Cycling Downhill and Trying the Brakes

15 Feb 2000 – Diary
One of the more amusing, and heartening, observations has been that by around midday I have finished all my scheduled work for the day. This is not working at any superhuman speed. Rather, I no longer lose my ability to concentrate on what I am doing or spend my time dithering. I just plod through my work methodically and voilá, it is done. I often surprise myself on how easy it all is – and I wonder why I ever thought it was difficult.

I suspect this is how normal people get things done. Feels good. I’m using my extra time to catch up on work left hanging.

However I still feel as if I am indeed cycling down. Work isn’t quite as effortless as it was last week and I am getting difficulty in persuading myself to go swimming. I need to figure out what to do.

Since yesterday I increased my dosage of St. John’s Wort to 1800 mg daily (2 x 900 mg). I hope it makes a difference. I’m also been diligent in keeping to my schedule. And C. has been instructed to make sure that I get my exercise.

I suspect my cycles have not gone away. I am hoping that at worst I can hold my current state in the work I am doing and in my exercise plan and not backslide. Then when I cycle up again I can continue from where I am instead of regaining lost ground.

Having a two week cycle is a bloody nuisance. One week up is just enough time to start up something and get it going and one week down is just long enough so that it will crash to a halt.

16 Feb 2000 – Diary
Feeling a bit better overall today. It’s too early for me to start cycling up. Perhaps the increase in the dosage of the St. John’s Wort makes a difference. However, varied my schedule today, and felt slightly disoriented. I really do need to stick to a schedule once I make it. I also only had six hours sleep last night and I felt the worse for it today. I have to have least seven hours of sleep.

I also went walking instead of swimming. I like it that I have an option. This way on days when I am feeling lethargic and I am thinking to myself I don’t want to go swimming I can at least go walking. Or vice versa.

I suspect that is how my schedule is going to be. I’ll have a narrow set of options. That way when I don’t feel like doing what my schedule says, as tends to happen when I am depressed, I’ll have something else to slot in. And I won’t feel as disoriented as if I had done something completely spur of the moment. The options can be of different levels of difficulty so I can match them to how I feel.

18 Feb 2000 – Diary
The bad news is that I am starting to drift off schedule. Yesterday I didn’t go swimming and went to bed late. As a result I didn’t make up my schedule for today and I had problems getting up. I then changed my morning schedule, felt out of synch today, and didn’t do anything my to-do list had this evening.

The good news is that it could all have been prevented and things can work easily. All I need to do is stick to my schedule. I’ll be back on track tomorrow very little worse for the wear. I feel as if I am coming to grips with how I need to live my life and I feel very much in control. It’s a good feeling.

It is impressive how important the time of gong to bed is. One thing I do wrong one night and the problems cascade through the entire next day and the day after that. While I can recover gracefully, I don’t want to waste the time and energy. Hence the rigid schedule.

Just for the record, according to my records I am at the bottom of my down cycle, but I feel in pretty good condition. Score one for learning to manage my depression.

Carnival is also upon me (6/7 March). For the past few years I have gone manic and impressed my friends by going partying for four days nonstop with four to eight hours sleep in total. And I’ve had a brilliant time each year. Unfortunately, I have also usually remained hypomanic for another two weeks after Carnival.

This year in the interest of moderation and stability, I’ll be partying only for one day and trying to keep quiet and to my existing schedule. Nevertheless I think I will have a great time.

20 Feb 2000 – Diary
Drifted off my schedule yesterday, mostly due to the extremely loud all day Carnival party in the park next door. Extremely loud. Couldn’t think and fled the house for quieter quarters and got very little done.

I would have continued drifting if C. hadn’t caught me by the scruff, made me do a schedule for today, made me take my medication, and made me go to bed early. As a result today is reasonably well organised and I feel comfortable and alert.

I know it sounds as if things are bad. But they aren’t. With permission, C. was designed into my system for remaining on an even keel. If things are fine C. does nothing. If things start to go wrong, C. guides them back on track. Kinda like a sheepdog. I provide daily information to C. on what might happen in the next day or two and what to do under the circumstances.

It helps that C. has a light touch and knows how to get me to do what I am told without getting annoyed. I grumble as I follow instructions, but I do them anyway. And then we snuggle together.

I think it needs two people to keep me functioning well. It’s a bit hard to accept this as it implies I can’t make it on my own. But the fact is I can’t make it on my own. Whenever I try on my own I do badly. With C. providing support, I function at a completely different level of efficiency. The bruise to my ego about not making it on my own is completely overshadowed by the lift I feel about the number of things that are suddenly going well.

I’ve often felt that bipolar people do badly in relationships. It was almost a law. Now I’m beginning to think otherwise. But both people in the relationship have to come to terms with the bipolar issues and find a way to work with them. It’s a lifestyle change for both people, not just the bipolar person.

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