the blogs but I try to follow Mary's. Waving back. Another Sally

Maria Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 2:20pm

Hi Mary! I always enjoy your blogs but can especially relate to this one. I too am tempted to shoplift when becoming manic, and I use this as a gauge of my mental state. Misspelling words is another signal for me. Medication is a necessity for me as without my manic episodes are so extreme that I become psychotic and hospitalized. I have been on Lamotrigine for a while now and have been stable. I hope that it works for you as well. Love and peace to all :)

Mary Wednesday Thu, Dec 8th 2016 @ 4:47pm

Thank you Maria. So glad for the vote of confidence in this drug.

The Gardener Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 3:14pm

I was cured of any temptation to steal when I was five - seared into my subconscious. I love flowers (after Saturdays party house full) and did from a very young age. My mother never bothered with flowers in the house, although my Dad grew them specially on the allotment. On my way home from the village school, aged 5, one of the farm workers front gardens was ablaze with daffodils and narcissi - I picked the LOT and took them home to Mummy. Retribution followed swiftly, and I was locked in my room. It was that which kept me from a life of crime - hence being persuaded that prison is a deterrent, which it is not, of course. The next week more punishment, accidental. Climbing trees after church I gouged my leg to the bone. I had to have it dressed daily at the village nurse. I was sent on my own - and a neighbour looked straight at me 'You stole Mrs Lomas's daffs, didn't you'. Oh, the shame. When manic never any of the things mentioned above - just starting crazy schemes. Just had one, not manic - 8 people, two total strangers among them, piled into my kitchen for lunch - I suppose I'll get cleared up - given that I think I cracked a rib in Sunday's fall, my printer does not work because a wire's pulled out and I can't crawl, and the lap-top we use as an internet radio won't work. Didn't somebody say something about 'Life's Rich Tapestry'?

the room above the garage Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 5:25pm

Goodness Mary, you are having a bumpy ride. I hope very soon a new calm comes and you can reap the benefit of this time of hard work. Whilst drugs aren't for me...i hope they are for you and could be just the steady you need. "Just keep swimming" said Dory. Love ratg x.

DAVE Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 10:23pm

Thank you Mary, you're a star.

Once when I wa high I was made aware of my mood by my wife, since that time I have managed to train myself in depth, of an awareness of how I, in that mood, saw through the eyes of those around me....In time I was able to manage the highs, and took control of.....

1...What exited my mouth, so as not to offend anyone, a deep sensitivity and empathy of others immediately in view. Over time It allowed me to take control in those 'High' periods.

2...Never to allow myself to be offended, by others thoughts, words and Deeds.

3...Self Confidence grew and through striving to always do the right thing in ANY circumstances.

When these three above are in place....Consistently, my life gradually became my own and my sub-Conscious became clear of contention toward anyone, family, friends and strangers.

As a consequence, I have been off all drugs for over four years.

Just my thoughts aloud !

Good luck Mary,

Joanne Thu, Dec 8th 2016 @ 5:15am

How strange- after reading your blog on drugs last week I had been framing in my head a response about my own experience which led me eventually to the wonders of Lamotrigine.
I went though repeated depressive episodes, undiagnosed until I was in my later 40s, but then I really hit the buffers and was prescribed antidepressants. These worked, but as I tried to reduce the dose the depression kept returning. I recognised early on in life, probably by the age of about 6, that my moods seemed much more changeable than other people's, varying from very bouncy and bright, through brief periods of neutral, down into a default mood of melancholy, followed by what I can only describe as The Doom. I gave this spectre an amusing name but the experience is anything but amusing- the sheer terror and paralysing fear of depression is horrid, so thank you Mary for writing so perceptively about that.
Anyway... after my initial (and life saving) experience of antidepressants what I began to notice was that the cycling of moods was becoming more frequent and that they were becoming more extreme; what had once been productive and perky was now febrile and spiky, on the other hand "The Doom" was now a constant shadow. I was pulling out all the stops trying to "self-manage" but this wasn't enough. My GP referred me to the consultant psychiatrist; she diagnosed bipolar and started me on Lamotrigine. That was 2 years ago now and things are indescribably better- it is a slow build-up, probably at least 6 weeks to feel the difference which felt like forever, but once there things became much more stable. I still go up and down but the ride is no longer Alton Towers- much more manageably Legoland. The Doom hasn't made a reappearance; I do still get uncomfortably "up" at times and really have to watch my sleep and work levels, but that's a small price to pay for sanity.
I wish you all the best of luck with Lamotrigine- and it's good to get the message out that drugs can really help if you get the right ones. I think too that many people too are being treated for depression when actually they may be bipolar (easy to muddle, especially bipolar2) and what is less well known is that if you are bipolar, straightforward antipressants on their own can make the cycling of moods worse.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Dec 8th 2016 @ 4:45pm

Thank you so much Joanne. i really appreciate your words, and especially hearing that you do still go up and down, but the kiddie roller coaster instead of the Smiler or Oblivion! I would miss my wildly creative episodes if they were to stop altogether - and I do fear to lose my identity by "giving in" to the drugs. You put my mind at rest.

Mj Fri, Dec 9th 2016 @ 3:42am

Trust yourself M. I know I do. Your wisdom has passed the test of time.

You must login to leave a comment.

What is Moodscope?

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. If you’d like to receive these daily posts by email, just sign up to Moodscope now, completely free of charge.

Moodscope is an innovative way for people to treat their own low mood problems using an engaging online tool. Anyone in the world can accurately assess and track daily mood scores over a period of time. We have proved that the very act of measuring, tracking and sharing mood can actually lift it. Join now.

Blog Archive


Posts and comments on the Moodscope blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Moodscope makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any of the links.

Moodscope will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

We exist to help people to positively manage their moods. You can contribute by taking the test, sharing your experience on the blog or contributing funds so we can keep it free for all who need it.

Moodscope® is © Moodscope Ltd 2018. Developed from scales which are © 1988 American Psychological Association. Cannot be reproduced without express written permission of APA.