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Who Are You and What Have You Done With ME? Wednesday June 17, 2015

"We're doing a 5K fun run in September."

"A What?"

"You heard me. A Fun Run."

I shake my head in disbelief. "That's what I thought you said. But you've always considered the words "Fun Run" to be an oxymoron."

"Well – we're going to the gym. We're going to the slimming class. We need a goal. A Fun Run in September is a good goal. It's realistic and achievable. It meets all the SMART criteria for goals."

"But Emma!" My voice tails off. I can tell when it's useless to argue.

You remember Emma, don't you? You met her last week. She runs my brain. She's the management. And, like many management professionals I've worked with (and indeed, have been myself) she comes up with some really challenging ideas.

So, a fun run it is. Me – who can barely run for thirty seconds without my heart rate becoming alarmingly high. Me – who will never run for a bus on the principle that, if there's one bus already, then there's bound to be two more closely following.

I really don't recognise myself.

Of course Trevor (who believes in polar bears) doesn't like it – but this is not about him.

This is about Emma – who's terribly sweet and well-meaning but who gets carried away. I've had to take her on one side and just ask her a few questions. Well, one question really.

"Um - Emma?"

"Yes?" She looks up from the gym schedule she's studying.

"Am I on a "high" here with the bi-polar thing?"

There's a long pause. The pause gets longer and starts to feel uncomfortable.

"Ah, that's all the answer I need then, isn't it?"

Emma puts down the gym schedule. She doesn't put it away, but she puts it down. She reaches for the "Managing Mary's Highs" document. Good job we created this last time it happened, eh?

I hate to admit it – but the best way to avoid the downs becoming totally incapacitating is to manage the highs.

I need a lot more sleep than I've been giving myself. I need to cut the alcohol completely. I need to cut down on the number of commitments and goals I've set myself. I'll let you know more about this next week.

The fun run is still, tentatively, in the calendar. But Emma's a bit more controlled about it now.

It feels mean, reining her in like this. But it's for the best. We both know it's for the best.


A Moodscope member.

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Hopeful One Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 7:46am

Hi Mary- great post. Keep negotiating with Emma. You will win. We are rooting for you. And if you do manage it well remember to reward yourself for a fantastic achievement.

adrian Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 7:50am

Mary- a wonderful blog capturing the spirit of the internal dialogue.
In the end you can come to the best outcome. Good luck.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 8:38am

Oh - and for anyone who gets this far, please, I don't have schizophrenia - I just find it useful to anthromorphise the separate parts of my brain. As Adrian says above, it's a portrayal of the dialogue we all have inside ourselves.

Anonymous Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 8:44am

This is brilliant Mary! I'm not bi-polar but I recognise precisely this situation. I'm loving your new approach. Can't wait for the next instalment :-) love from the room above the garage x.

Anonymous Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 8:59am

Such fun,Mary, such fun! Running? Pah, I ran up the stairs yesterday and thought there was someone else behind, it was just my bottom catching up!

Now this may put additional pressure on you from Emma and the rest of us, but if you DO decide to do the Fun Run (am with you on the oxymoron bit about this) ...maybe we could all sponsor you? And raise money for your favourite chariddee...??
Soz if this adds to Trevor's (he who likes polar bears) and your woes!
Brill blog! Karen x

Anonymous Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 9:04am

Thanks for the e-mail Mary. The funny thing is, I have a friend Emma who is a bit hyperactive but as far as I know does not suffer from bi-polar. She always takes part in marathons and colour fun runs. The reason I signed on to Moodscope is my niece. She is 20 and she is bi-polar. At this very minute, she is hospitalised because she stopped taking her meds 6 months ago and developed a hypomania. She had to be arrested by the police and taken to hospital, that is how bad it was. It's all new to us - she was diagnosed about 2 years ago but in my country there is no real understanding about this illness and people are not much aware of it. I did recognise some of the mania symptoms a few weeks ago but she would not listen to me. She totally refused to take her meds because 'they make me fat'. Now she is inadequate and under lots of drugs. She has hallucinations and delusions. I don't know how to help her?!

Caroline Ashcroft Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 9:52am

Sorry to hear about your friend. It must be awful for her, but also so difficult for you to observe. A really helpful site that has information about hypomania is At least she is in the right place at the moment where she can at least be monitored and receive some help. Well done you for spotting the signs. Once she’s stable again, perhaps you can talk to her about it and tell her that you could see what was happening and she may then listen.

