Just When I Thought I was Stable

It is ever so with things that Men begin,
there is a frost in Spring,
or a blight in Summer,
and they ever fail of their promise.
— J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.”

13 August 1999 – Diary
It’s been a week since I have written in my diary. The upswing that started last weekend did not quite work and I spent the earlier part of the week depressed. Mildly, but enough to affect functionality at office. Came out of it on on the 11th Aug when my aunt and cousins came to spend the night. Like before, the presence of people around me tends to pull me out of depression.

The way I have been feeling over the last three weeks is peculiar. I feel as if I am mildly depressed, but that each time I cycle up out of the depression I knock my head on normality (or something close to it) for a day or so and then bounce back into depression. No hypomanic part of the cycle. I’ve been taking the medication (Epilim/Lithium) sporadically, so that may be causing it, but I wonder if the medication itself is preventing me from getting out of the depression.

I usually use the hypomania to jumpstart being active again. But both Lithium and Epilim suppress mania, so I may not be getting my usual boost to get out of the depression. And without the boost, I may not be able to pull myself out the depression. Or at least it would be far harder work than normal.

Since it is a new problem, I have had to learn to cope with it. Step one had been to call my psych one week ago. She was on vacation and cannot see me until next week. I did the appropriate thing, which is to courteously thank the receptionist, hang up the telephone and then curse her roundly. I am seriously considering changing psychologists – her receptionist should have had a system making appointments for me with another psychologist. She doesn’t and in my state I do not have the capability to find someone else.

Step two has been to start back taking medicine regularly. This has been a big failure. I did not have the capability to put my car keys in the correct place when I reached home on afternoons, far less for taking medicine regularly. Every attempt by others to get me to take my medication has failed since I think that the existing combination of medicine is contributing to my continued depression and I resist taking it, even though I know I should.

Yesterday I decided to do the drastic solution. I couldn’t get a prescription antidepressant, but St. John’s Wort is supposed to be as effective as many of them. So I got that and started taking it. I was relatively responsible, checked up on side effects as well as interactions with Epilim / Lithium / Tegretol before I took it. The only thing I have to worry about is that antidepressants theoretically can send send me manic.

This morning I wake up exhibiting many of the signs of hypomania. Now I really don’t know what to do.

If I take another dose of St. John’s Wort I may go really manic. But the St. John’s Wort is not supposed to take effect so soon, so I may just be having my natural cycle up out of depression. Or I may be hypersensitive to St. John’s Wort, as I am to Tegretol and Epilim. Or I may be extremely susceptible to the placebo effect. I need advice on what to do.

On the other hand I am hypomanic and the day went just fine. I got quite a bit of work done.

The psychologists who say “just take your medication and live your life” have clearly never had times like this. If I “just live my life,” I am guaranteeing that tomorrow will be a disaster. I have to be aware of my moods and the possible direction of mood swings.

I’ll have to go back to the psych next week to redo my medications. This will be for my fifth try at a combination that will stabilise me consistently over a period of time.

Hurrah! I’m back to step one. October 1997, here we come again.

Just for the record, my work life is in some shambles and my family and social life has faltered dramatically. Again. And I now have to get rid of my extra weight and worry about my teeth (being bipolar is irritating in all sorts of ways – for the nearly three weeks of I have been eating junk food for dinner, and I have been too apathetic to brush my teeth at night. I may have started getting gum disease).

This is becoming too much of an effort to do regularly. There is a time not too far in the future that I will not bother to set my life in order again, and remain helplessly enmeshed in my problems until someone else bails me out.

19 August 1999 – Diary
One week down the line. No clear idea of what happened in the last week – one of the typical symptoms of depression. This web page should have been posted to the net a week ago, but I have been too apathetic to do anything.

Amazingly I held a family gathering of 30 people at my apartment on Sun 15 Aug and was able to pull it off with minor problems only. However, it took me all of Friday night, and all of Saturday and Sunday to organise food. I was very very slow moving and distracted and only the thought of people showing up at my house got me to do anything at all. And I wasn’t quite so depressed as all that, thankfully.

No one at the party thought I was behaving oddly, but everybody thought I looked tired, one of the symptoms of being depressed. I also felt a bit out of it, not tired, but as if I were floating slightly, and there was too much noise and confusion to cope with.

Monday to today have been a disaster.

Everything that has ever been wrong with my life has come back to defeat me.

I took half day on Monday because I was afraid to go back to office after lunch. No reason, just an unspecified anxiety.

Tuesday I stayed home and did not venture out of the house at all. Did not do anything. My mother called to ask me if I need to stay at home to relax and I said yes, but it really isn’t relaxing, it is putting my mind on hold. Spent most of the day playing Minesweeper and Hearts on the computer and reading the same mindless magazines over and over. I did not have enough capability to read something that requires concentration. Heck, I didn’t have enough concentration to play Free Cell on the computer.

Wednesday I went to work, but only because my mother visited me in the morning and stayed with me until I put on my work clothes and left the house. But I couldn’t concentrate to do much. Spent the day in anxiety that someone might actually ask me to do some work or ask for some feedback on work I was to have done. My brother eventually wandered into my office after lunch to see me poring over a routine document. I had had it in front of me for over one hour and still had no idea what action to take on it. He commented on how tired I looked and I took it as an escape to go home early even though I had over ten hours sleep the night before.

Almost did not go to my godfather’s birthday party. Arrived last, about one and a half hours late. He is not well at all and complained that I had not visited him once in the last two weeks, which was true. He is ill and may die soon, and I am going to feel terribly guilty that I did not spend much time with him. I hate the way being bipolar forces me to become uncaring, tears apart relationships that I value so much.

Today I came to work only because if I hadn’t I would not have been able to FedEx my package for C. to receive it on Friday, an absolute deadline date. I had all the documents ready since 12 August but couldn’t organise myself to call FedEx to collect it.

I almost cried on my way to work, it was so hard to force myself to get there. People say bravery is forcing oneself to do things one is afraid to do. Being depressed forces one to be very very brave. And for so little – imagine, to be as courageous as the greatest hero, just to reach to work.

Did very little work again. Pretended to do work by making refinements on the company’s payroll program, none of which had any priority. But it kept me from having to talk with anyone. I don’t think I spoke to anyone at all unless it was absolutely desperately necessary.

This afternoon I seem to be better. I don’t know whether to start back medication, or whether to wait until I see my psych again. I just don’t want to be depressed again for a whole month.

I also wonder whether if I will ever be competent to hold down a job without support from my family. The implications regarding my mortgage and car loan are frightening. Certainly at the moment the only place I feel I can work is in our family business. Everywhere else I may be as much a liability as an asset.

Guess how confident that makes me feel?

Now that I can think again, I realise that I may have missed the registration for evening classes I wanted to take. I may have to wait until next August to register again. Should I laugh or cry.

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