Rapid Cycling of Bipolar

Something that just twigged my memory about a post I had written on the old website was seeing a post in the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/BeautifulPurpose.BP/ which I belong to.

It was discussing about rapid cycling of moods. You can go through a series of ups and downs in a very short time. Feeling both up (mania) and down (depression) in the same moment.

I can best describe it as a graph with red and blue lines. We’ll call red mania (high) and blue depression (low). At the same time red and blue can be high meaning you can feel elated and yet depressed and worried at the same time. You can cycle from mania to depression quickly in a series of rapid mood swings. Like, for instance, you just got a call that you won the lottery. You’re super high as a kite. Then suddenly you fall into a deep well of “what if I don’t get the money? What if I spend it all?”. And suddenly you have tears running down your face. Like, why is it I can’t just stay happy that I won the lottery. But your mind does tricks like that.

For instance, if I call somebody and they don’t answer, my rational brain will say “oh they are busy doing their own life”, but the irrational side of my brain says “oh they don’t care about you at all, and they don’t want to talk to you”.

Or for instance, you write a lovely blog, full of months worth of work, and then when nobody has paid you any praise for months you think “oh dammit this isn’t worth it at all” and delete all that work. Yes, stupid I know. But it happened.

It’s a constant balancing act between rational, sane thoughts, and irrational, crazy, out of kilter thoughts. You look for clues and meanings in everything that happens and try to process it in a suitable manner so that you feel good about things.

I think part of what I experience is also to do with having Asperger’s syndrome, to a large part.

My history with bipolar

My history with bipolar, I’m pretty sure, is when I was born. I have a strong suspicion that my maternal grandfathers family had a history of mental illness. I do know, for a fact, that my maternal great-grandfather killed himself with a rifle to the head after his second wife died in childbirth. That left my grandfather and his very young sister orphans at a very young age. I do believe my mother’s brother may have had a history of bipolar illness, undiagnosed however. I do know one of my mother’s cousins, she said, had bipolar. You can never tell, for sure, but enough of a history to make a guess.

My tipping point, when it become evident that I had bipolar, was after the birth of my second child. I became angry, violent and off my rocker, so to speak. One episode I can recall, with horror, was when one of the girls wouldn’t stop crying. I went down to the kitchen and grabbed a sharp knife and stabbed it into the chopping block a few times. Felt so so angry. I almost smashed a handful of plate on the floor one time too. Felt very angry and irritable, to the extreme. I would talk too loudly, exercise too much and everything wouldn’t slow down enough for me. My thoughts were racing. I thought “oh I could write a novel” and “drive to New York City today” in the same 5 minute span. It was like having a horror movie and a nice family movie in my head at the same time.

I sought help at the family doctor. He put me on a antipsychotic and a antidepressant. Unfortunately the antipsychotic slowed me down a lot and I didn’t exercise nearly enough and put on a lot of weight. That drug, Zyprexa, is known for massive weight gain and has been tied to a class action lawsuit in the States for causing diabetes in people.

Fortunately it didn’t take too long for me to get a psychiatrist to see me. She got my drugs adjusted and I was quite stable after that. Had a few dips and bumps along the way since then, but nothing like the horror show of the first 6 months or so, before I sought help.

I have trouble focussing on tasks, have trouble making to-do lists and getting those accomplished. Life is a struggle, sometimes, when I feel down and depressed. I have good days where I feel that everything is ticking along nicely and bad days where it’s hard to find hope. Nobody loves me, what’s the point, why do I bother and so forth.