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Twos and Zeros. Wednesday August 2, 2017

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

I tell everyone about Moodscope.

Well, okay, it hasn't got quite as far as me hunting down perfect strangers and holding them down while I expostulate on the therapeutic benefits of this wonderful app and how it's helped me feel totally sane...

I'm not quite sure that would have the right effect, somehow.

But I do tell a lot of people. In fact, I wrote a blog about it (Out and Aloud, if not Proud – 10th May 2017). Most especially, I show them my graph. When people comment on how well I look these days; how settled; how steady; I whip out my phone and show them my graph.

Because it's really rather dramatic: I've gone from looking like a cut-through diagram of the Alps to something more closely resembling the Fen Country where I live. Yes, from 6th February, when the therapeutic dose of my medication kicked in, things have been – well, really rather boring.

In a good way, I hasten to add. Oh yes – in a good way. Let me remind you of that Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." Give me boredom any day of the week.

But – I do kind of – miss the 3s. Because now – all the red cards get a 2. Every single time. (Well, occasionally a couple of them might slip down to 1s if I'm tired or stressed).

The creativity is there. The drive is there – in fact my business has taken off in a way I haven't seen for nearly ten years and I can now tend and nurture it properly.

What isn't there, is the urgency; the single-minded focus that would galvanise that creativity so I could write fifty thousand words in a month or go from nowhere to being number two in a sales team of 80 inside six months.

What isn't there now is that sense of flying, of invincibility, of god-like immortality.

On the other hand, what also isn't there is the price paid by friends and family when I was off on one of my highs. It was they who suffered the selfishness, the arrogance, the intolerable rudeness and insensitivity... I am not a nice person in my mania phase.

So, I miss the feelings and, to be honest, the results – plugging away at my novel a thousand words at a time is not as exciting as writing a chapter every night; going as fast as my characters could keep up. Slow and steady is not as thrilling as the awe I generated when I shot through the roof with my sales.

But those feelings were like those (I imagine) generated by cocaine. They were illusory and destructive, and the unsustainable productivity was inevitably followed by a crashing loss. I was playing snakes and ladders where the snakes were longer than the ladders and the serpents always won.

So, I'll take the 2s and be grateful. And the zeros on the blues. This is one case where flat-lining is best.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Molly Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 1:00am

Mary, this is a very apt blog after Leah's. Along similar lines. I am very sceptical about medication. I take two out of the three I was prescribed but I like to know what is doing what and I am not very good at even taking a pain killer unless I am desperate. Vitamins when I remember! Food is even a struggle these days. It is great that you have found something that works for you, even if it means you are rather flat. I think if it takes away the severe lows and the severe highs, it is definitely worth it. Molly xx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 8:44am

Hello Molly. The timing of this is (I believe) coincidental, as I submitted it three weeks ago. I hope we bipolar people are not running away with the site which, of course, is here to help anyone who suffers with depression, most of whom cannot relate to the mania part of bi-polar. Until my forties I would not relate, as I simply not no idea that my "happy, energetic" times were hypomania. Like you, for many years I was loathe to take medication. I went onto antidepressants only because my responsibilities as the mother of two young children meant I absolutely had to function somehow. Even after diagnosis, I refused the recommended medication because of the side effects and a fear of losing "myself". Again, only desperation drive me back to the medics. Even then, I only agreed to this medication once I had researched it thoroughly. I have to confess, however, that, with a history of migraines, painkillers have been a must!

Leah Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 10:19am

Mary I submitted my blog nearly 3 weeks a go too,another coincidence. I think people are interested in finding out more about bipolar. Also your blog explains how you use the test to help you chart your moods.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 12:24pm

Thank you Leah. You are always so kind. Kindness is one of the great virtues.

Kelly Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 1:28pm

I'm with you in many ways Mary. I finally accepted my diagnosis after a crisis situation this year (I'm in my mid-30s). Bipolar had been suggested before but I was unwilling to accept it (I think deep down I was afraid of losing the higher times in my life...which reflecting back were definitely hypomania if not mania at times)...but in the hospital last month a psychiatrist sat down with me and got my full history and put me on a mood stabilizer along with my anti-depressant...and honestly that mood stabilizer has already been a game changer for me...and I've been doing some reading and I went through a partial program after I got out of inpatient...and I'm accepting that diagnosis now. It helped too that my case manager at partial also has bipolar and she put it to me in no uncertain terms that to really be able to handle the lows we had to to level off the highs too.

Molly Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 6:23pm

I don't think it is a coincidence, I think Caroline likes to put blogs on in a certain order and that it was good that it followed on with the same topic. I find all mental illnesses interesting. Thanks for your response. Molly xx

David Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 6:46am

Hello, I seem to tread on too many Moodscopers toes so I will keep this Short and Sweet.I was one of the original starts ups With Jon and have found it a very useful tool for monitoring Moods and informing my Medical practitioners, who look after my Health, as they are linked to me wherever I am in the World.

Regarding today's blog, my average is 77 % which is good for myself and I can maintain 100% for 3 months at certain times but have to relax and rest as it is not good to maintain this level.

