Right now though? Right at this very minute?
The truth is I’m hypomanic. It’s 4.08am and I’m typing like an olympic touch typist.
To be or not to be? That is the question.
Isn’t it though?
Eight and a half years ago years ago I found myself in a state of bewilderment and confusion following a session with my then psychiatrist.
What had been said in her consulting room was too much to take in.
I mean, come on, bipolar 2? Me?
I’m not sure about that.
As I walked through the hospital grounds to get back to my car I began to examine the facts before fully accepting this diagnosis.
I mean yes, I could feel great. Like, really great!
At times I was overflowing with a magical energy, whereby I doubt even a hyperactive border collie with 101 fields of sheep to round up could compete.
I would wake up in the morning desperate to embrace whatever adventures the day may bring.
I felt inspired and creative. Joy spilled out of every pore.
The house was immaculate and the washing completely up to date.
Even my holiday wardrobe was washed. Well it needed to be done, surely? Why hadn’t I done it before now? How lazy.
My to do list? What to do list? It was a ‘to done’ list.
My focus to start and complete every little task compared only to the focus of a dragonfly catching an insect. It would be done with precision and speed, and I’d feel beautifully ‘full’ once it was ticked off the list.
A 5 series box set? That would be viewed in it’s entirety in 5 days.
And how did I fit it all in?
I barely slept.
I barely needed any sleep to function, and to function at full tilt too.
It may have taken until 5.30am to tick that last tick, but with this abounding energy, that was ok.
Sleep and recovery time?
There was nothing I couldn’t achieve when the happy button lit up.
But that’s good isn’t it? Or is it?
So the flip side.
OK so I got depressed. Horribly depressed. In the past this unbearable darkness has been so all consuming and overwhelming that it’s led me to feelings of unbearable desperation.
I got anxious about anything and everything.
I got overwhelmed.
At times I would feel as though I was walking through tar with the energy of a lazy orangutan. They’re the animal equivalent of a human couch potato apparently. Who knew?
Getting up in the morning was almost impossible. It was like raising the Titanic. But why would I get up? What was the point? Nothing mattered anyway.
Showering and washing my hair was so out of the question that dry shampoo came into play. Sometimes.
At the other end of the day, the routine of cleansing my face and brushing my teeth was so daunting that I sometimes put off going to bed in favour of remaining on the sofa into the early hours of the morning.
Lost, lonely, desperately sad and exhausted.
Empty and weak, crying so hard inside but too numb to cry real tears.
These were the facts.
This was my life as I knew it.
But bipolar? Was that what bipolar is?
Yes it was. And it is. At least that’s what it is to me.
Up until that day I had been treated for depression and anxiety.
I had been prescribed Prozac, off and on, from the age of 17.
I was advised to take up a new hobby, meet friends for coffee, or go for a run in an attempt to ‘shake off the blues’.
There was no way the gremlin was ever going to be frightened off by a catchup with friends or a quick run round the park.
So yes. I slowly began to accept that not only was I living with bipolar in that moment, but that I had been doing so for as long as I can remember.
Bipolar can sometimes take years to manifest, but for me, it was always there.
As my new diagnosis began to sink in, there was a mixture of utter relief but also anxiety.
What was life with bipolar going to be like? Would I behave differently? Would my mood swings become unmanageable?
The fact is that nothing had changed that day in the psychiatrist’s consulting room. I had always lived with bipolar, only up until that point had only received treatment for half of my symptoms.
Now we would be covering all bases.
The mood stabiliser, Lamotrogine 250mg, was to work wonders in doing exactly what it said on the tin.
That, along with the anti-psychotic, Aripriprazole 5mg and the anti-depressant, Citalopram 40mg are the key to my wellbeing.
Self awareness and insight are also great tools in my armoury.
Relief! Oh what a joyous and light feeling of relief!
For me, and many bipolar 2 sufferers, the hypomanic episodes are few and far between compared to the depressive lows.
And even throughout these highs, there’s a frightened and nervous me dreading the inevitable low to follow.
As exhausting as these highs are, I don’t want them to stop. I fight to remain in this unnatural state of joy because, well, it’s fabulous. What’s not to love?
I also fight the end of a high though in a bid to stave off the impending low.
Now you may have noticed that when I was describing life pre-diagnosis, I was talking in the past tense.
The reason for that is that although I still get many periods of being in a depressive low, and episodes of hypomania, they are generally more manageable than they once were.
After weeks and weeks of intensive therapy, and finding the right combination of drugs, these episodes tend to be less severe and last for a few days at most rather than weeks.
And in between these periods of depression or hypomania are periods of ‘normality’. Of balance and perspective.
Right now though? Right at this very minute?
The truth is I’m hypomanic.
It’s 4.08am and I’m typing like an olympic touch typist.
Thoughts are running through my head so quickly that I keep having to stop and remind myself where I am and what I’m doing.
It’s ok though. It’s ok. I’m sitting on my outsize love seat in the safety of my own home.
Handsome Doc is asleep next door and MK is tucked up in his room.
It will be ok. Breathe.
I’ve been up for 23hours and haven’t stopped for even 23 seconds.
The house, as I touched on earlier, has been cleaned and polished to within an inch of it’s life.
Our beautiful big oak coffee table is now half the thickness it once was as it’s been polished so much.
The washing machine has just stopped for the first time since I got up.
I played tennis this morning (badly) but with the drive and energy of Federer when he’s a point away from clinching the Grand Slam.
I’ve mapped out my diary for the next 6 months, all in my best handwriting and in pencil so that I can rub it out should plans change, yet still keep it looking neat. And yes, I still use a paper diary. I’m a dinosaur when it comes to technology.
My beautiful 5 year old MK had mummy at her best today, taking him to his tennis lesson after school then a cycle ride before supper.
What’s brought this episode on?
Was there a trigger, or is it just a bipolar thing? Who knows.
It’s ok though. It’s ok.
The ‘to do’ list is almost ‘to done’ and I’m going to try try try to force myself to go to bed once I sign off here.
Impossible to know.
If I’m still running at full pelt it will actually be easier.
I’ll steel myself for the gremlin to emerge for battle once more.
I’m ready for him though. I’m better armed than I once was, and he knows he’s in for a fight.
For now, I’m ‘to done’. Almost.
Keep well. x