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We have Normality. I Repeat, We Have Normality. Wednesday March 22, 2017

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

Aficionados of Douglas Adams will recognise this quotation from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are rescued from certain death in space by the Starship Heart of Gold, operated by the Infinite Improbability Drive.*

Our heroes experience some pretty weird stuff, before the ship restores a probability factor of 1:1 – normality.

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

I've had a few weeks of "normality" now, but today? Irritable, hostile and agitated.

Normally, when the children say, "Mummy, why are you so sad/tired/angry/grumpy?" I have to say, "I don't know, darlings. It's just part of the cycle. It's not your fault: it's not anyone's fault – it just is."

But not today. Today I know exactly why.

No – I'm not going to bore you with too much information. Anyone who has a family will know that things don't always run smoothly. There are times when I feel like Prometheus, chained to a rock, while ravens eat my insides (and yes, I know it was an eagle in the original). Every night I heal, and every day it starts all over again. I love my family, I do. But no family is easy.

Just because you are not depressed doesn't mean everything is sunshine and roses.

Sometimes it seems harder. Suddenly there are no more excuses. If this new medication works long term, then I have no reason at all not to succeed long term. And success is important to me.

I want to be a successful business woman, a successful writer, a successful mother. The bipolar cycle that has bound me in barbed chains for so long has been lifted; I am free!

And it's frightening.

There are all the "normal" feelings of inadequacy, fear, self-doubt. But these are only the same feelings everyone has. It's time to pull up my big girl panties and face them. And I'm wondering how much of an excuse I have made my bipolar for not facing them before.

This feels like entering unfamiliar territory. While the ground was trembling beneath my feet, the only thing that mattered was staying upright and making some form of progress, or at least crawling forward. Or sometimes, just holding on; clinging to the side of the crevasse.

Now the earth is stable. There is nothing to impede my progress, except the perfectly ordinary slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

There are two things I need. I need stamina to just keep going, putting one foot in front of the other. And I need a way of reinforcing those big girl panties so they act as armour against that outrageous fortune.

Hmmm – why is there suddenly a picture in my head of a fantasy heroine scantily clad in bikini leather armour?

Is this me? I don't think I ever had the figure for that kind of thing.

But oh, if only!

A Moodscope member.

*For explanation of this, see

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

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Orangeblossom Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 7:32am

Hi Mary as always I found your blog thought-provoking & inspirational. Hope that you have a day that continues to build on your resilience & resourcefulness. You are obviously very honest with yourself & very self-aware.

Charlie Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 8:03am

How spooky, for some reason was laying awake last night trying to remember Arthur's name, and the final number they arrived at!
Mary, as ever a well-crafted blog, and strikes a chord - I was diagnosed in my early 40's, and struggled until relatively recently, with intermittent medical intervention. Hit 60 last year, and began to question, as you are now, whether I was though with depression, or using it as an excuse for not coping with life's rich pageant and its vicissitudes.
My feeling is that the mere fact that we can now think in that vein means that we have reached a higher level of understanding of how the moods affect us, and therefore better able to manage them?
Best wishes, Charlie.

Karen Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 8:09am

Really really happy for you.
We all need reminding that our mood swings are often 'appropriate' to what ever life confronts us with - so thank you for that reality check this morning.
I to have bipolar but I've come to look at it as Tripolar, Bipolar I think gives the impression I'm only ever above normal or below normal mood wise. Yet I have very definite periods of normal mood when every swing is appropriate to life events. A suggestion for your children understanding moods is an analogy of you being a chameleon - if normal mood is a green chameleon, hypermanic a neon orange chameleon and depressed a black chameleon. The analogy is we are human chameleons. The chameleon is the same animal all the time except its colour which changes in response to its environment. With bipolar at times our ability to just respond to the environment(life events) is a out of balance.
Again thank you for the reality check and I continue to hope your new meds are keeping you stay within a 'normal' mood range.

Med Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 8:12am

Hi Mary,

Loved your blog and you're so right about the internal messages I give myself because of my Depression - shouting at the kids/losing it if I'm tired and done too much all of which is excused (at least in part) in my mind (and sometimes hopefully others) under the heading of "I'm struggling/not well/Depressed". To be fair to you though this is a period of adjustment that you and to a lesser extent your family and friends are going through-a voyage of discovery! The inevitable "how long will this last" the scrutiny and potential over (sensitive) vigilance and analysis of moments/times/days when things aren't "right" and is that "normal" or the beginning of the end would certainly accompany it if it were me. A person without a mental health condition would not analyse the ins and outs of it and simply put it down to a bad day/being tired/over-reaction and not blame themselves or dwell on it as much. Good luck and enjoy this next phase. Med x

Brum Mum Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 8:55am

Successful business woman, writer and mother! Wow you set your sights high! The reality of 'normality' is hitting home but as Med says we are prone to give ourselves such a hard time. You are already a successful writer in terms of Moodscope with great appreciation of your beautifully crafted blogs. I hope the plateau continues and you find a way through which gives you comfort and peace.