We all have different levels of mood and it is up to everyone to find their level of contentment it has taken me over 50 years to find this at age 68

Hope this is helpful and Good Luck to you all.

My real name is David Gosling.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 9:04am

Hello David, I am so sorry my toes seem so sensitive, they are normally made of tungsten steel! I quite agree that each of us has to find the level that is right for them. Your perfect level is 77, mine is 73. My therapist regularly scores 100%, a Moodscope buddy of mine has 62%. I had not realised that you were one of the founding members, David; you must be so proud of this achievement. Your comments are always appreciated, even if they provoke a reaction!

Orangeblossom Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 7:42am

Hi Mary, thanks for the blog which I enjoyed reading as ever. Whenever I feel depressed I call it feeling flat. July has been a flat month for me and I have found it rather difficult to keep going. Hasn't helped that the three of us have had a bad cough and cold. I also have to read a novel before going to bed. These days I sleep like a top but there was a time, when I was younger, when I did suffer from insomnia. I used to be an owl, being able to stay awake all night. Now I am up in the early morning.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 9:06am

Ah, sleeping through... I remember that... I am sorry you have been flat through July. Colds always pull one down. Best wishes for your recovery and a lifting of the flatness!

the room above the garage Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 8:24am

Hello Mary, it's funny...I can sometimes tell from your writing 'where' you are. I enjoy every piece I read and this "flatlining" only enhances it. There's increased tenderness and softness so its win win because you will be on the receiving end of how you feel about yourself. Not sure that makes sense but I hope so! Love ratg x.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 9:09am

Thank you so very much for saying that, RATG (Ratty). I too am conscious of the difference, but did not know if it was noticeable. It will be interesting to see where it goes! Love back to you.

The Gardener Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 11:13am

My scores are always pretty low now - 'enthusiasm' gets a low, not me, but the knowledge that it is unlikely any plans can come to fruition. So interesting, Mary, that you miss the 'highs' and that you miss the 'urgency'. I had decades between 'manic depression' and the awful 'non-life' living with Alzheimers. In that time, for the first time in my life I could 'organise', which I found marvellous for writing. I had the creativity, all the info (historical novels) told by a publisher's reader that I had a real gift for dialogue. Most of the first novel was written in Villefranche sur Mer, the second in Annecy. I would write solidly all morning - up to 3,000 words sometimes - then lunch, a long walk, read what I had written in the evening and plan for the next morning. What I had never envisaged was the characters (often minor ones) taking over and writing the story themselves - often the best bits. I hate violence, and 16th-17th century France in our area was violent going on brutal. I'd take a deep breath and dive in, not stopping till the scenes were over. I wrote a series of stories for a grand-child in the Far East - about a goose - and he took over. People encourage me to do more writing - but, no excuses, (much older, of course) but no way can I hope for the necessary routine and discipline to embark on a major work. I would like to continue children's stories, but in the despair which my situation often leaves me in difficult to write 'fun'. I hope, Mary, you will get used to 'stability!!'. Looking back on my manic phases they were spurious, and I doubt what I 'thought' I achieved was lasting.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 12:28pm

It's interesting that many people seem to find the manic phases deceptively productive. My latter ones were, for sure, as I could not maintain focus. My earlier, less high ones - I'm not sure. I think they were very productive. But I don;'t miss them. I love the smooth power of the engine, with the wheels on the round. Before it was either revving at 100mph without the wheels on the road, or flat by the side of the road, broken down! And - I sympathise with having to write violent scenes. My most recent I had to really get into my character's head - and he had shut off his emotions and was acting in an icy vacuum. Very interesting.

Geoff Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 1:03pm

Hi Mary, I like your description of your work being "slow and Steady." To me, it sounds like a definite step forward, whereas before the more manic progress may have started those old alarm bells ringing. Perhaps slow and steady is just theright pace for you at this time. :-)

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 1:24pm

I believe you are right. Thank you for commenting.

Lexi Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 2:30pm

Hi Mary, I loved your graph description as a "cut-through diagram of the Alps". It made me go back and look at my own graphs and I realized that they could be aptly described the same way. Though I rarely score a 3 on a red card ("Proud" always get a 0) I will frequently score a 2 on a blue. I have been on medication now for several years now. Is it helping? I went off it for a few months earlier this year, thinking that I didn't really need it, and really noticed the anxiety come back after about a month. ("Raging" as my ex fondly calls it. Though I do miss my weight when I was raging. Best diet around! :)) So now I am back on. But I'm not helping myself in other ways. I'm still drinking. Not running. Not meditating. Not seeing my therapist. Not doing the things that I know keep me well. My meds help keep me from falling so low that I cannot function or so high that I become a human tasmanian devil (the cartoon, not the animal). But I have to start helping myself in other ways. Drinking and meds - prob not a a good combination. Getting older and not taking care of myself - also not a wise recipe. I want to be around for my daughter. I want to be here, which is something I could not say when I was not on medication. Right now flatlining would be a good thing for me too. So thank you for your reminder. I think I am going to start making some healthy changes today. xo Lexi

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 2:50pm

Ah Lexi, we are often our own worst enemy, rather than being a good friend to ourselves. I have recently realised I drink too much late at night, so have started to go to bed earlier (see next week's blog). The meditation you mention is a good idea but, like you, I don't like seeing my therapist until there really is a problem. As I know her socially, it is usually not until she says, in a firm tone, "Mary - you need to come and see me. I will book you in next week. I can do Thursday at 2pm." We could all make healthy changes together!