Good luck. Kind regards. Caroline

Leah Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 9:56am

Hopeful One,
A few days ago you asked what'devestation' following ones high meant to a person with bipolar. Everyone ha a unique experience so I can only speak for myself. The devestation I felt was the slow recognition of what I had done when I was high. Generally this included;spending far too much money on useless items , so being broke and in debt,realising I had damaged relationships, my health, my career, my education and my reputation. I also had to admit I had hurt family and friends so much that many would not talk to me or accept my apologies. All this reality dawned on me while I was very depressed. I think sometimes highs are portrayed in a romantic creative way and maybe this is true for some people but for me while it was enjoyable at the time like floating on air the effects were longlasting. Alas such is the seductive nature of a high that as soon I was no longer depressed I welcome the highs completely forgetting the damage caused by the last one. Cheers Leah

Leah Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 9:58am

Thanks for your blog, It is interesting how people can experience the same diagnosis very differently. All the best with your endeavours.Leah

Anonymous Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 10:40am

How brave of you Leah, to admit to us all what the highs meant to you and to also have to apologise to family and friends who had been hurt by you. I do hope they have come to terms with your honesty and your illness that makes you this way...the same as you obviously have. It is hard when you realise how badly you have behaved even when it's partly not your fault. But if peeps won't or can't forgive, you must let them go and continue on your own journey without them. I don't want this to sound patronising but wow, well done you. Karen x

Les Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 11:38am


As in bring humour into a serious subject takes courage and vulnerability.....two things which enable others to possibly feel they have, or are being heard and do it brilliantly.


Leah Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 11:39am

Thanks so much for your thoughtful words. I don't feel brave.
I am in awe of your bravery Mary in your plan to control and tame your highs- something I have never managed!
Thanks again Karen as your words really touched me. Leah

Di Murphey Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 12:25pm

Dearest Mary-Love,
Can you hear me laughing hysterically all the way across the pond? It is with deep regard I say to you, "...well done my friend!..." You make so much sense ~ and the application to my own psyche frighteningly aligns. Thank you. I think we might be Sisters.

Julia Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 1:05pm

Hi Leah. Your description of the after effects of a high were so helpful. I have always wanted to experience more than the odd high day every now and again and for those wonderful feelings of happiness and self confidence to carry on for ever. But maybe the down days which follow are nearer to normal do you think? I was going to reply to you Mary just to say wouldn't it be lovely to know what normal feels? Honestly I cannot remember what normal feels like but reading Leah's words, maybe the high days are not normal. My aim in life for the last many many years has been to achieve a long lasting "high" which might become normal because the novelty of the high would wear off and I would just become and be happy with the new me. But I just don't think it's going to happen! Thank you Mary for bringing this issue to the fore and to Leah for her comment. I have a lot to think about now but in a good way.

Anonymous Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 3:38pm

A beautiful post, Mary! And if you and your team decide that a 5k is the way to go, may I suggest this wonderful site for women runners? It's focused on honoring the reasons we run and the journey, not about setting records.

-Susan, runner of very slow 5Ks

Laura Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 4:16pm

Mary, good for you for noticing the signs of your mania. You've named that part of your brain "Emma"; I just call mine "The Monster part of me". Maybe I would have a little easier time if I gave mine a plain old name? I am Bipolar Type II, so I've only been manic a few times (for very short periods of time). I once felt confident, happy, and energetic for three months, which is what I thought "normal" must be like - then my psychiatrist told me I was hypomanic. I was devastated. I would give anything to feel like that again...I spend 95% of my time depressed to some degree, and that's been really bad for the last week or so, with not a second of relief. I have to manage my lows like you have to manage your highs - I have made a Safety Plan, which has warning signs I need to look out for and what to do/who to call if I notice them. My shrink is forever tweaking my meds. Staying positive and trying to do the next right thing take tons of energy (which I rarely have) and sometimes feel like a chore. You do what you need to do, Mary. Keep paying attention and taking care of yourself. :)

The Entertrainer Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 4:46pm

Great writing Mary, and so clever to create the internal characters to go with the internal dialogue.
I used to talk about "The Fanatic in the Attic" and the "Fellah in the Cellar"... think it might be time to give them names and have them visit my heart for tea!

Anonymous Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 5:42pm

Oh Lex I love this "The Fanatic in the Attic" and the "fellah in the Cellar" - just brilliant - thank-you.
And Mary, thank-you so much - I really enjoyed last week's blog; it was as if someone had switched a light on for me ... my names though are different
Trevor = Mum and Emma = Dad
Really looking forward to next week's blog!

Anonymous Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 10:23pm

You nailed it, Mary! Spot on. Say hello to Emma for me. Libby

Anonymous Thu, Jun 18th 2015 @ 8:23am

Thank you Caroline!

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