Brum Mum Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 8:55am

Successful business woman, writer and mother! Wow you set your sights high! The reality of 'normality' is hitting home but as Med says we are prone to give ourselves such a hard time. You are already a successful writer in terms of Moodscope with great appreciation of your beautifully crafted blogs. I hope the plateau continues and you find a way through which gives you comfort and peace.

Tutti Frutti Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 9:21am

Hi Mary
An interesting blog but I don't agree with you today. You have found meds which have stabilised your condition which is great but you are writing as if you should be completely cured now. I would say that your bipolar is now managed rather than gone and that the meds are only part of the answer for managing your bipolar well. I think there are psychogical aspects to work on now that the brain chemistry is OK. There are obviously normal ups and downs in life but you may still be reacting more to them than someone without bipolar because of habitual thinking patterns/attitudes even though you are on the right meds. I have been on sodium valproate for 14 years now with only one major relapse after I messed up getting the meds and missed 5 days, but I still get short periods of depression quite frequently and this is generally when I have reacted in a slightly screwed up way to whatever life has thrown at me. I liked the HH Guide quote but you need to remember it is meant to be humourous. Just because things are stable there's nothing to say you should be able to manage everything without support.
Hope this helps make stuff look less frightening rather than feeling all negative.
Sending hugs TF xoxo

Mary Wednesday Thu, Mar 23rd 2017 @ 7:02am

Darling TF -you are quite right to say it is managed, not cured. I think I am still looking round, bemused, as I think "is this what most people experience?" It is still a novelty to me now and something for which I hope I will always be grateful, but I can understand why some bipolar people stop taking their Meds because they miss the excitement and thrill of the high; they miss the champagne in the blood feeling. I wonder if it will get boring after a while.... oh, I do hope not! And - I still have Easter and the autumn to get through. Only if I safely navigate those two rocky times will I know if this new drug really is effective.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Mar 23rd 2017 @ 7:15am

I have just realised that sounds as if I thought you have missed your Meds on purpose: not at all! And yes, as you say, the Meds are only half the story. I still have my support network and will continue to be grateful for it.I hope you do too.

Tutti Frutti Thu, Mar 23rd 2017 @ 8:35am

Hi Mary No offence taken. Certainly not deliberate as i got the tablets stuck in the chemist by being busy and stressed and not getting there before they closed. Then by the weekend things were already sufficiently squiffy that I addressed my issues by playing the piano for hours which I do find helpful but not when it makes you miss the chemist again. Anyway point i actually wanted to make was that I fell into this trap by just being a bit lackadaisical and thinking that the meds stay in your system for ages so it wouldn't matter too much if i missed it for a bit and prioritising other things. Although traces of the meds stay in your system the way the body processes it works on a half life, so amounts can decline very quickly if you stop taking it. After 5 days I think i only had about? 2% left of the proper dose. Different meds will have different half lives but please be very careful about taking your meds. After this incident I moved my repeat prescription to the chemist with the longest opening hours in my area.

Dolphin Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 9:23am

My dear Mary - of course you have the figure for the bikini and leather armour!! Anything is possible in our heads remember... In fact, the image feels immensely powerful - I'll borrow it for today (in my perfect figure) since I feel weepy and droopy and imagine you slaying dragons too. Go well today xx

Tychi's Mum Thu, Mar 23rd 2017 @ 3:24am

Does anybody remember the programme "Sheba - Princess of Power". She worked the leather and armour look very well! It made me think....can we all be Princesses of Power - well, maybe on a good day.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Mar 23rd 2017 @ 7:05am

What a powerful image! I shall definitely think about it. Although, like E Nesbit's The Last Dragon, I feel more inclined to tame dragons and keep them as pets rather than slay them. I wonder if that applies to metaphorical dragons too..... there maybe another blog there...