Molly Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 6:54pm

Hi Lexi, I am also bad at helping myself. I drink too much, I don't eat enough (used to love my food and now I don't even enjoy it), I forget to take vitamins etc, I don't exercise enough....the list goes on..... I know that reading self help books and meditation help me but I rarely do either. I know I could benefit with some more therapy but need someone like you have Mary - to say "Thursday at 2pm" !! Unless I am in a rare 'doing' mood - I fail on all counts !! It is a good reminder to get my act together !! I also struggle to leave the house but that is another story !! Like you, I tried to come off my medication with disastrous consequences so it is one thing that I do try (mostly) to persevere with. Molly xx

Lexi Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 7:05pm

Hi Molly and Mary! My therapist sends me little check in emails..."just thinking about you and hope you'e well...." which is my gentle nudge to set up an appointment. I too drink too much at night - so funny that you said that about going to bed earlier Mary - I have thought that I should do that too. I did at one point think that I would go running in the evenings to eat up the hours- hah! My couch wins out, every time. But today I've decided to make a change and stop drinking for a bit, see if I can't get myself out of this funk and start feeling better about myself. And my waistline. I'll keep you posted!

Molly Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 8:08pm

Gosh I need a therapist like that! As for going to bed early, what happens to me if I do, I wake up in the night, wide awake, so I fight it. I have never had a problem sleeping at all until the last couple of years, now insomnia has hit me. I guess it coincides with not working (not only am I not using any energy up but I have nothing to get up for!) Yes, please, let us know how you get on and you may well give me further inspiration :-) xx

David Wed, Aug 2nd 2017 @ 11:21pm

Molly, I have found sleep is crucial to managing bipolar. I could like Margaret Thatcher survive on 2 or 3 hours a night but what the lady did not rebut this statement with that she cat napped. Now I take medication to assist me to sleep as the brain require a period of retaini#ng memories like a Computer. Have a discussion with your medical specialist.

Bipolar is a very capricious condition, very difficult to diagnose and treat.

When well I treat it as a very good gift from God. I can achieve my extensive goals and now a bucket list till I die with unbelievable energy and fortitude.

I have reached the highest levels in my professions and achieved what some people can only dream about.

I work for an organisation called Control Risks ( Google it) and very proud to.

When unwell it can be evil.

David Gosling

Kelly Thu, Aug 3rd 2017 @ 1:47am

So true. I hate that fact because it's so hard for me to do...

Mary Wednesday Thu, Aug 3rd 2017 @ 10:57am

Thank you David. I have googled control risks. Not quite sure if the company I found (security risks, politic risks etc) is you.

Molly Thu, Aug 3rd 2017 @ 1:22am

Thank you for your response David, I don't have bipolar, but I am on medication, it doesn't help me sleep however, or maybe only for a couple of hours, then wide awake. I also achieved my dream job, part of my problem now, as when it ended, a big part of my life went with it. To be put on some pedestal, only to be thrown off it (for no fault of my own) is hard to swallow. Thank you for opening up on here, I find it much easier to relate to you now you are saying more. I hope you continue to do so. Molly xx

David Thu, Aug 3rd 2017 @ 7:51am

A few more notes from me.

I have had many dream jobs but because of the condition also lost them.
One career position was with Westminster City Council where I was climbing the stairs of Local Government for over 10 years.

This was in the era of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister and Dame Shirley Porter.

Corruption and maladministration were rife with morale at rock bottom I wrote to the Queen of Holland that the Dutch war graves Commission graves in Golders Green cemetery were not being maintained, due to being sold off, who then wrote to our Queen that something was done.

All of this made me very ill and I went to the Council Doctor who recommended early retirement at the age of 40 I received a very substantial sum of compensation and an indexed pension for life.

I then worked for the Royal Household but this was also very stressful so I emigrated to Australia for 10 years.

You will have to read my book SIMPLY THE BEST and THE BEST IS YET TO COME, to see how far I have come to the present day with the condition.

I have studied this condition by studying and meeting many famous celebrities over the years and consider myself an expert by experience.

It appears in many intellectual persons from Winston Churchill to many writers, poets and artistic people.

Some have led short lives due to Suicide and I have come close by attempting by default 2 times in my life but was saved by the N.H.S. in The Royal United Hospital in Bath.

I now at age 68 enjoy my lifestyle after all this adversity.


David Gosling

Molly Thu, Aug 3rd 2017 @ 7:15pm

Hi David, thanks for sharing all of this. It sounds like you have had a very interesting life. I didn't lose my job because of my mental illness, we were all made redundant, but the job certainly aggravated my health and I needed time to recover. You give me hope that there is a future for me, once I have the strength to 'get back out there'. Molly xx

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