The Gardener Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 11:29am

My mood is possibly coloured by the weather, lack of sleep and hopeleness. The last few days have given me the idea that Moodscope has gone 'nihilistic'. I've clung to the idea of the 'blessings jar'. I know Moodscope is designed for people suffering from depression but could we have a day, like Red Nose day, when we just post something good that happened that day (or, negatively, something bad which did NOT happen)

Tutti Frutti Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 12:59pm

Hi Gardener, Positive stuff today - when I drove my daughter to school today (as she had food tech and needed my lasagna dish which weighs a ton) the traffic was ok both ways which is not guaranteed in suburban London. So she got to school on time and i got back in time for my Pilates class. And I actually like lasagna and think there is a chance the rest of the family will eat it so I won't have to cook tonight. Love TF x

Jul Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 2:24pm

You make me laugh Tutti Frutti. My positive is that we are in Spain, the sun is shining and everyone seems so cheerful, the Spanish especially. They have much to be cheerful about (if they need something) the tourist season is just beginning so lots of jobs if only seasonal and families getting ready to enjoy two weeks of sun. Enjoy your Lasagna TF! Julxxx

Mary Wednesday Thu, Mar 23rd 2017 @ 7:06am

TG, you are quite right. Next week's blog will be humorous and encouraging, I promise!

The Gardener Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 1:33pm

To Mary and Charlie - depression? Management of? More and more the problems of 'exogenous' and the opposite are more and more confused. 6 months ago the majority of people were charitable about Mr G and his awful behaviour - not his fault, he's been 'taken over' by Alzheimer. Now there is a huge sea- change - as other people are receiving the back-lash which was only meant for me - saying a strong vein of manipulation there, and 'using' his 'illness' to get his own way. Our brains are SO mysterious, and chemical reactions get mixed up with emotions and medication, how on earth can we know where, or who, we are. The day being bleak, I stuck a 'closed' notice on the shop door, hence thwarting late coffee hunters. We went out to lunch - a pretty major enterprise. Our chosen restaurant is marvellous - cynics could say we are good customers (we aren't, really). The Mont St Michel, regarded as a major terrorist target, has quadrupled the security 'forces'. 'Our' restaurant has the contract for feeding them. BUT. We arrive. Owner stops everything, and helps me to push/pull Mr G into the restaurant - where we are placed at a table where his wheel-chair won't upset anybody. Delightful waitresses arrive with our favourite aperos. Mr G has become a messy eater - the meal is served - he has a spoon and a tea-cloth to reply useless paper serviettes. TF - still have the basket with fifth child's name tag on for cookery classes (40 years ago). Huge consternation, they had to measure things! and I never possessed kitchen scales. Enjoy your lasagna.

Jul Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 2:31pm

Hello Gardener. Is it today you have collected Mr G from respite or was it last week? It's lovely when waitresses and waiters treat you well. It's not just about money or the tip at the end either. We ate out last night soon after we arrived in Spain and it seemed as if it was a real pleasure for the restaurant staff to serve us! Tell MR G that we all think he should be a lot nicer to you and perhaps he could make a special effort for you today. Tell him you will report back to us tomorrow and if he has been pleasant and kind to you, we will have a little message saying thank you to him. Julxx

The Gardener Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 4:18pm

Thanks Jul - oh, to be in Spain, love it. Mr G keeps harping on about marriage vows - apparently I am not keeping them and he's forgotten his. His dependency and possessiveness is driving me crackers

The Gardener Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 1:37pm

For Charlie, I only ever remember Dr Who (never seen a 'arrypotair' film, or sci-fi. Do remember Dr Strangelove - the weirdness of an american president tweeting to the world every night really gets me - can't we send him somewhere on a rocket? The North Koreans should be able to provide a suitable vehicle.

Tim Wed, Mar 22nd 2017 @ 10:26pm

"Is this me?" Yes it is. And it will be. And it was, deeply buried. But not the only "you". At least, not your only aspect. Thing is, we all have aspects. Some we like. Some not. We don't know why. We can't see it. Others sometimes can. Can show us. Slowly. We should listen. Being prepared, as unprepared for it as we are, to see our likeness differently.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Mar 23rd 2017 @ 7:09am

Dear Tim, your comments are so beautifully written. You must be a writer yourself. And profound. Your words give me to think. Yes, and to listen; to listen hard.

Tychi's Mum Thu, Mar 23rd 2017 @ 3:27am

Mary, I'm late replying so i'm not sure that you'll see this. I always love your blogs and this one gave me hope. Maybe, I too, will eventually find the cocktail of drugs that keeps me stable. Four years on and four different medications later...I'm still trying.
I am very, very happy for's fabulos news.
With love, Tychi's Mum.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Mar 23rd 2017 @ 7:12am

Oh, I do hope so, my darling. The right professionals help too. I took my consultant psychiatrist flowers yesterday, and a handmade thank you card. I am just so grateful. I also took him a all the moodscope reports I could print out, to show him just how effective this medication is. I am just so grateful to him.

Molly Sun, Mar 26th 2017 @ 11:35pm

So good to hear Mary and how lovely to give your psychiatrist flowers and a handmade card. Please could I have his number ? Just joking, but hope you continue to feel good. I keep meaning to listen to one of your audios which I will do some time. Molly

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